Return to Headlines

Northley Students Earn Big Win


image of winning team at event

Northley Teachers Renee DiPietro and Isabella Frias led our SeaPerch Robotics Team at Northley to an impressive win at The Greater Philadelphia SeaPerch Challenge on March 22 at The Salvation Army Kroc Center of Philadelphia.  The competition is open to middle schools and high schools in the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware regions.

The goal is to increase student interest in robotics, science, mathematics, engineering, and technology and to introduce students to naval engineering. The event is structured to give students an overall experience in the engineering process. 

The Northley Team placed first in the Vehicle Performance category (there are 19 middle schools in total that competed, 7 of which were in Northley's division), which tests how well the students do in designing and building their Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV)!   The process began back in December when DiPietro and Frias attended a training session hosted by Temple University and the Philadelphia Navy engineers where they received the mission information for the competition.  The team then met weekly from December through March to design, build, and test their robot for the SeaPerch competition.

A team mentor, Bob Voltos, a Navy engineer, also attended the student practices to offer guidance and support to the students with their design questions and strategies. Bob is a Navy engineer.   The process included developing a technical design report, building the craft, and testing it for competition.

Frias was thrilled to be a part of this unique experience with her students.

"SeaPerch Robotics is a very unique experience for everyone involved. It was incredible to see our students sharing their curiosity and creativity to collaborate together," she explained.
"At Northley, I am primarily the General Music Teacher. Being a coach for SeaPerch Robotics, I was pushed to be out of my element, allowing me to learn and grow with my students, while discovering that I really enjoy soldering and engineering.  I am grateful for Ms. Di Pietro's guidance, our students' enthusiasm, and Mr. Bob's knowledge that led us all towards our success." 

DiPietro was pleased with this year’s team who worked closely together to meet the challenge.

“ The drivers for our mission event were more prepared than ever before, and they studied the course closely,” she noted.  “They had a plan from the minute they entered the pool deck.  Their leadership (Nolan Bower, grade 7 and John Salomone grade 7) around a strategy for how to tackle the course elements of the mission event were instrumental for our win.”

DiPietro also noted that the design of the robot gave the team an early edge as well as the placement of the motors.  The addition of a linear actuator and custom-designed hook most likely made the difference in competition. 

Participating students benefit by a strong exposure to STEM skills, different ROV designs, Navy career paths, collaboration and teamwork skills, technical writing skills and Cad programs.  The program also stimulates teamwork, perseverance, patience and focus.

The team members who took the win at the event include:

  • Dylan Pothier (6th)
  • Vinnie Possenti (6th)
  • Matt Shaw (7th)
  • John Salomone (7th)
  • Nolan Bower (7th)
  • Anthony Preziuso (7th)
  • Lucy Ramsey (7th)
  • Monica Stasul (7th)
  • Brennan Ferrari (7th)
  • Noah George (8th)
  • Logan Ramsey (8th)

These team members did not attend, but were part of the team who prepared the win:

  • Ryan Wiggins (7th)
  • Conner Johnston (7th)
  • Carter Ruggeri (7th)
  • Skye Simms (8th)
  • Tyler Simcox (7th)
  • Preston Kim (7th)
  • Brennan Ferrari (7th)
  • Milani Vonn (7th)
  • Sarah Lauver (6th)

“We are so proud of their success this year and how much hard work they put into the design process and preparation for the mission event,” said DiPietro. 

More on the program

MIT Sea Grant's new SeaPerch program introduces Pre-College students to the wonders of underwater robotics. Part of the Office of Naval Research's initiative, "Recruiting the Next Generation of Naval Architects," this program teaches students how to build an underwater robot (called a SeaPerch), how to build a propulsion system, how to develop a controller, and how to investigate weight and buoyancy. This endeavor is one of many exciting new projects funded by the Office of Naval Research as part of its National Naval Responsibility Initiative. The initiative focuses on bringing academia, government and industry to work together to ensure that the talent needed to design the Navy's next generation of ships and submarines will be there when needed.

The American Society of Naval Engineers Delaware Valley Chapter (ASNE-DV) and the Naval Surface Warfare Center Philadelphia Division brought the SeaPerch program to Philadelphia. In the spring of 2005, Drexel University hosted a teacher training and through contact with the School District of Philadelphia's Office of College and Career Awareness Secondary Robotics Initiative the idea for hosting the first ever SeaPerch competition came about. The Secondary Robotics Initiative brought the Delaware Valley Industrial Research Center (DVIRC) on board as a partner to round out the industrial expertise.