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Educational partnership

Photos by Lisa D. Tossey

UD signs educational agreement with U.S. Naval Academy

A new educational partnership agreement between the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE) and the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) will facilitate educational, research and problem-based learning opportunities for students.

For the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, there is a need to enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education for next generation scientists, engineers and U.S. Navy and Marine Corps officers who will have to safely and effectively operate in a wide range of settings, including coastal and polar environments.

Developing leaders with this expertise and real-world experience requires interdisciplinary STEM education rooted in basic and applied scientific research, as well as access to the latest technology.

Problem-based online courses in Arctic oceanography at UD will provide students with quantitative tools to confidently access, analyze and disseminate complex environmental data.

Undergraduate and graduate students will learn about planning and execution of field work in coastal and extreme polar environments through controlled access to facilities, equipment and instrumentation at both institutions.

USNA midshipmen also will benefit from summer internship opportunities at UD, collaborative field experiments and access to CEOE experts in geophysics, robotics, and applied ocean physics, acoustics, and optics in polar and coastal environments.

“The U.S. Naval Academy provides a superb educational experience in a much-needed area of naval science and technology. We are excited to leverage our institutional expertise and provide a shared academic experience for students from both our institutions,” said CEOE Acting Dean Mohsen Badiey, who has been working with faculty from both institutions since 2015.

This four-year educational partnership is a logical extension of an existing and growing STEM collaboration between faculty and administration in CEOE’s School of Marine Science and Policy and the USNA’s Oceanography Department.

In December 2015, UD graduate students led a field training exercise for midshipmen at the USNA to survey and map the Severn River adjacent to the Naval Academy using autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) technologies. Several USNA midshipman subsequently conducted independent research and summer internships with faculty in CEOE’s Robotics Discovery Laboratory at UD’s Hugh R. Sharp campus in Lewes.

Earlier this month, the USNA Polar Science and Technology Program collected measurements of snow and ice thickness and properties, among other services, at Thule Air Base in Greenland. UD’s Andreas Muenchow, an associate professor of oceanography, was on-site too working a project to design and develop an integrated underwater acoustic sensor network for ice-covered seas. Being at the same place at the same time provided a synergistic opportunity for scientists from both institutions to interact, while enabling students to sharpen their fieldwork skills and contribute to each mission’s scientific objectives.

Additional collaborations have included a Language Proficiency, Regional Expertise, Cultural Awareness program trip to Vietnam; participation in UD’s Autonomous Systems Bootcamp; and autonomous kayak deployments with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s Remote Sensing Division as part of a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) funded project to survey coral reefs in Hawaii.

Initial projects under the new educational partnership agreement will focus on:

• Unmanned and autonomous system engineering;

• Acoustic, optical, radar and microwave sensing and communication in coastal and polar regions;

• Sustainable real-time observing systems to rapidly analyze ice, ocean, snow and weather conditions; and

• Information system engineering, including development, integration, cyber security and application of hardware and software systems.

The agreement also may result in collaborative research proposals between UD and USNA faculty, and other collaborators such as NASA’s Operation IceBridge, to advance science and technology research in areas of interest to the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.

“These types of educational and research partnerships need to be a part of our mission as they will enhace and strengthen the path for developing future professional workforce for the Navy, Army and industry,” Badiey said.

About the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment

UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE) strives to reach a deeper understanding of the planet and improve stewardship of environmental resources. CEOE faculty and students examine complex information from multiple disciplines with the knowledge that science and society are firmly linked and solutions to environmental challenges can be synonymous with positive economic impact.

The college comprises the School of Marine Science and Policy, Department of Geography and Department of Geological Sciences. CEOE brings the latest advances in technology to bear on both teaching and conducting ocean, Earth and atmospheric research. Current focus areas are ecosystem health and society, environmental observing and forecasting, and renewable energy and sustainability.

About the U.S. Naval Academy and USNA Oceanography Department

As the undergraduate college of this country’s naval service, the Naval Academy prepares young men and women to become professional officers of competence, character and compassion in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.  Naval Academy students are midshipmen on active duty in the U.S. Navy.

They attend the academy for four years, graduating with bachelor of science degrees and commissions as ensigns in the Navy or second lieutenants in the Marine Corps. Naval Academy graduates serve at least five years in the Navy or Marine Corps.

The USNA Oceanography Department provides midshipmen practical and theoretical knowledge of the air-ocean environment, applicable to any warfare specialty. The department oversees extensive undergraduate facilities, including a Yard Patrol Craft (YP-686) specially outfitted with modern oceanographic instrumentation, several autonomous underwater and surface vehicles, the Hendrix Oceanography Lab, a multifunctional building featuring a wet and dry lab for student projects and faculty research, a rotating wave tank lab and several computer-classroom labs.

Current Oceanography Department faculty research includes atmospheric and oceanographic teleconnections associated with intraseasonal atmospheric variability, air-ocean interaction in the vicinity of a tropical cyclone, understanding the role of snow and ice in the hydrologic and global climate system, landscape characterization from satellite imagery and digital elevation data, using biogeochemical tracers to investigate the cycling, transport and fate of inorganic and organic constituents in water, and studying physical and biological processes that drive population dynamics of commercially and ecologically important marine and estuarine taxa.



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