Monday, July 21, 2014

ASP Engineers Set to Launch Submarines Later Next Week

The engineering class at St. Paul’s Advanced Studies Program began designing SeaPerch RC submarines which will be driven through an underwater course later next week.

Engineering Lab
Photo credit: Peter Federico

The Engineering Lab in the basement of the Lindsey Building looks like a 13 year old boy's bedroom. Papers, legos, empty water bottles, and an array of building materials cover the tables. Looking down at the box of PVC pipes, foam noodles, wires, screws and nails, it's nearly impossible to comprehend how the mess of materials could possibly transform into a working submarine. 

Upon arriving at ASP, the engineers weren't sure if they would be able to complete the daunting assignment. Will MacPhee, engineer at ASP, commented on this brief preview into the field of engineering. “I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to dive into a complicated field and discover what I might want to do with my life.”

With only three weeks of experience behind them, the engineers are tackling their biggest project yet: submarines.

The SeaPerch submarines come with a step-by-step instruction manual on how to assemble the subs. This year, unlike past years, the students are ditching the manual and are creating an original design for their submarines. Worrying about their newfound freedom, students doubted their ability to come up with a creative design.

3D model of a shark
Photo credit: Peter Federico
Students began using CAD (computer aided design), which is a software that allows them to electronically create models of their subs. Using the CAD the students can send their submarine design to the 3D printer. With this technique, the students can create just about any object they can think of, and print out a tangible model.

In a previous project, the students reverse engineered toy cars and other objects. The students broke the cars into three sections, redesigned the cars using CAD and created life-sized models using the 3D printer.

Tim Russell, engineering student at ASP, commented on the progress of his group’s submarine, “a couple days ago we started the design. We were given 3 motors, 10ft of PVC, some pool noodles, electrical wires and other pieces of equipment. Currently, we are wiring a controller to the sub so we can drive it through the underwater course.”

It seems that Tim's group got their creative juices flowing and designed their own original submarine. In particular, the group is focusing on creating as much downward momentum as possible by placing all three motors near the center of the sub. He hopes this will help them navigate the underwater course more efficiently.

Tim Russell with his submarine
Photo credit: Peter Federico

The submarines will be tested Thursday and Friday of next week (7/24 and 7/25) in the pool at the Athletic and Fitness Center at St. Paul’s School.

Stay tuned for coverage of the submarines in action!

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