The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.


THE history of instruction in ship design at the University of Michigan is closely associated with the growth and development of the College of Engineering. When Mortimer Cooley, assistant engineer in the United States Navy, was detailed to the University as Professor of Steam Engineering and Iron Shipbuilding in 1881, twenty-five students were enrolled in civil engineering; in the following year more than sixty were enrolled. Courses in naval architecture were established and taught during alternate semesters by Cooley and were first listed in the Calendar for 1881-82 as follows:

Naval Architecture. — The instruction in this branch comprises a course of lectures on the nature of the resistance of ships, the computation of augmented surface, probable resistance, the power necessary to secure a given speed, buoyancy, stability, wave motion, steadiness, determination of centre of gravity and metacentre, causes of rolling, causes of stability, and similar topics.

The textbooks used at that time were Thearle's Theoretical Naval Architecture and Seaton's Marine Engineering.

The growing importance of instruction in marine design from 1883 to 1893 — at which time three courses, Naval Architecture, Marine Engines, and Ship Building, were given — resulted from the increased enrollment in engineering, a demand for technically trained designers in the marine field, in which the trend was toward larger and faster ships, and a realization of the coming expansion of shipping on the Great Lakes. Michigan has a shoreline of 2,213 miles on the lakes and connecting rivers, and a tremendous amount of water-borne commerce annually passes through her waters. In 1952 tonnage on the Detroit River was five times the normal foreign tonnage of New York Harbor and greater than the combined tonnage of Hamburg, Liverpool, and London.

At the February, 1898, meeting of the Regents President Angell presented Page  1278a communication from Cooley, asking the Board to consider the advisability of establishing instruction in marine engineering and naval architecture. In June, 1899, the Finance Committee was requested to provide in the budget $2,000 for the establishment of a course in marine engineering. Cooley immediately began searching for a capable naval architect to take charge of this work, and in 1900 Herbert Charles Sadler (Glasgow '93, D.Sc. hon. ibid. '02, LL.D. ibid. '27) came to Ann Arbor from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, as Junior Professor of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. The following item appeared that year in the Michigan Technic:

It is gratifying to know that the Mechanical Laboratory is to be considerably enlarged the coming summer, and among the apparatus which is to be placed in it is a compound marine engine, now being designed by some of the students, to be used in some of the courses in the recently established Department of Marine Engineering. The offer to become Junior Professor of Naval Architecture has been accepted by Mr. H. C. Sadler, of Glasgow, Scotland.

A communication from the engineering faculty dated October 8, 1901, outlined the course of study for the Department of Marine Engineering and recommended that a degree be granted in this field. The first graduate was Ernest Charles Stroebe in 1902. The degree program was described in the Announcement of the Department of Engineering for 1902-3, and in the University Calendar for 1903-4 appears a description of the Naval Tank, built in the north wing of the new Engineering Building (now the West Engineering Building). In 1916-17 the program was listed as Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering.

Early in the history of the department certain ideas were introduced which differed from those of similar programs in this country and abroad. The underlying principle that, in order to fit himself for the profession of shipbuilding, a student should have a thorough grounding in mechanical engineering was established, and the course consisted, therefore, of preliminary training in such scientific subjects as mathematics, physics, and chemistry, followed by the general courses required of all engineering students. In the third year mechanical and some civil and electrical engineering instruction was given, while the purely naval architecture and marine engineering work was confined largely to the fourth year. English, foreign languages, and other nontechnical subjects were also included in the preliminary work.

In 1913, following the procedure adopted by other departments, two options were established in the department: (A) naval architecture and (B) marine engineering. In actual practice the tendency was to differentiate between these branches of the profession; hence the opportunity was given the student to fit himself for whichever field he preferred. Minute specialization was avoided, however, and training in each branch was given to all.

The growing interest in aeronautics led to the introduction of courses in this subject in 1915. Owing to the close connection in many of the fundamental principles of this science with that of naval architecture and marine engineering, the new branch was attached to the latter department, and in 1916 a third option, (C) aeronautical engineering, was established. The budget for the work in aeronautics was included in that of the Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering until the year 1930, when aeronautics was established as a separate department.

In 1925-26 option (D) water transportation, was added. This appears as option D in the Announcement for that Page  1279year and as option C subsequently. This group of studies permitted a student to acquire additional training in economics and accounting and eliminated some of the specialized work in naval architecture and marine engineering.

