Student Interns Conquer 3-D Printing Challenge

Student interns currently assigned to Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division under the Science and Engineering Apprenticeship Program make last-minute adjustments to their 3-D printed boat Host and Swarm Ocean Cleaning Vessel just before the second annual Additive Manufacturing (AM) Challenge in West Bethesda, Md., Aug. 10, 2017. These students designed and created additively manufactured boats using a standard kit of parts and raced them to complete the event. Navy photos by Dustin Q. Diaz


By Dustin Diaz, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division

Student interns made a new traditional official when they raced 3-D printed boats they designed and created themselves for the second annual Additive Manufacturing (AM) Challenge at Naval
Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division Aug. 10.

The students, who were assigned to Carderock this summer under the Science and Engineering Apprenticeship Program, made the boats using only AM and a standard kit of parts and raced
them in the David Taylor Model Basin as their final projects before leaving Carderock to return to school.

“Each team had to come up with their own design in just a few short weeks,” said Jonathan Hopkins, a mechanical engineer and Carderock’s Additive Manufacturing Project Office lead. “This year, they had to print their own propellers as well, so the students had the opportunity to engage with our hydrodynamics folks to get background knowledge on what to consider when you’re doing a prop design from scratch. That was the added challenge for them this summer and they learned a lot from doing that.” 

The obstacle course was won by the Optionally Manned SWATH Collection Vessel created by Jack Lange, Natalie Brooks, Anthony Guardado and Carter Junod. Although Brooks, a rising senior at Magruder High School in Montgomery County, Maryland, said she wasn’t sure if the team’s boat would work properly come race time, they’re glad it did.

“The motor kept falling off and so did the propellers – we had to solder them back in the last 15 minutes, so it was pretty down to the wire,” said Brooks. “But we didn’t give up!”

Brooks said she chose Carderock for her internship because of its positive reputation in the engineering world and that her experience here, including the AM Challenge, far exceeded her
expectations, giving her the training and hands-on experience she wanted in the basics of naval architecture and how to handle projects like this one.

Like Brooks, Aiden Teter said he was excited for the opportunity to race a craft he made himself in the world-famous DTMB, which he has only seen used before during the International
Human-Powered Submarine Races in June. He only started two weeks ago on his craft ‘Clear As Mud’, which won the drag race between all the boats despite one of his four propellers falling off.

“I was worried when that happened, and my craft took on a lot of water, but I kept it at a constant speed and got it to the finish,” said Teter, who will begin attending University of Maryland, Baltimore County following his internship and was the lone member of his team, though he still had help from other interns. “I’ve never gotten to 3-D print anything this large before, and then to actually come in first in the race was a lot of fun.”

Four teams altogether tested their creations against the other boats, with about twice as many students participating as last year’s AM Challenge, according to Hopkins. Though they all had mechanical issues to troubleshoot, their mentor Danielle Kolber, a naval architect with Carderock’s Center for Innovation in Ship Design who oversaw this year’s group of SEAP interns, said their ability to persevere and be successful speaks highly of the students, especially since they helped one another while competing against each other.

“We typically encourage them, if they have a problem or hit a hiccup in their process to re-navigate and figure out what is causing the issue and then go from there,” Kolber said. “Not only were they able to balance completing this challenge with their other projects for the summer, they were able to adjust when they have problems with their boats, get them working and complete the challenge. They did an excellent job.”


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