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Whidbey Island robotics team takes 11th at world competition

Whidbey Island’s underwater robotics team poses for a picture at the international competition this summer at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way. From left to right are Derrick Riley, Christopher Wilson, Hannah McConnaughey, Austin Drake and Haley McConnaughey. - Ashley McConnaughey photo
Whidbey Island’s underwater robotics team poses for a picture at the international competition this summer at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way. From left to right are Derrick Riley, Christopher Wilson, Hannah McConnaughey, Austin Drake and Haley McConnaughey.
— image credit: Ashley McConnaughey photo

Members of Whidbey Island’s homegrown underwater robotics team were honored by the Island County Board of Commissioners on Monday for placing 11th in an international competition.

After becoming Pacific Northwest Champions in early May, the Atlantis, Inc. team members competed at the 12th Annual MATE International ROV Competition against more than 30 of the best high school teams from around the world, including Macao, Egypt, Venezuela, Scotland, Taiwan, Canada, Singapore, Macau, Hong Kong and the United States.

More than 620 teams around the world participated in the competition, but only 10 percent of the teams advanced to the international competition, held in June at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.

“Dream big,” says Hannah McConnaughey, 16, captain of the 2013 team. “Then work very hard to make it happen.” Ashley McConnaughey photo Atlantis Inc.’s first mission attempt at the international contest. From left to right: Haley McConnaughey, Austin Drake, Hannah McConnaughey, Christopher Wilson and Derrick Riley.

Whidbey’s Atlantis Inc. team won one of the few awards at the International level: the Ranger Division “Biggest Bang For the Buck” Award, given to the high school team with the lowest cost-per-point ratio of all underwater robots in the competition.

To round out their win, their 20-page technical paper was ranked seventh overall, and their poster received third place internationally and was displayed at the awards ceremony.

When not competing, Atlantis Inc. is passionate about giving back to their community through outreach. In June, they hosted two Signature Program events at the Island Athletic Club as part of the Seattle Science Festival. The team has the youngest presenters in the festival’s history. These events allowed youths and adults to have hands-on experience building and flying ROVs, as well as learning about the principles that make them work.

Their educational hands-on display at the 2013 Whidbey Area Fair won People’s Choice for the second year running. Over 300 people learned about robotics, found out about its importance in society, and got the hands-on experience of piloting both land and underwater robots.

Commissioner Helen Price Johnson read the resolution congratulating the team.

“We wish them continued success as they now start working toward the 2014 competition,” Price Johnson said.

 

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