For a degree in 1940 the minimum requirements for eight semesters were:

Preparatory courses 66
Secondary and technical courses 49
Elective courses 25
Total 140

In 1952 the departmental curriculum included five groups of professional studies. Option A was offered for students of naval architecture and option B for those specializing in marine engineering. The work included introductory courses and the essentials of form calculations, structural design and strength analysis; ship design, stability, rolling, steering, and preliminary design, contracts, specifications, yard production methods, and estimating; marine machinery, boilers, and auxiliaries; and resistance, power, propellers, model testing in the naval tank, and navigation.

In conjunction with the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies, in 1940 the Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering offered advanced work leading to the degrees of master of science, master of science in engineering, and doctor of science. The enrollment for the advanced degree as a rule is made up largely of graduates from foreign institutions and other American universities. Many students from abroad come to study under sponsorship of their governments. Turkey, Argentina, Chile, Canada, Puerto Rico, China, Norway, India, Brazil, Japan, and other nations have been represented. Undergraduate enrollment has shown an annual increase, having risen from sixteen in 1927 to eighty-four in 1952.

The placement of graduates in industry has been facilitated through close contact maintained by the staff with leading shipyards, designers, and steamship companies. The success and advancement attained in the profession by former students is an indication of the sound fundamental training received at the University. Past graduates have held high ranks in the United States Coast Guard, and in times of national emergency the department has been unable to supply the demand by the Navy and other services for trained men in ship design and construction.

The Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering has been fortunate in its staff. Dean Cooley's interest as well as his encouragement and advice contributed much to the development of the work. Sadler continued as head of the department until 1928, when he became Dean of the College. He died in 1948. His career as a teacher and his contributions in the field of research are noteworthy. He wrote for various professional societies and during World War I acted as naval architect for the United States Shipping Board. His services as consultant on problems of power and stability were in constant demand, and in association with Frank Kirby he helped design many vessels for the Great Lakes. Herbert Sadler, of Michigan, George Baker, of England, and Admiral David Watson Taylor, U.S.N., were the men who developed the scientific principles of ship form and resistance, originally outlined in the latter part of the nineteenth century by William Froude, the marine engineering pioneer.

In 1903 Edward Milton Bragg (Massachusetts Institute of Technology '96) was appointed Instructor in the department. Although at first he devoted some of his time to mechanical engineering, his main interest was in naval architecture and marine engineering. In 1915 he Page  1280was appointed to a professorship and in 1928 he became chairman of the department. A distinguished scholar and teacher, Bragg achieved an international reputation through his research work and publications. He was concerned more with theory and fundamentals than with commercial applications, and his lectures reflected his clear understanding of his subject. His major interest was in propellers and paddle wheels, but he also contributed much to the present theory of hull form and resistance.

During World War I Sadler was called into government service, and in 1918 Anders Fredrik Lindblad (Chalmers Institute of Technology [Sweden] '13, Sc.D. Michigan '23) was appointed Assistant Professor. Lindblad had been connected with the American Shipbuilding Company of Cleveland, and he maintained an interest in Great Lakes shipping throughout his academic career. He was made Associate Professor in 1928, but in 1933 he resigned to take the chair of naval architecture at his alma mater, the Chalmers Institute in Gothenburg, Sweden.

In 1928 Henry Carter Adams II ('13, M.S. '15) was added to the staff as Assistant Professor. Previously, his experience had included employment with Gibbs and Cox, Naval Architects, and work as technical adviser to the Load Line Commission. His field of specialization has centered in damaged stability and in structural design and strength. He became Professor in 1953.

Upon Anders Lindblad's resignation, Louis Arthur Baier ('14e, Nav. Arch. '33) was appointed Assistant Professor. He brought to the department an extensive experience in commercial ship design, and his professional contacts have assisted in the placement of graduates and in keeping the department aware of modern practice. Because of his special interest in the field of resistance and powering, he was placed in charge of the Naval Tank. He became Professor in 1943.

The construction of models for use in the Naval Tank requires mechanical skill and the ability to read ship drawings. The first few models were made by Sadler with the help of student assistants. In 1907, Hermann Graf was appointed Model Maker and continued in that position until his death in 1927. A mechanic of the highest order, he was responsible for the construction of various instruments, and he made many improvements in the tank facilities. Arthur A. Limpert, of the Buildings and Grounds Department, succeeded Graf. An excellent mechanic in wood and metal, his rich experience in boat-building, pattern-making, and allied fields had prepared him well for the variety of work arising in a model-testing tank. Until he died in 1945 "Art" Limpert was one of the first staff members visited by alumni on their return to the campus. Douglas Van Aken held the position of Model Maker from 1946 to 1950 and was succeeded by Phillip A. Schnell.

The unique feature of the department's physical equipment is the Naval Tank, or experimental model basin. On the ground floor of the West Engineering Building and running north and south for a length of 360 feet, the Naval Tank is a popular point of interest to visitors, especially to the children of Ann Arbor.

In addition to the usual classrooms, the department has its own draftingroom, equipped with necessary instruments such as integrators, calculating machines, battens, and "ducks." Half models and photographs, donated by shipyards and steamship companies, help the student to recognize various types of ships. In addition, complete plans and specifications in hull and machinery are on file for reference by students who are developing their own designs. Page  1281Well-equipped shops are provided for the construction and preparation of models and appendages to be tested in the tank. The three principal functions of the laboratory are demonstration of hydraulic phenomena and principles to supplement classroom theory, pure research work, and testing designs for governmental services, shipyards, steamship operators, and consulting engineers. The Tank and its functions are described more in detail later in this account.

Members of the staff have always been active as consultants in design, powering, propellers, stability, Admiralty Court cases, and in other phases of ship construction and operation. Particular interest has been maintained in Great Lakes freight and passenger shipping.

Publications by the faculty have been limited by the nature of much of the work carried out in connection with the Naval Tank. Although important papers have been delivered before the national professional societies, much of the research and testing done for governmental or private interests is of a restricted nature and, in wartime, confidential. Reports of projects on which staff members have acted as consultants seldom are available or even suitable for general publication, although the experience and the results have been of great value to the department. These contacts with the profession, however, have proved to be another means by which students are placed in responsible positions upon graduation.

By 1940 Sadler, Bragg, Lindblad, Baier, and Adams had contributed numerous papers. Since then Bragg has published "The Quasi-Wake Factor" and "The Quasi-Propulsive Coefficient"; Baier has published "The Resistance of Barges and Flotillas," "Diesel Engines on the Great Lakes and Inland Waterways," and "The Great Lakes Bulk Cargo Carrier: Design and Power"; Baier and A. D. Maxwell, The Navigator's Handbook; Baier and Jesse Ormondroyd, "Fantail Vibration in High Powered Single Screw Vessels"; and H. C. Adams with C. M. Adams, "Vessel Unloading with Air-activator Conveyers."

During 1942 and in the years which followed, the department assisted in the war effort. Various experiments were carried out, and designs of floating dry docks and amphibious tanks were refined. Baier served as consultant to the Chief of Transportation of the War Department and to the Bureau of Yards and Docks. Bragg retired in 1944, and Baier was appointed chairman of the department. Assistant Professor Charles Willett Spooner, Jr. (M.E. Cornell '34, M.S. Michigan '35) was borrowed from the Department of Mechanical Engineering to take over instruction in marine engineering. He was promoted to Associate Professor of Mechanical and Marine Engineering in 1949.

A training course program was given during the war by the department in Cincinnati, Ohio, for the engineering staff of the Army Transportation Corps. In June, 1943, the Navy Department transferred the Reserve Officers Naval Architecture Group from Annapolis to the University of Michigan for training under the direction of the staff of the department.

Assistant Professor Glenn H. Easton (U. S. Naval Academy '15, M.S. Massachusetts Institute of Technology '21) was a member of the department from 1944 to 1946, when the Reserve Officers Naval Architecture Group training program for the Navy Department was completed, providing some 227 officers for Construction Corps duty.

In 1948 Harry Bell Benford ('40e [Nav. Arch. and Mar. Eng.]) was appointed Assistant Professor of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, Page  1282coming to the department from the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company. He had had a valuable background in all the practical phases of shipbuilding.

During the past decade the curriculums have been strengthened and emphasis has been placed on design details and fundamental heat balance. Graduate work attracts an increasing number of foreign students. The department serves state and federal government agencies in various consulting and research capacities. Improvements in propeller design, stern flow, and vibration control have contributed to increased tonnage movement on the Great Lakes.

The modern 7,000 shaft horsepower ore and stone carriers, currently under construction for the Great Lakes, were developed by Baier, who also acted as consultant to the state of Michigan in the design and construction of "Vacationland," the ferry recently completed for service at the Straits of Mackinac.

The Experimental Naval Tank

When it was proposed to build the West Engineering Building Dean Cooley incorporated into the plans provision for a naval testing tank. His justification for this was that the United States Navy Tank at Washington was occupied with naval work and hence was unavailable for merchant ship experimental research. Moreover, the development of shipping on the Great Lakes afforded an opportunity for direct contributions by the University to ship design. A subflume in the bottom of the tank was to be connected to the Hydraulic Laboratory, providing ample water supply for the testing of pumps and water wheels, and lastly the tank-room galleries were to be utilized for research in the transmission of compressed air through long pipelines.

