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Coastal, Ocean and Marine Engineering Graduate Education: A 2012 Health Assessment

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Ocean and Marine Tech Session

Tagged Division

Ocean and Marine

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.292.1 - 23.292.15

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Paper Authors


Robert W. Whalin PE Jackson State University

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Robert W. Whalin, Ph.D., PE is Professor of Civil Engineering, and Director, Center of Excellence for Natural Disasters, Coastal Infrastructure and Emergency Management, College of Science, Engineering & Technology, Jackson State University. He is Director Emeritus of the Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, MS. He received his Ph.D. in Oceanography from Texas A&M University in 1971 and
is a Registered Professional Engineer. Dr. Whalin was Director of Army Research Laboratory (1998-2003; Adelphi, Md.), and Technical Director /Director of Waterways Experiment Station (1985-1998; Vicksburg, Miss.). He has authored/co-authored over a hundred technical papers and reports during his career in private industry, government and academia. His current research interests are nearshore wave transformations, coastal structures, tsunami inundation, hurricane surges, high performance computing, and engineering education.

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Qing Pang Jackson State University

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Ms Qing Pang is Research Associate in the Department of Computer Engineering, School of Engineering, College of Science, Engineering & Technology, Jackson State University. She earned her M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology in 2000. She worked for several private companies before joining Jackson State University in 2007. Her current research interests are robotics, wireless sensor networks, signal processing, embedded software and engineering education.

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  Coastal, Ocean and Marine Engineering Graduate Education: A 2012 Health AssessmentMay practitioners (academic, government, industry) of coastal, ocean and marine engineering inthe USA have the perception that this once remarkably prolific set of graduate engineeringprograms are collectively in an overall state of decline. Typical comments heard about thisengineering profession revolve around the perceived diminishing number and quality ofuniversity experimental facilities and field measurement programs. The perception that full scalefield measurements are both less robust and more scarce than in decades past seems to bewidespread. In the middle of the twentieth century, the largest scale coastal, ocean and marineengineering facilities were all in the USA. That is no longer the case, as Europe, Africa, Japanand India and other countries have large scale facilities. In fact, the largest scale such facilitiesare in foreign countries. Even experimental modeling of US Navy ships in the presence of stormwaves is performed in a foreign coastal engineering laboratory. The explosion of high andsupercomputer facilities, atmospheric, coastal and ocean modeling made great strides and CFD(computational fluid dynamics) came into its own and took a seat at the table with the mostadvanced experimental research and field measurements. Government laboratories led the waywith the Army Corps of Engineers, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administrationand Office of Naval Research leading the way. However, European and Japanese laboratorieswere making great advance simultaneously. A clear leader has not, nor is it expected to,emerged but CFD is in its heyday and has a seat at the table with the most advancedexperimental research, the most innovative field measurements, and the highest end Theoreticalwork.The paper explores the ebb and flow of coastal, ocean and marine engineering academicprograms demonstrating a decline in the robustness of the US programs relative to those in othercountries. A brief exploration of the coast benefit of a robust US engineering program in thisarea is made. A case is made for a robust US investment in graduate academic research incoastal, ocean and marine engineering accompanied by a renewed national investment in largescale facilities and full scale research in the field. Recommendations are made for the wayforward to revive this struggling profession which will produce economic dividends for in excessof the investment.

Whalin, R. W., & Pang, Q. (2013, June), Coastal, Ocean and Marine Engineering Graduate Education: A 2012 Health Assessment Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia.

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