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Taking the Plunge: Inaugural MECC Competitors Dive In

March 3, 2020

To unlock the power of the ocean and the burgeoning field of marine energy, the U.S. Department of Energy Water Power Technologies Office launched the first-ever Marine Energy Collegiate Competition (MECC).

Fifteen teams, comprising undergraduate and graduate students, answered the call to participate, putting their heads together to develop innovative marine energy solutions to power the Blue Economy.

These groundbreaking competitors will put their creativity and know-how to the test, developing marine energy solutions for next-generation technologies such as autonomous vehicles to advance ocean exploration, battery and fuel cell technology for marine transportation, desalination to serve coastal and island communities, offshore renewable energy and alternative fuels, and more.

Let’s get to know some of these innovative teams a bit better. Who are these intrepid competitors forging the blue path ahead?

Meet and Greet

This year’s MECC teams hail from a geographic grab bag, representing schools in California, Minnesota, and Massachusetts, to universities in the Caribbean in places such as Barbados and Puerto Rico.

And from this diverse collection of teams comes some fascinating backstories and cutting-edge concepts that just might change the world.

Let’s meet some of our challengers:

  • The force of two major hurricanes is driving Team Juracán Energy from the Universidad Ana G. Mendez in Puerto Rico. Destruction by Hurricanes Irma and Maria inspired the team to develop a marine-energy-driven solution to provide clean drinking water to post-disaster and isolated communities.
  • Team Neptune Rising from the College of the Florida Keys in Key West, Florida, is using their backyard as their lab space. They propose a conceptual offshore marine aquaculture and power production facility designed to operate in the waters of the Florida Current, a thermal ocean current that flows approximately 35 kilometers due south of Key West, Florida.
  • Flower power is the name of the game for Team Eco Buoy from Idaho’s Boise State University. The team is developing an efficient, scalable, and low-cost wave-energy device whose flower-shaped design features “petals” that individually harness the energy from waves to sustainably power communities along the Pacific Coast.
  • The Trident S.E.A.S. Team, comprising students from Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, Virginia), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, Massachusetts), and the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus (Barbados, West Indies), is creating a unique solution to monitor and protect the world’s coral reefs. Using a network of wave energy converters to power charging and docking stations for autonomous underwater vehicles, the emissions-free system will collect data from the Barbadian coral reef.

Over the course of the next few months, these teams and their fellow competitors will be hard at work, fleshing out their concepts and preparing for the big event in our nation’s capital this spring.

We look forward to checking in again and following the progress of these young innovators.

Learn more about the challenge and check out all 15 team stories.