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Saturday, June 22, 2013
Kailua HS Underwater Robotics Team Heads to International Meet
By News Release @ 9:38 PM :: 4469 Views :: Education K-12


Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, Ameron Hawaii and State Department of Education Sponsoring Team’s Trip To Mainland for Competition

News Release from Castle Foundation

KAILUA — Kailua High School’s underwater robotics team is competing in the 12th Annual Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) 2013 international remotely operated vehicle (ROV) competition, after taking first place in the regional competition. The Kailua High School team currently is in Federal Way, Wash., where the competition is running from June 20 to 22.

The Kailua team organized a robotics company called Surfrider Marine Recovery Systems (SMRS) and created an ROV capable of meeting the requirements of this year’s competition theme: the role that ROVs play in the installation, operation and maintenance of underwater systems that observe changes in the ocean, such as water temperature, and perform maintenance on underwater structures.

The Harold K.L. Foundation, Ameron Hawaii and the state Department of Education have joined together to sponsor the trip and cover the cost of travel and lodging for the team’s 11 student members, as well as two mentor coaches and three school faculty members.

“We are tremendously proud of these Kailua High School students who not only worked through the daunting challenges of researching, designing, building and operating an underwater ROV, but won the state competition and now are in the international competition,” said Terry George, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation. “This is the kind of effort our Foundation is thrilled to support because it spurs our Windward students to strive for excellence and helps them to become the engineers and leaders of tomorrow.”

Linda Goldstein, environmental and community relations manager for Ameron Hawaii, said the competition gives the students real-world experience over several educational disciplines.

“Kailua High School’s underwater robotics program provides a wonderful opportunity for students to explore many aspects of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculum,” she said. “This year’s team also has to organize as a business so they learned important concepts of business management and finance.”

Kailua High School Principal Francine Honda said the robotics team’s success getting into the international competition is a success for all of Hawaii’s schools. “The Kailua High School robotics team becomes Team Hawaii when it competes on this level,” Honda said. “It represents all of Hawaii’s schools and students who, I’m sure, are cheering them on and looking forward to competing across the state next year.”

C. Suzanne Mulcahy, the DOE Windward District Complex Area Superintendent, is equally thrilled with the team’s progress. “I could not be more pleased and proud of the Kailua High School robotics team,” Mulcahy said. “The real-world application, problem solving, and relevance to science, technology, engineering and math they are exposed to is impressive. I am especially interested in watching the team as they go to competition and wish them the best.”

George said ROV robotics competitions have become popular as teams complete technically complicated engineering challenges to create their ROVs and then test their robots in real-world missions against other teams.

“What makes the MATE robotics competition that much harder is that the students have to operate their ROVs under water,” George said. “This Kailua team is gaining valuable engineering and operational insights that one day could aid in one of the Foundation’s strategic goals of restoring Hawaii’s nearshore marine life populations and protecting reefs.”

Other sponsoring companies included Sunrise Construction, Honsador Lumber LLC, Gemini Hawaii, Armstrong Builders LLC, King & Neel, Inc., Chinen & Arinaga Financial Group, Inc. and Hardware Hawaii.

The Kailua High School Surfrider Marine Recovery Systems team consists of:

  • Austin Vegas – CEO, Class of 2013
  • Christopher Campos – COO/Pilot, Class of 2013
  • Samuel Ramsay, Jr. – Technical Writer, Class of 2013
  • Jacob Valencia – R&D, Class of 2013
  • Kristen Izumigawa – CFO, Class of 2013
  • Jian Madiam – Tether Boss, Class of 2014
  • Ipo Silva – Machinist, Class of 2013
  • Michael Sabate – Electrical Engineer, Class of 2013
  • Romnick Valmoja – Machinist, Class of 2013
  • Kahele Vegas – R&D Staff, Class of 2015
  • Pablo Furukawa – R&D Staff, Class of 2016

The MATE Center coordinates the international ROV competition for students through 17 regional contests across the United States and in Canada, Hong Kong, Scotland and Japan. The MATE Center’s mission is to provide the marine technical workforce with educated workers and use marine technology to create interest in and improve Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education.

For more information about the MATE Center and the underwater ROV robotics competition, go online to:

For more information about the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, visit

# # #

The Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, the largest private foundation headquartered in Hawaii, is committed to closing the achievement and preparation gaps in public education so that all Hawaii’s children have access to high-quality pre-K-12 education that prepares them for success in college, career and citizenship. Its grants also focus on restoring nearshore marine ecosystems and strengthening Windward Oahu communities.


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