2021 Race Announcement (COVID-19 Updates)

November 13, 2020

To: All Prospective 16th International Submarine Race Participants

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Foundation for Underwater Research and Education (FURE), we hope that you and your families are healthy and continue to stay safe as well during the worldwide pandemic.

Thank you to all the teams that responded to the recent questionnaire regarding your potential participation in ISR 16.  We have reviewed your responses and suggestions, and they have collectively provided valuable information regarding your ability to effectively prepare for and participate in a race.

After careful consideration of your feedback, the ongoing growth of the pandemic in many parts of the world, continued travel restrictions, potential lockdowns in several countries, and possible alternatives, the FURE Board of Directors has concluded that an in-person International Submarine Race will not be held in 2021.  This decision was not reached lightly and we know that you are disappointed.  However, the Board feels strongly this decision is in the best interest of participants/volunteers and the future viability of the International Submarine Races.

However, when we consider the spirit of the races in combination with FURE’s goal of advancing marine technology and ocean engineering by investing in today’s youth pursuing marine related scientific and engineering research and educational opportunities, FURE will sponsor a virtual International Submarine Race (vISR) in June 2021.  While the virtual International Submarine Race is still being designed, we expect that this vISR will provide a set of interrelated, judged micro design challenges (i.e. human factors, drive train, thrust production, maneuvering and controls, etc.) and also macro design challenges that would include design and possible scale prototypes of major systems such as pilot actuated controls, drivetrain, thrust production device, and others.  In addition to these design challenges, we are also considering having teams provide a real time, virtual response to operational problem-solving challenges.  Finally, we are investigating the possibility of virtually presenting a series of interactive webinars on submarine design led by subject matter experts as well as interview techniques for career engineering positions.

It is our goal that your designs and entries will be evaluated by a joint team of FURE judges and subject matter experts from the US Navy and industry.  We are also researching the possibility of manufacturing scale models of your designs using 3D additive manufacturing technology and testing them in the NSWC Carderock Division’s hydrodynamic test facilities.

FURE is working on formulating this virtual competition and will announce details as soon as they are available.  We anticipate there will be a series of updates regarding details of the vISR as we continue to develop the information supporting this event.  Our goal is to provide you as much information as quickly as possible to avoid false starts and wasting your valuable resources.

We expect the initial draft outline and content of the design challenges will be promulgated in early December. Shortly after distribution of this information, FURE will provide a survey that asks for your thoughts regarding the design challenges and if you have any additional challenges that might be considered.  We ask that team leads be on the lookout for these emails during December even though your schools may be on break.  Final promulgation of the vISR contestant handbook will occur in early February.

The best advice we can provide you at this time is to continue to determine how you will work together to create a design for your Human Powered Submarine entry of the future.  The challenges you face as a result of the pandemic are not unlike the challenges that design teams face every day – a diverse, geographically-dispersed team designing a ship or submarine via computer tools, video meetings, and emails.  The micro and macro challenges we will present as part of the vISR will all directly relate to the design and teaming challenges that are at the core of the International Submarine Races.

Finally, we will strive to provide you additional information regarding the various aspects of the vISR as soon as possible.  Please understand that we probably will not have the 95% picture of the vISR until early February 2021, but we will release information as soon as it is mature and acceptable. Please be on the lookout for communications from FURE in early December.  We are hopeful you will all take on the new challenge of a virtual competition.

If you have questions or comments, please feel free to reach out to me at fure.president@internationalsubmarineraces.org or our contestant liaison Sue Rovner at contestant.liaison@internationalsubmarineraces.org.

Best regards,

Charles D. Behrle
Foundation for Underwater Research and Education (FURE)


View previous race announcements:

October 2020