SeaPerch began as one project in a book entitled "How to Build an Underwater Robot," by Harry Bohm and Vickie Jensen. There were many projects in the book, and SeaPerch captured just two pages, with a parts list and instructions on how to assemble the vehicle. Years later, Professor Thomas Consi at MIT developed a curriculum around the SeaPerch as a way to grow the Ocean Engineering Program at MIT. Seeing the possibility of using SeaPerch to train teachers, MIT’s Dr. Chryss Chrystostomedes sought funding from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the MIT Sea Grant office and began to train teachers in their area and beyond.
Several years later, The Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME) had the vision to utilize their resources to manage the program and partner with ONR to take the SeaPerch Program from what was essentially a teacher-training program and develop it into a national program. Through a grant from ONR, SNAME created a program that could be national in scope, including creating a kit, infrastructure, supporting materials, website, ordering and inventory mechanism, and a network of individuals to help grow the program.
The efforts began to take root, the program grew to include almost all 50 states to date, and a national competition, the National SeaPerch Challenge, continues to expand yearly. In 2011 SeaPerch partnered with the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International Foundation (AUVSIF), now managing the program. Expansion continues with well over 100,000 students having participated in SeaPerch program and over 6,000 mentors working with students.