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American-Made Challenges

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The Marine Energy Collegiate Competition

Challenging multidisciplinary teams of undergraduate and graduate students to offer unique solutions to modern marine energy challenges.

This challenge is closed

stage:
Judging Closed
prize:
$420,000

This challenge is closed

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Summary
Timeline
Forum35
Teams189
Entries
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Summary

Overview

Marine energy—power generated from ocean waves, currents, tides, and temperature changes—is the world's largest untapped renewable energy resource. However, further work is needed to optimize marine energy device designs and reduce costs.

This competition invites interdisciplinary teams of undergraduate and graduate students to:

  • Identify the most promising near-term markets for marine energy
  • Design an appropriate marine energy device to serve market applications that could have commercial value within the next five years.

By participating in the MECC, students build the real-world experience and industry connections that will help them prepare for careers in the marine energy sector and the blue economy.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) launched the MECC in 2019. Learn more about the past cohorts of competitors: 

Competition Structure

The MECC invites selected teams to identify a promising market within the blue economy and to determine the best marine energy application within that market to address. Over the course of school year, teams develop materials for two required contests and one optional challenge, outlined below. Teams present their work at the MECC final event, typically held in conjunction with typically held in conjunction with the National Hydropower Association’s Waterpower Week or a similar industry event.  

MECC teams compete in four required contests:

  • Business Plan Challenge: Teams will identify a promising market within the blue economy (either a market identified in the WPTO Powering the Blue Economy report or another potential market within the blue economy) and determine, within that market, the best marine energy application to address. Submissions in this challenge will count for approximately 33% of the total final score.
  • Technical Design Challenge: Teams will evaluate the performance requirements in their chosen blue economy market by identifying and interviewing at least three potential end users. Teams will complete a detailed design of a marine-energy-powered device to serve those end users. Submissions in this challenge will count for approximately 33% of the total final score.
  • In the Build and Test Challenge: Competitors will build a scaled prototype of their concept and perform a series of lab tests. The submissions in this challenge will count for approximately 14% of the total final score.
  • Community Connections Challenge: Competitors will foster connections with the broader marine energy industry and with their local community. The submissions in this challenge will count for approximately 19% of the total final score.

General Competition Timeline

For a detailed competition timeline, please visit the Timeline tab. 

Spring: MECC organizers open the application period for the 2024 competition. Interested teams fill out an application to compete during the upcoming school year. 

Spring-Summer: MECC organizers select the teams who will participate in the upcoming school year and present their work at the HCC final event. 

Fall–Winter: Selected MECC schools assemble their teams and enter midyear submissions, including a team story, a list of hydropower industry interviewees, and a stakeholder engagement plan. 

Winter–Spring: MeCC teams continue preparing their competition submissions, including challenge reports, presentations, and posters.

Spring: HCC teams present their work at the MECC final event, expected to be held in conjunction with the National Hydropower Association’s Waterpower Week or a similar industry event.  

Competition Goals

The MECC brings together diverse, multidisciplinary groups of students to: 

  • Develop real-world marine energy concepts
  • Explore how marine energy technologies can benefit maritime industries
  • Build the skills and industry connections that will help them prepare for careers in the marine energy sector and the blue economy.

The MECC directly aligns with DOE’s overall goals of improving energy affordability, energy technology integration, and energy storage.


Guidelines

Competitors will identify a promising market within the blue economy (either a market identified in the WPTO Powering the Blue Economy report or another feasible market within the blue economy). Students will then determine the best marine energy application within that market to address. 

  • Teams may include graduate students but must consist of at least 50% undergraduate students. Undergraduate students should be adequately represented at the in-person or virtual competition.
  • Teams should strive to include a diverse range of academic disciplines, including but not limited to 
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Marketing
    • Communications
    • Environmental and Public Policy
    • Social Sciences.

Review the MECC 2024 Rules to learn more. 

If you have any questions or want to receive updates on the prize, please subscribe by using the contact feature on the HeroX platform or message us directly at Water.Competition@nrel.gov.

Timeline
Forum35
Teams189
Entries
Resources
FAQ