Big Winners and High Rollers at Casino Night

by Reed Stevenson ‘24

The 2020 Webb Institute Casino Night was filled with big winners and high rollers. Despite the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, the Student Social Committee (SOCO) was able to once again turn Stevenson Taylor Hall into a roaring casino, filled with plenty of games. Many students made thousands off their original 500 Webb bucks, a currency inspired by our wonderful faculty members, in games such as blackjack, poker, horse racing, roulette, and Plinko.

The evening made its way outside to the Webb tennis courts where the annual three-person horse race took place. Each class put forth a team to hopefully take home first place. With all bettings closed, the horse race began. Immediately out of the gate, the sophomore class took the lead, followed shortly by the juniors and seniors with the freshmen bringing up the rear. Each team but the sophomores had troubles keeping their horses intact, allowing for the sophomores to keep up their lead. They ended up blowing away the competition with the seniors coming in a distant second and the freshmen not far behind them. The juniors stumbled across the finish line well after the other teams had finished.

The next event was run by the seniors, where they attached a spring and handle to an oil drum to create a makeshift mechanical bull. Many tried and  were flung away by the bucking oil drum. Luke Sullivan ‘23 used a unique tactic of holding on to the rear of the “bull” to secure the longest time.

The next event of the night was the arm-wrestling competition. Many competitors lined up to show off their physical prowess and prove their might in the tournament. David Ockers ‘22 secured the title of Webb arm-wrestling champion in a stunning display of strength.

Overall, casino night was a great success. Many students were able to win big and spend their winnings on the silent auction held throughout the night which would not have been possible without SOCO.

Solid Performance in the Midst of Change and Uncertainty!

by Jake M. Neuman ’93
Chairman of the Webb Alumni Fund

At first glance, the 2019-20 Webb Alumni Fund (WAF) total raised of $2,027,089 might seem underwhelming with the backdrop of the successive record-breaking WAF years. But when you consider just how different this giving year was from most, reaching the $2 million plateau was a difficult task, one that could only be accomplished through your generous gifts during these uncertain times. When we planned for this WAF year, we knew all too well that you have been asked to stretch your giving capacity during the six-year Campaign for Webb effort. Then unexpectedly, in the last quarter of the giving year, COVID-19 disrupted our lives.

Most Webb students learned remotely during the spring semester. Many alumni experienced professional hardships. Our Spring Phon-a-thon was replaced by Webb Cares—phone outreach conducted by Webb students to ensure everyone’s well-being—a great display of the Webb family values. In spite of all of the challenges, alumni, led by class agents, persevered and contributed over $2 million of much-needed support for Webb. This is only the fourth time in Webb’s history that the WAF has surpassed $2 million, and for added context, the WAF secured $1.3 million in the first year before the Campaign for Webb (2013-14). In short, I am proud of what my fellow alumni have accomplished, but I would not be doing my job unless I shared with you that I think we can do even better next year! THANK YOU to all who continue to make the WAF a pillar of Webb’s financial support.

Total Funds Raised$2,027,089$2,561,658
Participation %
(Webb undergraduates Only)
Participation %
(All Members of the
Webb Alumni Association)
Average Gift$2,553$3,190
Median Gift$750$720
Table 1. WAF 2-year Comparison

Together, we achieved a nation-leading undergraduate participation rate of 70.4% and 18 Webb classes boasted an amazing 100% participation rate. Our future is bright, too, as the most recent 15 graduating classes combined for an average participation rate of 86%.

I look forward to a great WAF 2020-2021 as we strive to raise $2,100,000 and secure the participation of 75% of undergraduates.

A huge thanks to the Class Agents, Group Leaders, and the Development Office for all their time and efforts for the Webb Alumni Fund. The success of the WAF truly is a team effort! Thank you! A special thanks to Paul Hayes ’54 who is handing over Class Agent title to Joe Signorelli ’54 and welcome to our newest class agent, Reneé Tremblay ’20!

You can have a big impact on the future of our fundraising success and Webb’s financial well-being by:

  • Maximizing your current giving levels – The WAF average gift is $2,553 and the median gift is $750. Maybe these are goals you can strive for or comfortably exceed, depending on your circumstances.
  • Giving as early in the giving year as possible – This allows everyone involved in this effort to spend more time cultivating alumni that either do not give regularly or have not yet given at all.
  • Serving as an ambassador for the WAF and Webb – Help your fellow class agents by encouraging classmates to maximize their giving and to give as early in the giving year as possible. Sharing your giving strategies (monthly giving, gifts of stock, gifts leveraging donor advised funds, charitable distributions from your IRA, matching gifts, etc.) may inspire a new gift or help your peers achieve new giving levels!

