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A Vessel That Could Move the Coast Guard Forward – Capstone Project Preview

By Stefanie Senkow
February 2, 2021

first class cadetsFirst Class Cadets Joseph Collins, Chris Lansing and Joshua Webster give a sneak peak of their mechanical engineering capstone project and why it matters.

Briefly describe your project.

“In engineering terms, a hybrid refers to two or more power supplies (engine, generator, battery) that work independently or in combination to save fuel and money. Our project is a hybrid vessel demonstration unit featuring motor-generator couplings and a lithium-ion battery pack as power supply, working in combination to satisfy load requirements experienced on a ship.” – Collins

Why is there a need for this?

“We need to become less reliant on fossil fuels in the future and always strive to be more efficient with our use of energy. However, we need to validate the merit of innovative concepts such as hybrid propulsion through experimentation, research, and analysis. Although it is fun to hypothesize on the effectiveness of hybrid propulsion, engineers need to prove whether fuel is utilized more intelligently in these systems. One of our primary goals is to understand and present the benefits and challenges associated with the implementation of hybrid technology via the lenses of economics and environmental impact.” – Collins

How can this project support the greater Coast Guard mission?

“Enhancing the knowledge base of future Coast Guard officers in hybrid technology and the regulations surrounding it. This project is heavily research oriented as well as being a design, build, test simulation. The goal of the research aspect is to educate members of our team and thereby educate future USCG decision makers. The Coast Guard is a regulatory body, and it is vital that members, specifically who are writing and/or enforcing the regulations, have an in-depth and complete knowledge of the technology and how it operates.” – Webster

What does the future hold for a project like this?

“The future of a project like this can go in a multitude of directions. This is because there are many different architectures for hybrid power in the maritime domain. For example, our project does not actually feature any combustion processes. Using a diesel-powered generator in the model would further the scope of the project and allow for more accurate demonstrations of the fuel savings associated with a hybrid system, with the tradeoff of added weight, space, and resource requirements.” – Lansing

See what kinds of projects could be in store for you as a Mechanical Engineering major at the Coast Guard Academy.