High school team&'s composite sub is best in composites

At the 8th International Submarine Races, held June 27-July 1 at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, Umptysquatch II, a sub fielded by a team from Sussex Technical High School (Sparta, N.J.), was awarded the prize for "Best Use of Composites." The competition challenges teams from North America and

At the 8th International Submarine Races, held June 27-July 1 at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, Umptysquatch II, a sub fielded by a team from Sussex Technical High School (Sparta, N.J.), was awarded the prize for "Best Use of Composites." The competition challenges teams from North America and Europe to develop human-powered submarines, encouraging innovation in design and use of materials. Judges cited the students' use of composite technology to create "special contour and surface variations necessary to achieve their vehicle's design requirements."

Sussex teacher Chris Land and his students virtually modeled and assembled their sub before construction, using Solid Edge software supplied by Unigraphics (UGS, Huntsville, Ala.). The hull and hatch covers were constructed by first fabricating plugs formed by plywood frames covered by C-Flex fiberglass planking (Seemann Fiberglass Inc., Harahan, La.) and then fairing them with body fillers. The plugs were prepped with mold release and sprayed with polyester tooling gel coat. Students hand layed plies of 1.5-oz glass mat, 10-oz unidirectional glass and 18-oz biaxial glass fabric, donated anonymously. The hull was made from the mold in four pieces, but initial testing showed that the pilot would require more footroom near the gearbox to pedal efficiently. With insufficient time to redesign and mold the hull parts, the students cut clearance holes in the hull and four large fairings were constructed by shaping corrugated cardboard and attaching it to the hull exterior. Fiberglass mat and roving were hand layed over the cardboard and cured, and then the cardboard was removed. The hull sections were bonded and joints were faired with body filler. Fonzarelli's Auto Body (Agusta, N.J.) performed final prep and paint, while Atlantis Signs (Andover, N.J.) supplied sub graphics.

Despite spending more than 10 months and 10,000 man/hours on the sub, Land says he and his students are already discussing the alterations they'll make in the sub design for next year. "Given the commitment of the team, both mentally and physically, this is remarkable to me," says Land.