Teaching and Research
From Oil Spills to Design Thrills
Prof. Tim Woo of School of Engineering (second from right in front row) and the "GEAR" team of HKUST.

Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicles came to prominence in the big oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the biggest environmental disaster in US history.

This year in June, a team of 13 HKUST students, drawn from different disciplines — mechanical engineering, electronic and computer engineering as well as computer science and engineering — entered the 2011 International Student Remotely Operated Vehicle Competition (ROV) held at NASA. They were given a chance to try their hands at designing an underwater robot capable of capping a wellhead, collecting water samples and rescuing animals. Our interdisciplinary team came home with the Design Elegance Award against 26 teams from 7 countries.

Our design was praised by the judges for its "aesthetics, simplicity and functionality". Equipped with a self-developed propeller, it is capable of 360-degree rotations, whereas conventional robotic designs are only able to move 180 degrees. In the face of unexpected change in water depth, which may adversely affect ROV functions, our team was able to respond calmly and creatively.

Prof Tim Woo from our Department of Electronic & Computer Engineering is to be congratulated for his able leadership in guiding our students in innovative robotic technology. Chalk one up for HKUST’s all-rounded education for future global leaders in technology and innovation.

Sophisticated robot designed by HKUST students winning Design Elegance Award at the International ROV Competition.