Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division (NSWCCD) supported this year’s Maryland Engineering Challenges (MEC) competition at the Baltimore Museum of Industry on April 24. The MEC mission, according to the event’s website, is to introduce students in grades 1 to 12 to the role of engineers in today’s society and connect what students learn in school with real-world engineering concepts.
Naval Architect Doug Griggs, NSWCCD’s Hydrodynamics Trial director, was the event coordinator for the Cargo Ship Competition, which tasked high school students with designing and demonstrating a bulk carrier cargo to navigate and deliver containerized cargo over a water course with narrow channels at each end of the transit.
The command’s STEM and Outreach Program Director Charlotte George supported the students by providing hardware and electronics for the model cargo ships. Operating through a pandemic, however, meant that some rules governing the event would undoubtedly change.
“Some challenge parameters were modified this year to make the ships smaller and more practical for a student to build individually,” Griggs said. “A navigational hazard was also added, with a cross bar representing a shallow sandbar only a half an inch deeper than the limiting draft of two inches.”
“Despite considerable uncertainty about the ability to hold this event in the light of pandemic restrictions, two teams persevered and both produced cargo ships that successfully completed the course,” Griggs said.
Each team was evaluated on five separate components, including a written report with drawings, an oral report, design and fabrication, reliability and performance demonstration. The cargo ships were tested and demonstrated in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Rockbridge Academy’s Michael Grube was the winner of this year’s contest.
“Michael won the event decisively with a very detailed written and oral report, as well as stellar performance on-water. The Propeller Club of Baltimore donated a $300 scholarship to the first place winner, and Kendall Marx and Connor Merrill, who came in a strong second place with their ship, earned the $200 second place scholarship.”
Another part of the event’s mission with this STEM challenge was to help students develop comprehension and problem-solving skills; encourage teamwork and self-confidence; and promote meaningful mentor relationships with engineering professionals.
Griggs added that while both teams enjoyed the competition, Kendall Marx vowed to return next year to claim victory.