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Teaching Ship Structures With Sheet Metal

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

OMCED Topics

Tagged Division

Ocean and Marine

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1150.1 - 14.1150.14



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Paper Authors


William Simpson United States Coast Guard Academy

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Dr. William M. Simpson, Jr. is a faculty member in the Engineering Department at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. He has a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland, a Masters in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Bachelor of Science from the U. S. Coast Guard Academy. He is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Connecticut. He served on active duty in the U.S. Coast Guard from 1965 to 1992 and had assignments in Marine Safety, Naval Engineering, Acquisition, and Research and Development.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Teaching Ship Structures with Sheet Metal


The design and analysis of ship structures is taught to seniors majoring in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering as a part of their senior design course sequence. In the Ship Structures course the students build on their basic knowledge of structures from their sophomore level mechanics of materials course and add ship specific knowledge about hull girder bending, plate bending, shear flow, and buckling. These techniques are applied to their senior ship design project that is also being developed in the parallel courses of Principles of Ship Design and Ship Propulsion Design. As an additional opportunity to apply their knowledge of ship structures and to practice design, the student design teams are tasked to design and build a barge from sheet aluminum with the goal to carry 120 pounds of weight. The weight is restricted to a 9 inch by 12 inch hopper to create a more or less concentrated load. The students must carefully plan the use of their limited material just as any ship builder does, and they must also apply their knowledge of ship hydrostatics and stability. The barges are tested in a tank of water and the students receive credit for the amount of weight they are able to carry without structural failure, sinking, or capsizing. For the past two years, corresponding to their senior project to design an icebreaker, the students have also been tasked to pull their barges across/through a piece of ¼ inch foam to simulate icebreaking. Through the barge project the students get direct feedback on the quality of their naval architecture and structural design work and experience the importance of workmanship in metal fabrication. There is some positive student feedback regarding the barge project in the student course evaluations. Objective course assessment tools do not show a definitive impact for the barge project, but it is felt it is a positive contribution to the course.


The course sequence for Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering under graduate majors at the U. S. Coast Guard Academy includes a one-semester course in ship structures in the fall of their senior year. The prerequisite for the ship structures course is a mechanics of materials course taken in the fall of sophomore year that includes the normal introduction to structures. This is followed by a sequence of courses in naval architecture starting in the spring of the junior year with a general course covering the basic principles of naval architecture. This is followed in the fall of the senior year with three parallel courses in ship design, ship propulsion, and ship structures1. These three courses share the same ship design senior project that is worked on in groups of typically 3 or 4 students. The ship design projects are carried over to and completed in the spring semester culminating in a final presentation to invited industry professionals. The design projects are selected by the instructors to ensure they can be completed during the two semesters available and to ensure the desired breadth of ship design experience will be achieved.

Ships Structures

The approach taken in the ship structures course follows the traditional approach by addressing what is referred to as primary, secondary, and tertiary stresses. The primary and secondary stresses are beam stresses evaluated using the beam theory learned in the sophomore mechanics

Simpson, W. (2009, June), Teaching Ship Structures With Sheet Metal Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4628

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