Stimulating Mechanical Engineering Courses like Submarine Designs

My days as a Navy engineer permitted me to experience conditions which make me mock submarine flicks and any motion picture with nuclear reactors in them. There are a few exceptions. The grim reality of the situation provides a much better story than any film or book.

First let me say, typically, there are no windows on a submarine. (it is the most often asked question I get) Well, aside from the USS NR-1. But then it has also got tank treads to move along the sea floor, a robot arm, and a reactor the size of a trash can.

When I was working on my 1st submarine and looking around the engine room I recall wondering, how did they put this together like this? No kidding, when I am hanging upside down to turn a valve, it appeared that operators were not asked what would work best for them in the design of some of the systems.

I am an engineer which has never had to deal with a design that was drawn by a draftsman. Everything in my mechanical engineering courses since I started college was electronically drawn and could be looked at in three dimensions.

So today, utilizing structural software like SolidWorks, the systems in the hull can be designed. Clashes (pipes or parts running into each other’s space) can be determined with the click of a button . As well as locating the center of gravity and any measurement you need. When you have completed the design, SolidWorks will print the lay out to a mechanical engineering pdf file which makes sharing between colleagues much simpler.

As for testing the piping, CAESAR II piping software and stress calculation software has a completely unique capacity to not only use limited element research to get an idea of the forces that a piping can take, it could also compare it with one of many accepted standards such as ASME B31.1. A short easy run of piping which could take somebody a week with hand calculations can be calculated in a minute after the inputs and modeling is complete. (And believe me, even with stuff like Mathcad to help your hand calculations, it takes a Long time to make the essential comparisons)

The difficulty in using these programs in such a massive project is the necessity for a large measure of computing power. Even still, when you factor in that you can eliminate so many mistakes before a welder is sparked up, it is a lot less pricey to use the computer virtual models before the testing of a material prototype is initiated.

Written by David Krantz, Industry Director – Engineering at UsersUnite. David’s blog will talk about issues and topics related to engineering software. If you have a subject that you would like to see David write about please send him a mail with the details at