Throughout this school year, the American Society of Naval Engineers (ASNE) has promoted electric propulsion through a grant from the Office of Naval Research (ONR). College teams participating in the Promoting Electric Program (PEP) receive $7,000 to design, build, test, and race their craft in a five-mile race. In addition, these teams are closely connected to ASNE’s scholarship program, Section meetings, and various ASNE events. ASNE provides job/internship information to the competitors and matches these dedicated engineers to jobs in our industry. On May 26, these activities came to a head in Pohick Bay off the Potomac River for an exciting day of competition and camaraderie of manned and unmanned races.
In the manned competition, Washington College’s beautiful wooden craft took first place completing the five miles in 22 minutes, 38 seconds. Their ice water-cooled electric motor had more than enough power, and their battery packs had plenty of storage. In second place, Old Dominion University completed nearly the entire race in 25 minutes and 29 seconds. Using four marine batteries in series and propeller on a five-foot-long axle, the design reflected their dedication and ingenuity. As team lead Daniel Erdogan said, “It’s not the size of the team, it’s the size of the heart within the team.” In third place, first-year competitors from Pittsburgh put in a solid performance completing 3 miles in 37:13. Zodiac Milpro generously donated their inflatable craft which served as the foundation for a solid design that can be improved by the dozens of teammates that came together this year to form the team. North Carolina A&T put in a solid showing with their ruggedly designed craft; they had more than enough power to complete the five miles and put in a great showing. The Princeton manned craft had great power, but suffered issues during the race—the team is on the right track for success in 2023. The week before the event, Wake Forest University blew out a shaft coupler and the University of Georgia had connections issues and did not make it to the start line. The Kentucky team showed true grit modifying their unmanned design to go manned, overcoming a wiring issue in their initial heat, and put in a solid three mile performance through their ingenuity and dedication.
In the unmanned competition, the stellar team from Texas A&M set the overall PEP record, completing the five miles in 17 minutes, 42 seconds. This team came together quickly this year and began testing early in the Fall semester. With two seniors and three underclassmen in attendance, this team showed engineering excellence throughout the year. In second place, Stevens Institute narrowly edged out Johns Hopkins University. Both teams created strong designs but faced mid-race challenges that necessitated quick thinking and fast repairs by the operators of the craft. The University of Michigan Electric Boat team brought an impressive 550-kg, hydrofoil design, and worked tirelessly to get it into the water. Sadly, water found its way into their motors and they were unable to compete. Princeton’s unmanned craft demonstrated raw power, appearing to top 25 knots. However, the system needed a bit more refinement in order to compete on the race course. Virginia Tech also brought their unmanned craft but burned up too many ESCs to compete.
PEP needs you! Teams can use mentorship and technical expertise as well as in-kind and financial donations to help them build their crafts. This year, ASNE’s STEM Fund covered the cost of food and drinks, and we look forward to providing a more robust competitor experience during PEP 2023 in Virginia Beach. If you can help us grow, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The original article appeared in Volume 134 (June 2022) of the Naval Engineers Journal, written by Mike Briscoe, ASNE Educator in Residence.