Joanne Ferroni / Amy Campbell
The Greater Philadelphia SeaPerch program focuses on increasing the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) pipeline through an innovative underwater robotics program for middle and high school students. Students learn about STEM disciplines, with a focus on naval engineering, by building an underwater ROV (remotely operated vehicle) called the SeaPerch. The culminating event is the Greater Philadelphia SeaPerch Challenge, jointly hosted by The American Society of Naval Engineers Delaware Valley Chapter, Drexel University, and NAVSEES Philadelphia. Students compete in a variety of robot performance challenges designed around a naval engineering mission. In addition to vehicle performance, students are challenged to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of STEM principles by communicating their design process and rationale to a panel of judges. Over the course of the past five years, the program has impacted over 1500 student from more than 150 teams, many of whom come from underrepresented backgrounds in urban school districts, representing four states. The foundation of this program is the partnership among academia, K–12 school districts, industry, professional societies, and federal agencies. This initiative is led nationally by Office of Naval Research (ONR) and The Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME).