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Are you an undergraduate or graduate student interested in the power needs of the blue economy or the potential of the ocean to provide this power? There’s an exciting, first-of-its-kind competition that will help you discover your role in the blue economy—and now is your chance to get in at the ground level.

The blue economy refers to the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs, while preserving the health of ocean ecosystems. Traditional sectors, such as shipping, fisheries, and ports, as well as growing industries, such as marine aquaculture, ocean observing, marine robotics, biofuels, and seawater mineral extraction, are all part of the blue economy. These industries contribute more than $1.5 trillion to the overall economy each year—a value that is expected to double by 2030.

Blue logo that says "U.S. Department of Energy Marine Energy Collegiate Competition: Powering the Blue Economy"

The Marine Energy Collegiate Competition

Hosted by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office, the inaugural 2020 Marine Energy Collegiate Competition (MECC) will allow student teams to participate in a competition that provides hands-on experience, career exploration, industry networking, and teaching and learning opportunities. Because marine-energy applications in the blue economy are just emerging, the opportunities for students are vast. Not only will participants learn from and network with industry professionals, they will also have a chance to explore and potentially open up new and viable markets.

MECC teams will explore innovative marine-energy solutions to address power needs across the blue economy. Teams will identify a promising market within the blue economy and the best marine-energy application to address the unique needs of that market. With feedback from end users, teams will create a preliminary design of a marine-energy-powered device to serve the market and end-user needs.

Assemble a Diverse Team

You don't have to be an engineer to participate in the MECC. In fact, team diversity is one of the key selection criteria.

The blue economy needs expertise and creativity from multiple fields. Although engineers are vital for the design and integration of new technologies, team members with backgrounds in business, ocean sciences, finance, law, marketing, communications, project management, and more are vital to the success of a well-rounded team. The more diverse your team is, the more likely your solution will address the challenge from all angles. So, be sure to think beyond the obvious candidates when recruiting a team.

When assembling your team, you must:

  • Target a team size of four to six members (there are no strict limitations)
  • Identify one faculty advisor and one to two student leaders.

Communication Is Key

Communication is a major part of science and bringing powerful new ideas to market. Successful business plans will effectively communicate both the scientific vision and the impact of the project.

In the competition, teams will create a market-research-supported business plan and conceptual-level technical design of a system that addresses the power needs of a specific sector of the blue economy.

The science is important: a preliminary technical design is the centerpiece of your project and you will be required to develop a non-working-scale model of your concept.

In addition to the technical design and the model, you will also need to:

  • Identify and talk with end users
  • Write a business plan that is supported by market research
  • Present a public pitch on your plan to a panel of judges and hypothetical investors—teams are encouraged to showcase maximum creativity and salesmanship
  • Create a poster summarizing the technical and business plan.

You will discuss all of these with attendees, experts, judges, and mock investors at the International Conference on Ocean Energy, which takes place in Washington, DC, May 19-21, 2020. Have your talking points ready!

Learn… and Teach

The MECC will give you the opportunity to network and learn from professionals who are already working in marine energy and blue economy industries.

By participating in the competition, you'll be working on real-world problems and getting direct input from industry professionals on your questions and solutions. These connections might also lead to further opportunities. Students who participated in similar Energy Department competitions (e.g., the Collegiate Wind Competition and the Solar Decathlon) found that these competitions helped jumpstart their careers.

The MECC can offer similar opportunities to connect with the community through programs, such as the National Ocean Sciences Bowl, or local events at your academic institution. Not only will you inspire the next generation of marine-energy innovators, you'll have a chance to hone your own teaching and communication skills.

Ready to Enter a Team?

Don't wait! Entries are due by Friday, November 1, 2019. Download an application and review the rules and requirements.

We hope to see your team at the competition in 2020!