The National Ship Design Resource Center

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The National Ship Design R&D Resource Center

A national repository of ship design R&D resources. If people had good access to current information, would the rate of innovation increase, and the number of false-starts decrease?

The vision for this Center combines some functions of a Library, a University, and Consultancy.

Ship design R&D includes a variety of elements. At the very least, let's consider the simple term "R&D". This means Research and Development. Research can take many forms - a bibliographic search is research, but so is a detailed experiment. In similar manner Development can take many forms - the development of a product or the development of people.

And in the maritime community ALL of these elements are needed.

    • Research
      • Library
      • Laboratory
    • Development
      • Products
      • People


Library Component

A library is a repository of knowledge. In this case the knowledge, in ship design, takes three significant forms:

  • Tools
  • Information
  • Knowledge

Information Repository

As an information repository the NSDRDRC would provide access to a comprehensive library of ship design technical information. At the very least it includes PDF files of documents.

But a GOOD library includes librarians. And GOOD librarians can tell you what book you are looking for, once you describe your question. "Where can I find data on Hovercraft skirts?" The Librarian should be able to guide the user to the appropriate contents in the library.

But some user's questions may be very basic: "What's a metacenter?" Or even worse: "How does one design a ship?" In this case the answer is: "Well, we have an entire University right outside. Please check with Dr. Vorus for an enrollment application..."

Some questions are at the opposite extreme - they are very specific and are not in the books. In this case the NSDRC starts to look like a consultancy, or perhaps a Consultant Brokerage: "Well Sir, that's a very good question and it's not treated that we know of. We would suggest funding a research project on that point. We can recommend institutions that might be interested or qualified to assist you with that."

Knowledge Repository

Information can be turned into Knowledge, and the NSDRDRC should include a staff to this end. One component of this is probably a Biblio-Wiki, because the body of knowledge is ever changing. Let the experts help maintain it.



Ship design tools include software and hardware. The NSDRDRC would include either a library or at least a catalog of software tools. Ideally the Center would include a library, form which members could 'check out' a software tool, on some appropriate commercial terms. As a first step however, the Center should be involved in continuous test evaluation and vetting of software, and the maintenance of an annotated catalog.

The development of this catalog would be executed as a Project under the "Laboratory" and "Development" rubrics of the Center.

Laboratory Component

The laboratory component is largely a set of projects. This looks very much like the conventional component of an R&D center. Indeed, in my model it looks like the work that CCDOTT has done for the last several decades.

Note that throughout this vision, the Center is NOT the Inventor, but is instead simply the Clearinghouse for new research. Like CCDOTT, I do not envision this laboratory component being executed by employees of the Center, but rather by selected subcontractors. This allows the Center to a) deploy the best resources available for the particular task and b) respond to ideas that are generated from outside the activities of the Center.


Product Development Component

See "Laboratory" above. Again, this is very nearly what CCDOTT is today, with the additional component that the Product Development might be tailored in some cases to support People Development.

In this latter case the projects will be used as innovation cells, by giving students hands-on experience in applying innovation methods to real-world technical challenges.

Projects topics are solicited from Naval sources, the Offshore Oil & Gas industry, and the commercial shipbuilding industry. Projects could be undertaken as coursework in innovation, or as funded research. Projects may be integrated into a 2-year MSE program in NAME.

Projects undertaken as part of the MSE in marine design will include components of planning, scheduling and milestone reporting. This element can be coordinated with coursework in project management in the UNO Management program. Projects will reflect real-world Naval career skills such as planning, scheduling, and presentation, as well as the obvious technical skills required during execution.

People Development Component

{To Be Developed}

An element of the development of national ship design capability, is the development of ship designers. The NSDRDRC would participate in this process. The following draft is written from the perspective of the University of New Orleans, but the larger NSDRDRC vision should embrace all of the formal ship design schools in the nation.

The NAME School at the University of New Orleans offers the Bachelor of Science in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering (NAME), Master of Science in Engineering and the PhD in Engineering and Applied Science. The School and the University of New Orleans College of Engineering offer several courses that are specially relevant to the work of the NSDRDRC. Students of marine design innovation are strongly encouraged to pursue an MSE in naval architecture, by taking a mixture of:

  • NAME Core courses
  • Management coursework in Innovation Management and Implementation
  • Innovation Design project (May be completed as MSE Project)

Other relevant UNO courses include:

Course Number & Title

  • NAME 3171 - Marine Design Methods
  • NAME 4097 - Human-Centric Design
  • NAME 4120 - Ship Structural Analysis and Design II
  • NAME 4121 - Analysis and Design of Offshore Floating Structures
  • NAME 4122 - Introduction to Marine Composites
  • NAME 4130 - Marine Engineering II
  • NAME 4133 - Ship Production
  • NAME 4141 - Curved Surface Modeling
  • NAME 4151 - Small Craft Design
  • NAME 4160 - Ship Hydrodynamics II
  • NAME 4162 - Offshore Structure and Ship Dynamics II
  • NAME 4177 - Advanced Vehicle Design
  • NAME 4728 - Intro. To CFD
  • NAME 6121 - Marine Structural Vibration
  • NAME 6145 - Design Optimization (II)
  • NAME 6160 - Numerical Methods in Hydrodynamics
  • NAME 6166 - Probabilistic Ship & Offshore Platform Dynamics
  • NAME 6168 - High Speed Hydrodynamics
  • NAME 6xxx - Design Management
  • NAME 6177 - Formulae for Invention
  • NAME xxxx - Design Optimization I
  • NAME xxxx - Design for Sustainability
  • NAME xxxx - Naval Vessel Design
  • NAME xxxx - Concept Design for Requirements Elucidation
  • MANG 6472 - Project Management

Special Lectures & Continuing Education:

While it is easy to describe this program as a track toward an MSE, it is also the NSDRDRC’s role to serve as a venue for continuing education on an ad hoc basis. Thus many of the courses already mentioned could be taken outside of the structure of a degree program. In addition, our goal is to create a ‘revolving door’ between career professionals and the Institute. We will actively seek means for professionals to participate in the Institute for a period of time, then return to their job for some years, and then return to the Institute to share lessons learned and improvements made. Our goal is to follow an ‘organic’ model that relies on a constant flow of fresh ‘nutrition’ from career experience.

As a component of this vision, many elements of the NSDRDRC are available as continuing education or special lectures. These include, of course, enrollment in routine courses at UNO, but they also include special modularized offerings wherein one element of a course can be completed on a stand-alone basis.

Stand-alone modules can also be offered as on-site offerings for government and commercial customers, subject to procurement rules established by the University.

Note that most of the UNO NAME MSE courses are tailored to the needs of the working professional, involving evening course and many on-line availabilities. A special effort has also been made to tailor the offering of the NSDRDRC to the needs of Navy and Coast Guard personnel, in support of mid-career formation goals.

In addition to these lectures from existing UNO faculty, the Institute also draws upon invited speakers from the regional innovation community, such as the firms of Austal USA, Textron Marine & Land Systems, INCAT-Crowther, and others.

During such work at the graduate level, we also want to draw the maritime industry into the educational process. Education should be viewed as a life-long pursuit, and avenues should be developed to encourage engineers working in the industry to consider further studies in their specialty. Industry should also be engaged in the education process even at the youngest levels, with outreach perceived as a component of the engineering profession, and we hope to connect the naval engineering community to pre-college STEM-related projects.

The goal is to make professional outreach a fundamental component of a naval engineer’s career. This will lead to attracting good students to the challenges and opportunities of naval engineering, naval internships during college, and careers in the naval sector of the marine industry – including increased interest in STEM studies in the next generation.

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