Engineering experts of the future went head-to-head yesterday as they put hand-made robots through a series of perilous underwater tasks.
Eleven school teams from across Scotland gathered at Robert Gordon University (RGU) in Aberdeen, with their sights set on progressing to an international final in the United States.
Each received a grant of £300 to build a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) capable of collecting and testing water samples for acidity and phosphates, picking up and collecting objects and scanning for items.
The groups had to source their own vehicle parts and assemble the inventions themselves, as well as create business plans and prepare presentations.
Yesterday they submerged their creations in the RGU Sport swimming pool, with industry judges looking on to grade their efforts.
RGU engineering lecturer and competition coordinator Graeme Duncan said: “It’s about encouraging youngsters to take on a technical career and gain an interest in Stem subjects.
“The idea is to mimic real ROV activities and all the major ROV companies are involved.
“The tasks are really challenging but they’re always based on real world activities.”
The heat included a predominantly-female team from Lochside Academy in Cove, which entered the contest for the first time.
S6 pupil Erin Christie said the competition was “helping to get more girls into engineering”.
She added: “We were all a little nervous as it’s a new experience for us and the teachers but it has all been really fun.
“My dad works in the oil industry and says there are a lot more females coming in – which is good as it’s what I want to do.”
Former champions Keith Grammar were also represented.
Under the stewardship of design and technology teacher Steven Tubbs, a team from the school won the 2017 heat to compete in the final in California.
He said: “This is the fifth time we have run the competition and they’ve been spending three to four hours a week working on it in their own time.
“The first time we took part, the ROV was based around PVC pipes but they’re getting more and more complex. This year there’s an on-board computer.”
Mr Tubbs described the US trip as “genuinely amazing” and added: “To know there’s the opportunity for that is a big incentive”.