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OE Offers New Degree Program

By Jeremy Hylton

Beginning in September, the Department of Ocean Engineering will offer a new professional degree program in Marine Environmental Systems, according to Associate Professor of Ocean Engineering Judith T. Kildow.

The 12- to 18-month program is the second to offer the new School of Engineering's new Master of Engineering degree.

The program's "content and structure pull together the key ingredients of marine systems - marine management, ocean engineering and technology, and marine science," said Kildow, who oversaw the design of the new program.

The department hopes to attract students looking for a fifth-year professional degree, graduate students interested in a second degree, and mid-career people from government and industry, Kildow said.

The program was approved by the Committee of Graduate School Policy and by a unanimous vote of the department's faculty earlier this semester.

Several graduate students within the department will participate in the program next year, Kildow said. While it is too late for students from other institutions to apply for admission in the fall, Kildow noted that students from other departments at MIT could still apply to the program.

There will probably six to 10 students in the program in September, and it will probably reach a steady-state of 30 students in a few years, Kildow said.

Like the schools' first MEng program in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, the ocean engineering program was designed to be integrated into a five-year program for students entering as undergraduates.

But unlike the EECS program, the department plans to keep the MEng as an option for new graduate students as well. "We would really like to attract people for mid-career opportunities because they really bring a lot to this program," Kildow said.

Diverse requirements

The program requires a concentration consisting of four classes in areas such as management of marine resources, marine safety, acoustic oceanography, and the design of green ships, ports, and offshore structures.

Students must also complete a field experience, either working at a company in the area of concentration or a field laboratory at sea; a project course stressing interdisciplinary problem solving; and an applied thesis.

Students must also have a fundamental background in engineering and science, and a minimum background in policy or management studies, Kildow said.

Kildow said the program intends to train students in skills including:

understanding the legal and political implications of and designing a mitigation system for pollution,

designing and building systems that monitor global change or ocean pollution, and

designing and building safer and more environmentally sound ships.

The new program resulted in large part from student requests for a greater concentration on environmental issues, particularly from students from the Navy and Coast Guard, Kildow said.

A recent graduate of the department, Harry B. Bingham PhD '94, said, "From my point of view, if you're looking for a career [in ocean engineering] you have very few options in terms of jobs industry," he said. "It makes perfect sense to me that almost every ocean engineering or naval architecture department in the country is to some degree trying to broaden its areas into things like environmental engineering."