Major Qualifying Project (MQP) Launches Innovation Toward a Safer, Cleaner, Healthier Planet




Jack Duffy-Protentis.
Photo courtesy of The Community Advocate

Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer of eSki Watercraft, Jack Duffy-Protentis ’21 recently unveiled his all electric Jetski prototype on Lake Quinsigamond, in Shrewsbury, MA. The revolutionary electric personal watercraft concept began as the mechanical engineering student’s Major Qualifying Project (MQP) while at WPI; it currently holds two patents with a third pending.

Duffy-Protentis, who is legally blind from Stargardts disease, a rare genetic form of juvenile macular degeneration, addressed the launch event crowd which included WPI faculty and staff, local officials, and friends and family. With humility and poise, he shared the impetus behind the first-generation prototype of his lithium ion battery powered conversion personal watercraft.

“As a ‘car guy’ who couldn’t drive, I found great refuge in recreational vehicles, which gave me a deep appreciation for the earth and getting to places in nature most people didn’t visit. As time passed, however, I realized the vehicles I was using to enjoy nature were harming the very environment I cherished, so I became determined to come up with a solution. Using my passion for innovation and the knowledge and skills I gained at WPI, I began to develop an electric personal watercraft. I continued the project after graduation and have been working on it ever since.”

As a passionate innovator and inventor, Duffy-Protentis offered praise to his alma mater for the role it played in the development of eSki Watercraft and the Trident ES1. “WPI was a great place to earn some of the best mechanical schooling in the world, and the project-based learning concept strengthened my leadership skills and helped me become a strong leader in my company. Overall, I got a great education at the university and met a lot of wonderful folks. I am very proud that I graduated WPI even though being visually impaired.”

Describing how excited he was to show people what he and his team have built, Duffy-Protentis shared that beyond the benefit Trident ES1 will bring to the environment, he’s optimistic it will also bring economic benefit to the region, saying, “My hope is that production of the electric watercraft will bring new industrial life back to the area making Worcester once again a hub for manufacturing.”

Echoing the sentiment, Congressman Jim McGovern, who spoke at the launch event thanked Duffy-Protentis for his work to combat climate change with support of innovation in the STEM fields. Saying he believed eSki would be incredibly successful as a way to have fun on the water while also protecting the planet and the environment, McGovern offered gratitude to Duffy-Protentis for choosing Worcester as the place to develop the electric ski technology. “Careers in STEM are exactly the kind of jobs we want to attract to Worcester.” said McGovern.