In 2011, an underwater robotics club was established by Science teacher Nicola Lees at Sammy McClure Middle School, in association with the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Over the years that followed, interest in the program grew and the club expanded to become a formal team at North Paulding High School, led by Mrs. Nicola Lees and assisted by Math teacher Geoff Gardener and parent volunteer Mark Lewis. The 2017-18 robotics team is comprised of 15 students from grade levels 9-12.

The objective of the program is to introduce students to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) concepts in a fun and engaging way. The students construct underwater Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) that must be able to complete a series of simulated real life tasks. Each year, MATE hosts competitions among ROV teams with a unique theme and related tasks. The 2018 competition’s theme is Jet City: Aircraft, Earthquakes, and Energy. The tasks include simulated underwater missions to locate vintage aircraft wreckage and return its engine to the surface, install and recover a seismometer, and install a turbine to monitor the environment, among several others. As a team, the students design and build all the components of the ROV, including the construction of the frame, programming computer controllers, and wiring electrical components.


The ROV team’s efforts culminated at the  Gray's Reef Southeast Regional MATE ROV Competition in Savannah on April 21st. This year, there were six teams from various STEM approved schools competing in the Ranger division. In addition to the mission tasks, North Paulding High School won in all competition categories including Engineering, Marketing, Safety, and Technical Documentation. This was an enormous accomplishment and a testament to all the hard work and innovative problem solving that the members exerted.

In recognition of this regional win, the North Paulding High School team is now qualified to participate against teams from all around the world at the International MATE competition in Seattle, Washington, in June. They will be competing against 60 high school and college regional winners from the USA, Canada, Egypt, Turkey, Hong Kong, Germany, China, England, Norway, Mexico, and Russia. It is an outstanding opportunity for Paulding County Schools to be represented on a global stage and to display our efforts in support of STEM education.

For more information, contact Nicola Lees (