ECE Marine Science Student Sends Drifter Across the Atlantic


This map shows the gulf stream in which Dow hopes her boat and drifter will travel.

Taylor Houggy, Reporter

For many people, the ocean is a vast and mysterious place, whose rhythms and patterns often result in more questions than answers. However, junior Kaitlyn Dow wanted to change that.

As an ECE Marine Science student with a year-long research project to choose, Dow was automatically drawn to the idea of researching and teaching others about the oceans major currents.

Dow stated, “I like to sail and I really wanted to build my own boat and see how it interacted with the currents.”

In class, the ECE students learned about the ocean currents and their method of transporting both water and debris across the world. However, it was when teacher Michael O’Connor told the story of a boat that was transporting rubber ducks that Dow knew exactly how she would conduct her project.

The boat happened to hit a storm, sending one of the crates of ducks overboard. Those hundreds of ducks ended up getting caught in the ocean “conveyor belt” of currents, and traveling all over the world. Dow decided that an experiment that replicated this shipping accident was the perfect way to showcase the motion of the oceans.

After months of planning and several grueling hours spent constructing both a boat and a drifter that will hopefully float directly into a current and be transported across the world, Dow sent her unmanned vehicles off the coast of Massachusetts. If everything goes as planned, the vessels should be transported by the Gulf Current up the East Coast of the United States and then over to Europe.

Dow stated that the best case scenario from there would be someone recovering the boat and/or drifter and that she is hoping it simply gets to Europe in one piece.

Recently, Dow and her mission to observe ocean currents has received a fair amount of local attention, even landing her an article and interview in The Day, which she never thought would happen.