During construction of the West Engineering Building, which was completed in 1904, the Naval Tank was extended 100 feet outside the main building to a length of 300 feet. In a few years, however, an addition to the building permitted construction of an additional sixty feet, which at the time was not flooded and put to use because of prior demands for floor space. This tank area was decked over with temporary planking, thus providing two rooms for the use of the Department of Electrical Engineering.

The bottom of the Naval Tank, which is semielliptical in cross section, is twenty-two feet wide and nine and a half feet deep, with a wetted area of about 185 square feet. A three- by four-foot flume extends the length of the Tank below the normal bottom.

All apparatus was designed by Dean Sadler and, with the exception of the towing car, was built in the University Shops. The car was furnished by the Russell Wheel and Foundry Company, of Detroit, in 1904, and its towing speed limit is about 480 feet per minute in low gear and 840 feet per minute in high gear.

Until 1936 practically all models were made of paraffin and were cast roughly to form in a clay bed. The waterlines were then cut on a pantograph-controlled twin rotary cutter machine, the final form being hand finished. The advantages of this technique were economy, ease of making alterations, the possibility of using the same material repeatedly, and the fact that the parent set of lines could be employed to produce a family of models for research purposes.

The disadvantages were sagging or hogging, owing to high temperatures, and alteration in frictional resistance, due to weathering of the wax surface. As the Tank work gradually changed to projects having single models, it was decided in 1936 to standardize by using Page  1283wood models. These are glued together from seven-eighths-inch white pine lifts cut to shape on the band saw and finished by hand to transverse templates.

Improvements in technique and apparatus have been made as required, but when funds are available a more modern dynamometer and car will be installed. The University of Michigan Tank has been in great demand in the development of barges and towboats to operate on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers because of its 140-foot false bottom, which can be adjusted in depth to simulate shoal water conditions. The Tank has been used in a study of the correction of yaw, a condition prevalent in barge towing, and much attention has been given to the improvement in speed and fuel economy of existing lake bulk carriers. This work has been under the direction of Baier.

Sensing the need for closer co-operation and standardization of technique among the various tanks, Baier organized in 1938 the American Towing Tank Conference (ATTC). The first meeting was held at the Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, in April, 1938.

Although open-water research has been carried out on propellers and paddle wheels, self-propelled model tests have never been undertaken by the University. It is believed that this type of work should be restricted to models of at least twenty feet in length in order to avoid scale effect, and these sizes are beyond the present Tank's capacity.

Among the research problems undertaken have been the following. Series 1050 was tested in 1921 for the Fairbanks-Morse Company to find the best forms for fireboats. A fireboat is usually made as short as possible to enable it to maneuver readily in docks, and usually it has a high speed relative to its length. The forms were designed by Alfred J. C. Robertson, and the series consisted of four models all cut from the same waterlines. This series was unique in having the vertical spacing changed. The results obtained were very satisfactory throughout the speed-length ratio for which they were designed.

The first tests in the 1130 series were undertaken at the request of the United States Shipping Board in 1919. Nine preliminary forms were tested, and form 1130 was selected. Nineteen models were made from a set of parent lines and tested with varying percentages of entrance and run. This series was planned by Robertson.

At the University of Michigan four more models with a 50 per cent run were tested in order to complete the series. This was as far as it was originally intended to go with tests on this model, but the question arose concerning the effect of section shape upon resistance, and it seemed best to use model 1130 for such experiments. A medium shape was used on the twenty-three models previously tested, and variations were made in both directions. The tests seemed to indicate that a 27 per cent entrance and a 40½ per cent run were about the best proportions for general purposes.

All the tests had been made for a 425 by 56 foot ship. The next logical variation seemed to be in the beam. Kent's paper in 1919 on the "Effect of Variation in Beam" had covered a wide range, there being 13-foot intervals between the beams of the successive ships tried. It seemed advisable to cover a more limited range and to have about 4-foot intervals. Thirty models were used to cover this ground, and each model was tested at four different drafts. The experiments upon shape of section having shown that for this type of model best results were obtained with V-shaped forward sections and bulbous-shaped stern sections, these thirty models were tested with V-shaped sections forward and bulbous-shaped sections aft. Thirty-six models were used to Page  1284investigate the effect of rise of floor; eighteen models were tested with an entrance of 33.93 per cent and eighteen with an entrance of 40.7 per cent.

