June is Ocean Month, and to celebrate STEM Rising is sharing profiles of Energy Department staff in ocean-related careers. Meet Rob Cavagnaro.
My name is Rob Cavagnaro and I’m a mechanical engineer where I lead the Marine Technology Team at the Marine Sciences Laboratory. I have degrees in mechanical engineering (BD, MS, PhD) and study ways to generate electricity from resources available in the ocean. I mostly focus on currents and waves, and the technology used to harness their energy.
What’s your favorite fact about the ocean?
There’s enough energy in ocean waves off the U.S. coast to theoretically cover about 20 percent of the total electricity demand of the country.
What do you do to celebrate Ocean Month?
I’ll take some extra time this month to research how to live in a way that is less disruptive to the oceans. I’ll make a conscious effort to use less disposable plastic that may find its way into the water.
What inspired you to work in water power?
I wanted to learn about and apply new technologies to help transition us to more renewable power generation. I grew up near the ocean and was intrigued by making it a part of the solution.
What do you do in your job?
I turn the needs and requirements of electricity users in the oceans into specifications and designs for ocean energy systems. I also work on how to test the performance and environmental effects of these systems.
What books or movies about the ocean do you recommend?
I recommend The Outlaw Ocean: Journeys Across the Last Untamed Frontier by Ian Urbina. It’s an eye-opening look at a lot of major issues of ocean economy and policy.