Meet the Waterloo Submarine Racing Team (WatSub)

Note: This article is hosted here for archival purposes only. It does not necessarily represent the values of the Iron Warrior or Waterloo Engineering Society in the present day.

Did you know there is a new student design team? It is the Waterloo Submarine Racing Team! The challenge is to build a human-powered submarine and race it in international competitions. However, it is not that simple—everything is, of course, underwater. This means having to think outside the box to make it work, since many little details play a big role: buoyancy control, materials, exhausted air management, electronics, etc. This is what makes it so thrilling, as you get experience in the completely unique field that is marine engineering.

WatSub started last February; a small idea that two students had last fall quickly became reality as the recruitment for the team started. Today WatSub is approaching its manufacturing phase, but in order to have a better idea on what to expect—and to build—the team decided to visit Maryland, USA.  Every two years the International Submarine Races (ISR) takes place at the Carderock Division of the Naval Surface Warfare Center, a US Navy base in Maryland. The team went to observe and get a glimpse of what a submarine race is like. Innovative designs from highly recognized universities around the globe were present, and our team got to meet with most of the competing teams. Some of them were first timers, while others were experts, but all of them shared their experiences. This valuable trip where the team got to see the world record being broken brought home the hopes of WatSub’s submarine being the one to break it next time. But it also brought more motivation and knowledge.

What are the team’s plans? The goal is to build a submarine called AMY, named after Amy Van Dyken, a Olympic swimmer and gold medalist, for next year’s competition in the UK. This is the European International Submarine Racing (eISR).  The team already started to get ready by getting diving classes, as for the competition it is essential to have licensed divers helping out with the submarine setup underwater, and of course the pilot is the most important underwater figure.

WatSub is divided into four sub-teams: Propulsion, Hull, Life Support Systems, and Business. No matter what program or faculty, there is a place for you in the team, to experience and learn completely new things, to put in practice what you learned in the classroom, and ultimately, to innovate. If there is anything you are not sure about, the team is there to support you; for example, the team offered a SolidWorks workshop for members that wanted to learn how to use it. WatSub is about innovation, especially by having the opportunity to build something new from scratch: a submarine, a team. Are you ready to dive into this underwater challenge?

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