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PAPER A New Master s Level Certificate in Ocean by pluggone



A New Master’s Level Certificate in Ocean
Observing Systems at Texas A&M University
AUTHORS                                              ABSTRACT
Steven F. DiMarco                                         The College of Geosciences at Texas A&M University (TAMU) introduces an exciting new
Lisa Campbell                                        Graduate Certificate in Ocean Observing Systems. The objective of this certificate program is
Department of Oceanography,                          to train a new generation of ocean professionals knowledgeable in the development, design,
Texas A&M University                                 and implementation of real-time operational oceanographic systems. It is envisioned that
Norman L. Guinasso, Jr.                              the nascent U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System, IOOS, will be akin to the National
Geochemical and Environmental Research               Weather Service and will be designed to provide real-time oceanographic data, services,
Group, Texas A&M University                          and products ( The TAMU graduate program in Ocean Observing
                                                     Systems is designed to meet the anticipated demand for specifically trained persons with
                                                     technical and scientific expertise in oceanography and ocean-related technology.

I. Introduction

T     he College of Geosciences at Texas A&M
University (TAMU) introduces an exciting
new Graduate Certificate in Ocean Observ-
ing Systems. The objective of this new certifi-
                                                   necessary data to improve a broad-ranging as-
                                                   sortment of applications that include: marine
                                                   operations, national security, and climate
                                                   change predictions (Ocean.US, 2002). It is
                                                                                                      ing in a range of subjects: in situ ocean obser-
                                                                                                      vations, remote sensing technologies, data
                                                                                                      analysis and display, geographical information
                                                                                                      science (GIS), as well as analytical techniques
cate program is to train a new generation of       also envisioned to help mitigate natural haz-      and numerical modeling.
ocean professionals, knowledgeable in the de-      ards, reduce public health risks, and protect           To meet the Master of Geosciences (M.S.)
velopment, design, and implementation of real-     and restore healthy coastal marine ecosystems      degree requirements each student completes
time operational oceanographic systems. The        (Ocean.US, 2002).                                  36 credit hours, including required (totaling
President’s Commission on Ocean Policy has              A recent workshop for IOOS education          15 credit hours) and elective courses. The Cer-
recommended the immediate implementation           and communications (Ocean.US, 2004) iden-          tificate will be awarded to those students who
of IOOS (U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy,          tified that a well-trained technical workforce     complete 24 credit-hours of the prescribed
2004); yet to successfully accomplish this goal,   knowledgeable in ocean-related issues (science,    Ocean Observing System curriculum (Table
individuals trained in ocean data collection,      engineering, management, and administra-           1). All required courses and electives are struc-
data management, and production and dis-           tion) will require many levels of expertise and    tured to meet the requirements of the M.S.
tribution of needed products and services are      will include from two-year training creden-        Degree at TAMU. The Certificate in Ocean
required. The Certificate in Ocean Observing       tials to Ph.D. levels. This group also recog-      Observing Systems program provides a more
Systems program targets non-thesis graduate        nized that “IOOS presents an opportunity to        structured and focused curriculum than is al-
students in the Master of Geosciences pro-         significantly expand both the numbers and          lowed in the traditional Master of Geosciences
gram who would like to add an Ocean Ob-            the array of careers associated with the ocean     degree. The student’s official transcript will in-
serving credential to their portfolio as a means   (Ocean.US, 2004).” The reader is directed to       clude a permanent record indicating he or she
of enhancing their professional prospects. The     Nowlin et al. (2001) for an informative sum-       has completed the certificate program. Stu-
program is designed to be completed in two         mary of the purpose and rationale regarding        dents enrolled in this Certificate Program are
calendar years, although no time constraints       sustained ocean observing systems.                 administered by the Department of Oceanog-
are imposed other than the University con-                                                            raphy at Texas A&M University and must meet
straint of seven years.                                                                               the department’s admission requirements.
     Ocean Observing Systems address a criti-      II. Curriculum                                          Central to the curriculum are five required
cal need for an integrated, comprehensive, and         The Graduate Certificate in Ocean Ob-          courses designed to provide the student a
sustained information system to effectively        serving Systems is a truly interdisciplinary en-   strong foundation in ocean observing systems
utilize and manage ocean resources and knowl-      terprise, drawing from expert faculty in the       and analytical methodology and techniques.
edge. This need is enhanced by the demo-           Departments of Oceanography, Atmospheric           The Certificate flagship course, Ocean Ob-
graphic trend of population growth in coastal      Sciences, Geography, Forest Science (Geo-          serving Systems, invites the student to explore
regions. The initial design and implementa-        graphical Information Science), Mathematics,       the technical and policy aspects of Ocean
tion of the IOOS is envisioned to provide the      and Statistics. The program will provide train-    Observing. These aspects include the motiva-

