Ocean warrior | MIT Technology Review

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When Manuel Moreu, SM ’78, was a child, his father was an officer in the Spanish navy, and Moreu wanted nothing more than to be an officer himself. At age five, however, side effects of antibiotics left him deaf in one ear, which meant that the navy would never take him. “Rather than operate the warships, I [decided to] build them,” he says. Now Moreu runs Seaplace, Spain’s top marine design firm, designing both military and civilian vessels. In a 40-year career, he has not only collaborated in the design of  ships for the navies of Spain, Norway, and other countries but has also introduced innovations for massive new oil and gas exploration platforms in the North Sea and Brazil. More recently, the firm has moved into clean energy with new designs for offshore wind.

Moreu came to MIT to study in Course 13, Ocean Engineering (which merged with mechanical engineering in 2005), focusing on fine element analysis. “At MIT I didn’t need any coffee,” he says. “From five in the morning, I got the adrenaline I needed for the whole day. My brain was just constantly working on solutions.” After graduation, he and Jorge Sendagorta, SM ’78, founded Seaplace as a division of a British company; eventually it became a fully owned Spanish company with Moreu as president. It employs 50 naval engineers, generating $2.4 million in sales. During the 1990s, the firm designed sophisticated drill ships and floating production storage and offloading units, which combine production and storage on a vessel.