Engineering Students Design, Test and Try to Sink Each Others' Boats

Engineering students of Alex Siragy spent this quarter building boats within a given set of dimensions that maximized displacement, speed, maneuverability, and effectiveness. Boat hulls needed to be no more than 60 cm long, 20 cm wide, 5 cm "tall" (measured from the top of their hull to their waterline), and 7 mm thick and also needed to have the capacity to carry 2.5 kg of additional load. Boats were constructed using a variety of materials, including wood, aluminum, plastic film, and duct tape, powered by electric motors, and controlled using an 8-channel 2.4 GHz remote control system.
This week, their boats got tested in a makeshift test pool behind the Art building. Boats were assessed for each of the four criteria identified above and received points based on their ranking. Displacement was measured by an electronic balance and ranged from 1.8 kg to 3.5 kg. Speed was measured by how much time a boat needed to travel a 10-foot straightway section of the 8'x16' test pool and ranged from under 20 seconds to over 2 minutes. Maneuverability was assessed by timing how long boats needed to complete a 6-turn slalom-style round-trip in the test tank and ranged from under 3 minutes to over 5 minutes. Effectiveness was determined by pitting boats against each other three at a time in a contest to see which boats could most effectively damage/sink other boats while maintaining their ability to float and maneuver. Effectiveness points were awarded based on scored hits, durability, and ability to disable or sink opponents. The testing was a fun event that attracted many onlookers. The total points earned by a boat determined its final score. The highest score was earned by the SS Tortuga, the boat with the wooden swing arm that is attached to a blue gear on the bow, which was built and piloted by seniors Jacob and Theo. Congratulations to our Engineering boat builders and to the winning design. What a fun project!