top of page


Inaugural "William Francis Gibbs Interscholastic Engineering and Design Competition" Held

The SS United States remains an icon of American design and engineering, inspiring the next generation of young scientists and innovators.

The month, the legacy of the Big U's groundbreaking designer, William Francis Gibbs, was honored with the naming of a high school STEM competition: the "William Francis Gibbs Interscholastic Engineering and Design Competition," held at Tenafly High School, NJ, on May 1st.

On site at the "William Francis Gibbs Interscholastic Engineering and Design Competition" held at Tenafly High School, NJ, on May 1, 2018. Photographs courtesy of Tom Basile.

For the event, Tenafly High School hosted ten competing high school teams from the New Jersey Interscholastic STEM League, inaugurating a landmark engineering and design competition with an authentic “Made in the USA” theme.

Preceding the competition, students learned about the history and legacy of the SS United States from Conservancy representative Tom Basile, who described the work being done to preserve America’s greatest, safest, and fastest ocean liner. Students then heard from architect Elvis Negron, who presented his 2017 thesis project — a suggested preservation and re-purposing of “America’s Flagship.”

Students build and test their model ship designs.

Launched with this historic background, each student team was given various materials and two and a half hours to design and build a model ship for speed. Each team was judged on their documentation, as well as a CAD drawing, prototype, and presentation. The concluding boat race took place in an adjoining courtyard’s outdoor classroom, temporarily filled with water to serve as the “Atlantic.”

Documenting a day full of science, education and excitement, the event was carried on Cablevision Channel 77 Tenafly and streamed live online. Following the competition, David Di Gregorio, the Supervisor of Library Media Services at Tenafly High School, enthused: "William Francis Gibbs, and what he accomplished, is the American example of engineering and design. I feel students considering this field need to know who he was, and what he and the team he assembled accomplished."

Congratulations to all of the student teams that competed, and to the award winners!


As we work to secure the future of our nation's sole remaining ocean liner, the SS United States Conservancy is also hard at work planning for a future ship-board museum and education center. Learn more about the SS United States Center for Design & Discovery.

In the meantime, we continue to further our educational mission: recently, naval architecture and marine engineering students from SUNY Maritime College had the opportunity to tour the SS United States at her Philadelphia berth. Read the students' reflections following their visit.

Featured Posts
Donate Now
Recent Posts
bottom of page