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The Marine Energy Collegiate Competition 2025

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

This challenge is closed

stage:
Submission Deadline
prize:
$420,000

This challenge is closed

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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

In the 2025 MECC, the competing studentteams will have approximately 10–12 months to develop and present their concepts at the final event held in Spring 2025. During the competition, the teams will submit written documents demonstrating their progress on a schedule described in this document, attend monthly all-teamcalls, receive an assigned industry mentor, and have accessto educational webinarsand networking opportunities with marine energy experts.

This competition will consist of four challenges, described below, that will run concurrently. Each selected team will participate in all four challenges. Each challenge includes distinct submissions that selected teams must complete to be awarded cash prizes for that challenge. The teams’ activities and ensuing results from the four challenges are intended to be incorporated into three separate final reports and two presentations at the final event.

The four challenges of MECC are:

  • 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 the best marine energy device to serve the market’s needs. Competitors will then evaluate the performance requirements of the marine energy system for end users in the identified market
  • 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. 
  • Build and Test Challenge: Teams will build a scaled prototype of their concept and perform a series of lab tests.
  • Community Connections Challenge: Teams will engage with the marine energy industry and their communities to achieve three goals: make connections with professionals to discuss a challenge in the industry that they are passionate about, create unique solutions to address these challenges, and take action toward one of these solutions.

At the end of the competition, all competing teams are expected to attend the final event in Spring 2025 to present results from all four challenges. The written submissions as well as presentations will be reviewed by experts selected by DOE. Specific details on submission requirements and scoring criteria are included in the rules document.

General Competition Timeline

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

Spring: MECC organizers open the application period for the 2025 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

DOE and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) launched the first year of MECC in 2020. The competition's goals are to:

  • Bring together diverse groups of students from multiple disciplines.
  • Encourage teams to explore opportunities for marine energy technologies that can benefit other existing maritime industries via real-world concept development experiences.
  • Inspire future innovators as an entryway into the marine energy and blue economy sectors.
  • Teams will be evaluated on how effectively their projects meet these goals when determining winners for the grand prize.

This competition aims to provide experience with a wide range of blue economy and marine energy opportunities and provide a foundation for future opportunities in these sectors. Throughout the competition, teams will have the opportunity to gain insights into various marine energy and clean energy careers and access workforce development resources and career opportunities in these sectors. All teams will be invited to attend regular educational webinars and industry presentations intended to enhance their educational experience. The MECC has helped students in the past by connecting them with job opportunities and instilling an interest in and understanding of renewable energy careers.

Ultimately, this collegiate competition is designed to foster educational programs and would benefit from classroom curriculum as well as the creation of remote learning, industry partnerships, informal independent-study projects, industry mentorships, and clubs.


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 2025 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.


Are you interested in the 2025 Marine Energy Collegiate Competition, but not ready to lead a team?

While we encourage any interested school to apply for the 2025 Marine Energy Collegiate Competition, we understand that not all schools may feel prepared to fulfill all of the competition requirements. In such cases, MECC organizers can assist you in partnering with a selected team that will act as the lead institution in the competition.  Submit the following expression of interest form: https://forms.office.com/g/g2qnEhHiM7  The details of the partnership will be determined by your school and the lead institution. 

Please note that expressing interest does not guarantee a formal partnership.

MECC Organizers will begin the process of initiating partnerships once teams have been selected in May 2024.

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