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The Interdisciplinary Center for Advanced Manufacturing Systems, or ICAMS, at Auburn University recently challenged area college students to an Additive Manufacturing Competition in which the teams would design and build a propeller for a submarine. This competition is one of the educational and workforce training activities at ICAMS, partnered with the Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment, or IBAS, program through the Department of Defense.

Ten teams, including 31 Auburn Engineering undergraduate students and a team from Central Alabama Community College led by faculty members Pat Murphy and Josh Nelson, participated in the competition, which was held in Auburn University’s Design and Innovation Center located inside the Brown-Kopel Engineering Student Achievement Center on Aug. 26. The competition objective required that the blades of the submarine propeller rotate on a shaft and that the propeller assembly must be fabricated entirely using one of the most prevalent additive manufacturing processes, fused filament fabrication, using a Prusa 3D printer.

Peter Liu, assistant industrial and systems engineering professor and a member of the ICAMS leadership team, led the planning of the competition.

“The ICAMS Additive Manufacturing, or AM, Competition is a new effort in the education and research initiatives of ICAMS, aiming to foster creativity and improve the skills of future engineers by leveraging AM research capability at ICAMS,” Liu said. “Through this competition, students learned computer-aided design and operated 3D printers obtaining highly valued skills in advanced manufacturing.”

The planning of the competition took weeks as the ICAMS team finalized the topic of the design and designed and manufactured the submarine and its rudder where the propeller was to be attached.

“We went through several revisions of the design requirements and judging rules to ensure the process was as fair as possible,” Liu said.

The competition was officially launched on Aug. 11 and an online Q&A session was hosted to answer questions from students prior to the main event. After testing their designed propellers on the submarine vessel at the competition, participating teams were offered a second opportunity to revise and 3D print the propellers. The fabricated propellers were judged by ICAMS based on dimension accuracy, fabrication quality, functionality and creativity.

Steve Taylor, interim dean of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, attended the event to offer words of encouragement.

“You all know additive manufacturing is an important thing, going forward,” Taylor told the teams. “It’s going to continue to be a growing area, so what you’re learning is really important. It’s great to see you here and I applaud you all for giving this a shot.”

ICAMS plans to host the Additive Manufacturing Competition annually.

“This AM competition will continue to be held each year with different design requirements for different applications, possibly with other AM processes and different materials,” Liu said. “We will incorporate the lessons learned this time and hopefully have an even better competition next time.”

ICAMS Additive Manufacturing Competition Winners:

First place:

James Shepherd - Senior, Mechanical Engineering

Wilson Tynes - Junior, Mechanical Engineering

Second place:

Central Alabama Community College:

Tanner Floyd

Tristan Carisch

Third place:

Matthew Harmon - Junior, Industrial & Systems Engineering            

Andrew Walter - Junior, Mechanical Engineering

Sterling Moreland - Sophomore, Aerospace Engineering

Nick Velezis - Junior, Mechanical Engineering

Fourth place:

Reese Gibbs - Sophomore, Mechanical Engineering 

Grayson Callahan - Junior, Mechanical Engineering

Grant Hilliard - Sophomore, Mechanical Engineering

Buxin Ren - Senior, Industrial & Systems Engineering

Two ICAMS additive manufacturing competition participants.