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REF NO.: 146

SUBJECT: Heritage Collegiate claims championship at ROV competition
DATE: May 4, 2009

     St. John’s, NL – Heritage Collegiate won the 2009 Regional ROV Competition Saturday at the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University, marking the third time in four years the Lethbridge high school has claimed top prize at the event.
     Gonzaga High School of St. John’s finished in second place and both schools have now qualified for the 2009 Marine Advanced Technology Education Centre’s (MATE) International Competition in Buzzards Bay, Mass., from June 24-26.
     “We had no idea we won until late Saturday night,” said Jade Moss, co-pilot for the winning Heritage Collegiate team. “It was the day of our grad, so we had gone back to our school. Then when they announced (at the grad) we had won everyone jumped up and started cheering and hugging. It was so great.”
     Winning the Regional ROV Competition has become a habit for Heritage Collegiate. They also took first place in 2006 and 2007 before finishing second in 2008, allowing them to compete in the international event each year. This history of success is no accident, according to Brody Morrison, the lead mentor for the Heritage Collegiate squad.
     “There’s a culture at our school, an excitement, a way of looking at robotics as the thing to do,” said Mr. Morrison. “For some schools it’s basketball or volleyball, and we do those as well, but robotics is something the kids are interested in and want to do.”
     In 2007 Heritage Collegiate finished second at the international event, followed by a fifth-place finish in 2008. Team pilot Gavin Diamond says his goal is to finish in the top five again this year, however Mr. Morrison indicated the team’s goals are actually much higher.
     “Gavin is trying to sound nice,” Mr. Morrison said with a laugh. “He said top five, but he wants first, he wants to come back as a world champion, without a doubt.”
     The ROV competition challenged students from 18 high schools from across the province to design, build and pilot a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that functions as a submarine rescue system. The event took place in the Marine Institute’s Flume Tank, providing the participating students with a great opportunity to learn first-hand what MI offers.                                    
     “It is a great experience for all the teams that take part. They get to try out some new technology, they get a chance to be creative, engage in some problem solving and project management and work as part of a team. It’s an opportunity to bring together a lot of skills that are really needed in today’s society,” said Dwight Howse, head of MI’s School of Ocean Technology.     “This is a creative challenge for them. It allows them to use a variety of skill sets – electrical, naval architecture, ocean engineering, you name it, it’s all in there.”
     Both Moss and Diamond have already been accepted into MI’s ROV program and will officially enrol at the Marine Institute in September. Each young student said their experiences in the ROV competitions over the past three years led to them applying to MI, information that comes as no surprise to Mr. Howse.
     “We want to give people a look at the types of programs and facilities we have here,” said Mr. Howse. “The facilities are unique. Our flume tank is the largest in the world, with 1.7 million litres of water and there’s the viewing area where parents and other teams can watch. That’s something you don’t get anywhere else.”
     Members of the winning Heritage Collegiate team are: Gavin Diamond (pilot), Jade Moss (co-pilot), Jonathan Young (tether man), Michael Coles, Shawn Collins, Danielle Howse, Benji Penney, Leslie Holloway, Lindsay Holloway, Mark Chaffey, Michelle White, Suyen Oldford, Brody Morrison (mentor), Andrew Maillet (mentor) and Mac Brown (mentor).

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