The Class of 2020 Thesis Titles Announced


In no specific order.

Concept Design and Economic Feasibility Study of an Underwater Apartment at Webb Institute

Ian Cavanaugh and Duane Lee

There is a need for faculty housing on campus. The option of constructing a new building on campus may affect the beautiful natural aspects of the campus. This thesis will explore the idea of an underwater apartment by the Webb pier for a family of three. The design will focus on providing good hospitality, being environmentally friendly, and providing additional access to the waterfront for a potential dock/pier. After the concept design, an economic feasibility study will be performed to see whether this idea is viable.


The Design, Installation, and Testing of a High-Speed Common Rail Diesel Engine Platform

Louis Bock

The diesel engine to this day remains the dominant source of marine propulsive power. However, the demand for improving efficiency and minimizing environmental impact has driven innovation towards newer technology. The objective of this project is to give Webb’s Haeberle Laboratory a modern platform, in the form of a Yanmar common-rail engine, to continue research into what is possible with a diesel engine. The comprehensive design of the platform ensures test results are accurate and repeatable. Since meaningful research may only be completed with a proven test platform, this platform will be benchmarked against factory issued standards of performance.


The Haeberle Wind Tunnel: First Operation and Validation

Alec Gonzalez

The wind tunnel, donated by Navatek, Ltd., has not been completely installed or operated in the Haeberle Laboratory. With the capabilities of reaching wind velocities of 56 ft/s with more uniform flow without the issue of standing waves that the flow channel suffers from, this testing apparatus can be used for a vast array of fluid dynamic experiments. This thesis will complete the set-up to make the wind tunnel operational, record the lift and drag of a NACA 0015 wing section at various wind speeds and angles of attack, and compare the experimental results with computational solutions of the same two-dimensional section. The objective is to determine whether the wind tunnel is capable of recording accurate lift and drag measurements and is suitable for further experimentation.


Bow Flare: The Effect on the Seakeeping Performance of Containerships

Tommy Linden and Reneé Tremblay

As containerships become larger and larger, the bow flare is often made more extreme to increase the width at the foredeck so that the vessel can carry more cargo on deck during a single voyage. While the effects of increasing bow flare have been studied from both structural and static stability standpoints, very little research has been done to determine the effect of bow flare on seakeeping characteristics. In this thesis, a model of a containership and three interchangeable bow pieces with varying degrees of flare are designed, cut, and tested in the Robinson Model Basin. The frequency response curves (transfer functions) for pitch and heave are analyzed for a range of wave frequencies for each bow. The test data are used to determine the effect, or lack thereof, that bow flare has on seakeeping performance.


An Investigation into the Effects of Twist on the Hydrodynamic Characteristics of a Hydrofoil with a Bell-Shaped Spanload

Max Pierce and Zane Tinnell

Departing from the elliptical spanload, which is the established benchmark for hydrofoil design, a bell-shaped spanload foil adheres to different constraints, which yield a geometry with better performance for a given amount of structure. The desired spanload is achieved by twisting the foil along its span, and the objective of the thesis is to study the effects of varying degrees of twist on foil performance. Various geometries will be tested in the Webb flow channel, using both conventional load measurement and particle image velocimetry.


Improving Shipyard Management: Automating the Ship Overhaul Scheduling Process

Jonathan Wang

Creating detailed and accurate schedules for ship overhaul projects is an important yet time-intensive task. The objective of this thesis is to capture the experience of shipyard planners and schedulers within a computer algorithm and develop a program to determine the relationships and dependencies among all the work items for an overhaul. The program will also assign resource requirements to each task that is a required step in schedule creation. Schedulers could then import the program’s output directly into a scheduling software to assign specific dates to the overhaul project.


NACA Foil Performance: The Effects of Turbulence Stimulation Observed Under PIV

Michael DeNapoli and Galen Ng

The objectives of this thesis are to further develop the PIV system at Webb and to test the effects of turbulence stimulation on NACA foil performance. Tests in the Webb flow channel will be conducted on a NACA 0018 foil section employing different vortex generators, with the goal of measuring the delay of boundary layer separation and observing the effects that the different turbulence stimulators will have on the flow field around the hydrofoil at a fixed Reynolds number and varying angles of attack. Flow velocity fields will be generated using stereoscopic (3D) particle image velocimetry using the LaVision FlowMaster equipment and DaVis 8 software.


An Investigation of the Effect of Chord Length at the Free Surface of a Transom-Hung Sailboat Rudder

Max Haland

Transom-hung rudders are used on small sailboats for their simplicity, but perform less well than rudders mounted under the hull. One of the reasons why is the increased spray and wavemaking resistance resulting from the rudder’s passing through the free surface. By reducing the chord of the rudder at the free surface, these components of resistance can be reduced, especially while the rudder is turned. Unlike with stationary struts, the addition of angle of attack to rudders causes the length on the waterline to be detrimental. This thesis will further investigate the effect on lift and drag of a transom-hung dinghy rudder caused by varying the chord length of the rudder at the free surface. A series of foils with different free-surface chord lengths will be tested in the Robinson Model Basin at varying speeds and angles of attack. The objective of the project is to develop a stronger relationship or correction factor for the prediction of rudder performance.


