White Rock’s Jaryd Middleton is once again taking his education to greater depths, gearing up to pilot a human-powered submarine in international waters as a member of the University of Victoria Submarine Racing Club.
The competition, set for June 23-28 in Maryland, will be Middleton’s second experience in the International Submarine Races, which challenge science and engineering students to craft a one- or two-person sub from scratch, and pit its design against others in an underwater course.
Last year, in England, the competition course was largely designed to test manoeuverability of the vessels. This year, however, “is essentially a drag race,” Middleton told Peace Arch News by email.
“The course gives submarines a thirty meter acceleration zone before the one-hundred meter speed trap.”
Middleton, a 22-year-old mechanical engineering student, is president of the UVic club – and no stranger to adventures involving water.
At age 11, he set out with his family on a 50-foot Waterline steel cutter, sailing across thousands of miles of open waters, from Vancouver to the Cook Islands and as far as Malaysia, on a journey that spanned 3½ years and 15 countries.
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And just as Middleton learned much in those 3½ years, the UVic team has grown in the year since the England competition – where their Chinook vessel won for Most Reliable Submarine – despite the fact Middleton is the sole returning member.
“It is going to be (a) great chance for the team to get their own bit of context as well because most of last year’s team were fourth year students and many have since moved on from the club,” he said.
“It is re-assuring to see the kind of progress we have made despite such a large shift in the club member structure.”
In preparing for the Maryland event, Middleton said the team focused on increasing power from the pilot with improved bio-mechanics; minimizing drag; and increasing efficiency with steps including a redesign of the propeller hubs to accommodate four blades instead of six.
“A lot of research also went into making the control surfaces more powerful for their size,” Middleton said.
“By integrating the bumps found on humpback whale fins, called tubercles, into the control surface design, dive planes and rudders could be made even smaller.”
Middleton said the team is “really looking forward to putting the sub through its paces this year in Washington D.C. and seeing all the amazing designs that other universities have developed.”
“No matter how the competition goes this has been an incredible learning experience and a chance to work with some amazing people,” he said.
With days still to go before the competition, Middleton is already thinking ahead to next year’s competition, noting he hopes to focus on integrating more methods for sustainable manufacturing, such as using recycled plastic for components such as the blades.
He encouraged anyone interested in tracking the team’s progress in Maryland to follow them on Instagram (uvicsubmarine). For more information on the team, visit www.uvicsubmarine.com