Portland, OR

Team Photo for AquaHarmonics

Date Accepted

Wed 06 May 2015

Combined Score

4.5 (Technology Gate 2}

Team Info

​Team AquaHarmonics will be led by Alex Hagmuller.

The team consists of Alex and Max, who have been friends since they met in their first year at Oregon State University. About five years ago, Alex started to build small scale wave energy prototypes and enlisted Max to help with the design of the electrical components and software. Together they have been constructing and testing different wave energy prototypes, and the knowledge gained from each has led to many improvements and changes in the design.

WEC Device Type

AquaHarmonicsWEC concept is a point absorber with latching/de-clutching control.

Team Quote

Clean. Simple. Energy.

This is AquaHarmonic’s ultimate goal.

The Wave Energy Prize provides a unique opportunity to showcase our creative solution to the world by providing competition, seed funding, and wave tank testing opportunities. We are very excited to show what our device can do, and look forward to getting our device into the wave tank to validate our design!

Team Bios

Alex Hagmuller holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Oregon State University, and is a registered professional engineer with engineering experience in structural, mechanical, electrical and manufacturing fields. Alex has a passion for creative solutions to challenging problems and a knack for designing and building things, with a particular interest in renewable energies.

Max Ginsburg holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Oregon State University. Max has an incredible interest in programming, as well as an enjoyment for the development and testing of custom circuits. Max’s diverse interests in different technologies also provide a keen eye for developing new concepts that have yet to be tried. Max is inspired by solutions that are no more complex than they need to be especially when a low cost of materials, energy, and environmental impact are achieved.


  • AquaHarmonics sends big ‘thank you’ to all supporters

    Posted on Tue 22 Nov 2016

    When it comes to brainstorming, our motto is the more the merrier. We are extremely grateful to all of the talented and brilliant people who let us bounce ideas off of them,and who shared their expertise with us. A big thanks to Chris Patton for his ideas, support, and checking of our Numerical Analysis, Saghy Saidtherani for her revised Numerical Analysis, the one and not only Bill Murray for his cursory review of our device, Young Sang-Song, Justin Guevara and Linda Brown for reviewing our technical submittals.

    We’ve said it many times before, but we wouldn’t have achieved what we did without the structure and focus that the wave energy prize provided us. In addition to providing rational metrics and checkpoints for our development, we were also introduced to extremely helpful, encouraging, and inspirational people along the way. We want to thank the DOE, and Alison LaBonte for putting this all together, Julie Zona for being an amazing administrator, the Carderock Team, The WEP team, the developers of WEC-SIM, the team at the University of Michigan Marine Hydrodynamics Lab, and the team at the Oregon State University O.H. Hinsdale wave lab.

    There is no way we could have tackled the technical challenges we did without the motivation, encouragement and support of our friends and family. The wave energy prize required a lot, especially for two guys working full time jobs with all the associated stress and time commitments. There were times when we questioned why we were giving up so much of our free time, late nights, early mornings, time off of work (that could have been used for vacations!), and even our own funds. It was all the people that believed in us that gave us the extra boost we needed to keep going:Joe Monson for his extreme patience and proficiency as a manager as well as supporting crazy ideas, Hillary Shoop for her enthusiasm, networking skills, and for believing in us, Will Vanlue for making our Logo and for him and his wife Leah being such awesome neighbors when we’re tinkering in the garage at 2 AM, Justin Dedini of Rucksack Roasting for providing us the best, custom coffee, Reuben Brown for helping out with a whole variety of strange tasks, Gabrielle Brown for her support in getting the word out and for finally not referring to Alex as “dumb dumb head” anymore, Elizabeth Collins, Kim Collins, and Ariel McLane for getting the word out and rocking social media for us , Niki Lendo for her enthusiastic support as well as being an excellent tour guide while in Michigan for testing, Jaime Miller for her support and inspiration, Ezekiel Brown for being our stand in CEO as well as providing alternative viewpoints, James Honkola for being Ezekiel’s stand in replacement for bouncing ideas off of, Chris Mesker for his support, sense of humor and enthusiasm, Ivan Lehecka, David Pasc, Nick Cornilsen, for their support, Nick Erwin for his enthusiasm and suggestion of changing our name to “two dudes in a garage”, Devon Bullock for his extreme optimism, Erika Dedini for her good luck charm and optimism, our day job employers, Precision Castparts and Cylance for allowing us the time and means to work on this project, Patrick Hinkle for his support and inspiration Bobby Bochsler, Mathers Heuck, for believing in us, Steve Quinn, who wished only to be referred to as Q, thank you for believing in the crazy ideas as well as dumpster diving for Styrofoam for our first prototype, Linda Brown for her inspiration and support, Neil Slotvig for inspiration, Chris Hager for his culinary skills, cheesecake and- yes maybe I do want to go in with you on a sailboat , Michael and Nellie Hand, Jacob hand ,The Hand father for listening to our crazy idea and when we had patent questions, our parents, Laurie Levites and Harvey Ginsburg, Elke and Wolfgang Hagmuller, our siblings Seagen Levites, Celia Levites, Meira Pomegranate, Sonya Hagmuller, a big thank you to Rebecca for her support and keeping us nourished through the countless late nights, early mornings, and weekends when Max and I were at our wits end, love you tons!

