Student Competitions

The Norman Miller Student Poster Competition

Each year the IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society sponsors the Student Poster Competition at the spring and fall OCEANS Conferences. Cash awards for the winning posters and the travel, food, lodging, and registration expenses of all students participating in the competition are provided by OES. Students interested in participating in next year’s competition should contact Shyam Madhusudhana ( for additional information.

OCEANS 2019 Marseille SPC participants along with Gaultier Real (local SPC chair; top row, left), Shyam Madhusudhana (OES SPC chair; top row, middle) and Vincent Rigaud (Ifremer; top row, right).

The MTS/IEEE OCEANS Student Poster Completion would not exist today but for the hard work of the late Colonel Norman D. Miller. Norm recently passed away peacefully in his Seattle home on July 3rd, 2015. He was born in 1926 in Spragueville, Iowa, USA and grew up in nearby Epworth, Iowa. After service in World War II, Norm completed his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Iowa State College. He reenlisted in the Army Reserve, retiring as a Colonel and also became active in the IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society (OES).

In 1989, under his leadership, a new OES program was launched at OCEANS’89 that encouraged the participation of students in the conference and the OES. Norm recommended to the AdCom that the OES sponsor a “Student-Posters Competition” where graduate and undergraduate students would be invited to present posters describing their work. The conference would cover the students’ registration and travel expenses. The AdCom agreed, and a grant of $7,500 was provided to the OCEANS’89 organizing committee to fund the program. The MTS was invited to participate on a matching fund basis, but they declined. Working with Sea Grant, the U.S. national agency that funds oceans-related university research, invitations were sent out for poster abstracts. Sixteen abstracts were received and the students were invited to attend and present their posters. The posters were displayed where the conference attendees had ready access to them and the students were at their posters to explain them. The program proved highly successful and was continued at OCEANS’91 and subsequent OCEANS conferences. Support for the student-posters program has been incorporated into the Conference Guidelines as a budget line item, and as such is endorsed by both the OES and the MTS.

National Ocean Sciences Bowl

NOSB First Place Team, Montgomery Blair High School, Silver Spring, MD with COL President, Jon White at left.

The NOSB is an academic competition and program that addresses a national gap in environmental and earth sciences in public education by introducing high school students to and engaging them in ocean science, preparing them for ocean science-related and other STEM careers, and helping them become knowledgeable citizens and environmental stewards.

The NOSB’s focus on ocean science education is important. Humans rely on a healthy ocean for oxygen, resources, jobs, and more. Our future leaders must be knowledgeable about ocean issues.

The ocean is an ideal interdisciplinary teaching tool for science, technology, education, and mathematics (STEM) that puts study in a real world context. Working in the ocean environment poses challenges that push the innovation, engineering, and technology development needed in our workforce. But ocean science is not a course generally offered at the high school level.The NOSB is one of the only ways students gain exposure to all of ocean science and related careers as they are beginning to chart their course in life.

The European Robotics League

SPARC introduces the exciting new European Robotics League (ERL), now including a novel major tournament category: ERL Smart Cities, in addition to the on-going competitions, ERL Consumer (previously Service), ERL Professional (previously Industrial) and ERL Emergency Service Robots.

The ERL builds on the success of the EU-FP7/H2020 projects: RoCKIn, euRathlon, EuRoC and ROCKEU2 and is now run by the H2020 project SciRoc.

The European Robotics League local and major tournaments are based in Europe and are open to international participation. Teams will compete in three vibrant fields of robotics under the theme of smart urban enviroments. Competitors will engage in annual local tournaments organised by a consortium of Europe´s most prestigious robotics institutes. The biennial SciRoc Challenge (also known as the ERL Smart Cities Robotics Challenge) will be held in Smart Cities across Europe, where robots from all three categories will come together to interact with the smart infrastructure in familiar urban settings.

These competitions aim at replicating consistent benchmarking results more than stating a winner of a single event, and have been designed to target three clear objectives: the European societal challenge of aging population, the strengthening of the European robotics service industry and to push the state of the art in autonomous systems for emergency response.

In addition, robot competitions meet educational needs and can serve as an excellent platform for developing the skills of future engineers and scientists, raising student awareness and understanding of applied research and development in robotics.

Singapore AUV Challenge (SAUVC)

Autonomous underwater robotics is an exciting challenge in engineering, which participants get to experience at SAUVC. The competition is great learning ground for participants to experience the challenges of AUV system engineering and develop skills in the related fields of mechanical, electrical and software engineering.

The SAUVC competition challenges participant teams to build an AUV which can perform given tasks. These tasks are simulations of tasks operational AUVs would have to be able to perform. The competition is held in a swimming pool and each team’s AUV will have to perform 4 tasks. The speed and accuracy at which the AUV performs tasks will be used to decide the winner of the competition.

The tasks involve four widely faced challenges underwater such as AUV navigation, visual identification, acoustic localization and robotic manipulation.

Detailed explaination of the various tasks of the competition and rules are in the Rulebook.

The competition is open to participants from all over the world. A team may consist of up to 8 participants. At least half of the participants must be students at the time of registration.