Water Technologies Addressing Climate, Energy and Mobility Challenges in the Great Lakes Region

Today’s MI Environmental Story by Travis White Great Lakes Research Center at Michigan Technological University From Great Lakes Report.

The Great Lakes have recently seen a number of stressors, including high water levels, high wave energy, harmful algal blooms, invasive species, lack of oxygen, and more.

    Scientists deployed a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) through the ice in front of Michigan Tech's Great Lakes Research Center to capture images of the ice's bottom surface.  (Photo courtesy of Michigan Technological University);

Scientists deployed a remote-controlled vehicle across the ice to capture images of the ice’s bottom surface.

However, these lakes still offer enormous opportunities for the region in terms of climate resilience, access to clean fresh water, a strong and growing blue economy, workforce development and technology research and development.

Michigan Technological University’s Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC) is focused on leveraging these opportunities to help address the Great Lakes’ current and future challenges.

The GLRC combines hydrodynamic models, high-resolution autonomous bathymetry, and buoys to observe and predict the short- and long-term effects of high water. GLRC is also working to create smart and autonomous maritime systems to improve mobility on lakes and increase safety for seafarers. Based at GLRC and supported by the Marine Autonomous Research Site (MARS), the Smart Ship Consortium (SSC) brings together industry, government and academia to help develop technologies, safety protocols and policies around the integration of autonomous navigation systems into mobile solutions program or tomorrow.

Working with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) Office of Future Mobility and Electrification and the Mackinac Economic Alliance, GLRC is studying the electrification of Mackinac Island ferries and the potential to power these electric ferries using the region’s clean, renewable energy sources.

In addition to technology development and scientific research, Michigan Tech brings strong workforce development to the Great Lakes region. The GLRC prepares scientists and engineers at undergraduate and postgraduate levels to meet upcoming challenges. An emerging focus is a cyber-ready workforce with skills in data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and autonomous marine systems.

Through a partnership with MEDC, GLRC and SSC will host the inaugural Cyber ​​Boat Challenge, a hackathon challenge for university students focused on maritime cybersecurity. These skills will make Michigan’s mobile workforce of the future a world-class mobile workforce. In fall 2021, with support from the Department of the Environment, the Great Lakes Region, and the Great Lakes Energy Office, the SSC and GLRC will host a series of events in Michigan that will bring together leaders from the SSC and the entire maritime transportation ecosystem to explore Its working groups initiate projects in the areas of workforce preparation, technology development and deployment, and policy development.

The goal of this work is to help the industry implement solutions to shared challenges to continue advancing the Great Lakes region as a national leader in maritime. Objectives also include maintaining the momentum of previous investments and efforts to develop SSC and MARS through strong multisectoral participation.

Through these collaborations, the GLRC and Michigan Tech continue to address the challenge of solving the Great Lakes conundrum and position Michigan as a key player in the blue economy while preserving the state’s natural resources for future generations.

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