TECH 797 - Undergraduate Ocean Research Projects

A two-semester senior design project course (ME 755-756 or TECH 797) must be completed by the end of the senior year by all undergraduates who are planning to receive their bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering. The purpose of this requirement is to allow every ME student to gain experience in a substantial design or experimental research project.


Underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV)

UNH ROV is an interdisciplinary engineering team focused on designing, fabricating, and competing with an underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV). UNH ROV pairs as a senior design project and a student organization while supporting graduate level research.  The design incorporates a high degree of modularity by accounting for constraints defined by the international MATE ROV Competition as well as PhD research specifications involving autonomous Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) control. The MATE ROV Competition features 3 missions which have unique objectives relating to an arctic theme, while the research involves using an optical feedback system for pose control of multiple UUVs. Each part of the design is conceived using 3D modeling software, analyzed using finite element simulation packages, and verified through a prototyping and testing process. UNH ROV also focuses on maintaining a diverse team of freshman to graduate level students to maximize innovative and creative design. By using cutting-edge methods in team dynamics, analytic tools, and engineering design, UNH ROV is able to maintain continued success in developing underwater robotic systems used for multiple different platforms for research and competition.

Modeling and Experimental Validation of Offshore Wind Turbine Arrays

The interaction between wind turbines in a large wind farm needs to be better understood to reduce array losses and improve energy production. A numerical test bed for an array of offshore wind turbines was developed in the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) framework OpenFOAM. It provides a computational tool which can be used in combination with physical model turbine array studies in the Flow Physics Facility (FPF) at UNH. Turbines were modeled as actuator disks with turbulence sources to reduce computational cost. Both k-ϵ and k-ω SST turbulence models were selected to capture the flow in the near-wall, wake, and free stream regions. Experimental studies were performed in the FPF to validate the numerical results and to provide realistic initial and boundary conditions, for example turbulent boundary layer inlet velocity profiles. Mesh refinement and boundary condition studies were performed. Numerical simulations were executed on a custom-built server, designed to be the head node of a future CFD cluster. The entire project was built on open-source software to facilitate replication and expansion. The numerical model currently replicates a three by one array of wind turbines in the FPF, and provides detailed insight into the array fluid dynamics.


Wave Energy Conversion Buoy

The Wave Energy Conversion Buoy (WECB) is a senior design project in the Undergraduate Ocean Research Program (TECH 797).  The WECB team’s goal is to design and construct a point absorber wave energy device, which will generate electrical power from ocean waves. A point absorber buoy generates power by using the relative motion between two buoys (the middle spar buoy and the follower “donut” buoy) to drive a dual rack and pinion gear system that in turn spins a generator. The intent of the project is to demonstrate wave energy as a viable source of renewable energy for powering the Shoals Marine Laboratory located on Appledore Island, Isles of Shoals, off the coast of Maine and New Hampshire.  The power take off (PTO) will initially be bench tested before the entire system is deployed for a brief period of time in April. To evaluate performance, wave forcing and generator output power will be recorded.