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Ocean Engineering?

  1. May 27, 2014 #1
    Hello, I just finished my freshman year, and I am curious about the field of ocean engineering. I started as an engineering major before switching to physics, but I am still in a position where I could easily change. Exploration of the unknown, as well as the study of the ocean, have always been things that really interest me, so over the past year have been interested in pursuing physical oceanography or something similar after undergraduate. But, I am not sure that in 3 years I will be committed to pursuing a PhD for a career in research. But recently, I have been looking into ocean engineering.
    Ocean engineering seems like the perfect field for me; the opportunity to pursue really interesting research, but still be able to have an interesting job in industry if a PhD isn't what I want. But it is not a field that I hear about a lot outside of research institutions. so my questions are:
    Are there many ocean engineering jobs out there?
    How competitive is the field?
    What kinds of jobs are there? Underwater vehicles and environments are what mainly interests me (ROVs, AUVs, Submarines, underwater habitats, etc.) but I don't imagine there are a lot of jobs in these? What about offshore structures?
    Also, what is the best way to get into this field? mechanical engineering? Mech then ocean eng grad school? is majoring in physics then doing a masters in ocean engineering at all practical?
    And to anyone with experience in the field, how interesting are the jobs? Is there a lot of field work or is it mainly behind a desk? Do you get to work on a lot of interesting projects?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 28, 2014 #2


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    I'm not sure about ocean engineering, but there is a diverse set of employment opportunities in various areas related to the ocean and coastal environments.

    Apparently Ocean Engineering is a field - http://www.marinecareers.net/field_oceanengineering.php [Broken]

    Oceanography and Marine Science are two similar areas of study and employment. Most research is probably done through universities, research organizations, and government agencies, e.g., NOAA.

    Jobs seem plentiful - Oceanography, Palaeoceanography, Marine Science, Coastal Science & Limnology Jobs

    For engineered structures, one may wish to look at marine engineering, which is more or less a specialized type of mechanical and structural engineering.



    One may wish to contact this scientific/technical society
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  4. May 28, 2014 #3


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    Ocean engineering as a profession encompasses many different occupations.

    Some schools in the US have folded their naval architecture and marine engineering programs into an Ocean Engineering department, since many of the same courses are shared depending on what the student desires to specialize in.

    Naval architecture is the traditional design of floating vessels, and the student is exposed to structures, some hydrodynamics, and general design of different types of vessels.

    Marine engineering is concerned with integrating propulsion systems into vessels along with the other engineering systems which are needed to provide a functioning vessel.

    Ocean Engineering also concerns itself with the design of fixed structures which would be constructed offshore or in some other marine environment. Fixed and floating oil production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico and the North Sea would be designed by ocean engineers, with the help of several other disciplines. If you like designing structures, you'll certainly get exposure to this in ocean engineering.

    Now that transporting LNG is a booming field which is emerging, there will probably be more terminals built in the near future, which would require some type of ocean engineering.

    In the US, MIT, U. Michigan at Ann Arbor, and U.California at Berkeley have some of the better known Ocean Engineering departments. Although these programs are all housed at large universities, the number of students in the Ocean Engineering programs is typically quite small, with any given class of undergrads numbering between 25-50 each year.

    There are a couple schools which offer primarily a naval architecture/marine engineering curriculum modeled along the traditional lines. The U. of New Orleans models its program on the one offered at U.Mich, and there have been several U.Mich alumni who taught in this program.

    Webb Institute on Long Island offers a dual BS in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering as its sole course of study. Each incoming class is limited to about 25 students, and the whole student body numbers about 75-90 at any one time during the academic year. The campus is located on Long Island Sound and is housed in a converted estate, but it boasts its own small model basin. Although only a single undergrad degree is offered, many alumni from Webb go on to obtain graduate degrees from other institutions. (Full disclosure: I am a Webb graduate)
  5. May 28, 2014 #4

    Vanadium 50

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    MIT no longer has an Ocean Engineering department. It's been folded into Mechanical Engineering. It's still a program, but not a department.
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