The remotely operated vehicle competition sponsored by the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center has a pivotal role in two movies and a new book. It is the backdrop for Spare Parts, a feature film being released in January, a new book with the same title, and Underwater Dreams, a documentary released in theaters this past summer.
The central plot feature of all these works is MATE’s remotely operated vehicle (ROV) competition in 2004 when the underwater robot constructed by a team of immigrant Hispanic students from a Phoenix high school beat other high school, community college and university teams, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Jill Zande, MATE’s associate director and coordinator of the center’s ROV competition, is working with the feature film’s marketing team to attract attention to the center’s educational activities and marine technology careers.
“We’re excited that the films and book are calling attention to STEM programs and the powerful impact that they can have on students and student learning. They also demonstrate what students—no matter what their background or socioeconomic status—are capable of when given the opportunity," Zande said.
The MATE Center’s Facebook page currently includes a video summary of the 2004 competition (Carl Hayden Community High School's champion ROV appears at 4:12).The trailer for the Hollywood version starring George Lopez, Carlos PenaVega, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Marissa Tomei is online too.