Carnegie Aquanauts Take to the Deep in 12th ISR Competition-Mechanical Engineering - Carnegie Mellon University

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Carnegie Aquanauts Take to the Deep in 12th ISR Competition

On June 24th – June 28th, the Carnegie Aquanauts, class of 2013 MechE alums Siri Ramos, Jayon Wang, sophomore Nicholas Harrington, and CMU alum Bradley Schneider competed in the 12th annual International Human-Powered Submarine Races (ISR) held at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in West Bethesda, Maryland. Their goal - to navigate a human-powered submarine along an underwater 100-meter course at the International Human Powered Submarine Races.

For their first time competing, the Carnegie Aquanauts won first in their class, competing against 20 teams from the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Netherlands, Germany and Oman. Harrington stated, “It was a year long ordeal, a couple hours a week designing, getting materials, fabrication and testing. It was no small project, especially with out small team, so everyone put in a considerable amount of work.” Their boat, El Pez Gordo, reached 2.97 knots, winning the award for fastest speed in the one-person submarine – nonpropeller driven division. Harrington explained, “Our submarine was the only one of its kind. We bypassed all the conventional propulsion mechanisms and tried to make it as simple as possible. Our sub is powered by kicking your feet, just like you were swimming, but in a submarine.” Other categories in the ISR competition include one- and two-man propeller driven and non-propeller driven submarines. ISR also awarded prizes based on innovation, best use of composites, best design outline, overall performance, and best spirit of the races. 

The competition is organized by the Foundation for Underwater Research and Education and includes high schools, universities, as well as individuals and research labs. Harrington said that he first found out about the competition through a YouTube video he saw in high school and first entered a submarine at that level of competition. One of the main goals of ISR is to inspire engineering students to pursue underwater technology advancement by turning theory into reality. The competition also fosters advances in this research area while increasing public awareness of people working in and exploring ocean depths. 

Full results can be viewed online at:

Congratulations to the team for all of their hard work!