NIU students to build, race sub for Florida competition

By Maria Tortorello

Several NIU students will be making their way to Florida with a submarine next year.

NIU senior engineering students Jim Parejko, Tony Perone, John Andrios, Robert Gates and Jeff Drye are in the process of building a two-man, human-powered submarine to compete in the International Submarine Race (ISR) from June 16 through 27 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“Our main goal is to get people to look at NIU’s engineering program,” Parejko said. “The program is really small compared to other universities, but we have good minds. We can get the job done.”

The submarine is designed to be run by two people. One person supplies the power by pedaling, while the other person navigates.

The H.A. Perry Foundation and Florida Atlantic University are sponsoring the race.

The ISR’s goal is to introduce students to underwater technology.

“It inspires students to go into underwater technology,” Parejko said.

Other universities participating in the race are the Naval Academy, the Michigan Institute of Technology and the University of California at Los Angeles.

“That just shows that we do have the designed capabilities to compete with these schools,” Parejko said.

The competition is based on a series of eliminations. The first test is safety followed by an elimination based on speed. Finally, the competition will be narrowed down to one submarine which becomes the overall winner.

Other awards for innovation, safety and fastest time trial also will be given.

“We’re going for the cost-effectiveness award,” Parejko said. “We have a limited budget of $1,500 to $2,000 compared to Tennessee (Technical Institute) who has a $20,000 budget.”

Parejko hopes that this will be a continuing project.

“Hopefully, others will learn from our mistakes so that in two years others will be able to pick up where we left off,” he said.

Parejko said he also would like to get NIU students involved in competitions such as this one.

“We have high hopes for this in the future,” Parejko said.