In the 2030 series, during the summer of 1920 the Emergency Fleet Corporation authorized the test of eighteen models of fairly fine form, varying from a prismatic coefficient of .53 to a prismatic coefficient of .76, with parallel middle body varying from o per cent to 35 per cent.

Series 2057 was tested in 1929 for the United States Shipping Board. The forms were designed under Admiral Taylor's direction and were for a form of about .66 block coefficient. The parent lines were very close to Baker's 56-C, although the models were made with some rise of floor.

The models represented 400-foot ships, but with breadth and draft varying to give ship forms ranging from L — 400', beam — 30.94', draft — 13.75', to L — 400', beam — 76.5', draft — 27.82'. Fifteen different models were necessary. The requirements of the Shipping Board would have been met if each of these fifteen models had been tested at one draft only, but it seemed desirable to test the models at a draft of .8 and also at 1.2 of that called for by the Shipping Board. The results were reported by James Lee Ackerson in the Transactions of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers for 1930 under the title "Test Results of a Series of Fifteen Models."

In 1935-36 a series of seventeen barge forms was tested for the Dravo Corporation of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The tests consisted of fitting ends of different shapes to a middle body and of testing the models at three different drafts in shallow water corresponding to twelve feet for the full-sized barge. As a result of these tests a final form was obtained which could be driven with 30 to 33 per cent less power.

Three similar models were tested in the Tank, and the data were worked over assiduously, but no frictional coefficient could be obtained. The data obtained in testing these models were published in 1932 as a part of the discussion in Commander Saunders' paper "Tests of Geometrically-Similar Ship Models," Transactions of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers.

From 1915 to 1921 about fifteen different submarine forms were tested for the Electric Boat Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut.

In October, 1929, two models of Crane's design of the cup defender, "Weetamoe" were tested in the Naval Tank. These models were run upright and also in two inclined positions. As a result of these investigations the longer, narrower model was chosen.

In 1931 numerous tests were made for Burgess upon certain of his yacht forms, such as the "Valiant" and "Avatar." Changes were made in the shape of the longitudinal profile and in the shape of the section. The various forms were pushed down the tank at an angle to the direction of motion to determine the center of lateral resistance.

Various tests have been made from time to time upon V-bottom and round-bottom forms of high-speed boats. Certain patented Hydro-Curve forms have been tested for the inventor. The Fairbanks-Morse series deals with forms used in small fishing, trawler, and other commercial vessels.

In 1929-30 a series of tests supplementing those carried out some years previously by the Washington Tank was made for the Shipping Board upon types of bulbous bows. Results of these tests were published in the 1930 Transactions of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers under the title "Results of Experiments upon Bulbous Bows."

Page  1285From time to time various fireboat forms have been tested, and the results assembled and correlated by the students as a class project.

Because of the practical gains in speed and economy accomplished by model tests for the Dravo Corporation, continued research has been carried on relative to the most efficient arrangement of barge flotillas. This work proved so successful that river transportation, particularly upstream, has benefited.

An extensive program of tank tests for the Army Transportation Corps on the effect of shoal and restricted water on the speed and resistance of barges and flotillas has been under way during 1950-52. The results are intended to guide government plans for widening and deepening the principal inland waterways for navigation purposes.

In 1947 the new addition to the East Engineering Building was completed, permitting the Department of Electrical Engineering to release the space it had occupied in the West Engineering Building. This space was used for the completion of the north end of the Naval Tank, which was lengthened some sixty feet and fitted with a wave dampening beach. New rails were installed and a false bottom for shoal water work was built. Plans are under way to renew bearings and car wheels, completion of which will modernize the tank.


Announcement, College of Engineering (title varies), 1901-2, 1925-52.
Calendar, Univ. Mich., 1882-83, 1903-4.
Catalogue …, 1913-14, 1915-16.
Catalogue and Register, Univ. Mich., 1923-27.
Cooley, Mortimer E.Scientific Blacksmith. Ann Arbor: Univ. Mich., 1947.
General Register, Univ. Mich., 1927-52.
News Item]. Michigan Technic, 1900, p. 74.
President's Report, Univ. Mich., 1900-1952.
Proceedings of the Board of Regents …, 1896-1952.
Sadler, Herbert C."The Experimental Tank at the University of Michigan."Trans. Soc. Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, 14 (1906): 51-63.
Shaw, Wilfred B.The University of Michigan. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Howe, 1920.