Meet UVic’s Submarine Racing Club

Guest post by Armin Bayani

Today’s interview is with Aiden Massey of UVic’s Submarine Racing Club. Aiden is a 4th year student in the mechanical engineering program. He says, “My passion is really in marine engineering and naval architecture. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had work terms at 3 marine engineering companies as a co-op student. I’ve always had a keen interest in boats and floating things.”

What was your inspiration in starting this club? What is the club all about?

I can’t take credit for starting this club. It was our president Manuel who really got the ball rolling. When Manny approached me and a few others with the idea, I had just come off a work term at Babcock Canada working on Canada’s Victoria Class Submarines in Esquimalt.

I was on board as soon as I heard we’d be building a human powered submarine. The goal of the club is to design and build a free flooding human powered submarine to race at the EISR (European International Submarine Races) in England. I had no idea such a thing existed, but the races have been held for quite some time. There’s even a North American equivalent race held in the states every second year.

The club is a great opportunity for students to get some real engineering design skills and get their hands dirty. We’ve also made a huge effort to reach out to local companies and manufacturers to build relationships with the university.

How were you able to establish the club? 

It took quite a lot of effort to get this club going. The easiest part was getting people interested in joining. The allure of building your very own submarine was quite attractive to a lot of students. I think part of the attraction was also the diving aspect of the club. With a lot of other clubs you don’t get to interact with your creation in quite the same way.

Naturally there was a lot of paperwork and meetings with faculty to make us official. The most difficult hurdle was finding sponsorship. Sponsorship is tricky when all you have is an idea and nothing to show for it. It’s especially hard when that idea is as ambitious as ours!

It took a lot of hard work from our president, Manuel Gomez, to get us going. It takes someone like him with a lot of perseverance and enthusiasm to make these ideas come to reality.

In your opinion, what have been your major accomplishments thus far?

We’ve had some great accomplishments over the last several months. For me the building of our hull was a huge milestone. Our hull was very expensive and complicated to manufacture. It took several days of machining, sanding, polishing, vacuum bagging, trimming fiberglass, etc.

I’m really excited about some of the links we’ve created with local companies. One of our sponsors, Babcock Canada, has given us invaluable advice and guidance. We’ve also gone on some trips as a team to a few marine engineering companies. On one trip we went to Nyutco research in North Vancouver. They design submersible vehicles and pressure suits for working at ocean depths. Getting students exposure to these awesome companies is a huge part of the club.

Why should other students join your club?

There are lots of reasons to join the UVSRC. It’s a great way for first year students to get exposure to some real marine engineering and tackle some tough design problems. It’s not often you get the opportunity to design a human powered submarine!

The club is also a great way to get some diving experience. We’ve been certifying lots of students through Rockfish Divers and the UVic diving club. If I were in first year I’d be glad this club was around to get some early exposure to the marine systems engineering.

There’s also a huge sense of teamwork and camaraderie at the UVSRC, which is a great way to meet people and make friends. We’re also a relatively new team so there’s lots of opportunity to get really involved in the design and manufacturing we do.

What project are you currently working on? 

My role at the club is head of the hull design team. Right now we’re in the middle of manufacturing and there’s a lot of work to do.

One of the projects the hull team is working on right now is the manufacture of our dome window at the bow of the sub. Pretty soon we’re going to be machining all the propulsion and steering gear too.

You can check out our website at or check us out on Facebook at . Our office is in the Engineering lab wing across from the Machine shop ELW B118.

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