1/c Joe DiRenzo IV, of Suffolk Virginia, has been granted the Fulbright Scholarship for the academic year 2010/11. The Icelandic Fulbright Commission offered him a Fulbright Fellowship to pursue his Master's degree in Renewable Energy Science (RES) with a concentration on fuel cell systems and hydrogen technology. He will arrive in Iceland after serving aboard USCGC Vigilant homeported in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Joe selected this RES program as it offers a research-oriented curriculum on renewable energy in cooperation with the University of Iceland and University of Akureyni, and in partnership with other leading universities around the world. These research opportunities are especially relevant for the U.S. Coast Guard because of the specialization in infrastructure for the transportation sector, marine transportation, and hybrid propulsion systems. As part of his graduate studies, Joe is planning to research the feasibility of introducing hydrogen fuel cells to power certain electrical systems onboard Coast Guard vessels.
Joe chose to study in Iceland as 73% of Iceland’s primary energy comes from indigenous renewable energy sources, which is the highest of any country in the world. Iceland has integrated all the modern forms of renewable energy into daily living. It is the forerunner in modernizing the use of energy through programs like electric cars, buses, and ships powered by hydrogen. In addition, Iceland, like the United States, is a maritime nation and has developed renewable energy science for application in the maritime environment. While undertaking research on integrating hydrogen fuel cells into U.S. Coast Guard vessels, Joe wants to observe projects where hydrogen fuel cells are being integrated into the Icelandic fishing fleet.
Immediately after completing his studies in Iceland, Joe plans to merge his renewable energy technical expertise with his maritime operational experience, thus enabling him to better serve in U.S. Coast Guard engineering positions as a junior and mid-grade officer. He will be prepared to contribute to ship redesign to integrate renewable energy systems, or conduct research on renewable energy at the USCG Research and Development Center or U.S. Coast Guard Academy. His expertise in renewable energy and maritime operations will enable him to form partnerships on renewable energy in the maritime environment.
At the Academy, Joe chose to major in mechanical engineering because of its potential to transform people’s lives through the creative application of science and technology. During his junior year at the Academy, he used his mechanical engineering skills to undertake a project with the Maison Fortune Orphanage, located in Hinche, Haiti, designing a renewable energy system to reduce their dependence on a struggling generator. Under LCDR Clippinger’s supervision, Joe researched several low technology energy alternatives, and designed a solar panel based solution to the Haitian orphanage’s energy needs.