    Thank you to everyone who has chronicled our efforts, especially Pete Danko for visiting us in our “laboratory” and his fantastic articles, and Cinthia Gibbens-Stimson and the Cordova Times for following our efforts and getting the word out in Cordova, Alaska.

    And again, a really big thank you to all of you who have followed us here and on Facebook, it means a lot to us to have this many people interested in what we are doing, and that we can inspire others to dream big!

    We would also like to congratulate all the teams that participated in the Wave Energy Prize and all their technical achievements made along the way. If all goes well, we will be seeing some of these devices in the water in the near future! Best of luck to everyone and their development, and please stay in touch!

    WAVE ON!

    Alex and Max

  • AquaHarmonics takes break from testing and attends ocean energy conference

    Posted on Mon 26 Sep 2016

    Team AquaHarmonics has been enjoying a little break after testing was completed at Carderock.

    Last week we attended the Ocean Renewable Energy Conference here in Portland, Oregon. We met a lot of interesting people that have been working within the industry and listened to different panel’s of speakers regarding the many things that will have to happen for wave energy to take off here in the U.S.

    Overall, a great experience and we hope to be there next year. We wish the remaining teams good luck in their testing and will see everyone on November 16th at Carderock!

  • AquaHarmonics at Carderock and testing next week

    Posted on Tue 23 Aug 2016

    Greetings from Carderock! Our last update had us shipping our device out to the East coast for testing and this update finds team AquaHarmonics preparing for our week in the MASK basin! Upon our arrival we were greeted with a welcome note at the hotel and had to get a picture of us with it.

    We are very excited and honored to be here, and have been working with a top notch team of professionals performing our pre-testing checks of the device. It has also been fun meeting the team that is testing in the tank this week, Harvest Wave Energy, and learning a bit about their background and device. We also found out that we made the Front page of my Hometown newspaper, The Cordova Times, out of Cordova , Alaska! Thanks to Cinthia Gibbens-Stimson for her detailed write up of our efforts with the Wave Energy Prize. Below is a link to the Cordova Times.

    Next week we will be doing our final test in the tank and will post daily updates on our Facebook page so be sure to check it out for the most up to date news!

    Wave on!!

  • AquaHarmonics nearing the finish line

    Posted on Mon 18 Jul 2016

    Team AquaHarmonics is nearly across the finish line! Since our testing at Oregon State University, we have made some updates to the device and controls software and built a mobile work bench that will serve as our base of operations during testing at Carderock.

    We were able to get some volunteer help from my brother in law with the work bench and packing to help get everything complete prior to shipping-thanks Reuben! Our container is packed with our device, spares, tools and our mobile workbench/control center awaiting to be picked up.

    We are very excited to start testing at Carderock, and are also looking forward to a small break before final testing!

    Many thanks to everyone who has worked with us on this project.

    Good luck to all the competitors!

  • AquaHarmonics shares build progress video

    Posted on Thu 16 Jun 2016

    Please check out the video below to see our build progress. Enjoy!