The Design and Construction of a Multipurpose Buoyancy-Driven Underwater Glider

Mara Duvernois and Alex Taber

The exploration and observation of the ocean in the past has been limited to relatively high-cost manned vessels. Consequently, this research has been limited in scope and application. Advances in unmanned exploratory vessels, such as small unmanned autonomous underwater vessels (AUVs), allow for oceanographic exploration and vessel deployment covering a larger ocean area at lower costs. The objective of this thesis is to develop a buoyancy-driven underwater glider for open-source use in a simple and cost-effective method. The glider will be a platform for future theses to further develop the autonomy of the glider, install necessary sensors, and test its data-gathering capabilities.


A Machine Learning Approach to Renewable Energy and Cost Optimization for Wind-Powered Cargo Ships

Linda Waters

In an effort to reduce emissions and move toward renewable energy resources, a number of naval architecture firms and shipping companies are pursuing the concept of wind-powered and wind-power-supplemented commercial vessels. However, because the modern commercial applications of sail power are still relatively new, optimal routing for these vessels remains unexplored. The objective of this thesis is, using machine learning, to derive a formula to optimize, based on energy consumption and cost, the port-to-port routing of large commercial vessels equipped with Flettner rotors.


The Development of a Model for Autonomous Vessel Path Planning

Brandon Wui

Autonomous surface vessels are increasingly being used in certain oceanographic, oil, and defense applications because of their reduced costs for time-intensive tasks such as seafloor surveying and coastline patrolling operations. One important aspect of autonomous vessel development, which often requires extensive software development work before vessel delivery, is the tuning of control, guidance, and navigation systems for vessel path planning. The objective of this thesis is to create a more accurate autonomous vessel simulator to allow developers to more rapidly tune vessel path planning algorithms.


Testing and Analysis of a Dual-Fuel System for an Electronically-Timed, High-Speed Diesel Engine and Feasibility Study for Applications in Fishing Vessels

Isabel Hill and Audra Milbitz

There is a demonstrated need throughout the marine industry for alternative energy options, which includes the implementation of dual-fuel conversions on diesel engines. This thesis will evaluate the performance and emissions characteristics of a Series 60 diesel engine, converted to run on compressed natural gas (CNG). This evaluation, along with research on existing infrastructure and powering demands, will be used to determine the feasibility of such conversions on fishing vessels operating off the coasts of Alaska and the west coast of the United States.


A Technical Description and Evaluation of the Renaissance Venetian Ship Construction Process

Christopher Bal and Harrison Tack

For this thesis, we will be evaluating the 15th-Century Venetian ship construction methods of the Arsenale and determining how assembly-line practices allowed the Venetian empire to produce ships with unprecedented speed. Yard infrastructure and ship arrangements will be researched and conclusions drawn on the factors that supported the success of the Venetian empire for over six centuries. An analysis will be performed to compare Venetian methods to more modern methods of ship construction.


Design and Development of a Small Craft Collision Avoidance System

John Grantham Dixon

In 2017, the United States Coast Guard counted 4,291 recreational boating accidents that involved 658 deaths and approximately $46 million dollars in losses. It is possible that a relatively cheap and effective collision avoidance system could be developed to help prevent a number of such accidents. This thesis explores the feasibility of such a system by developing one, and installing and testing it on Webb’s Boston Whaler.


A Thermodynamic Exergy Analysis to Optimize a Combined Brayton-Rankine Cycle

Matthew Migliozzi

With continuous need for more efficient power generation cycles, greater attention is needed to ensure that peak efficiency is achieved from all cycles. The objective of this thesis is to utilize principles from the second law of thermodynamics to determine an optimal Brayton-Rankine Cycle from the perspective of minimizing available energy destruction. The thesis will analyze a myriad of varied cycle configurations. System components which create the largest losses will be focused on.


An Investigation of Marine Propeller Gurney Flaps

Rockford Regan and Nick Yarka

Gurney flaps have been used in the aerospace and race car industries since the early 1970s as a cheap and simple way to improve or change flow characteristics of wings. Recently, Gurney flaps have expanded into the marine field as a way to change propeller characteristics; however, there are no publicly available data on the performance of propellers modified this way. This thesis identifies the performance effects of Gurney flaps on propeller thrust and efficiency, with a focus on the open-water region.


Concept Design of a Floating Home: Adapting to Sea Level Rise in the California Bay Area

Mary McGuinness

Cities including San Mateo, San Rafael, and San Jose in the California Bay Area are at risk of increasing occurrences of inundation in the next century from climate-change-induced rises in sea level. The objective of this thesis is to develop a concept design for a floating home that offers Bay Area residents survivability that cannot be attained from a traditional land-based home. A secondary area of interest will be the incorporation of sustainable and green features to limit environmental impact and ensure home sustainability.