Section 600: Underwater Vehicle Design

Project: Design, build, and test a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) that is highly maneuverable underwater and driven by a control box of your own design; then present your design to the client


In our section, you will work in a team of five to design, build, test, and communicate about a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), sometimes called a submersible, for underwater exploration. The ROV has a set of tasks that it will need to do, but otherwise this is a “free design” project with minimal constraints on size, shape, and function. You will have an opportunity to test your ROV in the towing tank at the Marine Hydrodynamics Laboratory (MHL) in West Hall.

IMPORTANT! The date of the ROV competition for the Winter 2019 semester is Saturday, April 13, 2019. This competition is mandatory; absolutely no exceptions or excuses. We don’t wish to be unsupportive of your extra-curricular activities, but this competition isn’t something we can reschedule or that you could “make-up” at a later date. If you cannot attend the competition (because of a family trip, Varsity track meet, your Club Quidditch team might make nationals and it’s the same day, etc.), then please choose a different section that will fit your schedule better. 

At the competition, your team will present its ROV design to our industry sponsor, and then conduct final ROV testing in the MHL’s towing tank. A written progress report and a final report are also deliverables for this project.

We will touch on the following engineering topics within the context of the ROV project: team communication and collaboration, 3D modeling and printing, pressure, buoyancy, stability, technical documentation (presentations and reports), basic electric circuits, systems design, probability, statistics, risk, and ethics.

This course will likely be of greatest interest to those students looking to major in naval architecture & marine engineering, but any student who is interested in a rewarding, hands-on introduction to engineering at U-M is very welcome. You can read more about the course at this detailed course description. If you are hoping to register for this section in the fall term but find that it is already full, please email the First Year Programs Coordinator, Krista Quinn, at to have your name added to the list for winter term.