A Virgin Islands Marine Advisory Service Publication
VIMAS is a cooperative program between
the University of Puerto Rico Sea Grant College Program & the University of the Virgin Islands' Center for Marine and Environmental Studies.
Careers in Ocean Engineering
From increases in fishing to oil and mineral extraction and exploration of the deepest
point in the ocean some seven miles below the surface, we are constantly expanding our
use of the ocean. More and more often, solutions to problems incurred while working and
studying in marine environments must be developed by ocean engineers. Ocean
engineering is one of the most rapidly growing marine-related career fields.
What do ocean engineers do?
4 -> Ocean engineers design equipment and tools for exploring and working in marine and coastal
environments. The items they design may be subject to great pressures, extreme temperatures, corrosive
elements and other physical and chemical forces. The engineering considerations needed for the design of
such items are very different from those needed to design equipment used on land. New materials and
designs are continuously being developed to improve our access to the depths and limits of the sea.
Ocean engineers also design the ships, submersibles and submarines that are used in exploring, traveling
and transporting goods over and under the oceans. Stationary platforms for drilling and mining seabed
minerals and technologies for harnessing energy from the sea are also designed by ocean engineers.
4 X Ocean engineers must have an engineering degree. The more advanced the degree, the
more career opportunities are available.
High school students can prepare for a career in ocean engineering by completing as many math and
science courses as possible, including calculus, chemistry, and physics. Computer courses are essential.
Financial aid, work study and scholarships are often available to help pay the cost of completing the
bachelor's degree. Check with the college or university of your choice for more details. Most universities
offer scholarships, fellowships, assistantships or internships for ocean engineering studies at the graduate
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4 Careers in Ocean Engineering
Acoustical engineer designs and builds sound systems used in the marine environment. These may be used
for remote sensing (sonar), underwater communications, or locating gas and oil deposits.
Civil engineer- plans, designs, supervises and inspects the construction and maintenance of coastal
structures such as bridges, tunnels, ports and pipelines.
Coastal and ocean engineer studies beach erosion, sand drift and the effects of tides, currents and
weather on the stability of coastal features; helps determine the placement of dikes, pilings, drilling rigs,
breakwaters, etc.; studies the physical forces that affect harbor, inlet and waterway maintenance;
researches and develops materials to be used in and near salt water.
Electronics engineer designs highly sensitive electronic instruments for all phases of oceanic research,
including sonar, radar, ship-to-shore communication equipment, and a wide range of biological, physical
and chemical monitoring systems.
Environmental engineer applies engineering principles and practices to oceanic environmental problems
in order to improve or protect living conditions in coastal communities; helps to limit the destruction of
natural resources and to wisely develop and manage coastal areas.
Fisheries engineer designs and operates a wide range of fishing gear including pumps, engines, fishing
tackle and dock-side facilities for fish handling.
Hydrologist studies and forecasts floods and their effects; analyzes river flow; studies the hydrological cycle
(the movement of water between the earth, ocean and atmosphere); conducts storm research.
Mechanical engineer- designs, develops and builds tools; designs and tests the reliability of manufactured
parts; works on marine engines, generators, steering mechanisms, castings, pumps, hydraulic systems,
plumbing and hardware.
Oceanographic equipment engineer designs and builds systems and instruments for oceanographic
research and operation; lays cables; supervises underwater construction; locates and recovers sunken
vessels and their cargo.
Plastics engineer studies the properties and structure of plastic and fiberglass materials; studies, develops
and performs processes such as extrusion, dye casting and vacuum forming.
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For more information, call or write: Virgin Islands Marine Advisory Services (VIMAS), University of the Virgin Islands Centerfor Marine and
Environmental Studies, No. 2 John Brewer's Bay St. Thomas USVI 00802 (340) 693-1392 or RR#2 Box 10,000 Kingshill, St. Croix USVI 00850
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