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July 29, 2002

Media Contact:

   Troy Anderson, (858) 822-3075 or


Take a bunch of mechanical engineering students, throw in a computer science and a cognitive science major for added brain power, and stir in some initiative, innovation, and determination, and you’ve got a recipe for success. This stellar group of Jacobs School of Engineering students raised eyebrows and turned heads at the 2002 Human Powered Submarine Contest with their fluorescent green, “Inviscid” craft — a term that means “no friction under water.” The composite, propeller-driven submarine fell short of first place and a major upset by a mere 0.04 knots. The Jacobs School team finished second behind the group from École de Polytechnique Superieure (Montreal, Quebec).

The Canadians’ infamous “Omer4” submarine is truly a Goliath with its three onboard computers, radio equipment, and joystick steering mechanism. Omer4 holds the world speed record in the propeller class, and has been continuously fine-tuned for years.

In contrast, the sparser Inviscid, was just designed and built over the last nine months based on careful research to enhance performance, and had never raced competitively. The final product is a combination of light-weight fiberglass composite materials, a hydrodynamic bullet-like shape, and a customized propeller and drive-train with high-tech controls to help maintain depth balance and tail speed.

Without any computers or communications equipment onboard, team co-captain Daniel Wacholder vigorously piloted Inviscid to an impressive finish. “Our submarine worked flawlessly. We didn’t break anything, which is unheard of for this event. We just had to make some minor adjustments to things that we made adjustable on purpose,” remarked Wacholder after the sub’s final run on July 21 at the Offshore Model Basin in Escondido, CA. Inviscid made others, including the group from Montreal, take notice as they captured the second spot – beating teams from Texas A&M, San Diego State University, University of Washington, Millersville University (PA), Virginia Tech, and the University of British Columbia.

In 2000, the UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering team shattered the non-propeller world record. The 2002 team has made its own mark with its innovative propeller-driven sub. And if this year’s results are any indication, another world record is certainly within reach.

The goal of the annual contest, which alternates between the East and West Coasts, is to allow students to gain valuable hands-on experience that enhances their engineering education. This year’s race was hosted by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), San Diego Chapter. The Jacobs School team sponsors include the UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering; Nokia; Orincon Corporation; Sempra Energy; Hewlett-Packard; IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society; ASME; US Grants; Shell; COI, Hamilton Sundstrand; and SunRez.

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