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December 28, 2009

Eelco Hoogendoorn: Seastead Engineering Overview

Eelco Hoogendoorn’s talk entitled “Seastead Engineering Overview” is now available:

Recent engineering graduate Eelco Hoogendoorn has done a lot of thinking about the technical pragmatics of seasteads. In his 2009 Seasteading Conference presentation, he lays out the fundamentals that a research plan must cover to begin to actualize TSI’s Poseidon Project goal of putting the first working seastead on the water in 2015. And as Seasteading Institute’s first engineering intern, this research plan is the one Eelco himself has been following, updating our Engineering Blog along the way.

Much of the engineering of feasible seasteads must revolve around economies of scale, as Eelco points out. Large platforms like cruise ships and flotillas (championed by Mikolaj Habryn and Miguel Lamas Pardo, respectively, whose presentation videos will be available soon) are proven living concepts, but will be better targets for business development, as the challenge will be to balance operating and maintenance costs to make them sustainable residences. Exotic projects like undersea hotels, while romantic, just aren’t practical.

Small boats — an ideal configuration for relatively cheap iterative development — are nearly as old as culture itself; yet in all of human history there has never been a stable, long-term settlement on the water. “Perhaps Ephemerisle will bring some innovation and new ideas as to how boats can help us,” Eelco muses.

The focus, then, will be on creating a “small hill” in the ocean, something of a compromise between the insecurity of the small vessel and the expense of the large craft, and developing compromises around wave drift, rocking motion, and maximizing the ratio of real estate to stabilization materials. Eelco’s talk leads gracefully and conversationally through a wide range of engineering challenges, from vessel clustering scenarios to seasickness, and provides great perspective as to the frontiers of seasteading-related technological progress.

Last week, the Seasteading Institute bid Eelco a fond farewell as he voyaged back across the Atlantic, having completed his three-month term of research for which he is presently finalizing the documentation.