Girls in Science & Technology: Ocean Engineer

The field of ocean engineering provides an important link between the other oceanographic disciplines, such as marine biology, chemical and physical oceanography, and marine geology and geophysics. Just as the interests of oceanographers have driven the demand for the design skills and technical expertise of ocean engineers, the innovations in instrumentation and equipment design made by ocean engineers have revolutionized the field of oceanography. This is especially true within the last three decades.

A sea of invention
The invention of thousands of oceanographic instruments and devices has changed the way oceanographers study the oceans and coasts. Examples include computer- and satellite-linked buoys and floats, sediment traps, ocean seismometers (instruments that measure seafloor movement in a manner similar to the way seismographs measure earthquake activity on land), underwater video equipment, acoustic measuring devices (instruments that make it possible to "sense" underwater objects and seafloor formations) and underwater vehicles, including submersibles and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). Information that once took years to compile, and that frequently involved sampling in harsh weather conditions, can now be accomplished in minutes, often from remote locations, including ships and laboratories. The innovations of ocean engineers have enabled oceanographers to travel farther offshore and deeper into the sea, and to stay there for longer periods of time. Because of ocean engineers, major oceanographic discoveries -- including hydrothermal vents, ocean volcanoes, thousands of miles of underwater mountain chains, "new" species and biological, chemical, geographical and physical processes and phenomena -- have been made.

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