A team of students from Virginia Tech, in collaboration with UCLA, took third place among 16 teams in a national competition aimed at creating new technologies for large-scale renewable energy.

The Marine Energy Collegiate Competition, a competition organized by the U.S. Department of Energy, was created for university students to play a role in the advancement of marine energy. This is the third stage of the competition, where students are challenged to put their design to work in a real-world environment. Previous stages required students to present and refine a design.

Interdisciplinary teams of undergraduate and graduate students have risen to the challenge, offering unique solutions for bringing the marine energy industry into wider use. The Virginia Tech team designed and built a self-powered ocean observation platform which harvests kinematic energy from ocean waves, converting the motion to usable electricity. Electricity is also stored in a battery within the mechanism, using the same source of wave energy to power sensors used by the machine.

Undergraduate team members are Duncan Lambert, Corbin Lenderink, and Brian Fierstein, all of whom recently completed their bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. They are joined by master’s student Shuo Chen and postdoctorate advisors Xiaofan Li and Qiaofeng Li.

The competition is administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on behalf of the Water Power Technologies Office.