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Ved Ganesh

Ved Ganesh

Ved Ganesh

2023 Davidson Fellow
$25,000 Scholarship

Age: 18
Hometown: Sugar Land, TX

Engineering: “Stable Shores: An Experimental Set-Up to test Economical Alternatives to Conventional Coastal Erosion Control”

About Ved

I’m Ved Ganesh from Sugar Land, TX. I’ll be attending MIT in the fall, hoping to complete a major in Ocean Engineering so that, someday, I can help engineer the cities that will allow us to inhabit a changing climate.

When not researching, you can find me settled down with my viola, a good book, or a laptop painfully full of debate evidence. 

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"Being selected as a Davidson Fellow is a tremendous honor -- I am beyond excited to learn from the work of the other Fellows. I know that being among such amazing peers, coupled with the astonishing honor of being named one of them, will only inspire me to work harder in the future."

Ved Ganesh

Project Description

On average, the U.S. coast recedes about six feet a year – costing ~$500 million in property loss and increasing the vulnerability of our coastal communities to the effects of storm surge. This project investigated the cost-effectiveness of conventional and experimental coastal defenses in order to develop a set of overarching guidelines for the targeted innovation of future coastal defenses. Testing six structures through three frames of analysis, I found that dollar for dollar the Bernoullis, a novel structure, performed more than four times better than the next leading conventional solution. Comparing the performance of the Bernoullis to the five other structures tested reveals the Golden Standard: a structure’s effectiveness at mitigating erosion and storm surge is proportional to 1. the depth of its resistance and 2. its restriction of waves’ vertical oscillations.

Deeper Dive

In the U.S., coastal erosion destroys about $500 million in property loss and 80,000 acres of wetlands annually. For most of my life, I thought of coastal erosion as a natural process not to be interfered with, but we already have. 40% of the world’s population lives around coastal areas -- we depend on it for trade, food, and energy. When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston in 2017, I was made viscerally aware of that dependence. The coast isn’t something we can give up. That awareness, and a childhood fascination with water, birthed this project.

Stable Shores is a three-part project: 1) a physical experiment 2) a mathematical model 3) a cost analysis. Of the three parts, the physical experiment presented the most challenges. About halfway through setting up a wave basin in my garage, I realized neither the testing devices nor the wave actuator – the two crucial moving parts of my experimental set-up – worked. It took four frustrating trial-and-error cycles to create the bead-in-tube testing-devices and drill-powered wave actuator I used in my final set-up.

The novel structures developed over the course of this project, particularly the cost-effective Bernoullis, represent the possibility of more adaptive, eco-friendly coastal protection structures. But this project’s most significant contribution is the formulation of a Golden Standard: two guidelines that can predict a defense’s effectiveness – a roadmap for the coastal defenses of the future.


What’s the best thing you’ve bought so far this year?

Not bought – but a friend printed a few polaroids of photos I had from this year and I really look forward to hanging them in my dorm.

What is your favorite tradition or holiday?

Winter Holidays. Or actually maybe the Lantern Festival – our Chinese class would decorate the foreign language hallway with these diy paper lanterns – I always thought that was one of our best events of the year.

What is your favorite food?

Char Kway Teow.

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In The News

Houston – The Davidson Fellows Scholarship Program has announced the 2023 scholarship winners. Among the honorees is 18-year-old Ved Ganesh of Sugar Land. Ganesh won a $25,000 scholarship for his project, Stable Shores: An Experimental Set-Up to test Economical Alternatives to Conventional Coastal Erosion Control. He is one of only 21 students across the country to be recognized as a 2023 scholarship winner.

Download the full press release here