Code Slingers Unite for DOE’s Ocean Energy Contest

IT runs deep in my family and circle of friends, with an emphasis on programming: everything from MUMPS to Ruby on Rails, and SUDO is a legitimate debate-winning tactic. I, however, can barely hand-code my own light HTML.

Thankfully there’s the TopCoder community that’s more than half a million strong of digital creators, developers, and artists. And that’s the power that the U.S. Department of Energy wants to tap into, in a new contest to figure out better ways to tap into ocean energy.

The Open-WARP (Open Wave Analysis and Response Program) Challenge through the agency’s Water Power Program is a software coding competition to develop a computational model for how a wave energy converter device responds to waves with given heights and periods. Two phases of competitions will require simulations of hydrodynamics and device components, emphasizing participants’ grasp of conceptualization and data analysis. (Specifically the DOE is looking to “convert a common CAD model to a geometric mesh […] to solve inviscid Navier-Stokes equations.”) Cash prizes will be awarded for each of four milestones, and the overall winning code will become part of an open-source Wave Energy Converter Simulation (WEC-Sim), under development since last year at NREL and Sandia National Labs to accelerate WEC system design, plugging holes in analytical and modeling gaps — but open-sourced to keep costs low and be easily modifiable.

NASA and Harvard Business School also are participating in the competition, having successfully tapped TopCoder contributions to optimize power for the International Space Station, the DOE acknowledged.

So if you want a shot at some cash, and your code has Wu, give it a try — and help move the ocean energy wave a little bit closer to shore.

Lead image: Surfing the net ocean, via Shutterstock

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Jim is Contributing Editor for, covering the solar and wind beats. He previously was associate editor for Solid State Technology and Photovoltaics World, and has covered semiconductor manufacturing and related industries, renewable energy and industrial lasers since 2003. His work has earned both internal awards and an Azbee Award from the American Society of Business Press Editors. Jim has 17 years of experience in producing websites and e-Newsletters in various technology markets.

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