96        Marine Technology Society Journal
tion, technical design and operation, and policy     manipulating, and interpreting data from                training, Ocean Observing Applications, which
issues such as the role of academia and the          nonphotographic sensors), and Photo Inter-              is currently under development.
private sector, international coordination, and      pretation (principles, methods, and applica-                 Presently, instructors providing courses
societal relevance and expectation. Data Meth-       tions to water resources, solids, geology). The         that are offered for the Ocean Observing Sys-
ods and Graphical Representation in Oceanog-         latter includes courses such as Tropical Meteo-         tems Certificate are strongly encouraged to
raphy explores such issues as system design,         rology (role of the tropics in global circulation,      consider and to develop Web-based tools, lec-
data collection and sampling theory, data ar-        cumulus scale convection, and structure and             tures, and problem sets to facilitate distance
chival, quality control and assurance, and data      dynamics of the tropical zone), Estuarine Bio-          learning objectives. The goal of distance learn-
visualization.                                       geochemistry (geomorphology, physical ocean-            ing is to allow university access to non-tradi-
     The Atmospheric Sciences course in Cli-         ography and sedimentation dynamics of es-               tional students who otherwise would be un-
mate Change places oceanographic and atmo-           tuaries, chemistry of nutrients, trace metals,          able to take the offered courses.
spheric observations and numerical outputs           and organic matter), and Mathematical Mod-                   Internships are currently being developed
into a global context by exploring climates of       els of Marine Ecosystems (modeling techniques           to provide the student with real-life experi-
the geological and recent past and introduces        and representation of interactions among nu-            ences in industry and perhaps governmental
the student to methods for assessing climate         trients phytoplankton, zooplankton, fish, and           settings. We envision these internships will
and climate change, including mechanisms,            the physical environment). A graduate-level             also help in establishing contacts and oppor-
models, theories, impacts, and prediction of         course in Statistical Analysis arms the student         tunities for employment upon completion of
climatic change.                                     with the statistical foundation for advanced            the program. The close ties with industry and
     Rounding out the required courses are Re-       techniques encountered in the suite of spe-             governmental agencies will help ensure that
mote Sensing for Geographical Analysis and Geo-      cialized classes. Other courses, specific to Ocean      students are learning topics of practical and
graphical Information Systems. These courses lay     Observing, are being developed that will                timely interest. Course content can then be
the groundwork for fundamental techniques            complement the existing curriculum. These               modified as Ocean Observing Systems evolve
in GIS (design, planning, implementation,            include a new course specializing in hands-on           and respond to societal needs.
computer hardware and software, analysis of
spatial data) and remote-based information.
     Core courses taught by the Department
of Oceanography in Physical, Biological, and         TABLE 1
                                                     TAMU Ocean Observing Systems Curriculum Requirements
Chemical Oceanography provide the funda-
mentals of ocean science. In Physical Oceanog-       Course              Title                                                                CH
raphy the student will learn physical proper-        Foundations of Ocean Observing (required)
ties of seawater, characteristics of water masses,   OCNG 604            Ocean Observing Systems                                              3
geostrophy, general circulation, wave motions,       OCNG 657            Data Methods and Graphical Representation in Oceanography            3
and tides. Biological Oceanography deals with        ATMO 629            Climate Change                                                       3
                                                     GEOG 651            Remote Sensing for Geographical Analysis                             3
the interrelationships between organisms and
                                                     FRSC 651            Geographical Information Systems                                     3
the physicochemical environment. Chemical
Oceanography addresses the chemical compo-           Fundamentals of Ocean Science : select 1 to 3
sition of seawater, marine nutrients, dissolved      OCNG 608            Physical Oceanography                                                3
oxygen and other gases, and organic constitu-        OCNG 620            Biological Oceanography                                              3
                                                     OCNG 640            Chemical Oceanography                                                3
ents. The student must complete one or more
of the fundamentals of ocean science courses.        Advanced Specialized Topics : select 0 to 2
     After completing the foundations of ocean       OCNG 600             Ocean Observing Applications                                        3
observing and fundamentals of ocean science          OCNG 610             Mathematical Models of Marine Ecosystems                            3
curriculum, the student is then able to further      OCNG 649             Estuarine Biogeochemistry                                           3
refine his/her skills in up to two additional        ATMO 459/656         Tropical Meteorology                                                3
                                                     STAT 601             Statistical Analysis                                                3
specialized topics depending on the student’s
                                                     STAT 626             Methods in Time Series Analysis                                     3
particular interests. Electives include techni-      FRSC 661             Photo Interpretation                                                3
cal courses in advanced GIS and science top-         FRSC 652             Advanced Topics in GIS                                              3
ics. The former includes database theory, sur-       MATH 601             Methods in Applied Mathematics                                      3
face analysis with terrain models, GIS-based         GEOG 660             GIS-based Spatial Analysis and Modeling                             3
                                                     GEOG 661             Digital Image Processing and Analysis                               3
Modeling (spatial analysis and modeling for
environmental applications) Digital Image Pro-       CH = credit hours; OCNG = Oceanography, STAT = Statistics, ATMO = Atmospheric Sciences,
cessing (principles of georectifying, processing,    FRSC = Forest Sciences, GEOG = Geography, MATH = Mathematics

