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International Student Team Receives Award at Marine Energy Competition

May 03, 2021   |   by Julie Bonette

Update: Congratulations to the student team from Dartmouth and Mexico for winning the Moonshot Award at the 2021 Marine Energy Collegiate Competition! The team won for not only pulling together across six institutions, including five international universities and Dartmouth College, but also for submitting a concept that dared to dream big with an ambitious effort that led to a big solution.

Dartmouth students have partnered with students in Mexico to form one of 17 teams competing at a National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) sponsored contest: the 2021 Marine Energy Collegiate Competition (MECC). The team will present their idea of an ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) power plant off the coast of Cozumel, Mexico this April as part of the International Conference on Ocean Energy.

OTEC Power Plant
Partial infographic courtesy of CEMIE-Oceano.

MECC is designed to challenge interdisciplinary student teams to find unique solutions that can play a vital role in powering the use and preservation of the marine environment, also known as the "blue economy." According to the competition's website, marine energy has the potential to provide reliable power to fuel the blue economy, but further work is needed to optimize designs and reduce costs.

"This experience has given us an opportunity to build an understanding of marine energy and apply the concepts and skills we have developed in our time at Dartmouth both at Thayer and in the liberal arts curriculum. We've all had to be more than engineers, we've had to take on new roles as economists, entrepreneurs, managers, and translators!" said Michelle Wang '21, an engineering major modified with earth sciences. "More importantly, this competition has allowed us to build long-lasting connection with student networks across the United States, as well as internationally, interested in advancing the field of marine energy and renewable energy in general."

OTEC Internacional Team Members
Members of the OTEC Internacional team collaborate on Zoom.

In addition to Wang, competing from Dartmouth are: Emily Martinez '21, an engineering major modified with environmental earth sciences; Santiago Zamora-Castillo '21, a double major in environmental studies and computer science; and BE student Andres Rosales '20. They are working with undergraduate and graduate students from Mexico and are being advised by scientists from Centro Mexicano de Innovación en Energía Océano (CEMIE-Océano), a leading marine energy institute in Mexico. Martinez, one of the team's captains, worked at CEMIE-Océano last summer.

The other team members reside in Mexico, representing the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the Autonomous University of Baja California, the University of Caribe, the National Polytechnic Institute of Mexico, the Autonomous University of Mexico State, and the School of Accounting and Administration at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

The group, which has been working together since last fall, has overcome many obstacles as they prepare for their final presentation.

According to Wang, "Working with both language and physical barriers due to COVID has been an exciting and challenging experience for all our group members. We've had to Google Translate live in Zoom meetings and find meeting times that work for three different time zones!"

The team received funding from the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society at Dartmouth through a mini-grant program to help purchase software and to support other aspects of the project.

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