  • AquaHarmonics shows off 1/20th scale device

    Posted on Fri 13 May 2016

    Team AquaHarmonics is proud to present the first complete build of our device! This photo was taken late at night as a tribute to our strange schedules, but the result of our dedicated work is a complete device ready for bench testing on schedule! We have a few remaining final parts to be manufactured and final ballasting to be completed, but the device is nearly tank ready. Next up for us is bench testing of the device with the control system and characterization of the Power Take Off. This puts us on track to do preliminary testing at Oregon State University in early June. Many thanks to everyone who has helped us get here on our highly demanding schedule. Stay tuned for more updates!

    AquaHarmonics 1/20th scale device
    AquaHarmonics 1/20th scale device

    What do you think the role of government in driving innovation is?

    The role of government in driving innovation is critical in the renewable energy sector in progressing these technologies towards viable commercialization in a few ways.

    Particularly challenging to wave energy is the all important payback of the initial investment. Private investors typically seek short payback periods for their investments, and this has placed a huge burden on past wave energy development.

    This has caused early developers to go from a partial scale model to full scale too quickly, and the resulting cost overruns in deployment and maintenance as well as less than anticipated power production has made investors of wave energy a bit leery. Wave energy development needs a more long term plan with more realistic expectations on payback to keep it moving.

    Government funding, implemented in ways such as the Wave Energy Prize allow for a focused and critical view of the available technologies from highly skilled people in the field with these long term outlooks as a final goal. This can quickly reduce the field of available technologies to the most likely ones to succeed while giving developers direction into what matters in the big picture at the utility scale instead of only focusing on how to make power out of a single device.

    The difficult part about wave energy is not how to make power as many devices that have been tried do in fact make power, but rather how to do it in an economic way. The Wave Energy Prize in particular can help fast track this solution by comparing the entire available field of devices in a true “Apples to Apples” comparison.

    If you look at the state of wave energy technology, you have over topping devices, point absorbers, oscillating water column devices, line terminators—-the list goes on. As humans we are very good at optimizing something once we know what to optimize, and with wave energy, we don’t know what that is yet. We all know the best ways to make power from wind energy for instance. It is a blade attached to a generator placed on a tower.

    All of these aspects have been around for awhile and we have put our time into optimizing the height of the tower, it’s location, the design of the blade, the design of the generator, etc. This has resulted in wind energy being a very competitive resource. We know what a car and an airplane should be and we have optimized them. Wave energy simply hasn’t found the device to focus on for optimizing. Once we do, the development will certainly move very quickly to becoming highly competitive.

    What is unique about your device?

    Our device Power Take Off is unique in that it uses relatively simple and well known power technologies to convert wave motion to electrical power in very few steps, with no limit in operational stroke, meaning it can make full use of any given wave height with no “end stop” conditions. The device hull is a simple, robust shape designed to handle the worst weather conditions it may see in operation.This design strategy results in a wave energy converter that is simple, light weight, robust and low in capital cost.

  • AquaHarmonics nearing completion of 1:20 scale device design

    Posted on Fri 15 Apr 2016

    What an exciting time for team AquaHarmonics! We are just about wrapped up with the 1/20th scale device design and have all fabrication drawings completed with many parts and pieces completed or in the process of being fabricated. Our longest lead item appeared to be the hull and we went back and forth a bit on the best way to construct it quickly, precisely and make it robust enough to allow changes.

    Even surprising to us, we landed on a carbon fiber reinforced plastic hull which fits the bill in all those categories as well as allows easy additions of items and repairs if needed. The other exciting thing about CFRP is making a back up device becomes pretty easy and quick once the molds are made. Our first layer of carbon has been laid up, and many of the custom fabricated components are complete and en-route to us. This means that the hull is now waiting on these parts for completion instead of the other way around! We are targeting the last week of April as a first build date, with bench testing to follow.

    Many thanks to everyone who has been providing parts for us and working with our rapid development schedule!

