Ocean engineering combines facets of the traditional civil and mechanical engineering disciplines to design systems and structures for operation in the marine environment. The field is diverse, challenging and rewarding. For example, marine systems often have to withstand large forces imparted by pressure, waves, and wind while operating in a very corrosive environment. To prepare the student for this endeavor, the coursework includes fundamental engineering courses including statics, dynamics, strength of materials, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, and electrical engineering along with marine-specific topics including wave mechanics and materials and corrosion.
The ocean engineering major includes an honors program and features four concentration areas. The concentration areas include civil and coastal engineering, underwater engineering, environmental engineering, and ocean resource management. Each student takes four major electives to gain a depth of knowledge in one or more of these concentration areas. The ocean engineering major is supported by excellent laboratory facilities including the United States Naval Academy Hydromechanics Laboratory. The Hydromechanics Laboratory includes two towing/wave tanks, a coastal laboratory, and two water tunnel facilities along with a host of state-of-the-art measurement systems. The technical nature of the major along with its marine flavor provides a great foundation for the future naval officer in any of the warfare communities.
In the upper class years, students have a range of special opportunities including numerous summer internships and several special projects. Our students have participated in internships at Oceaneering International, Naval Sea Systems Command, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Army Corps of Engineers, Aquarius underwater habitat, and a variety of other civilian and military institutions. Recent special projects have included a human-powered submarine team and a concrete canoe team. These hands-on projects not only allow students to put their engineering skills to work but also allow them to compete against their peers at other universities. The capstone design experience in the first class year allows students the opportunity to work in small groups to design solutions to real-world problems and needs. Graduates select from a variety of warfare specialties in the Navy and Marine Corps. Due to their interest in diving and the underwater engineering track offered within the major, a large percentage of SEAL and EOD candidates major in ocean engineering. Ocean engineers are very marketable and well-compensated in the civilian sector.
The major strikes a balance of theory, laboratory/experimental work, and practical application. Students who excel in the major are typically strong in mathematics and science. The ocean engineering major does require hard work and study but it can also be very gratifying, particularly for students who gravitate towards hands-on activities and love the ocean.