Sailors from Navy Recruiting District Philadelphia gathered at their command headquarters and learned how to build remotely operated vehicles (ROV) for the underwater robotics program known as SeaPerch.

The one day of training with a dozen recruiters took place in an effort to increase awareness in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), and strengthen partnerships between Philadelphia area schools and Sailors.

Lt. Cmdr. Craig Cardillo, a SeaPerch coordinator at Navy Recruiting Command’s Navy City Outreach Northeast branch in New York City, came to NRD Philadelphia as an instructor for the day. Cardillo brought several ROV assembly kits and distributed them to pairs of Sailors who watched video instructions and received direct guidance on how to assemble the ROVs. When completely built, a SeaPerch ROV takes up the space of about one cubic foot, can float, submerge, move forward and backward, and rise like an underwater submarine.

“The water-proof ROVs are comprised of PVC pipes, 3 motors, a circuit board, and a remote control that builders assemble and solder together,” said Cardillo. “They’re relatively cheap to build and get started.  Students can design and modify them, and it’s really up to students to see how creative they want to get with these kits.  They’re a great introduction into all areas of STEM.”

Electronics Technician 1st Class (SW) Donald Dermond was one of the recruiters participating in the training, which he enjoyed and believed was definitely worthwhile.

“The ROVs are fun to build, not overly challenging, but a very good entry project for a STEM group,” said Dermond. “It’s a phenomenal thing for the NRD to engage with young minds and show a positive Navy presence that shows prospective applicants some things we do in the Navy. It’s also a great tool to engage educators with in order to gain access to classrooms we may otherwise be unable to for a variety of reasons.”

Demond also expressed his enthusiasm towards the SeaPerch program overall.

“SeaPerch is a great way to get an entry level understanding of robotics and electronics,” said Dermond. “It opens up avenues of discussion with educators that may otherwise not give me the time of day. It’s also fun to go into a school, teach students something new, and see their sense of accomplishment upon completion of successful testing. It’s just an all-around awesome experience when you see that moment in a young mind.”

Cardillo explained that through the SeaPerch program, students and Navy mentors have opportunities to participate in regional and national ROV competitions that break down into different categories and take place nationwide in high schools and universities. Cardillo also said that NRD Philadelphia will receive about 90 SeaPerch ROV kits, which he hopes will find their way, along with Sailors, into Philadelphia area public schools during the 2017 school year for mentorship visits at least once a month.

“The goal is to develop better relationships with communities and get students in middle-schools and high-schools more interested in STEM,” said Cardillo. “Recruiters will be able to bring the SeaPerch program directly to schools during visits and hopefully become mentors to students, forming ongoing, lasting relationships. For us, we’re trying to close the gap between America and other countries in terms of prioritizing STEM in the educational system. And it’s nice if the Navy can be a conduit in that effort.”


For more information on the SeaPerch program, which is sponsored by the Office of Naval Research, visit


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Updated March 1, 2017 (kbh)