Meet Ferdi: our Marine Engineer
Meet Ferdi Knoester – Kelp Blue’s Marine Engineer
When did you get your love for the ocean?
I grew up living by the North Sea and it always intrigued me. I love everything to do with water, swimming, kite surfing, sailing, boating, snorkelling, diving – in Dutch they call me a ‘waterrat’. I always felt a kind of connection to the ocean.
What did you study at university?
I studied a Masters of Science in Civil Engineering at Delft University. There was a specialisation called Hydraulic Engineering. It focuses on building engineering solutions in nature to solve complex water problems. It combined my love for the ocean with my passion for engineering.
What is your role at Kelp Blue?
I am the Project Engineer responsible for the installation and construction of the macrocystis farm in Luderitz. This means aligning all the resources, the contractors, the engineers and being the conduit for all the operations in Luderitz.
Where did you find your passion for sustainability?
During my bachelors I completed a minor in International Development and Entrepreneurship where we had to complete a social project. Our project was to build a bamboo processing factory in Nicaragua, to help improve the lives of the local Miskito Indian people. The goal was to teach them how to process, treat and dry bamboo in a more sustainable way. We spent 3 months in Nicaragua and I really enjoyed the whole experience.
For my masters I completed a multi-disciplinary project in North Sulawesi. Our goal was to design a solution to mitigate coastal erosion around the Tasikoki Wildlife and Rescue Centre. We explored different options and finally settled on an artificial reef made of a steel frame. Passing a low current through the structure builds calcium which eventually turns into a natural coral reef.
These internships taught me a lot about entrepreneurship and gave me a passion to solve environmental problems with engineering.
Why is Kelp Blue the best job ever?
After my studies, I was convinced I wanted to work in an industry which was 100% sustainable. I wanted to join a commercial company, sustainable at its core, that could give me the opportunity to work abroad on water or ocean projects. Kelp Blue ticked all the boxes!
What excites you about your job?
Creative problem solving and the fact that everything is new. You’re building something which has never been done before. You find problems during the project that need to be solved, so you either need to invent that piece or find a creative solution to work around the problem. The internships taught me how to deliver projects in challenging environments.
What do you love about seaweed?
I had no idea there was so much life in kelp beds – I thought coral reefs were the most diverse marine ecosystems. Snorkelling through giant kelp forests in Lüderitz, I saw so much marine life. There are all kinds of crustaceans, lobsters, shrimp and fishes and then you also see a lot of large sea mammals like sharks, seals, dolphins and whales. The cool thing is knowing that we can support so much nature by growing these kelp forests in the ocean.
I heard you recently won an award – what was it for?
Well, I actually didn’t win it. But I was nominated for the Hydraulic Engineering Prize 2021 which was organised by the Koninklijk Instituut Van Ingenieurs (KIVI). It was the result of a project I delivered in Australia for the Department of Water and Environment Regulation in Perth. I was able to develop a more efficient methodology using hydrodynamic modelling to help manage vulnerable estuaries.
What is your motto in life?
To experience more unusual places in the world, while also having a positive impact on the environment. This gives me a lot of energy in my life.
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