Webb’s Ongoing Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

At its annual meeting on October 15th, the Board of Trustees reaffirmed its commitment to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion at Webb. The Board’s DEI Committee, formed in 2019 to help inform DEI-related initiatives in Webb’s Strategic Plan, is tasked with presenting a DEI Plan to the Board at its February 2021 meeting. The plan is to contain actionable and accountable initiatives that will expand diversity of students, faculty, staff, and Trustees and provide a pathway towards a more equitable and inclusive campus environment.

At its meeting, the Board unanimously approved the following resolution.

The Board’s DEI Committee, chaired by Trustee George Campbell, is comprised of constituents from the board, administration, faculty, staff, alumni, and students. To better understand the climate at Webb and the needs of our underrepresented populations, the Committee will conduct surveys and listening sessions with students. The Committee invites discourse and discussion on DEI and will host online forums with students, faculty/staff and alumni. Announcements on dates for these forums will be sent out over the next couple of weeks.

The Board and the Administration recognize that not all members of our community have enjoyed the nurturing and supportive experience we aspire to. Our commitment to a more diverse and equitable campus environment is driven by our common understanding of the importance that the perspectives of a diverse population play in the academic process as well as our aspiration to provide a welcoming campus environment where every student, faculty and staff member can fully realize their capacity to grow and learn. The Trustees and Administration at Webb look forward to working with all of you as we commit ourselves to enriching the diversity and inclusivity of the Webb campus community.

Bruce S. Rosenblatt
Chair, Board of Trustees
Dr. George Campbell
Chair, DEI Committee
R. Keith Michel

Four Webb Students win the Dr. James A. Lisnyk Student Ship Design Competition

(Pictured left to right: Benjamin Hunt, Oscar Como, Luke Herbermann, Alec Bidwell, and Professor Bradley D.M. Golden ’99)

By Professor Bradley D.M. Golden ’99

It is our pleasure to announce that Alec Bidwell, Oscar Como, Luke Herbermann, and Benjamin Hunt have won first place in this year’s SNAME Dr. James A. Lisnyk Student Ship Design Competition for their design of an LNG Bunkering Vessel. The vessel was originally designed for last semester’s SD1 course and, with only a few minor additions to their analysis, they were able to submit the same design for the Lisnyk competition.

A challenging enough project during a “regular” semester, all six groups successfully completed their designs while scattered across the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and all of them did very well. Alec, Oscar, Luke, and Ben went above and beyond and put in the extra effort that was required to meet the demands for the SNAME competition, and I’m very happy to see that all their hard work paid off.

According to the SNAME website, “The Lisnyk Student Ship Design Competition challenges groups of young people to design theoretical but practical cutting-edge vessels. Open to the world’s colleges and universities supporting maritime careers, the program has fostered teamwork and learning through competition.”

Dean Werner would like to add, “Congratulations to the Team, Professor Golden, and the industry advisors.  The design and its presentation were very well done and quite worthy of the honor.  It is always rewarding when outside groups recognize the excellent work of our talented Webb students. I hope that members of this year’s junior class see this as inspiration to enter their SD1 designs in one of the various design competitions available.”

To make this award even more special, Dr. Linsnyk was a Webb graduate from the class of 1963.

LNG Bunkering Vessel

4,200 M3 LNG Bunkering Vessel

About Dr. James Lisnyk ’63 (Portions from “A Centennial History of Webb Institute of Naval Architecture”)

Born in Jamaica, New York Dr. Lisnyk was a graduate of Webb Institute of Naval Architecture. Attended MIT as SNAME Scholar receiving a MS in Naval Architecture in 1964 and joined BuShips. He earned a D.Sc. degree in Engineering Management from George Washington University in 1977. Then transferred to MARAD as Program Manager for Advanced Ship Systems then becoming Acting Director, Office of Maritime Technology in MARAD’s Office of Research and Development. Authored numerous technical papers for ASNE and SNAME; served on SNAME and ASNE governing boards; was Chairman of SNAME’s Chesapeake Section and VP of that Society.  Elected VP of the Webb Alumni Association. Returned to NAVSEA in 1980, as Chief Naval Architect and Deputy Director, Hull Division. Awards include, the Department of Commerce Bronze Medal and SNAME Spring Meeting Paper Award 1979. Dr. Lisnyk was honored posthumously by having an ASME scholarship named in his memory; the Chesapeake Sect. Established the James A. Linsyk Student Design Competition Award; and NAVSEA’s Association of Senior Engineer’s named its award for its outstanding young engineer after him. Married Bridget DiGesu in 1964; two children Linda and Amy.

Tragically, he and his daughter were killed on August 1st, 1984 in an automobile accident. Dr. Lisnyk’s wife Bridget and another daughter were injured in the accident but survived.

About the Junior Class Small Vessel Design Project (SD1)

As a part of Professor Bradley D.M. Golden’s ’99 Ship Design 1 (SD1) class, the juniors spent the first two-and-a-half months of the spring semester preparing their first complete concept designs.

