Rhode Island will soon host the East Coast regional office for a major ocean and renewable energy technology firm, executives from Navatek, Ltd. announced Friday.
The Hawaii-based company will initially employ 16 people at its new offices in the Palisades Mill complex in Peace Dale. The 20,000-square-foot offices, expected to open by the end of the year, will support Navatek’s research in developing technology systems for the U.S. military that focuses on energy efficiency. The company is bringing $4 million in federal Research and Development contracts to the State.
According to Navatek officials, the alternative energy research is being made possible by various champions of clean energy, including Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Jack Reed (D-RI), in cooperation with the Office of Naval Research.
Navatek executives said they selected Rhode Island for its expertise in ocean and alternative energy research, and access to the University of Rhode Island and its engineering programs. The company recently hired eight URI engineering graduates to staff its Rhode Island office, and in September finalized an agreement with the University to establish a paid summer internship program for engineering students.
“We are honored to work with the University of Rhode Island, and also humbled by the support of Senator Jack Reed,” Navatek CEO Martin Kao said.
At its Rhode Island office, Navatek will research plasma actuators for flow control, aimed at improving the energy output and lifespan of wind turbines. Navatek executives said this focus area is fitting for Rhode Island as state officials seek to spur a local wind turbine industry, and as Providence-based Deepwater Wind prepares to construct a wind farm off the state’s coast. The Rhode Island team will also support innovative research in the development of computational design tools for the U.S. Navy which can be used to design more energy-efficient ships.
“Our partnership with Navatek provides real-world, realistic and challenging learning opportunities for students; innovative research possibilities; and another strong relationship with private industry,” said URI President David M. Dooley. “Importantly, it exemplifies the University’s success in translating outstanding research and outstanding education into economic growth.”
Besides an internship program, the agreement with URI includes sending Navatek engineers into URI classrooms to serve as mentors. The company and University also plan to collaborate on research projects.