Memorial University’s Marine Institute (MI) launched a new Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) program Oct. 27, opening up new career opportunities for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in the local and international ROV industry.
From deep exploration of the oceans to the installation, maintenance, and operation of sub sea systems for the offshore oil and gas industry, ROVs have become the standard means of extending our reach into the ocean depths where human intervention is too expensive or too dangerous for divers.
These underwater robots are flown by a pilot/technician onboard a ship controlling the function of the ROV with the aid of a video monitor that relays images from an underwater camera on the ROV.
MI’s new 40-week technical certificate program is open to diploma and degree graduates in the electrical, electronics, mechanical and marine engineering disciplines or to individuals who have an equivalent combination of academic training and work experience.
Students will be cross trained in electronics and hydraulics, preparing them for courses specific to the operation and maintenance of the complex systems that comprise these multi-million dollar vehicles.
The first program offering will start in January with 15 students.
Students will be trained in ROV piloting, hydraulics, electronics, electrical, underwater navigation, ROV launch and recovery operations and workplace safety. They will also experience live field training, simulated exercises with specialized ROV facilities, classroom instruction and a work term with industry.
“The demand for ROV operators is projected to grow by over 50 per cent in the next five years,” said MI’s Executive Director Glenn Blackwood. “The Marine Institute is launching this program at a time when there are urgent demands from local companies supplying ROV services in this region to have trained and competent ROV pilot/technicians for deepwater operations for the oil and gas industry.”
Graduates are expected to avail of careers in the large international ROV market which services the offshore oil and gas, nuclear, military, law enforcement, pipeline, aquaculture and cable industries.
To develop students’ piloting skills, the Marine Institute has installed two ROV simulators at its Centre for Marine Simulation. The simulators have been made available through an agreement with GRI Simulations Inc, based in Mount Pearl, and the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Marine Institute will also use these simulators in industrial training courses for specific client needs and as part of its ongoing research and development activities in ocean technology.
MI is also promoting ROV piloting as an emerging marine career for young people by supporting high school and university teams in ROV competitions. MI and the Institute for Ocean Technology (IOT) have been chosen by the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center to host its annual Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) competition June 22-24, 2007.
The annual competition challenges high school and post-secondary teams to design, build, and operate an ROV to perform a series of tasks like those performed by an ROV in an industrial setting. This is the first time the competition will be held outside the United States.
The Eastern Edge Robotics Team, representing Newfoundland and Labrador, won the competition in 2005 and 2006. The team was comprised of students from the Institute, Memorial’s Faculties of Engineering, Science, and Kinesiology and the College of the North Atlantic. Fourteen teams from this province competed in MI’s regional MATE competition in May 2006.
ROV Simulators to be Installed at Marine Institute
GRI Simulations Inc. and the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador have provided two Virtual Remotely Operated Vehicle (VROV) simulators to the Marine Institute to enhance the piloting skills of students in its new ROV program.
GRI is a Newfoundland-based developer of computer-based applications for the marine sector with emphasis on simulations and interaction with remotely controlled equipment. Its VROV product is a mission planning and rehearsal simulator designed specifically to train and evaluate novice and advanced ROV pilots.
The new ROV simulators are housed at the Marine Institute’s Centre for Marine Simulation that also features such facilities as a full-motion bridge with 360 degrees of visuals and a dynamic positioning simulator. In the long term, the Marine Institute plans to integrate the activities of these simulators with ROV simulation to provide a complete working environment to support ROV operations.
The Marine Institute will also use the ROV simulators in industrial training courses for specific client needs and as part of its ongoing research and development in Ocean Technology
With complete interactive modeling of the ROV systems, tools, and tether, the GRI simulators provide realistic feedback to pilots through simulated video, instrumentation, and SONAR signals. The behaviour of the ROV models provided have been assessed and compared to model the behaviour of their real counterparts. The integration of manipulators that match the behaviour of commercial manipulators adds to the capacity for interaction with simulated scenarios as well as the realism of the exercises.
The simulators also provide the ability to develop subsea systems and fields along with other potential target objects in a simulated scenario. These scenarios allow designers to ensure that ROVs can perform the tasks required of them when all of the structures have been installed.
ROV simulation capability provides prospective ROV pilots/technicians with the ability to gain experience on a variety of types and sizes of ROVs and in a variety of environmental conditions. A simulator allows an instructor to control ambient light, and water conditions such as visibility, current, and sea state. These environmental challenges can be met and overcome by pilots in a safe and controlled setting where the potential damage to multi-million dollar vehicles and subsea structures is eliminated. In these variable conditions, pilots can undertake mission planning and rehearsals that will ultimately reduce the time and risk associated with performing these tasks in real life.
MI and IOT to Host 2007 International ROV Competition
The Marine Institute of Memorial University (MI) and the Institute for Ocean Technology (IOT) have been chosen by the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center to host its annual Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) competition June 22-24, 2007.
The MATE Center’s annual ROV competition challenges high school and post-secondary teams to design, build, and operate an ROV to perform a series of tasks like those performed by an ROV in an industrial setting. This is the first time the competition will be held outside of the United States.
The MATE Center is a partnership of educational institutions and organizations working to improve marine technical education. Headquartered at Monterey Peninsula College, the MATE Center is one of eleven Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Centers established with funding from the National Science Foundation’s ATE Program.
Approximately 500 students representing fifty high schools, colleges and universities across North America and possibly other countries will gather in St. John’s to challenge the tasks laid out by the MATE Centre. Students will be accompanied by teachers, mentors, competition organizers, judges, referees and industry representatives, all of whom will have an opportunity to view the complement of institutions, research facilities, and companies which play a vital role in the local Ocean Technology community as well as experience the unique culture of Newfoundland and Labrador.
This year’s competition will focus on ROV operations in polar waters, a theme that’s in keeping with 2007 being declared an International Polar Year. St. John’s boasts a set of facilities that are uniquely capable of emulating a polar environment. The ROVs will be challenged to perform tasks in the presence of water current at the Marine Institute’s Flume Tank and under ice and in waves at IOT’s Ice Tank and the Offshore Engineering Basin.
MATE will release the mission scope for the competition in December 2006. The scope will cater to two separate classes. The Ranger class is the entry-level class for the competition and will typically attract high school teams while the Explorer class is aimed at colleges and universities as well as experienced high school teams. The release of the mission scope will signal the start of a six-month period during which the teams will design, build, test, and refine an ROV to perform the mission tasks.
Newfoundland and Labrador teams have competed exceptionally well in this event. In 2005 and 2006, the Eastern Edge Robotics Team, representing Memorial University’s Marine Institute and Faculties of Engineering, Science, and Kinesiology, and the College of the North Atlantic won the event held at NASA’s Sonny Carter Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Houston, Texas. In 2006, first time competitors Heritage Collegiate from Lethbridge, won the Design Elegance Award for their ROV design. Gonzaga High School of St. John’s turned in a top-five finish in the mission tasks among the 25 teams competing from Canada, the United States and China.