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Icon for: Michael Briscoe


American Society of Naval Engineers

Promoting Electric Propulsion


2022 (see original presentation & discussion)


Since 2018, ASNE has managed the PEP program with generous support from the Office of Naval Research. We recruit university teams directly, through marketing, and word-of-mouth. In 2021, we had 12 teams in the program and this year we expanded to 17 teams. In the 2022-2023, we want to continue expanding the field with $7,000 grants, while providing maintaining grants of $3,500 to teams that continue participating. These teams are a mix of senior design projects and competition clubs. As the program matures, we are helping colleges find ways to move the design projects into clubs that allow for sophomores and juniors to participate and increasing the institutional knowledge about the engineering solution. Currently, we count 234 students involved in the program with another 31 mentors. Our videos documenting the event have been seen by over 1,000 viewers. By raising awareness of these undergraduate efforts, we hope to inspire more undergraduates and high school students to pursue STEM careers.

Overall, the initiative supports the Office of Naval Research's goal of developing more electrical and unmanned expertise in the maritime environment. We judge our success on the innovation shown in the designs and the number of STEM careers launched by this work. ASNE support teams with technical expertise, connections to in-kind donations, and building career paths to military-focused career paths. While students build these manned and unmanned electric-powered boats, they develop a deep appreciation of boating and creating cutting-edge technologies to better utilize coastal environments.

Current participating universities: 

  • University of Pittsburgh
  • Wake Forest University
  • University of Michigan - e-Jetski
  • North Carolina A&T - Water Aggies
  • Old Dominion University
  • Princeton University 
  • Texas A&M
  • University of Kentucky
  • Tennessee Tech
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Michigan Solar Sea
  • Virginia Tech
  • University of Washington - Bothell
  • Widener University
  • University of Georgia
  • Stevens Institute
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Discussion from the 2022 STEM For All Video Showcase (7 posts)
  • Icon for: Michael Briscoe

    Michael Briscoe

    Lead Presenter
    May 9, 2022 | 06:31 p.m.

    Welcome to Promoting Electric Propulsion sponsored by the Office of Naval Research! This program currently engages college students to design, build and race electric-propelled boats to help them gain real-world engineering experience, deep understanding of electric propulsion, and cross-major collaborations. We are currently working to gather data on our impact and connect these students to jobs.

    We would love to hear input about additions that could strengthen our program and data collection. Also, if there are the opportunity for our program or one of our individual teams to collaborate with you, we would be interested in strengthening our STEM community. Thanks for your feedback!

  • Icon for: Billy Spitzer

    Billy Spitzer

    Executive Director
    May 10, 2022 | 08:10 a.m.

    Michael, thank you for sharing information about this design and engineering challenge. It definitely raises the stakes when teams have to depend on the craft they build to keep them afloat for a 5 mile race!


    I was curious to hear more about how you scaffold the design process. Are there particular approaches that you recommend to help students work through developing ideas, prototyping, revising, etc.?

    I am also interested to hear more about which impacts you think are most central to the program (e.g., learning design skills, career trajectory), and how you are thinking about measuring them. 


  • Icon for: Michael Briscoe

    Michael Briscoe

    Lead Presenter
    May 10, 2022 | 12:23 p.m.

    We find that students usually need some direct instruction in one or more of the systems that goes into designing an electric-propelled boat. We provide this instruction through our asynchronous "PEP Talks", and we encourage teams to watch these videos together so they can pause the video and talk through challenging concepts and apply these concepts to their initial designs. 

    In related industries, there are program management structures that help students engage in the design process while gaining job skills. For example, an Analysis of Alternatives process is fairly common in comparing designs and we suggest teams use this structure to think through aspects of their designs and weigh 2-5 designs against a metrics that are derived from their objectives. 

    As far as measuring impacts, we are using survey data to see how students feel the program for aspects of their job hunt and future employment. We also are working closely with participants to gather placement data so we can document success upon graduation. We hope these students will respond to future surveys that share their perspective after gaining the perspective of being in the workforce for a number of years. The other key type of data we collect centers around program improvement; we are checking in with all our stakeholders twice a year to ensure they feel PEP is fully delivering on these objectives.


    Thanks so much for the thoughtful questions!


    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Billy Spitzer
  • Icon for: Beatriz Canas

    Beatriz Canas

    Director of equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility
    May 10, 2022 | 10:01 a.m.

    Michael, it was great to learn about this program and engineering challenge. I'm curious to learn more about the types of opportunities around professional and career development you provide for participants. Especially because the majority of participants have been so successful in securing jobs after completion of the program. 



  • Icon for: Michael Briscoe

    Michael Briscoe

    Lead Presenter
    May 10, 2022 | 12:28 p.m.

    One easy lever is leveraging social media, especially LinkedIn, so students are continually aware of job openings and industry professionals see the successes of these students. As a professional society, we are also uniquely positioned to invite students to our symposia for free and then we escort them into the exhibit hall where they can meet and better understand dozens of active companies. For example, our next conference in San Diego, MegaRust, has 88 companies onsite and undergraduates are free to attend and make these connections.

    There are also team-level successes that we are observing and trying to find ways to replicate across the program more broadly. Since our teams are spread out geographically, some teams find unique industry partners that give them tours of their facility, work closely with students to ensure they develop well-rounded CVs, and help them use industrial processes to fabricate components (an authentic on-the-job training). We are very excited about these local connections which often lead to job placement, and we are considering how we can ensure all teams have this experience with their communities. 

    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Billy Spitzer
  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    May 11, 2022 | 08:47 a.m.

    I am curious if some of the participating students get interested in a more general way in the problem of finding electrical alternatives to fossil fuel systems (planes, cargo ships, trains...).  I could imagine this is a growth area in the job market (at least I hope it is!) 

  • Icon for: Michael Briscoe

    Michael Briscoe

    Lead Presenter
    May 11, 2022 | 04:57 p.m.

    From an industry perspective, you're exactly right. Electric propulsion and devices are growing more common across the industry. In particular, unmanned craft are a big driver for improving the electric propulsion designs. Our teams have a wide variety of unmanned designs that would be useful for various objectives.

    While some of our participants go on to work at naval engineering companies, others are working at Tesla, aeronautical design, regional power companies, etc.  These students can help solve these problems because they have experience going from objectives to designs to prototype and final design. Thanks for the great question!

  • Further posting is closed as the event has ended.