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Texas A&M at Qatar concludes QAST STEM program with underwater robotics competition

Published Apr 11, 2021

Students from Qatar Academy for Science and Technology (QAST) put their underwater robots to the test during the 2021 Qatar SeaPerch Challenge to conclude the Engineering Heroes: Ocean Scout academic enrichment program delivered by Texas A&M University at Qatar.

The students learned about the science and technologies behind ROVs (remotely operated vehicles) over six weeks as part of the innovative Engineering Heroes STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) outreach program. Engineering Heroes: Ocean Scout focused on the science and technology of underwater vehicles, which are used in several industries and real-life applications such as search and rescue, inspecting underwater pipelines or exploring shipwrecks.

ROVs allow for ocean exploration and are controlled by someone typically on a surface vessel. Cables connect the ROV to the ship and send information between the ship and ROV, which is usually equipped with cameras and lights to transmit images and even video back to the ship. Depending on the purpose of the work, ROVs may also contain equipment such a cutting arm, water samplers and other instruments that may measure water temperature or clarity.

Team Divers — Bissan Abdulghany, Mubarak Al-Ghanim, Mustafa Atari, Ahmed Ismail — won the competition, which consisted of three rounds in which each team guided their robots through an obstacle course and waste collection course. The team will represent Qatar in the virtual 2021 International SeaPerch Challenge 4-5 June.

The international SeaPerch Challenge is part of RoboNation, a leader in educational and competitive underwater robotics products that provides educational robotics kits and challenges for students of different ages.

Grade 9 students Ahmad Al-Mannai, Mahi Sharma, Nour Qubbaj, Shaikha Khalifa and Yusuf Hussain were named outstanding students during the program, along with grade 8 students Amina Ahmed and Salma Ratab.

STEM expert Dr. Mohamed Gharib from Texas A&M at Qatar’s Office of Engagement developed and delivered the Engineering Heroes: Ocean Scout program to expand knowledge within Qatar’s youth and drive them to choose pathways to careers in STEM.

“I am amazed by the students’ hard work, passion to learn and creativity,” Gharib said. “The students took the challenge and worked together to build fully working ROVs using simple materials. They became well prepared for real-life engineering applications at their early stage. This is our  mission, as STEM educators, at Texas A&M University at Qatar and we believe we are achieving our goals by bringing such programs and competitions to Qatar.”