Engineering the Future

It is a long process for a ship or weapons system to go from concept to deployment, but it all starts in the mind of a naval engineer.

(Graphic illustration by Jessica L. Tozer)

(Graphic illustration by Jessica L. Tozer)

Every ship starts as a blueprint, or a computer drawing, but before it ever sees the water, each design is tested, tweaked, and re-tested until it meets the exacting standards that are demanded by the world’s most technologically advanced Navy.

Every two years, the engineers at the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Carderock Division host an event designed to not only explore new ideas in naval engineering, but more importantly, inspire the next generation of naval engineers.

College, high school and international students converge on the massive David Taylor Model Basin on the NSWC Carderock Division compound to test human-powered submarines that they designed and built. Over the course of a week, these students race against the clock to see which design is the fastest.

In designing their submersibles, the teams have to master naval engineering principles such as buoyance, propulsion, hydrodynamic design, guidance systems and underwater life support systems engineering.

By confronting all of these engineering issues to create a working submarine, the competitors are gaining valuable experience that translates directly into their future careers.

“I feel like this is something that I definitely want to put on a college application or resume someday, this is a great learning experience and stuff that’s going to help me throughout my whole life,” said Teddy Schwalm, a competitor with team Il Calamaro.

While this is a competition, it also affords engineering students a very unique opportunity to engage with professionals in the field that they are studying. And, it also gives the mentors the ability to mold the next generation of naval engineers.

“I first found my passion for ocean engineering at the International Submarine Races (ISR),” said Dan Dozier, senior supervisory engineering manager at Carderock’s Naval Architecture and Engineering Department. “I stayed involved with the event because I wanted to pass that passion on to the next generation.”

he enthusiasm and passion exhibited by the mentors is echoed in the competitors, some of which were as young as eight years old.

“This is our first time at the races, and we’re really excited,” said Paola Addamiano-Carts, a member of the team Carts Independent. We did everything ourselves, we did research online and built the sub in our garage. Everyone on the team, ages eight to sixteen, contributed what they could.”

At the end of the day, when the competition is over, this event is about planting the seed in the minds of the competitors that they can make a career of naval engineering, and by doing so, not only benefit themselves, but the nation as a whole.

Finding people qualified to design the next generations of naval hardware is of paramount importance to the national security of the United States, said Dr. Tim Acano Jr., Technical Director of NSWC Carderock Division.

This dedication toward finding the next generation of scientists and engineers is part of the Department of Defense‘s wider Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) initiatives. STEM outreach programs target the nation’s youth and provides resources and opportunities that not only benefit the student but the DOD and the United States as a whole.

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua D. Sheppard
Defense Media Activity



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