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Ryan Coe works at Sandia National Laboratories’ Water Power Technologies department.
Sarah Harman, U.S. Department of Energy

Ryan Coe received a B.S. degree in Ocean Engineering (2009) and a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering (2013), both from Virginia Tech. In 2013, he joined Sandia National Laboratories’ Water Power Technologies department. Ryan’s research focuses on wave energy converters (WECs), including optimizing WEC performance through dynamics-based design and control, extreme response modeling and survival analysis, and testing large scale WEC devices. Ryan is an associate editor for the Journal of Waterway, Port, Coastal, and Ocean Engineering and serves as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) for International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) on the subject of “Design requirements for marine energy systems.”

What’s your favorite fact about the ocean?

Studying wave energy converters, I am always really impressed by the sheer magnitude of energy available in the ocean. Ted Brekken, of Oregon State University, put it quite nicely for me once when imagining walking out into the ocean and stretching out your arms. In this roughly one meter of wave front across the span of your reach, there may be something like 30 kW of power – that’s a lot!

What do you do to celebrate Ocean Month?

This year, I will likely be playing in the sprinkler and kiddie pool with my daughter ;)

What inspired you to work in water power?

I was really excited to do something that applied my background in ocean engineering and that might one day provide a benefit to environment.

What do you do in your job?

Probably my favorite thing about my job is the degree to which it varies day-to-day and month-to-month. I have times when I dig into some detailed numerical modeling problem, spending most of each day glued to my desk and computer, but I also do experimental work that involves turning a wrench and seeing the concepts that I work on in real life.

What books or movies about the ocean do you recommend?

I read “The Wave” by Susan Casey a couple years back. It has a nice mix of popular science and narratives about scientists and surfers seeking out big waves.

Do you have any advice for people who want to work in ocean-related careers?

I suppose my advice would be to study hard and work to make connections between the ocean and your studies. Whether you excel at statistics, biology, engineering, computer programming, literature, or any number of other areas, there is likely a need for your passion and knowledge.

Read more Ocean Month profiles and get information about STEM Rising at www.energy.gov/STEM