Project 114 is an innovative approach to engineering computations that is being developed for SNAME by Steve Hollister. In essence, it will be a suit of basic NAME computer programs that run on an Excel input/output backbone. This approach is quite powerful and runs a careful middle ground between large, canned, NAME program suites and home grown NAME computer programming. This effort is not meant to displace large powerful computational packages, but rather is meant to provide tools for occasional users and to allow a useful and standardized entry point for NAME amateurs, students and occasional users.
The project is further described at the SNAME website and at present a hydrostatics, a Savitsky and a basic powering module are available for experimentation. (beta testing?)
In March we were contacted by Monmouth County’s High Technology High School and asked if we could place a student for the Spring. High Tech High School is one of the Monmouth County Vocational High Schools with which M&O has a steady interation and is one of the best technical high schools in the country.
High Tech wanted Brady Donahue to attend at our office for 3 months of Fridays since he had expressed an interest in vehicle design. Fortunately we had the perfect job for him; to be the first true student guinea pig for Project 114.
On the first day I told Brady to go to the SNAME Project 114 website, to download the program and to get it to work. Next I gave him a really rough sketch of a standard maritime high school research vessel concept that we are playing with and to provide me with a hydrostatic analysis. For somebody who has never done this type of thing it requires quite a bit of ground to be covered to be able to come up with solutions.
Over the course of the next 15 Fridays Brady dug his way into the program, and started to get results. However, much more importantly, even though he had never done any type of Excel programming, by himself, he made several key improvements to the hydrostatics package.
He figured out how to plot section, how to plot a trim profile and how to plot a righting arm curve and to add these features to the Excel graphics interface (We are showing the somewhat prettier sections and profile of the J Boat Endeavour here, since the hard chine catamaran sections of the research vessel are not much to look at). These features are now part of the Project 114 world and an 18 year old has made a lasting contribution to the profession and to the availability of useful NAME tools for the NAME community. Most significantly, he figured out how to deal with one of those Microsoft mysteries that tends to crop up in their programs. Through some clever programming he managed to generate plots in the Project 114 spreadsheets that have even scaling in the X and Y direction. His instructions for this trick will be uploaded to the project 114 website for everyone to use.
Brady is no intellectual slouch and therefore may not be the standard 18 year old, but his effort has proven that a careful balance between spreadsheets and canned computer programs is a powerful combination that can serve our profession well at any level.