Charting the blue economy

Clean energy project earns UMassD student team “Best Poster” award in the Marine Energy Collegiate Competition.

drop of water photo courtesy of Pixabay
Photo courtesy of Pixabay | photographer: Sulox32.

A team of UMassD students recently won the "Best Poster" award in the 2021 Marine Energy Collegiate Competition (MECC) for their project “Optimization and Testing of the MADWEC Platform.” The 2021 MADWEC team brought together students from the College of Engineering, Charlton College of Business, and College of Visual & Performing Arts to interact and learn from each other while exploring an emerging industry–the Blue Economy.

“The Blue Economy has become an integral part of the UMassD campus mission, and the MECC has been a great opportunity to train students in this area, and get them excited about contributing to both renewable energy and marine technology,” says Collegiate Team Advisor Dr. Dan MacDonald, professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering. “We are very pleased to have received awards in both the 2020 and 2021 MECC competitions.”

Team MADWEC partially derived its name from the WEC – an acronym for wave energy converter. In contrast to this parent device, the MADWEC is designed as a small-scale local power platform for use in remote or deep ocean locations. The MADWEC system shows that not all energy converters must be large or connected to a grid to power smaller systems. During the competition, the team demonstrated how the smaller scale device fills an important niche in the marine technology sector. It is capable of providing low-cost, low-maintenance power for local applications in the ocean, such as powering robotic underwater vehicles, oceanographic sensors, or underwater communication nodes. “A source of readily available, low-cost power could transform the ocean landscape and revolutionize the way we manage, do commerce in, and learn about the ocean,” says MacDonald.

Along with MacDonald, Dr. Mehdi Raessi, associate professor of Mechanical Engineering advised the team of engineering students. UMass Dartmouth was one of 17 contenders in this year’s MECC competition, which is in its third year.  “The Department of Energy MECC is an international competition, which had participants from top-ranking schools such as UC Berkeley and Purdue this year. It is great to see our students from UMass-Dartmouth are doing well and winning prizes in such high-profile competitions,” says Raessi. “Thanks to their successful performance this year as well as last year, UMass Dartmouth has built a strong reputation and presence in Marine Energy and Blue Economy, which will be leveraged to expand our research and student mentorship activities in those areas.” Mechanical engineering seniors participating in their capstone senior design project received additional mentorship from course instructor Dr. Hamed Samandari, a full-time lecturer of Mechanical Engineering.

“The MECC is a fantastic opportunity for UMassD cross-college collaboration. It allows the team members to see what innovation teams look like in the real world by seeing the various disciplines pulling together to deliver a final product,” says Peter Karlson, a part-time lecturer of Entrepreneurship at the Charlton College of Business who mentored and co-advised the business students. For more information, see the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy’s press release.

Team MADWEC members

Engineering students:

  • Christopher Carstairs, ECE BS ‘21
  • Cameron Jasparro, MNE BS ‘21
  • Colby Martin, MNE BS ‘21
  • Brett Murray, MNE BS ‘21
  • Lucas Pimentel, MNE BS  ‘21
  • Geoffrey Souza, MNE BS ‘21
  • Alexa Van Voorhis, BNG ‘22

Business, biology, & art students:

  • Sydney Brake, BFA ILL & BA  PSYCH ‘21
  • Gregory Browne, MNE ‘23
  • Desirae Pollard, COAST PSM ‘24
  • Nicholas Rego, BS MKT  ‘21
  • Yongjie Zhu, MBA, ‘21


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