Mechanical Engineer
Mechanical Engineer


Rob Cavagnaro is an expert in the field of marine energy technology, bringing broad knowledge from over a decade of experience across current and wave energy to Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). He also leads the Marine Technology team at PNNL-Sequim, focusing on applied marine energy, environmental monitoring technology, ocean engineering, and safe research conduct. His technical skills include applied experience in both mechanical and electrical engineering, having performed engineering design and prototyping in industrial and academic settings.

Cavagnaro is a mechanical engineer in the Applied Physics Laboratory at PNNL, with an appointment in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at the University of Washington as affiliate assistant professor. His work spans PNNL’s marine energy portfolio, from the Powering the Blue Economy initiative to designing open-source turbine hardware.

Research Interest

  • Field instruments
  • Marine engineering
  • Mechanical engineering


  • PhD in mechanical engineering, University of Washington
  • MS in mechanical engineering, University of Washington
  • BS in mechanical engineering, Carnegie Mellon University



  • McVey J.R., J.T. Zaengle, R.J. Cavagnaro, M.D. Fenn, B.E. Lommers, and C.R. Rumple. 2023. "Critical feature and seawater testing of cross-flow rotor components fabricated with additive manufacturing." In Proceedings of the 15th European Wave and Tidal Energy Conference, September 3-7, 2023, Bilbao, Spain, 15. PNNL-SA-186125. doi:10.36688/ewtec-2023-222


  • Branch R.A., F.M. Ticona Rollano, E.D. Cotter, J.R. McVey, I. Rigor, and R.J. Cavagnaro. 2022. "Marine Renewable Energy for Arctic Observations." Frontiers in Marine Science. PNNL-SA-173773. doi:10.3389/fmars.2022.970337
  • Branch R.A., R.J. Cavagnaro, A.M. Turpin, J.R. McVey, M. Wickett, M. Wickett, and W. Boult, et al. 2022. "Vortex Induced Vibration Test of the WITT Device in a Tidal Channel." In OCEANS 2022, October 17-20, 2022, Hampton Roads, VA, 1-7. Piscataway, New Jersey:IEEE. PNNL-SA-178071. doi:10.1109/OCEANS47191.2022.9977026
  • Cotter E.D., P.J. Regier, E.E. Walters, N.D. Ward, and R.J. Cavagnaro. 2022. Autonomous measurements of carbon dioxide uptake in a blue carbon habitat. PNNL-33489. Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Autonomous measurements of carbon dioxide uptake in a blue carbon habitat
  • Grear M.E., J.R. McVey, E.D. Cotter, N.G. Williams, and R.J. Cavagnaro. 2022. "Quantifying Background Magnetic Fields at Marine Energy Sites: Challenges and Recommendations." Journal of Marine Science and Engineering 10, no. 5:Art. No. 687. PNNL-SA-170089. doi:10.3390/jmse10050687


  • Cavagnaro R.J., A.E. Copping, D.S. Jenne, and J. Garson. 2021. "Research and Development Pathways for Powering the Blue Economy with Marine Renewable Energy." In Proceedings of the 14th European Wave and Tidal Energy Conference (EWTEC 2021), September 5-9, 2021, Virtual, Online, 2033-1 - 2033-7. Southampton:European Wave and Tidal Energy Conference Series. PNNL-SA-160755.
  • Cotter E.D., R.J. Cavagnaro, A.E. Copping, and S.H. Geerlofs. 2021. "Powering Negative-Emissions Technologies with Marine Renewable Energy." In OCEANS 2021, September 20-23, San Diego, CA, 1-8. Piscataway, New Jersey: IEEE. PNNL-SA-164551. doi:10.23919/OCEANS44145.2021.9705807
  • Dizon C.N., R.J. Cavagnaro, B. Robertson, and T.K. Brekken. 2021. "Modular Horizontal Pendulum Wave Energy Converter: Exploring Feasibility to Power Ocean Observation Applications in the U.S. Pacific Northwest." IET Renewable Power Generation 15, no. 14:3354-3367. PNNL-SA-164719. doi:10.1049/rpg2.12268
  • Williams N.G., D. Lu, J.R. McVey, and R.J. Cavagnaro. 2021. A Comparative Analysis of Lithium-Ion Battery Chemistries for Cold-Climate Maritime Applications. PNNL-31453. Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. 


  • Cavagnaro R.J., A.E. Copping, R. Green, D. Greene, D.S. Jenne, D.J. Rose, and D.M. Overhus. 2020. "Powering the Blue Economy: Progress Exploring Marine Renewable Energy Integration With Ocean Observations." Marine Technology Society Journal 54, no. 6:114-125. PNNL-SA-154165. doi:10.4031/MTSJ.54.6.11
  • Cavagnaro R.J., C. Matthews, D.L. Hume, R. Raye, A.E. Copping, and D.S. Jenne. 2020. "Enabling Marine Energy Integration for Ocean Observing: Functional Requirements." In Global Oceans 2020: Singapore - U.S. Gulf Coast, October 5-30, 2020, Biloxi, MS, 01-07. Piscataway, New Jersey: IEEE. PNNL-SA-155589. doi:10.1109/IEEECONF38699.2020.9389228
  • Copping A.E., R. Green, R.J. Cavagnaro, D.S. Jenne, D. Greene, J.J. Martinez, and Y. Yang. 2020. Powering the Blue Economy - Ocean Observing Use Cases Report. PNNL-29585. Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
  • Liu J., R.J. Cavagnaro, Z. Deng, Y. Shao, L. Kuo, M. Nguyen, and V. Glezakou. 2020. "Renewable Ammonia as An Energy Fuel for Ocean Exploration and Transportation." Marine Technology Society Journal 54, no. 6:126-136. PNNL-SA-154458. doi:10.4031/MTSJ.54.6.12