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School of Engineering

Course XIII -- Ocean Engineering

Students in the Department of Ocean Engineering take core courses covering the broad fields such as structures, fluids, ocean acoustics, geophysical fluid dynamics, and ocean dynamics. Professor D. K. P. Yue compares Course 13 to Aero/Astro, “but our environment is water. We work on systems in the oceans.” He said there is a “Strong emphasis on synthesis to make it all work, and a strong sense of a complex ocean design. It is a multidisciplinary field.”

Ann Marie Polsenberg ’01, an OE major, recommended the department to “anyone who is interested in taking aspects of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and physics, and applying them to aquatic environments. The department encompasses a wide variety of disciplines: acoustics, marine robotics, autonomous underwater vehicles and remotely operated vehicles, naval architecture, propulsion, waves, and more.”

After students complete most of their core courses they work with their advisers to individually design a series of about four restricted electives. These four subjects are taken during junior and senior year and often include graduate level courses as well as the senior thesis, Yue said.

Yue said that there are many UROP opportunities. “That’s the advantage of having such a large graduate program: a lot of labs, and a lot of research going on. There may be more UROPs per capita than in any other major.” The department participates in the Engineering Internship program as well.

The small department size means that the primary source of support for undergraduates is the professors themselves. Yue said, “Some professors know every undergraduate personally Our biggest class is 13.00, with 18-20 people.” Average class size is eight to fifteen.

Polsenberg agrees, saying, “The faculty is incredible, and really interested in helping undergraduates. My classes tend to have between four and twelve students, and the professors make themselves easily accessible outside of class. They are always willing to talk about their work.”

There is one tenured female professor in the department and no underrepresented minorities, Yue said.

However, he added that the undergraduate population is quite diverse and is about half female or more.

After earning an SB, graduates usually enroll in both Ph.D. and masters’ programs, Yue said.

Yue added, “Graduates don’t have difficulty finding jobs because their broad training allows them to diversify.” Graduates have gone into marine-related entrepreneurial careers, government, offshore industries, lots of ocean-related consulting, a lot go into risk analysis.”

The department has a five-year program leading to a SM which undergraduates apply to in the spring of their junior year. There is also one M.Eng program in Ocean Systems Management. -- Laura McGrath Moulton