Worldwide Ferry Safety Association holds successful virtual meets in New York


The Awards Ceremony for the annual Ferry Design Competition of the Worldwide Ferry Safety Association (WFSA), now in its ninth year, was held virtually this week but still proved the best ever, according to Dr Roberta Weisbrod, WFSA’s Executive Director.

‘The awardees for the international student design competition were part of a great interchange of ideas among participants. The virtual format allowed tens of students, professors, and maritime professionals, as well as journalists to deeply engage and learn painlessly about design ideas,” she said.

The Professional Program, held tvirtaul he week before, divided into two parts: presentations on ferry design, and then on 3-D printing of boats. John Waterhouse, the prominent US naval architect, who is also on the Board of the WFSA, spoke about how to build for the long term – to design so that the energy and propulsion systems could be upgraded. In response to a question about electrification he noted the internal challenges – while the batteries needed to be kept shirt-sleeve cool, other parts of the electrical system required different temperature requirements that had to be satisfied.

Dr. Susan MacKay, Senior R&D Program Manager at the University of Maine (UofM) Advanced Structures and Composites Center gave the keynote speech. Her presentation offered insight into future directions of UofM’s 3-D printing ship-building project, with a focus on the development of bio-based, recyclable materials conducive to large-scale additive manufacturing. The team collaborates with more than 20 industrial partners to bring new, sustainable, and functional composite products to market.

The Center is currently working with resins embedded with wood fibres but can use other materials. Products aren’t limited to machine limitations – they can print 45 degree angle structures. Scaling up won’t necessarily require larger printers, their 3-D boat building process involves the preparation of modular components and development and testing of strong ‘welds.’ Speedy construction of large structures is being implemented with large volume material holders. Data analytics also play an important role; machine learning is being employed to anticipate and counteract the micro temperature and other differentials that build up during the print process.

Dr. Habib Dagher who started the UofM Advanced Structures and Composite Center 25 years ago with four people, now has a complement of 270. The Center has been growing, with 70 positions added in the last two years.