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Marine Energy Collegiate Competition: Powering the Blue Economy™

The U.S. Department of Energy's Water Power Technologies Office announced the 36 teams selected as participants in the 2025 Marine Energy Collegiate Competition!

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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.

Nurturing the Future Blue Economy Workforce

To help advance the marine energy industry and prepare the future marine energy workforce, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office created the Marine Energy Collegiate Competition (MECC) in 2019 . Part of WPTO’s Powering the Blue Economy initiative, the MECC 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.
Figure 1. Potential marine renewable energy applications. Click on the image to view details in a larger version. Images courtesy of Molly Grear, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Although few academic institutions offer marine-specific advanced degrees, having experience related to marine energy is highly valuable for prospects within a wide range of blue economy opportunities. Jobs across the blue economy include opportunities for:

  • Communications and marketing specialists
  • Project managers
  • Educators
  • Engineers
  • Financial analysts
  • Researchers
  • Scientists
  • Sales representatives

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.

2025 Teams

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) has announced the 36 teams selected to participate in the 2025 Hydropower Collegiate Competition (HCC) and Marine Energy Collegiate Competition (MECC), the largest cohort of teams to date. These annual competitions engage and educate students about real-world challenges facing these sectors and the many career opportunities in water power with the goal of encouraging the next generation to join the hydropower and marine energy workforces.

“Our Hydropower and Marine Energy Collegiate Competitions call on the next generation to help these resources fulfill their potential in the clean energy transition,” said Matthew Grosso, WPTO acting director. “We look forward to seeing the creative and innovative water power concepts these students develop throughout the year.”

The 2025 MECC asks teams to integrate marine energy with blue economy applications such as ocean exploration, aquaculture, and desalination. After identifying a promising blue economy market, teams will design a marine energy-powered device to serve that market. Each team will be assigned a marine energy mentor and compete in four challenges. 

The following 23 teams will compete in the sixth annual MECC: 

  • Baldwin Wallace University
  • California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
  • California State University, Fresno
  • California State University, San Marcos
  • Cornell University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Hawai’i Pacific University
  • Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Manhattan College
  • Michigan Technological University
  • Northern Arizona University
  • Oakland University
  • Oregon State University
  • Purdue University
  • Rutgers University
  • Stanford University
  • University of California, Riverside
  • University of Houston
  • University of Michigan
  • University of New Hampshire
  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • University of Washington
  • Webb Institute

Follow the Competition

2025

Who Can Participate

Teams must meet the following criteria to be eligible:

  • Teams may consist of a combination of post-secondary, undergraduate, and graduate students, but must be at least 50% post-secondary and/or undergraduates.
  • Both U.S. and non-U.S. institutions are welcome to apply and participate.
  • Non-U.S. institutions are not eligible to receive cash prize funding.
  • In a team with students from U.S. and non-U.S. institutions, the lead institution must be a U.S. academic institution accredited by the U.S. Department of Education [BA1] to be eligible for cash prize funding.
  • 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
  • Teams should also strive to include in their teams individuals from groups historically underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Figure 2. Potential marine power applications. Click on the image to view details in a larger version.

How to Get Involved

Competition Rules

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 the National Hydropower Association’s Waterpower Week.

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.

Competition News

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