Mercer County teen innovator sets sail on the international stage with goals of a sustainable future

Charlotte harnesses the wind

Young scientist, Charlotte Michaluk a freshman at Hopewell Valley Central High School, is again being recognized as one of the most promising innovators in the nation, and will now be sharing her work on the international stage for her new and innovative Flettner rotor and exhaust scrubber architecture that adapts existing Flettner rotor and land-based exhaust scrubber technology specifically for large ships. The invention maximizes revenue-generating cargo space and minimizes operating costs. It also mitigates climate change and respiratory health problems caused by pollution. 

Charlotte, 14, was selected as a Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) Finalist for earning the Grand Award at the Mercer Science and Engineering Fair. She will present her work and be celebrated with about 1,800 of the best and brightest young minds from around the globe, selected from a worldwide pool of about seven million entries. Charlotte has also received special recognition from the U.S. Navy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, and USAID for her work.

Charlotte after receiving the prestigious $10,000 DoD STEM Talent Award

Since this past October, New Jersey can boast that it is home to one of the top five young scientific and engineering trailblazers.

Charlotte was declared one of the Top Five Broadcom MASTERS by Society for Science & the Public and earned the prestigious $10,000 DoD STEM Talent Award for “demonstrating excellence in science, technology, engineering or math, along with the leadership and technical skills necessary to excel in the 21st Century STEM workforce and build a better community for tomorrow.”

Charlotte was inspired by living at sea on a sailboat, sailing camps at the Mystic Seaport, and exploring underwater as a PADI Dry Suit Certified SCUBA diver. Charlotte says, “I am fascinated by the ocean and by ships. For the past few years, I have been working on different ways to make cargo shipping more efficient and have less of a climate change impact.” She has dedicated herself to studying different aspects of cargo ships, and is working to make ships more economical, safe, and environmental. 

Her work also includes investigating ship hull coatings to reduce harmful climate change emissions and transfer of invasive species. Charlotte found that a silicone type called PDMS combined with a surface mimicking the characteristics of mako shark skin would improve the coating on cargo ship hulls and limit biofouling.

In addition to her marine engineering efforts addressing global challenges, Charlotte continues to be a strong advocate and volunteer in the community for clean water and preservation of sensitive ecosystems. She has been featured in Science News and other notable publications.

To read MercerMe coverage about Charlotte Michaluk’s ongoing achievements, check out this link.

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