DR. Barge

In order to provide disaster relief (DR) to waterfront locations, MEMA disaster response equipment and emergency supplies can be loaded into shipping containers and moved by water to anywhere in the Chesapeake bay. In addition to the standard equipment, the team carries electrical generators, water purification equipment, and enough food to supply 5,000 people for 1 month. This material can be loaded into 48 international standard shipping containers. These containers are 40 feet long, 8 feet wide and 10 feet high.

Your task is to design a barge to carry these 48 containers. The place that the barge will be moored limits the length to 240 feet and the draft to 15 feet. The containers are carried on top of the barge and they must be at least 5 feet above the water. This distance is the freeboard.

You will build a model of your barge and test it in a tow tank carrying model shipping containers to determine which barge goes fastest over a range of towing forces.


To meet the requirements of this challenge you will:

  1. Choose a length and a beam for your barge.
  2. Determine a cargo configuration that fits this shape.
  3. Predict the draft (T) of this barge.
  4. Determine if the design has positive stability (GM of 0.5 inches is required). Make changes if needed to meet this requirement.
  5. Construct the barge of readily available material such as pink insulation foam. Shape the barge to minimize resistance and maximize speed.
  6. Tow the barge in a tow tank with towing forces of 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 ounces. For each towing force, time the barge traveling 6 feet and use this time to calculate the speed (V = Distance/Time) of the barge in feet per second.
  7. Plot the speed versus towing force. Find the area under the curve between 2 and 6 ounces using Simpson's rule.
    Area = (1 /3)(1 ounce)(1*V2 + 4*V3 + 2*V4 + 4*V5 + 1*V6)
  8. Make changes and retest to maximize this Area.
  9. Demonstrate your knowledge of the engineering design and development process and explain how you used this process to solve this problem in a written report in the specified format. Include your calculation of stability and any drawings that you made.
  10. Enhancement: Plot a Power versus Speed curve for your barge.


Model shipping containers are 4 inches long, 1 inch high and 1 inch wide. They weigh between 1 and 3 ounces each. 48 of these containers must be carried on top of the barge in any configuration desired except that the containers cannot be stood on end. There are also half-sized containers that are 2 inches long, 1 inch high and 1 inch wide. Half-sized containers may be substituted for full-sized containers, two for one.

Your model can be no more than 24 inches long. The containers must be carried at least ˝ inch above the surface of the water (the model must have at least ˝ inch of freeboard). The maximum allowed draft is 1 ˝ inches.

The barge must not tip over or ship water during testing.


The evaluation of the task will be based on the following:

_____ Product – DR Barge (10 points)

_____ Performance – Area under the force v. speed curve (20 points)

Based on your area compared to the maximum in the lab

20 Points – Maximum in lab
18 Points – 90% of maximum
16 Points – 80% of maximum
14 Points – 70% of maximum
12 Points – any barge tested

_____ Report (20 points)

Provide a written report in the specified format. The report will be evaluated based on content, organization, style, and presentation. The report must include your calculation of stability and any design drawings.

Here is some help with the report


Last updated 28 May 2014