Using the knowledge they’ve gained in their nearly three years studying at Webb and the experiences from their winter work periods to date, this was the students’ first opportunity to apply the naval architecture and marine engineering principles they’ve studied including stability, ship’s structures, main machinery systems, auxiliary systems, resistance and propulsion, and electrical engineering.

Working in small groups of three and four, the students selected one of the vessel types and took their first couple of spins around the design spiral to prepare vessel concept designs. To help make the project as realistic as possible, members of industry familiar with each of the vessel types helped prepare the statements of design requirements that each of the designs had to meet. To challenge the students even further, one or two “curveballs” were thrown into each design statement to make the students think long and hard about how they would achieve their objectives.

At the end of the spring semester, the students presented their final designs to their fellow students, faculty, and members of industry who served as part of an evaluation team. After three years at Webb, the Junior class can now say with confidence that they’re familiar with the design process and are well on their way to joining the fields of naval architecture and marine engineering.

About SNAME:

The Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME) was organized in 1893, to advance the art, science, and practice of naval architecture, shipbuilding and marine engineering. SNAME is an internationally recognized non-profit, professional society of individual members serving the maritime and offshore industries and their suppliers. For many, SNAME has been absolutely essential to career development and success in the industry. With more than 6,000 members around the world in 95 countries, SNAME is THE International Community for Maritime and Ocean Professionals! For more information, please visit:

Rick Royce and the Mountain of Terror

by Rick Royce as told to Rick Neilson ’70
As seen in Webb News 2020 edition

Professor Rick Royce on top of Mount Kilimanjaro with the Webb flag.

Richard A. (Rick) Royce has a Ph.D. in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering from the University of Michigan and serves as Professor of Naval Architecture at Webb Institute, having been hired in 2001. In addition to his classroom duties, he has performed many different services, including Director of Research; Director of the Robinson Model Basin; leading the Webb “big boat” sailing efforts, including the Newport, R.I. to Bermuda race; and Principal Investigator for the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Navatek Consortium. Under Roger Compton’s leadership, Rick was a major author of the proposal to ONR that secured $2 million in grants for upgrades to the model basin, marine engineering laboratory, and the purchase of a research quality flow channel, in addition to funding research. Rick did a great job managing the resulting funds. In the time I’ve known Rick I have always thought of him as extremely capable and a reasonably sane man. Then I learned that in January of 2020, he planned on climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Sometimes one has to re-think his opinion of another’s mental stability.

Spending a lot of time in a building the students often refer to as Hogwarts can do strange things to people. Perhaps that is what caused the aberration in the good professor’s mind though he claims this was a long time coming. The real impetus for this adventure came from Rick’s sister, Karen. They have always been close, and Karen wanted to do something special for their upcoming birthdays. So in the summer of 2019 they considered several options, but none seemed quite right. Karen was a geology major and had helped run field camps, as well as having spent extensive time on the Appalachian Trail. She had friends who had taken some African safaris, and she was the one who suggested climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Rick had done some mountain climbing as far back as college. In the late 1990s he had climbed Mount St. Helens, carrying his skis up and skiing down. Rick’s ex-college roommate worked for Christensen Shipyard in Vancouver, Washington, and when Rick visited him, they would go climbing, including Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood. So Karen’s suggestion didn’t sound crazy. There are a number of companies that arrange a Kilimanjaro climb and after some research, they decided on a company called “Climb Kili.”

Rick knew he had to prepare. He started doing cardio on elliptical trainers in August then threw in some hiking locally, including walking the dog with a full backpack each morning. During Thanksgiving week he went to England, Wales, and Ireland. He did a lot of walking that week and climbed Mt. Knocknarea near Sligo, Ireland, which is only 1,000 feet tall but is steep.

Climb Kili provided an agenda for an eight-day trip that required their arrival on January 10, as well as some instructions. Because the park system limits the weight for porters, each hiker is allowed his or her own personal gear plus a maximum of 15 kg of “extra gear,” which an assigned porter carries. Costs cover transfers to and from Kilimanjaro International Airport, which is located between the cities of Moshi (population approximately 200,000) and Arusha (400,000). Karen and Rick flew from JFK airport and splurged on upgrades to business class, figuring it would be their last chance to be pampered for a while. Upon arrival they were taken to a hotel which was good quality though surrounded by a wall and razor wire.

The group consisted of six climbers, three men and three women. Karen lives in Dublin, Ohio. Besides Rick, the other climbers were from Los Angeles; San Francisco; Edmonton, Alberta; and north of London, England. There were three guides, a cook, a waiter, a dishwasher, a toilet attendant, and 13 porters. Each climber had one porter to carry personal gear such as sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and extra clothes. The remaining porters carried food, tents, and campsite gear.

