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NEWS | July 8, 2021

vISR 16 Concludes; Award Winners Announced

By Edvin Hernandez, NSWC Carderock Division Public Affairs

June 25, 2021, marked the conclusion of the first-ever virtual International Submarine Race (vISR) hosted by the Foundation for Underwater Research (FURE) and the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division. The event, which welcomed 12 teams from the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, presented students with several human-powered submarine design challenges.

FURE, who sponsors and manages the event, announced its award winners and runners-up for this year’s vISR. FURE President Charlie Behrle said he wished he could have hosted all teams at Carderock’s David Taylor Model Basin, however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was best to keep everyone at home. While this year’s format was different, students were still able to display their talents and problem-solving capabilities in submarine and hull designs, as well as demonstrate an ability to think on their feet during interactive problem-solving Zoom sessions with FURE judges.

“I want to thank all of you for ‘zooming in’ today,” Behrle said at the online awards ceremony. “I know I speak for everyone when I say that we would much rather be closing out the races by exiting the water at the David Taylor Model Basin, celebrating our successes with a picnic, and then going to the auditorium for the awards ceremony. I do want to applaud each of you, your hard work, and your participation in this year’s virtual race.”

Behrle said one of the biggest challenges this year for the FURE team was shifting gears from an operational “race” event to a more academically based event.

“FURE’s goal is always to challenge these young men and women as they pursue their dreams in marine sciences and engineering fields,” Behrle said. “I believe FURE met its objective.”

Design work is an iterative exercise that involves making tradeoffs to reach an optimal solution, and the challenge for the teams was learning to perform this design work in the virtual environment.

“The team members learned that they needed to be concise in their reasoning for design decisions and convince other team members that the solution being presented deserved to move forward,” Behrle said. “We all learned new ways of communicating in the virtual world.”

Aside from five design challenges and an operational problem-solving challenge, students also had the chance to participate in webinars, which featured naval divers, experts and engineering professionals. The competition even welcomed a message from a former ISR racer, Megan McArthur, who is now a NASA Astronaut and is currently on the International Space Station.

Carderock’s STEM and Outreach Program Director Charlotte George, who worked closely with FURE leadership during vISR 16, coordinated with some Carderock employees to be judges for this year’s online challenges. One of them Carderock judges was engineer and former ISR participant Jane Louie.

“I’m glad we were able to do it this year,” Louie said. “The judging I was involved in was very report based. It focused on judging the teams’ technical writing about their designs and problem-solving methods. I don’t think it quite captured everything we would normally take into account – being able to see visually what they’ve done and then actually being able to talk to the students and gauging them on the lessons they learned.”

Commanding Officer, Capt. Todd E. Hutchison, addressed the ISR teams in a pre-recorded message, praising the students’ STEM ambitions.

“Your participation in ISR contributes to our proud, innovative culture at Carderock,” Hutchison said. “Much like our workforce, you have all displayed a willingness to be adventurous in your experimental endeavors, which has led you to this event. ISR has given many students a fun, interactive platform in submarine and surface ship design. This STEM event has gained fans and participants from across the country, the world and, believe it or not, even outer space. Megan’s story is an example to follow your dreams and pursue the unexpected; you just never know what the future has in store for you.”

The ISR board recognized six winners during the awards ceremony, which was hosted online via Zoom. Awardees were presented a plaque and, in some cases, a financial reward, too. The list of winners and runner-ups, along with honorable mentions, for each award are listed below:

Subsystem Design Challenge – Human Factors Engineering Design Process

First Place: Human Powered Submarine Team, University of Washington

Runner-up: SUBC, University of British Columbia

Subsystem Design Challenge – Drivetrain Design

First Place: SUBC, University of British Columbia

Runner-up: Human Powered Submarine Team, University of Washington

Honorable Mention: UVIC Submarine Racing Club, University of Victoria

Subsystem Design Challenge – Thrust Production Device Design

First Place: Virginia Tech

Runner-up: Texas A&M University

Honorable Mention: Godiva, University of Warwick

Subsystem Design Challenge – Maneuvering and Control Design

First Place: Human Powered Submarine Team, University of Washington

Runner-up: Virginia Tech

Honorable Mention: Godiva, University of Warwick

The Future Submarine Technical and Design Challenge

First Place: Human Powered Submarine Team, University of Washington

Runner-up: SUBC University of British Columbia

Operational Problem Solving Challenge

First Place: Human Powered Submarine Team, University of Washington

Runner-up: Virginia Tech

Honorable Mention: Southampton University Human Powered Submarine (SUHPS), University of Southampton

In addition, Hannah Douglas, a team member of the UMPTYSQUATCH team, was awarded the 2021 FURE scholarship. Douglas recently graduated from Sussex County Technical High School in Georgetown, Delaware, and will soon attend Wilkes University in Wilkes Barr, Pennsylvania, majoring in mechanical engineering.

While vISR 16 successfully managed to keep students engaged in human-powered submarine design, Behrle and all personnel involved in the biennial competition cannot wait to get back in the water in 2023.

“I look forward to seeing you all, including those teams who were unable to participate this year, at the David Taylor Model Basin for ISR17 in June 2023,” Behrle said. “If past races are any indication, we expect to see around 25 teams and over 500 student participants.”