Electric Boat Race Team Sets Course for Recent Graduate’s Career


Seyed Marjaei ’23 started a competitive internship as a test engineer this summer at Pure Watercraft, an electric boat manufacturer based in Seattle.

Seyed Marjaei

It was the second time Seyed Marjaei ’23 had interviewed with the test engineering team at Pure Watercraft. He had already tried, and failed, to get one of the handful of internships at the company the previous summer. But he knew this was the right team and the right opportunity for his skills and interests. 

“This company was so special,” Marjaei said, adding that it offered the kind of work “and the kind of challenge I wanted for myself, because I don't think it's going to be an easy internship either. There's going to be a lot of learning.” 

Through working with the Center for Career Development, Marjaei realized he needed to stay tightly focused on how his skills would benefit the company, and he prepared for two or three days leading up to the interview. 

As part of the process, he had to give a presentation to the engineers interviewing him about his best engineering project. Rather than being a stumbling block, the requirement was an opportunity for Marjaei to shine. 

In fact, Marjaei had a couple of projects to pick from, both growing out of Washington College’s Electric Boat Race Team. Team adviser Brian Palmer, director of the College’s IDEAWORKS Innovation Center, said that in the spring of 2022 Marjaei led the team in creating a water jacket to wrap the boat’s engine to better cool it. This academic year, Marjaei convinced Palmer that the team was able to take on a much bigger project—building a new race boat, a new lithium battery array, and a new motor. 

“Seyed wanted very much to complete all three of these before graduating and convinced me that we could pull it off. The team looked to his expressed leadership and respected his lead,” Palmer said. “We, as his team, trusted his research and direction. As a result of the group effort, we accomplished a huge goal, something I see very few other schools or teams accomplishing. I think his track record as a student leader of a high-performance team that accomplished significantly more with less resources than the top engineering schools in the country is in part what impressed Pure Watercraft, leading to his internship this summer.” 

Marjaei works with Brian Palmer

Marjaei recalls meeting Palmer just a month after he arrived at Washington College. An international student, Marjaei came to Chestertown from India, where his family had lived for about a decade after moving from his native Iran. He remembers walking into IDEAWORKS, on the ground floor of the Clifton Miller Memorial Library. He instantly knew he wanted to be a part of the center, and looking back, he recognizes how it all led to his current trajectory—the competitive internship and his plans for graduate study in engineering. 

“I was like, ‘hold up—this is my home!’” Marjaei said. “Brian Palmer is the pillar that made everything happen. It is an innovation center, and it enabled all of this.” 

While the Electric Boat Race Team provided the opportunity to practice electrical and mechanical engineering, not to mention manufacturing, outside the curriculum, Marjaei’s academic work at Washington College set him up for his successful interview and his potential future.  

A physics and math double major, Marjaei designed his senior capstone experience, referred to by some students as their thesis, around solving a problem that will be necessary to design the next generation of boat propellors—an interest of his for future academic study—and also contributed to the theoretical underpinning for finding the ideal speed to run a boat in a race. 

“I'm looking at how we can measure the negative impact of cavitation on propellers. A propeller shouldn't have a lot of cavitation. If it does, it's just not doing its job efficiently,” Marjaei said. “So I did computational fluid analysis on a propeller. I was able to simulate what its efficiency looks like at different speeds and throttles. It set me up for this job.” 

Marjaei at CommencementAlong with commencement student speaker Daria Shirokova, Marjaei won the Tai Sung An Memorial Prize, which is “awarded to the graduating international student who, in the opinion of the faculty of the international studies interdisciplinary major, has exemplified in an exceptional manner the benefits of intercultural education on our campus.”