Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: Lt. Will Cotta

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Written by Lt. Lauren Gainor

Admiral-select, Capt. John Mauger, and Lt. Will Cotta, pose for a photo with Cotta's plaque at the Federal Engineer of the Year Awards ceremony in February 2018. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Admiral-select, Capt. John Mauger, and Lt. Will Cotta, pose for a photo with Cotta’s plaque at the Federal Engineer of the Year Awards ceremony in February 2018. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Lt. Will Cotta’s designation as “Coast Guard Engineer of the Year” is due in no small part to his time as an engineer on a Coast Guard cutter, as a frontline researcher, and as a Liquefied Natural Gas, LNG, subject matter expert at the Coast Guard Marine Safety Center.

Cotta’s impressive resume starts with his time at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. There, he majored in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, and upon graduation, reported to the Coast Guard Cutter Spencer as a student engineer. While on his cutter, Cotta readily noted the direct relationship between system failures and mission effectiveness, and worked towards the maintenance of assets with an eye for innovation and efficiency.

Cotta attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT, after acceptance to the Coast Guard’s Marine Engineering Graduate Program where he continued his pursuit of efficient system design in the Research Laboratory for Electronics. At MIT, Cotta worked in a number of advanced technology projects, including facial recognition, energy consumption, and sensor technology. Advancing his thesis research on energy efficiency of military microgrids into real-world applications, he developed smart meters to collect energy usage data on military assets. His work enables deployable smart grid technology for military functions promoting security and efficiency for ultimate cost savings.

Cotta carried his exceptional engineering knowledge and creativity to the Marine Safety Center, maintaining the highest standards of competency, customer service, and professionalism. He quickly became recognized as the Coast Guard’s leading technical expert on technologies that allowed the use of LNG-as-fuel for marine assets. He led the technical review of some of the first LNG-fueled container ships to achieve Coast Guard certification and is currently spearheading Coast Guard involvement in a U.S. Maritime Administration project to adapt LNG-as-fuel technology for use onboard inland towing vessels. He collaborated with classification societies, shipyards, and engineering firms to implement recently promulgated international standards and provided technical expertise to Coast Guard Headquarters to establish domestic policy on the use of LNG-as-fuel. His efforts have directly influenced improvements in safety standards and provided industry with an effective solution to overcome ever-tightening emissions regulations.

As a member of the Coast Guard’s esteemed Salvage Engineering Response Team, he provided naval architecture and salvage engineering assistance in support of the Coast Guard response to Hurricane Harvey. Most significantly, he completed over 30 hours of in-depth structural analysis, scenario development, and risk assessments, to ensure the safe removal of a 220-foot, 1,500 ton submerged dry-dock from the Houston Ship Channel. He conducted independent engineering analyses to verify the adequacy of the heavy lift system which included six 300-ton hydraulic chain pulling systems mounted on two offshore barges. His efforts were crucial to ensuring the safety of the salvage operation and restoring access to one of the nation’s most critical ports.

Cotta attributes his remarkable achievements to his personal drive to excel.

“There is always something more to learn and continuing education and professional development have been my keys to success,” said Cotta. “In disaster response, my training and education provide me with the confidence to solve complex problems.”

His efforts truly embody the Coast Guard’s core values of honor, respect and devotion to duty.


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