Students from Old Dominion University's chapter of the American Society of Naval Engineers (ASNE) showcased the marine engineering program at the Batten College of Engineering and Technology and the digital shipbuilding program at the Virginia Modeling, Simulation and Analysis Center (VMASC) during Harborfest weekend in Norfolk.
Three members of ODU's ASNE chapter participated in the ASNE-SIKA Ultimate Build-A-Boat Challenge, which took place near the Half Moon Cruise and Celebration Center at Town Point Park. Chapter President Daniel Erdogan collaborated with Mark Anderson, a nuclear engineer at Norfolk Naval Shipyard and a 17-year veteran of this boatbuilding event, along with a team composed of Bruce Thacker and Nathan Wright.
They took part in the construction portion of the event at Harborfest on Saturday. The racing portion was postponed due to a heavy rainstorm.
But "in the spirit of improvisation that the Ultimate Build-A-Boat Challenge is known for," races were held the following weekend in the Back Bay area of Virginia Beach, said Mike D'Amato of HHI's mission technologies division one of the event's organizers. Thirteen of the of the 17 teams originally entered competed, including all three ODU representatives.
Among the teams participating was one from Hampton High School Maritime Academy. Jessica Johnson, curriculum coordinator for digital shipbuilding at VMASC, serves on the academy's advisory board and is responsible for many of its curriculum updates to include adding Industry 4.0/5.0 skill sets, such as Digital Shipbuilding and Modeling and Simulation.
Though races were not held during Harborfest, the event was still meaningful, said Joseph Kosteczko, ODU's assistant director of digital shipbuilding, which relies on computer data rather than paper blueprints to streamline the design process and make ship construction faster and more cost effective.
"The Build-a-Boat Challenge and support of the ODU students and the K-12 program at Hampton High is in our core mission and a fun way to demonstrate the importance of skill sets needed for success in the dynamic maritime domain," he said.
Teams submitted their designs two weeks in advance of the competition and were supplied with construction material kits on site.
ODU's Batten College of Engineering and Technology and the digital shipbuilding program at VMASC were among the co-sponsors of the event, along with many local maritime industry partners. Net proceeds go to funding mission areas of ASNE in promoting naval engineering, shipbuilding and the ship repair industry, which also includes funding for engineering scholarships and STEM programs. Donors also covered all costs for teams to participate in the event.
The ASNE was founded in 1888 to foster research and development in the new technology of steam propulsion and in new materials as applied to naval warships.
ODU's Department of Engineering Technology, home to the marine engineering major, has been associated with ODU's ASNE chapter, founded in 2004 by Tony Dean. He serves as chapter adviser and is also a leader of the marine engineering specialization minor at ODU.
"We are very excited here at ODU to raise a new generation of future engineers who can join the industry that is currently experiencing large skill shortage gaps due to the aging workforce," said Vukica Jovanović, chair of the engineering technology department. "These students, and their problem-solving abilities, will strengthen our local naval and marine industry, and therefore, our region."
VMASC's digital shipbuilding program was founded in 2018 through a Virginia Growth and Opportunity grant that established the Virginia Digital Shipbuilding Workforce Program. Kosteczko was the program's first hire. It now has a staff of seven and could grow to 10 by the end of 2022.
The project has been awarded nearly $8 million in research grants and developed 29 digital shipbuilding/maritime-related curricula and STEM programming, which have been employed to strengthen the maritime industrial base across Hampton Roads, Virginia and nationwide. Because of these efforts, in 2019, then-President John R. Broderick announced a partnership that created the Newport News Shipbuilding and Huntington Ingalls Industries Scholars program, which allows between 10 and 20 ODU students studying digital shipbuilding to receive scholarships of up to $5,000 per semester.
"We are excited at Digital Shipbuilding to partner with our fellow ODU teammates in the engineering technology department, ASNE and industry partners in supporting and promoting the future workforce for the maritime industry," Kosteczko said. "The primary goal when digital shipbuilding was established was to act as a catalyst for collaboration to propel the maritime industry into the future through research and workforce development."