WFSA’s Ferry Design Competition: The Professional Program and Awards Ceremony

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May 27, 2022

“The Professional Program and Awards Ceremony for the annual Ferry Design Competition- now in its ninth year, though virtual, was the best ever,” said Dr. Roberta Weisbrod, WFSA’s Executive Director,” because the awardees for the international student design competition were part of a great interchange of ideas among participants. The virtual format allowed tens of students, professors, and maritime professionals, as well as journalists to deeply engage and learn painlessly about design ideas.”

The Professional Program, held on May 18, 2022, divided into two parts- presentations on ferry design, and then on 3-D printing of boats. First, John Waterhouse, the prominent American naval architect, who is also on the Board of the WFSA, spoke about the challenges of naval architecture, primarily as he called it, Mother Nature and Father Physics. He spoke about how to build for the long term – to design so that the energy and propulsion systems could be upgraded. In response to a question about electrification he noted the internal challenges – while the batteries needed to be kept shirt-sleeve cool, other parts of the electrical system required different temperature requirements that had to be satisfied.

Dr. Susan MacKay, Senior R&D Program Manager at the University of Maine (UofM) Advanced Structures and Composites Center (also Program Manager for the multi-year ‘Hub and Spoke’ research collaboration between the UofM and the prestigious Oak Ridge National Laboratory) gave the keynote speech. Her presentation gave tremendous insight into future directions of UofM’s 3-D printing ship-building project, with a focus on the development of bio-based, recyclable materials conducive to large-scale additive manufacturing. The team collaborates with more than 20 industrial partners to bring new, sustainable, and functional composite products to market.

The Center is currently working with resins embedded with wood fibers, but can use other materials. Products aren’t limited to machine limitations – they can print 45 degree angle structures. Scaling up won’t necessarily require larger printers, their 3-D boat building process involves the preparation of modular components and development and testing of strong ‘welds.’ Speedy construction of large structures is being implemented with large volume material holders. Data analytics also play an important role; machine learning is being employed to anticipate and counteract the micro temperature and other differentials that build up during the print process.

Dr. Habib Dagher who started the Advanced Structures and Composite Center 25 years ago with four people, now has a complement of 270. The Center has been growing, with 70 positions added in the last two years. Dr. Dagher, who has been prolifically inventive garnering tens of patents, many with a marine environment emphasis, sent along his regrets that he couldn’t join the WFSA virtual Program.

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