Silver Ships Partners with Auburn University to Develop Oyster Harvesting Boat Design Concepts

Auburn University’s Industrial Design program, the Auburn University Shellfish Laboratory (AUSL) and Silver Ships Inc. are thrilled to announce their collaboration on concepts for an Oyster Farming Boat Design.

Program Background

Beginning this fall, Silver Ships, AUSL and students within Auburn’s industrial design program will focus on designing several concepts for a new boat to support oyster farming operations. The class offers third-year students the opportunity to engage in their first substantial design project within the program.

The students in the class spend every other week of the semester at Auburn’s futures studio, a collaboration between the School of Industrial and Graphic Design and local businesses in Mobile. Faculty Director Randy Bartlett leads students through interacting with businesses and industry partners to assist in the development of new products and marketing strategies. The class is designed to include both in-classroom learning and simultaneous industry problem solving for the industry partners. This semester will be the first time in the program’s history students will work on a boat design project and the first time the program is partnering with a boat builder.

Getting Started

The partnership formed thanks to a few coincidences, all to each party’s benefit. AUSL already owns an “original” Silver Ships vessel that is more than 30 years old, and still in operation. Bartlett already had plans to discuss an industry partnership with Silver Ships when he met the AUSL lab manager and learned about their history with Silver Ships and upcoming needs for a new vessel. From there, the three organizations agreed to work together in an effort to produce 2-3 design concepts for a new oyster farming boat for AUSL.

This month, Silver Ships loaded Auburn students participating in the class in two of their vessels and visited AUSL’s oyster production hatchery and nursery in Dauphin Island, AL and oyster farm in Grand Bay, AL to observe, interact with students and the facilities and learn more about the AUSL’s needs for a workboat.

Once proper design research is conducted and ideas are formulated, Silver Ships and Auburn University student participants will work together to begin sketching concepts and designing scale models, keeping the wants and needs of AUSL as top priority.

Goals of the Project

Through collaboration between the three parties, the semester-long project will result in 2-3 concepts and visual scale models of an oyster boat design to be presented to AUSL. The Lab is not required to adopt the proposed design, but could opt to continue working with Silver Ships to finalize a new vessel. With a new concept developed, the boat designs could be shared with other commercial oyster farmers who have similar needs. Although the end result is important, greater emphasis is placed on the collaborative and educational process to develop a final design concept.

This opportunity not only benefits Auburn students, providing an extraordinary and career-boosting experience, but it also positively impacts Silver Ships by providing conceptual ideas incorporated into a practical design and reestablishing a potential pathway to working with a former customer.

Silver Ships will continue to provide updates as the project progresses, and the team is looking forward to working with AUSL and Auburn students to provide solutions for an ever-evolving industry.