Wet suit? ✓
Breathing apparatus? ✓
Submarine that would make even the least claustrophobic person twitch? ✓
That must mean it’s time for the 13th International Submarine Races, or ISR.
University teams from around the globe converged on Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division in Bethesda, Maryland, June 22 – 26 to show off their feats of engineering.
Human-powered submarine races were first held in 1989 in Florida with 19 teams from various universities and groups. In addition to university participants, the biennial event also welcomes younger science, technology, engineering and math students to learn about engineering and build underwater vehicles. The submarines can be one or two person vehicles and are propeller or non-propeller driven.
This year, 26 teams showcased their single- and double-occupancy human-powered underwater vehicles in the 3,200-foot-long David Taylor tow tank. Reaching depths of 20 feet, the teams pushed their subs underwater while one or two team members released the hatch and entered the vehicles – all while underwater.
In a written message to the student participants, U.S. Navy Capt. Rich Blank, commander of the Carderock Division, welcomed the submarine racers and encouraged their development as scientists and engineers. “Your participation in the ISR is an important component of our innovative culture — pushing the boundaries of what you think is possible, tackling new challenges head-on, and thinking outside the box in creative ways,” Blank said.
Blank also used the event as an opportunity to encourage team members to consider Navy careers. “The exact qualities that make you a competitive candidate in the ISR are the skills we look for in our world-class workforce,” Blank added.
Why They Do It
Vincent Smart, a repeat ISR participant, traveled to Maryland from Quebec, Canada. His team, the Montreal-based Archimede, has modeled its vehicle after a tuna fish. And, they’ve had good results with it, so much that they’ve used the single-person “Archimede VI MK II” vehicle in three races.
Thomas Maulbeck, a freshman from Virginia Beach, Virginia, majoring in material science engineering, is on the Virginia Tech HPS team, racing the “Phantom 6.” It’s his first year participating in the ISR. The 2-person “Phantom 6” vehicle has been in use for eight years. The team’s goal is to get it to complete a run so that it can be decommissioned for the next step of Virginia Tech’s ISR quest, the “Phantom 7.”
“Our whole team is volunteers. We don’t get credit. We’re here because we want to be here. This program supplements what I get in the classroom,” Maulbeck said.
The winners take home trophies or plaques, and various amounts of cash awards. The winning teams were announced late Friday, June 26.
One person – propeller: WASUB 5, Delft University (Delft, Netherlands)
One person – propeller (woman): WHAT SUB DAWG, University of Washington (Seattle, Washington)
One person – non-propeller: TANIWHA, University of Auckland (Auckland, New Zealand)
One person – non-propeller (woman): INIA, Rhein-Waal University of Applied Science (Kleve, NRW, Germany)
Two person – propeller: OMER 9, École de Technologie Supérieure (Montreal, Québec, Canada)
Two person – propeller (woman): FAU-BOAT II, Florida Atlantic University (Boca Raton, Florida)
Yolanda R. Arrington is the content manager for Armed with Science. She is a journalist and social media-ista with a flair for moving pictures and writing.
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