    Our suppliers:

    • Saddle Point Machine
    • Brady Kinetic Curiosities
    • FUTEK Sensors
    • Miles Fiberglass and Composites Inc.
    • Applied Plastics Machining
    • Portland Waterjet
    AquaHarmonics April 2016 Update - Image 1
    AquaHarmonics April 2016 Update - Image 2
    AquaHarmonics April 2016 Update - Image 3
    AquaHarmonics April 2016 Update - Image 4
    AquaHarmonics April 2016 Update - Image 5

    What has been the biggest challenge so far?

    The biggest challenge for team AquaHarmonics so far has been time. Our focus is primarily the Wave Energy Prize, but the obligations of day to day life, day jobs, etc. tend to come first. This can be quite challenging. We often do the biggest chunks of work between 4AM-7 AM and 8PM-2AM throughout the work week, and then really get some focused hours in over the weekends.

    What are you most looking forward to?

    Team AquaHarmonics is most looking forward to getting the device in the tank and testing with our revised control as this is the biggest “make or break” point for our device. If it works as intended, it can mean a huge improvement in power absorption which translates to a reduction in payback period. This puts us on the path towards commercial success, and furthering development of the device.

  • AquaHarmonics getting ready to show device with control

    Posted on Mon 21 Mar 2016

    Team AquaHarmonics is extremely excited and honored to have made it to the final round of the Wave Energy Prize! We want to again thank everyone who has helped us along so far, we couldn’t have done this alone. This is an incredible opportunity for us to showcase the device with control, and are looking forward to continue development of the 1/20th scale device. We will start posting regular updates throughout the build on our Facebook page, so check back there as well. Congratulations to all the Finalists and Alternates, let the fun begin!

  • AquaHarmonics wishes luck to fellow competitors

    Posted on Wed 10 Feb 2016

    Team AquaHarmonics is eagerly awaiting the arrival of our Terabyte of testing data from the University of Michigan to review and improve our numerical analysis and better understand our device to make performance improvements. In addition, we are developing a design and test strategy that will guide us during the design stage of the Wave Energy Prize if we are determined to be a finalist or alternate. Good luck to all the teams, and we shall see where this all goes for us in March!

  • AquaHarmonics tests at Michigan and enjoys chilly weather

    Posted on Mon 18 Jan 2016

    Team AquaHarmonics arrived at the University of Michigan just in time to enjoy some chilly winter weather. However, the world class climate controlled wave tank at the University of Michigan’s Marine Hydrodynamic Laboratory helped keep us focused on testing without having to bundle up. Working with Steve, Brent and Nick was fantastic and having a top notch support team made it so we were able to complete all our required testing with no issues by Thursday afternoon.

    We brought along our control system that we had shelved prior to starting work on the Wave Energy Prize and after accidentally frying a Rasberry Pi during and then finding a replacement at a local Radio Shack,we were up and running again Friday morning.

    The team managed to fit in an additional 20 runs with our preliminary control system! We look forward to receiving our terabyte of data from the testing and learning more about our device. We are now designing our 1/20th scale device and will continue working on our control system as well as revising our numerical analysis.

    Thanks to the talented Steve, Brent, and Nick for their great work over the week, their setup is fantastic!

    Also thanks to the AquaHarmonics support team, Rebecca, Nicki and Chris!

    The link below is a short summary of out testing and the last clip of the device in the tank is testing with our control system.

    Go AquaHarmonics!

DISCLAIMER: The team information provided on this page is provided solely by AquaHarmonics. The Wave Energy Prize is not responsible for its accuracy, legality, decency of material or intellectual-property compliance.

Back to Teams

EERE. Wave Energy Prize. U.S. Department of Energy. Jul, 2018, 13:22 EST. Available at: Accessed Jul, 2018.

EERE. "Wave Energy Prize." U.S. Department of Energy, July. 2018. Web. July. 2018.

EERE. "Wave Energy Prize,", U.S. Department of Energy, (accessed Jul, 2018).

EERE. Wave Energy Prize [Internet].; 2018 July, 13:22 EST [cited 2018 July]. Available from:

@ONLINE{U.S. Department of Energy:2018:Online, author = {EERE}, title = {Wave Energy Prize [email protected]}}, year = {2018}, url = {}, note = [Online; accessed Jul-2018] }