A yellow submarine teaches students how teamwork is vital to achieving innovative design and manufacturing success
Doubtless determination, dedication and drive turned engineering technology students into award-winning submarine builders.
A nine-member team designed and built a 12-foot, 250-pound, yellow submarine, christened the Umptysquatch-1.
Their teamwork skills were outstanding. If they werent, it wouldnt have been completed, says their teacher and SkillsUSA advisor, Chris Land, of Sussex County Technical School in Sparta, N.J.
This was not the average project. Nothing about it was easy. Everything came together in the end on this one, Land adds. This was truly a project in which all the hard work paid off, and it allowed us to meet a monumental task.
For the International Submarine Race, sponsored by the Foundation for Underwater Research and Education, Lands students traveled to the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Maryland and operated their human-powered submarine in the worlds largest indoor tank. The competition included 16 colleges and universities, an academy and another high school.
Yet the team earned first prize in one event, Best Design Outline and Report, and took third place in another, Two-Person Dual-Propeller Academic Speed. One contest sponsor, Sea Technology magazine, put the students on its cover.
The students elected to compete two years ago after learning of the competition through the Internet. Land, a former officer on a Trident submarine, told them he wasnt keen on the idea, because no one would believe the students came up with it on their own. they did. During the first year of a two-year project, Lands senior class designed the sub, then turned it over to the next years seniors, who built it. Most of the machining was done by another of Lands classes.
There were real deadlines, he explains. There was a long extended schedule that they had to come up with not because the teacher made them do it, but because they werent going to make it if they didnt make some of these deadlines.
But getting into true engineering and manufacturing was a big motivator for the students, Land says. I think they got a real feel of what its like to work in a design/build atmosphere where its not We can make that or can we do that, its Do we have enough time? They had design conversations, and they were coming up with answers and changes to designs that were smart.
The instructor calls the project an extremely rewarding experience in all of our lives. Everything about this project, from the smallest detail to the largest manufactured part, represented a true engineering design/build challenge. There were no How to Build a Human-Powered Submarine books. We simply used our solid academic and hands-on skills and applied them to a truly monumental challenge.When it was all over, we were at a restaurant having our victory meal. The amazing thing was that after all that, the only thing discussed at dinner among everybody was, What do we change for the next one?
SkillsUSA Champions | Winter 2004 | Volume 38, No. 2