Today, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced the winners of the 2021 Marine Energy Collegiate Competition (MECC).  EERE announced the winning teams at the MECC award ceremony on April 29, and Kelly Speakes-Backman, the Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, recognized them today during the closing plenary for the 2021 International Conference on Ocean Energy.

Marine energy has the potential to power a host of exciting blue economy applications, from autonomous vehicles that can advance understanding of the world’s oceans, to water desalination treatment to serve coastal and island communities. However, more work is needed to optimize designs and reduce costs. The MECC asks tomorrow’s student innovators to rise to the challenge—and these winning teams delivered.

Managed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on behalf of EERE’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO), the competition inspired multidisciplinary teams of undergraduate and graduate students to unlock the power of the ocean, rivers, and tides to create a business plan and develop, design, and test the technologies that build resilient coastal communities and provide power at sea.

The 2021 winners made a splash with their thoughtful concepts for marine energy devices—and the MECC is now accepting applications for the 2022 challenge.

From Theory to Test Tank

“The MECC engages a diverse group of students to explore marine energy technologies in real-world technology design and business case development,” said Kelly Speakes-Backman, Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy. “Through this competition, we hope to inspire tomorrow’s clean energy workforce to help us meet President Biden’s ambitious and achievable clean energy goals.”

Teams were asked to design a device that optimizes technology, reduces costs, and explores new opportunities for marine energy. Competitors explored a variety of approaches to meet these criteria, proposing a range of ideas with a singular common goal: to power the blue economy.

New to the 2021 competition was the build-and-test segment, which allowed interested teams to put their devices to the test in a tank.

These efforts culminated in a written submission and a pitch of teams’ market assessment and detailed technology design alongside the 2021 International Conference on Ocean Energy. The following teams were selected as winners of the 2021 MECC:

  • First-place winner: Purdue University
  • Second-place winner: University of Washington
  • Third-place winner: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University with University of California, Los Angeles

Individual category winners included the following:

  • Community Outreach and Engagement Award: Oregon State University
  • Build Winner: University of Massachusetts Dartmouth with St. Bonaventure University
  • Test Winner: Oregon State University
  • MacGyver Award: University of North Florida

· Moonshot Award: The multi-institution team encompassing Dartmouth College, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Autonomous University of Baja California, University of Caribe, National Polytechnic Institute, and the Autonomous University of Mexico State.

· Individual product category winners:

  • Written report: University of Washington
  • Pitch: University of Massachusetts Dartmouth with St. Bonaventure University
  • Poster: University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

Building Capabilities and Tomorrow’s Marine Energy Workforce

Participation in the MECC provides students with invaluable industry experience and promotes workforce development by identifying the most promising near-term markets for marine energy to serve the blue economy.

The competition also forges connections between students and seasoned industry professionals, affording them opportunities for information sharing, networking, and career development.

Learn more about the 2022 competition and how you can submit your application for the next MECC.

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