In addition to ocean engineers, technicians play a key role in maintaining and preparing the equipment. It is the responsibility of technicians to make sure that instruments are functioning properly, that they are recording the measurements they were designed to and, in some cases, that the information being recorded is relayed back to satellites or computers that may be hundreds or even thousands of miles away.
Coastal engineering has become an increasingly important part of ocean engineering. With more and more people living or working at or near the world's coasts, problems associated with coastal development, such as pollution and waste disposal, will require the expertise and innovation of coastal engineers. For example, increasing the capacity of a coastal community to handle the sewage and garbage generated by a growing population requires careful attention to the effect disposal methods will have on the adjacent water bodies. What may work for an oceanside community may not work for a lakefront or riverfront community. Also, waves, rising sea level and storms have a significant impact on coastlines, often causing erosion and loss of coastal property. In efforts to protect coastal structures, coastal engineers are tasked with designing and creating ways to lessen the impact of storms and other natural shoreline processes.
An interdisciplinary pursuit
The oil industry, military and marine navigation fields also require ocean engineering skills. Each of these sectors directly impacts our lifestyle in some way, be it a source of energy, transportation or our nation's defense. The work of ocean engineers plays an important role in each of these employment sectors. Because technology is central to the field of ocean engineering, future career prospects seem promising. And, as the role of the ocean continues to gain the interest of business, government and the private sector, the demand for ocean engineers should grow.