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FAU’s Human Powered Submarine Takes First in Speed at 10th International Submarine Race

            BOCA RATON, FL (July 6, 2009) –
Florida Atlantic University’s Human Powered Submarine Team recently won first place for speed and second place in the overall competition at the 10 th International Submarine Race (ISR) at the United States Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Carderock Division David Taylor Model Basin in Bethesda, Maryland. 

Talon 1, FAU’s one-man propeller driven submarine, reached a final speed of 6.298 knots, the fastest speed of any submarine in any category earning them the “Absolute Speed” award. The team placed second in the overall team competition winning $1,250 in prize money to use toward building its next submarine.

“Participating in ISR races inspire and motivate ocean engineering undergraduates,” said Manhar Dhanak, chair of the FAU department of ocean engineering. “Winning one with such flair matures them overnight, leaving them full of confidence and with a sense of purpose. The win puts FAU in the limelight again in the ocean community. The faculty and staff at FAU are so proud of the team’s achievement.”  

The eight person team made up of all ocean engineering students with the exception of Shawn Wilt, a mechanical engineer, included team captains George Valdes and Joe Alderton, as well as Skyler Bryan, Jason McCullough, Danielle Kolber, Charlotte George and Everett Jones. The team also was aided by Dr. Edgar An, professor of ocean engineering at FAU, and FAU alumni Justin Stewart and Tony Lavigne.

“Throughout all of the trials and tribulations, building a submarine takes a lot of dedication,” said Valdes.  “However, it takes a lot of heart to make a successful team, and I think our team this year had that heart and the drive to push through the competition and succeed.”

The submarine race is a contest that began in 1989 and has grown to include the participation of universities, colleges, corporations, research centers, high schools and privately sponsored teams from North America and Europe. Teams consist of student athlete/engineers that wear scuba gear as the subs are “wet,” or filled with water, to provide propulsion and navigation as the subs run submerged along a 100-meter measured course against the clock.

The goal is to design an underwater vehicle that can be powered successfully by scuba-clad teams without malfunctioning, crashing into the bottom, popping to the surface or simply failing to move through the water. The principal objective is education: encouraging innovation in the use of materials, hydrodynamic design, buoyancy, propulsion and underwater life support.

The 21-team competition included teams from Texas A&M University, Virginia Tech, University of Maine, University of Maryland, University of Washington and University Michigan, as well as teams from Canada, England, Venezuela and the private sponsors.

FAU set its first official speed record in the ISR in June 1991. At the eighth ISR in 2005, the team placed second overall in performance, claiming six out of nine possible awards while breaking FAU’s fastest time with 6.1 knots with a 15-year-old retiring submarine and former Guinness Book world record holder.  The races were originally launched by FAU Ocean Engineering in 1989 off the Riviera Beach coast. Later, the competition was moved to the Maryland site. The present team raised funds and built the new boat that competed in the 2009 race.

            For more information, contact Dr. Edgar An at 561-297-2792, or Joe Alderton at 561-459-6478.


Atlantic University 's College of Engineering and Computer Science is committed to providing accessible and responsive programs of education and research recognized nationally for their high quality. Course offerings are presented on-campus, off-campus, and through distance learning in bioengineering, civil engineering, computer engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, geomatics engineering, mechanical engineering and ocean engineering.  For more information about the college, please visit .

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