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Student sub designs take the plunge

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Submarines are notoriously difficult to design and construct but a group of maritime engineering students are putting their skills to the test doing just that.

The submarine design project is part of a fluid mechanics subject the students must complete in their second year of study at AMC. They are split into teams and must design, build, test and evaluate a model submarine using a standard set of equipment.

Lecturer Dr Jessica Walker said that the vessels were required to operate in a range of environments, presenting unique design issues that needed to be resolved.

“Submarines must operate both on and below the surface, in coastal waters and deep oceans, which means they experience large external pressures and varying stability conditions,” she said.

“Due to the nature of these forces and the operating conditions, subs are very sensitive to small internal and external changes which can adversely affect stability and structural integrity.”

The models must be watertight to a depth of one metre and will be assessed on criteria including their stability, navigation and diving abilities.

The students were fortunate to this year receive invaluable mentoring support from Danielle Hodge, an AMC graduate who is now an engineer on the SEA1000 Future Submarine Project at the Defence Materiel Organisation.

“They’ve really taken her advice on board and produced some innovative designs, incorporating streamlined hull shapes and novel control surfaces,” Dr Walker said.

“This project is a great example of some of the hands-on learning experiences the students receive to better prepare them for life as maritime engineers. Not only are they applying the technical fluid mechanics knowledge they’ve learnt this semester, they are also gaining vital team work and communication skills.”

(Pictured): Students test their submarine model in the towing tank before their assessment run in the survival centre (photo by Scott Gelston).

Published on: 06 Oct 2014