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Naval Architecture & Ocean Engineering
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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering?

There are many similarities between the two majors - most importantly, they are both engineering majors that deal with engineering in the ocean. However, the two majors also differ from each other in content. Naval Architecture deals with the design of ships and ship systems.

Ocean Engineering deals with other structures and systems in or adjacent to the ocean, including offshore platforms, underwater submersibles, coastal structures and other ocean systems and ocean environmental engineering systems. Please feel free to discuss details about the majors with our faculty members.

Will I be limiting my career opportunities by choosing Naval Architecture or Ocean Engineering over a more traditional or "conventional" major?

Certainly not. All engineering majors here at USNA are required to take traditional fundamentals of engineering courses such as statics, dynamics, strength of materials, materials science, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, along with other applied engineering courses.

The difference that the naval architecture and ocean engineering majors bring to engineering education is that the application of the fundamentals are applied to the ocean -- and are so interesting!

You will learn more if you are interested in the subject matter. So if the ocean or the coast interests you, and you are interested in applying math, science, and physics to design solutions to some of mankind's most challenging problems, either Naval Architecture or Ocean Engineering may very well be the major for you!

The design of a structure or vehicle to withstand the harsh environment of the ocean or coast (due to waves, currents, pressures, corrosion, etc.), is usually much more complex than the design of that same structure for land application. Click here for more information about Ocean Engineering career opportunities.

Is Naval Architecture really an engineering major even though it does not have "engineering" in its title?

Yes. Naval architecture is an engineering major incorporating as many technical skills as any other engineering major at USNA. At times through history, attempts have been made to re-name the major to "ship design engineering" or other names to incorporate "engineering" in its title.

However, those who know what naval architecture is, understand that it is a legitimate engineering major and field, and in general, most people do not wish to change the name of a field that has such a long and highly respected history.

How does Ocean Engineering differ from the other engineering majors?
Ocean engineering is a varied and diverse field of engineering that encompasses many exciting challenges related to the marine field. In addition to the normal engineering courses and material that are required of all USNA engineering majors, EOE also incorporates many field trips, real-world exposure and real-world problems into your education.
Is Ocean Engineering a difficult major?
Ocean Engineering is a challenging engineering major as much as the other USNA engineering majors are. However, we hear that EOE seems "easier" to some students -- mostly because the students are enjoying what they are learning, You will learn more if you are interested in the subject matter. So if the ocean or the coast interests you, Ocean Engineering may also seem easier for you.
What is the difference between Ocean Engineering and Oceanography?

In short, Ocean Engineering is an engineering discipline, whereas oceanography is a science. Engineers are problem-solvers; they must assimilate numerous skills (e.g. math & physics) and resources (e.g. oceanic data) in order to solve a problem through means such as the design of a structure, vehicle or system.

Oceanographers, on the other hand, are generally responsible for finding out information about the oceanic characteristics (temperatures, currents, etc.) which ocean engineers need. The two groups - oceanographers and ocean engineers - usually work very closely with each other.

"Scientists discover the world that exists; engineers create the world that never was."                                                                                                  -Theodore Von Karman

How do the EOE environmental courses differ from the courses in the environmental track of the Systems Engineering (ESE) department?
The systems engineering majors who choose the ESE environmental track take one elective in the systems department, and then must take another environmental elective from within our department. (So they all must come to our department anyway!) Our department offers more environmental engineering electives than any other department at USNA.
Can I be a Trident Scholar if I choose Naval Architecture or Ocean Engineering?
Yes. Even though we are a small department with a relatively modest number of majors, we often have Trident Scholars who perform valuable research for the Navy and beyond.
Can I minor in a language if I choose Naval Architecture or Ocean Engineering as my major?
Yes. There currently are and have always been numerous ENA and EOE majors who have minored in all languages offered at USNA. Talk to your academic advisor to find out about how to set up and complete a minor in a language. Overloading of courses is not necessary in nearly all cases.
Can I dual-major if I choose Naval Architecture or Ocean Engineering?
We do not regularly have students who dual-major; however, if you have validated several classes, you may be able to fulfill multiple majors' matrix requirements. Please see your academic advisor or our department chair for more info.
Can I play varsity sports if I choose Naval Architecture or Ocean Engineering as my major?
Absolutely yes. In fact, we have had varsity athletes from all sports (men's and women's) within our program, including numerous team captains.
How many women are Ocean Engineering majors?
Enrollment naturally fluctuates, however, EOE usually has one of the highest female enrollments (by numbers and by percentages) out of all of the engineering majors at USNA.
Who can I contact for more information?

The following is a list of our EOE faculty with primary specialties listed. Each name links to the individual faculty member's home page -- where additional contact and other information is available.

  • Professor Dawson - Ocean Materials, Structures,
  • Professor Kriebel - Coastal Engineering, Wave Mechanics,
  • Professor Mayer - Ocean Design, Environmental,
  • Professor Mouring - Structures, Marine Foundations,
  • Professor Schultz - Biofouling, Wave Mechanics,
  • Professor Waters - Environmental Engineering, Wave Mechanics
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