QinetiQ, a defence technology company and Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) a bespoke trading entity that is part of the Ministry of Defence, are once again principal sponsors of the IMarEST’s biennial European International Submarine Races (eISR 2016). The two principal sponsors were joined last week by additional sponsors, Babcock International Group and BMT Defence Service.
The races, held from 6-15th July 2016 at QinetiQ’s Ocean Basin in Gosport, England, will challenge 12 university teams from across the world to design, build and race human-powered submarines.
“We are delighted to host, for the third time, the human-powered submarine race. The development of engineering talent in the marine sector is something we support through a variety of events and this particular challenge brings together teams from around the world to compete, and share, in a unique way.” Dr Jon Bayliss, Head of Maritime Platforms, QinetiQ
“The human-powered submarine races are a real test of ingenuity and team skills that enables young engineers to develop novel ideas in a very specialist working environment. I fully support the use of the Ocean Basin at QinetiQ Haslar for this type of activity, where there is clear potential for technology spin-off. The multi-national interest in this event is very encouraging as this also enables good networking opportunities throughout this specialist field within the worldwide maritime engineering community. I wish all the competitors the very best of luck.” Phil Redhead, Deputy Head Submarines, UK Ministry of Defence
A Careers’ Day at Hilsea Lido, Portsmouth on Saturday 9th July will allow those considering opportunities within the marine sector to talk with the sponsoring organisations and find out what kinds of jobs are available, what they involve and the skills required. Live-demonstrations of the human-powered submarines will also take place.
“This event wouldn’t be possible without the continuous support we have received from both QinetiQ and DE&S and especially the use of QinetiQ’s Ocean Basin, within which the submarines will compete. We’re very grateful for all the help from their staff with the organisation and logistics of such a big event”. David Loosley, IMarEST Chief Executive.
There are nine university teams that have now qualified. Texas A&M, University of Michigan, Rhine Waal University, Ecole de Technologie Superieure, University of Bath, Delft University of Technology, University of Auckland, University of Warwick and University of Washington.
Bentely Altizer, Captain of the University of Washington team commented, “We have a very unique situation where dozens of people get together and rally around a common goal. It’s a really beautiful thing to see a group of people grow to be just as passionate as myself about a project like this. We build submarines for the world to see and we build trust, respect, and teamwork for ourselves.”
About the Ocean Basin
QinetiQ’s Ocean Basin at Gosport, Hampshire was built in the 1950s, and is one of the largest freshwater indoor tanks in the world. It has recently been used to test scaled models of the new British aircraft carriers, HM Ships Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales for stability and handling. A recent, substantially high spec upgrade has given the wavemaker even greater capacity to accurately simulate real sea conditions, capable of generating regular waves and both long and short-crested irregular waves.
About the European International Submarine Races
The eISR are an initiative that the IMarEST challenges teams of university students to design, build and race human-powered submarines against the clock on an out-and-back course. The concept combines engineering design challenge with technical skill development and sets them in a unique and exciting sporting competition.
The basic rules of the sport are straightforward – teams must design, build and race flooded submarines piloted by a single scuba diver, who must be fully enclosed within the hull of the machine. All propulsion power must be provided by the diver during the race (i.e. no energy storage devices such as flywheels or batteries are allowed), but otherwise the design rules are open to whatever innovation teams decide to use.
The eISR is also about developing real, practical engineering skills. In the funding-constrained university environment, the practical elements of curricula have been replaced with theoretical calculation and computer modelling. A submarine big enough to contain a diver is a real, tangible machine, and the mechanisms have to produce and take real forces. At the same time, the challenge isn’t so great that the students can’t make the parts themselves – this provides an invaluable learning experience as they see their CAD drawings come to real life.
Finally, the competition is about working as a team in a time-critical, adrenaline-charged atmosphere. During the build-up to the race, the students learn to exploit each other’s’ strengths, and design into their machines what they think they will need to succeed at the races. In initial testing, they learn where the weaknesses are, and make considered adjustments to their designs. Then, once they arrive on the racecourse, and really put their machines to the test, they invariably find new challenges, and have to bring out their engineering knowledge to find solutions on-the-fly with limited facilities. Such experience is invaluable to them later in their careers, regardless of the direction they take.
The IMarEST is an international membership body and learned society that brings marine engineers, scientists and technologists together into one professional body. The largest marine organisation of its kind, it spans 128 countries and works to promote the scientific development of marine disciplines, providing opportunities for the exchange of ideas and practices and upholding the status, standards and expertise of marine professionals worldwide.
Members are able to gain professional registration (such as Technician, Incorporated, Registered or Chartered status). Education is supported through the MLA, a subsidiary of the IMarEST Group that delivers distance e-learning.
The IMarEST is an NGO with consultative status at the International Maritime Organization (IMO), observer status at the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, International Hydrographic Organization, the London Convention/London Protocol (LC/LP) and the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP) and it has special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC).