Dylan Martello is a Sustainability Student by Day, Musician by Night

Stockton’s Sustainability Lab is filled with prototypes of wind turbines, solar thermal systems and photovoltaic panels along with the materials and resources to build these models.

At the center of this dynamic collection of alternative energy mockups, Dylan Martello, a junior Sustainability major with a concentration in Energy, works on a solar thermal system that harnesses sunlight to heat water.


The unit looks a bit like a cradle—it even rocks back and forth to allow for optimal orientation maximizing efficiency. A pump transports water from a storage tank up into a pipe for heating. A curve of sheet metal with a special coating wraps around the pipe and acts as a mirror to focus the sun’s rays. “The pipe is located at the focal point of the arc. When the sun hits the mirror, the rays converge on one spot concentrating the heat on the pipe,” Martello, of Egg Harbor Township, explained.


This summer, the unit met its first beams of light. “I filled it up with cold water, took it outside, and 20 minutes later the water was scalding hot,” said Martello.

The system works, but that’s not Martello’s end-goal. He wants to know the efficiency of the solar thermal unit and hopes to explore other design configurations that might improve efficiency.

Last winter, the system was a sketch on paper, so the project was truly “started from scratch.”

Martello has spent a lot of time on campus this summer as a student worker for Dr. Patrick Hossay, associate professor of Sustainability. He is helping to build alternative energy systems that will be used for classroom demonstrations, and he is working with Hossay to prepare and organize the lab equipment for the future move to an official Sustainability Center that will be constructed next to the solar carports in Parking Lot 7. “It’s a great experience and it’s fun to build stuff,” he said.

Although he’s only halfway through his coursework, Martello has immersed himself in the program. He can explain the physics behind the s-shaped savonius wind turbine and the cylindrical-shaped vertical axis turbine that were built by recent Sustainability graduates. “Working in the lab has allowed me to be around many projects,” he said.

Martello is interested in alternative energy and green building design. He recently received a fall internship that combines both interests. With Dr. Hossay and a contractor, he will be helping to design Stockton’s Sustainability Center, which is projected to be completed at the end of next summer.   “I will be working with a modular building contractor to help develop and improve the contractor’s current building designs in hopes of making them greener,” explained Martello.

“Dylan is an exceptional student because he’s determined to get the most out of his educational experience. He takes advantage of every opportunity to learn, works diligently to do his best, and remains focused and enthusiastic throughout the process. Of course, these penchants are an ideal fit with the Sustainability program’s focus on project-based education and experiential learning, allowing him to move way beyond the classroom experience in his education,” said Dr. Hossay.

In addition to his on-campus job, Martello works full-time at Manco and Manco Pizza on the Ocean City Boardwalk where he is an assistant manager.

When he’s not designing energy solutions or serving the famed thin-crust pizza, Martello is making music. He’s a soloist and a member of three bands. Of music, he says, “I was born into it” and credits his father with teaching him to play guitar about six years ago. “My dad has been playing forever, so I grew up around it,” he said. Music regularly fills the Martellos’ basement, where they practice.

He plays acoustic guitar with Mia Bergmann, a local country singer-songwriter, he’s a member of the Jabberjaws, a ’50s/’60s rock-and-roll band that brings the music of the Beach Boys, Beatles and surf instrumentals to Family Night on the Ocean City Boardwalk during the summer, and he’s a member of Cassette Exchange, a psychedelic rock band he formed with three friends, Andrew Lindsay, Blake Halliday, and Tim Larigan, who also attend Stockton.

The Jabberjaws started out performing on 10th Street and the Boardwalk, but when Martello’s boss, Kay Manco, found out that he was performing her favorite genre of music, they ended up in front of the Eighth Street Manco and Manco store. “She loves it,” Martello said of his boss.

And so do the crowds of boardwalk visitors. “Some people will stop and stay for the whole hour to listen. For some, it’s a chance to relive a time in their life,” he said.

Younger generations like the beat. It’s not unusual to find a large crowd dancing to their tunes.

In early June, Martello, Mia Bergmann and her band went on a music tour/road trip in an RV that he describes as a “whirlwind of 3,000 miles and three shows in six days.”

The musicians traveled from New Jersey to Nashville to West Nebraska to Chicago and back home all in a week. In Nashville, they performed at the Hardrock Café and Tequila Cowboy on Broadway Street, a bar known for its big stage and country music acts. In western Nebraska, they played at an outdoor music festival and then stopped at Scottsbluff National Monument to climb to the top and soak up a “50-mile view” of farmland and hills reaching into Wyoming. In Chicago, they played the Island in the City Festival.

Earlier in the summer, Martello performed at Nashville’s Country Music Association (CMA) Festival.

Cassette Exchange recently performed at the Elephants for Autism Festival in Atlantic City, drawing a large Stockton fan base. They’ll be at the Pitney Pub in Galloway on Friday, August 29 to kick off the start of the semester.

The multi-talented Martello excels in the music world and has his sights set on supplementing energy needs with alternative solutions.