The actual climb started on January 11 at an altitude of 5,000 feet, where the temperature was between 85 and 90 degrees F. Rick says that as opposed to the mountain climbing one might envision, most of this trek was a slight rise with only a few steep portions. They started at the end of the rainy season although the first day was fine weather. The second day they hiked in the rain. They experienced no other real rain but often climbed in a mist. Each morning they were awakened by the waiter, Balthasar, and his “smooth jazz voice” at 6:30. Then they would pack up their extra gear for porters to carry and prepare their day backpack with two to three liters of water, rain clothes, snacks, trekking poles, hat, gloves, and rain cover for packs. Breakfast would be served around 7:15 and was usually pineapple, porridge, eggs, toast, and diced sausage. While eating, they would have their pulse and oxygen content measured. As long as their O2 level was above 75% they were good to go. If not, there was always the option of staying behind with a guide and catching up later in the day, or having a guide lead the person down the mountain. Guides and porters were always saying “Pole Pole” (poley poley) which means “go slowly.” This allowed porters to pass the climbers on the trail so they could get set up at the next camp, and for those not used to the altitude, the slow pace prevented burn out. The guides and porters were constantly mindful of the physical condition of the climbers and from that point of view they always felt safe. They would leave camp around 8:00. The length of climb varied by day. When they arrived at the next camp, they would have lunch, starting with soup, toast, pineapple, chicken or fish, and potatoes. Then they would unpack their gear and get their tent, air mattress, and sleeping bag situated. Rick would usually walk around quite a bit to make sure he could sleep through the night. Dinner was at 6:30 and consisted of soup, rice, or pasta with stir-fried veggies for topping, potatoes, and fritter type deserts. Rick thought the food was surprisingly good. Hunger may have seasoned it.

Bathroom facilities were less than lavish. The middle-to-high-end tour companies have a toilet attendant. This person carries a portable toilet and tent for the climbers to use. When breaking camp the attendant empties the contents into the bare-bones toilets provided on the mountain. “Bare-bones” means “bare-bones” – think of an outhouse but with no bench seat, just a hole in the floor and the aroma reminiscent of the senior classroom after a ship design all-nighter.

Pit stop at Baranco Camp, close to the Great Baranco Wall.

There was one dangerous portion of the climb – a stretch at the Great Baranco Wall. It is an 800-foot rise on a switchback trail with a 60-foot drop-off on one side. Handholds were definitely needed there. Rick did see one person evacuated from the mountain. He was brought down on a gurney of sorts that had only one wheel in its center. It looked extremely uncomfortable but it was the only way available to get someone to one of the mountain’s helipads.

Some highlights of the climb included seeing buffalo tracks at 13,000 feet where there are salt deposits for the buffalo to lick. They stopped at the Moira camp at about 13,300 feet that night although the guides wanted them to go higher where they could get cell phone service. On day seven they started at 16,000 feet around midnight. Rick never considered quitting but the penultimate stretch of the climb to Stella Point at 18,875 feet was quite steep and he felt a bit light-headed. Guides carry oxygen for those climbers who need it, but once they take it, they are required to go back down. After a brief rest, Rick felt fine and the remainder of the trek to the summit at 19, 341 feet involved only a slight rise. They arrived at 6:05 am. It was -10 degrees F. They only stayed 30 minutes at the summit because the sun was coming up and there was a real concern about snow blindness. On the route they took, an average of 70% of the climbers achieve the summit. Not all of the climbers in Rick’s group were able to make it, but all had an experience to remember.

The trip down was a bit anti-climactic. They went by a different route, having climbed the northwest side of the mountain and descending the southwest side. It was certainly quicker than going up, but it was tougher than Rick thought it might be because the descent required the use of different muscles. They left the mountain at 5,000 feet and spent the night in the hotel. Having anticipated the need for a bit of R&R, Karen and Rick flew to Zanzibar for a stay at the Diamonds Mapenzi Beach Resort. This required local currency, so Rick went to get some Tanzanian shillings. The machine he used had a menu asking how many he wanted and not being familiar with the exchange rate, he chose 30,000. Turns out that is equivalent to about $12 US. The exchange fee was $7 US. Next time Webb’s Director of Research will do more research ahead of time.

So what did Rick accomplish on this trip? First, he lost about 10 pounds despite the hi-carb diet. Secondly, he most probably is the first person to drink a Diet Coke at the summit (Rick refused to confirm or deny this with me), and finally, he is not only the first Webb prof to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, he is certainly the first person to unfurl a Webb banner on the summit. Congratulations are in order. I can’t wait to hear what he does next winter. If he invites me, I’m busy that day.

A few members of the group at Mkubwa Camp.

Photo Credit: Climb Kili