Tech Talk: students' insights and experience (Day  3)
Thursday, 16 July 2015

Tech Talk: students' insights and experience (Day 3)

 

Every evening, races are followed by Tech Talks during which students share, oppose and compare their innovative ideas. Meeting with 3 teams of this second HYDROCONTEST: Ecole Centrale Paris (France), SUPMECA Toulon (France) and Universidade Federal de Pernambuco (Brazil).

The team of nautical enthusiast friends from Centrale Paris was looking for an exciting course project when one of them happened to discover the HYDROCONTEST during a regatta.  The project began in earnest last September: the idea was to build a stable, simple but efficient boat, laying the foundations for a more ambitious and innovative project for 2016. These general engineers made the choice of starting with a solid, long-term project rather than taking the risk of playing around with fields such as hydrodynamics and simulation.

Instead of choosing between a multipurpose prototype and two different prototypes, the Centraliens decided to work on a single but extremely modular hull. For “light transport”, hulls look like a surfboard, letting the boat glide like Imocas. For “mass transport”, these gliders give place to sharp and slender hulls with a minimum wetted area to go with the central bulbous bow.

The lighter version was covertly tested in the pond of a Parisian region park, whereas the heavyweight configuration was launched for the first time on Lake Geneva. It appears that the stability objective has been met for now; we look forward to the innovations that the 2016 team, already formed and ready to begin, will bring for the next edition.

 

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It is thanks to their team manager, passionate about sailing and innovation, that the team “Hydro Sharks” from Supméca Toulon came together to compete in the HYDROCONTEST 2015. The students have worked relentlessly since February, alongside their courses, embarking on this adventure and acquiring a practical experience that broadens their theoretical curriculum.  The team members immersed themselves in the spirit of the competition and of the prototypes of the 1st edition. They played the mechanical innovation card, designing a trimaran with a novel hull layout: the central hull is placed towards the back compared to the two lateral floats, allowing them to compete in both categories.

The buoying calculation performed in Toulon based on a lighter boat in composite than the one eventually built in wood, the team has had to adapt its hulls following the Archimedes’ principle: through adding a significant volume of polystyrene – an ultra-light component – below the hulls, their immerge volume rises the boat more efficiently and yet with an almost similar weight. This is one more example of the ingenuity the students need to compete in the HYDROCONTEST.

For these mechanical engineering students, limitations appeared mainly in hydrodynamics, naval architecture and electronics, all along the designing and building of the boat. This aspect should be solved with the 2016 team, thanks to the fact that in the meantime, Supméca Toulon will merge with another school that offers a curriculum in maritime engineering and naval architecture. As early as September, the 2015 team plans to begin the transmission process to allow their school to excel next year. Let’s hope they share all of their tips and tricks, including the one regarding free of charge accommodation in Switzerland.

 

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After a first participation in 2014, a few team members of Pernambuco federated some more friends from their naval engineering class to build a brand new boat for the HYDROCONTEST 2015. Based on a comparison of the different prototypes presented by the competitors in 2014, the Brazilians chose to go for a catamaran that should be more stable than a monohull. With a chemical engineer in their team, they hoped to use her expertise in composites and other materials, but the lack of infrastructure and resources made it difficult for her to perform the necessary tests: maybe the 2016 team will find a way to use recyclable materials. On the mechanical side, they have chosen to improve the servomotors from last year (not strong enough to make the rudder pivot) thanks to a gearbox that amplifies the torque at the end. This was the best option to fit into the financial constraints of the project.

In the meantime, the strength of Pernambuco is definitely its team spirit that allows the students to compensate for their bad luck (starting with the late arrival of the boat) and be proud of all the improvements they have brought to their project since last year.  

 

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