Human Powered Submarine at UCSD

UC San Diego's Dolphin Finned Human Powered Submarine, named Vaquita, has just qualified for and been invited to the European International Submarine Races held in England, July 2018! A huge success for the team of twenty six undergraduate students from diverse engineering disciplines who designed and built Vaquita in one academic year as full time students!!

This is the first time the UCSD Human Powered Submarine Team has qualified for the European races. It is a unique and exciting sporting event held in one of the world's largest testing tanks (the size of one football field), the Qinetiq Ocean Basin. Twelve top teams from universities around the world will race against the clock to break world speed records for propeller and non-propeller categories, and navigate through a challenging slalom course. 

Vaquita will compete in the non-propeller category using a vertically oscillating tail fin propulsion system powered by bicycle pedals. The pilot is in a prone position looking through a transparent nosecone while pedaling as fast as he can and navigating using a fully electronic steering system. Quite the challenge! The team hopes to reach speeds of close to 4 knots (4.5 mph). Michael Phelps swims at 6 mph on his best day, but Vaquita is far more graceful. 

Please let us know if you would like a copy of our design report. Email team captain, Tobin Gutermuth, at [email redacted]

TEAM ROSTER: (Name; year and major; sub team)

Alexander Westra;
  2nd year Physics; Propulsion Lead
Alistair Twombly; 5th year Aerospace; Simulations Lead
Andrew Cai; 2nd year Mechanical; Safety Systems Lead
Benny Wu; 3rd year Mechanical; Steering Mechanics Lead
Brendon Chen; 3rd year Computer Engineering; Electronics
Brian Sebastian; 3rd year Electrical; Electronics Lead, Support Diver
Chelwei Jang; 2nd year Mechanical; Safety Systems, Support Diver
Christopher Robinson; 2nd year Bio-Engineering; Propulsion
Eugene Lin; 1st year Mechanical; Hull
Felix Chan; 3rd year Aerospace; Simulations
Hao Luo; 3rd year Mechanical; Steering Mechanics
Josh Gong; 3rd year Nano-engineering; Hull, Pilot
Kayla Shepodd; 3rd year Mechanical; Propulsion
Louise Xu; 3rd year Electrical; Electronics
Michael Huang; 2nd Aerospace; Steering Mechanics
Michael Ishida; 2nd year Masters Mechanical; Simulations, Electronics
Mingcong Tang; 2nd year Physics; Propulsion
Nathan Silitonga; 3rd year Mechanical; Hull, Finance Lead
Robert Valero; 3rd year Structural; Safety Systems, Support Diver
Ryan Tran; 1st year Mechanical; Steering Mechanics
Tamara Kawa; 2nd year Mechanical; Safety Systems, Marketing
Taren Bhakta; 2nd year Physics; Hull
Thomas Spencer; 3rd year Aerospace; Propulsion
Tobin Gutermuth; 4th year Structural; Captain, Hull Lead, Support Diver
Zach Fox; 2nd year Mechanical; Propulsion
Zinan Hu; 2nd year Mechanical; Propulsion

The UCSD team began designing the 2017-2018 submarine, Vaquita, in late September and after many months of hard work designing, building, and testing it is nearly ready to race!

The team is currently raising funds to ship the submarine to and from England by air. 
Team members have already purchased their tickets to England and are committed to getting Vaquita to England.  

Fundraising Break Down:
$3250 - ship Vaquita from San Diego to England (1st priority). Lets see this thing race!!
The team is prepared to leave the submarine hull in England if we do not raise sufficient funds. 

$3250 - ship Vaquita from England to San Diego (2nd priority). Bring Vaquita home for the 2018-2019 team to further optimize the design and race in the International Submarine Races held in Maryland, July 2019. 

$2000 - offset the costs of travel for seven dedicated team members who have saved to be able to attend EISR (last priority)
A minimum of five team members are necessary to compete (3 support divers, 1 pilot, 1 member on land). 

The goal shown above will be periodically updated as we receive donations through the school as an alternative to GoFundMe

Help Vaquita get to the races

$75 Donation
- Signed Team photo with Vaquita at the European Races (6"x 8"). Please specify your shipping address 

$200 Donation
- T- shirt and signed Team Photo (6"x 8"). The T-shirt graphic is shown below. This design is not finalized, but it will be something similar. Please specify your shipping address and size wanted.

$500 Donation
- A one color symbol or logo of your choice on the submarine (cut from vinyl), and on the back of the t-shirt. The size of your symbol will scale in size with respect to the other donation sizes. Sponsors of the team prior to this fundraising campaign will have their decals on the submarine as promised, regardless of the $500 minimum. However, the size of their decals on the submarine and t-shirt will also scale in size with respect to all donations. 
- Example: One generous private donor and alumni has donated $1000 to the team. We are going to put a silhouette of his two dogs on the submarine. 
- You will also receive a signed Team photo with Vaquita at the European Races (8.5" x 11")
Thank you for your generosity and supporting the next generation of engineers!!
TAX RECEIPTS and Corporate Gift Fund Matching, Donate to the Team through UCSD Foundation Fund: 

If you prefer to donate through the school rather than directly to the team using GoFundMe please use our foundation fund through UCSD. Using this foundation fund you can get tax receipts and recognition as an official donor to the University, and you may qualify for corporate fund matching. Donors are able to give via credit card, but also through gifts of stock. For more information on giving options visit: 

Link to foundation fund for American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Human Powered Submarine: 
This fund goes to American Society of Mechanical Engineers, our parent organization at UCSD.
When making a donation through the fund, please specify that it is for the Human Powered Submarine in the special instructions box. 

Check if your company does gift fund matching using this link: 

If you have any questions regarding the foundation fund please contact Mike Helé, Associate Director of Development at Jacobs School of Engineering, UCSD.         
[email redacted]             
(858) [phone redacted]
  • David Boone 
    • $250 
    • 50 mos
  • Helen Westra 
    • $200 
    • 50 mos
  • Henry and Marilyn Dowers 
    • $100 
    • 50 mos
  • Frank & Cheryl Deras 
    • $100 
    • 51 mos
  • Krishna Naik 
    • $150 
    • 51 mos
See all

Fundraising team: Human Powered Submarine at UCSD (2)

UCSD Human Powered Submarine 
Raised $630 from 5 donations
San Diego, CA
Tobin Gutermuth 
Team member
Raised $1,150 from 9 donations