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Ethan Lietch (MechE ’22) wins Dean A. Horn Award for Undergraduate Study in Marine Research

MIT Sea Grant announces the winner of the 2022 Dean A. Horn Award for Undergraduate Study in Marine Research. This year’s award goes to Ethan Lietch, a graduating senior in the MIT Mechanical Engineering Department, for his work developing a thermal model for the U.S. Navy’s integrated Power Electronics Building Block (iPEBB). His senior thesis titled, First Order Thermal Model of the Navy Integrated Power Electronics Building Block, inspired his supervisors Professor Chryssostomos Chryssostomidis and Dr. Julie Chalfant to nominate him for the award.

Ethan Lietch thrived under the challenges of his MIT experience, in part due to the friends and classmates in Mechanical Engineering and other fields, all extraordinary people who helped him explore new interests and redefine how he sees the world. Some of his most meaningful experiences were through MISTI, MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives, which connects students with research, internships, and teaching opportunities abroad. Ethan’s experience teaching math and physics classes in Kazakhstan opened his eyes to the world beyond MIT.

Ethan became interested in his thermal modeling project because of his passions surrounding the environmental effects of our current energy system, and his desire to work on something that had ties to sustainability and clean energy. He hopes one day to work to improve renewable energy designs.

Specifically, Ethan’s interest in the thermodynamic side of mechanical engineering led him to join this project to design systems that meet ever-increasing power and cooling needs in an energy-efficient, environmentally-conscious manner. Ethan’s work makes a significant contribution toward this effort by developing a first order analytical understanding of the most prolific heat transfer modes within the iPEBB and identifying critical constraints for the design of future cooling systems. The study validates many heat transfer assumptions to simplify the complex thermal system within the iPEBB into two main components: the switches and the transformer. After analyzing the thermal performance, the study quantified the heat flux and temperatures associated with each component, laying the groundwork for the design of a cooling system tailored to these constraints.

Professor Chryssostomidis points out, “MIT Sea Grant is exploring novel methods of removing heat from these modular power electronics. Ethan made a significant contribution toward this effort…Writing quality was one of the criteria that Dean Horn valued very highly; Ethan’s writing is superb.”

Dean A. Horn was Director of MIT Sea Grant from 1975 to 1982. The Award originated upon his retirement in 1983, established by friends and colleagues to honor his ideals: service, creativity, pursuit of excellence and tireless application to research. An award of $1000 is presented yearly to selected MIT undergraduate students for creative marine-related projects and resulting papers. Students from any academic department are eligible.

>> View past winners and more about the Dean Horn Award