                                                                                                          Winter 2005/2006   Volume 39, Number 4         97
III. Hands-on Training                                 comprehensive and useful training to its stu-        Acknowledgments
     Texas A&M University has several major            dents by incorporating feedback on curricu-              The authors thank Worth D. Nowlin, Jr.
oceanographic programs utilizing ocean observ-         lum applicability from active graduates work-        (TAMU) for his leadership and vision regard-
ing systems. Foremost is the Texas Automated           ing on observing systems.                            ing Ocean Observing Systems at regional, na-
Buoy System (TABS), now in its tenth year of                                                                tional, and international levels. The authors
operation (Guinasso et al., 2001; Martin et al.,                                                            also thank Blanche Meeson (Ocean.US) for
2005). This system, funded mostly by the Texas         V. Summary                                           her invitation to bring this program before an
General Land Office and industry sponsorships,              Ocean Observing Systems are an impor-           international audience and three anonymous
is principally involved in oil spill response and      tant new direction in oceanographic research         reviewers for their suggestions and comments.
recovery efforts off of coastal Texas. TABS is oper-   for assessment of environmental health and
                                                       climate change. Texas A&M University’s com-          Contact Steven DiMarco at:
ated by the Geochemical and Environmental
Research Group (GERG) at Texas A&M Uni-                mitment to Ocean Observing Systems is ap-  
versity and provides real-time observations of         parent, as it is one of three Signature Program
near-surface oceanographic properties (current         Areas targeted by the College of Geosciences         References
and wind velocity, temperature, salinity, etc.) at     and identified as a major thrust area of the         Guinasso, N.L., Jr., L.C. Bender, III, L.L. Lee,
several locations along the Texas coast (http://       Department of Oceanography.                          III, J.N. Walpert, J. Yip, R.O. Reid, M. A significant numeri-             The educational objectives of the new           Howard, D.A. Brooks, R.D. Hetland, and
cal modeling effort is associated with the mea-        Master’s level Certificate in Ocean Observing        R.D. Martin. 2001. Observing and Forecasting
surement program. Other programs such as the           Systems at Texas A&M University are to train a       Coastal Currents: Texas Automated Buoy
NOAA-sponsored Mechanisms Controlling                  new generation of oceanographic professionals        System (TABS), in OCEANS 2001 MTS/
Hypoxia Project (           with the skills necessary to operate                 IEEE Proceedings, pp. 1318-1322. Washing-
poxia) and the NOAA-MERHAB Texas                       multidisciplinary ocean observing system ele-        ton DC.: Marine Technology Society.
FlowCAM 3-m discus buoy contribute to the              ments for monitoring the oceans and to use
                                                                                                            Martin, R. D., N. L. Guinasso, Jr., L. L. Lee,
Ocean Observing objectives. Students enrolled          such observations to create and disseminate re-
                                                                                                            III, J. N. Walpert, L. C. Bender, R. D.
in the Ocean Observing Systems Certificate cur-        liable assessments and predictions of the state of
                                                                                                            Hetland, S. K. Baum, and M. K. Howard.
riculum will be encouraged to participate in the       the oceans. The Certificate in Ocean Observ-
                                                                                                            2005. “Ten Years of Realtime, Near-Surface
design and manufacturing of the systems, as well       ing Systems will provide fundamental under-
                                                                                                            Current Observations Supporting Oil Spill
as the use and analysis of the collected data.         standing of oceanography and the technical
                                                                                                            Response.” Proceedings, 2005 International
                                                       training required for expertise in data analysis.
                                                                                                            Oil Spill Conference. pp. 541-545. Washing-
                                                            The Certificate in Ocean Observing Sys-
                                                                                                            ton, DC.: American Petroleum Institute.
IV. Certification                                      tems targets non-thesis graduate students in
     Presently, an accredited professional cer-        the Geosciences Masters Program who would            Nowlin, Jr., W. D., N. R. Smith, E. Harrison,
tificate for Ocean Observing does not exist.           like to add an Ocean Observing credential to         C. J. Koblinsky, and G. Needler. 2001. “An
We believe, however, based on initial contact          their portfolio as a means of enhancing their        integrated, sustained ocean observing system.”
with academic, government, and industry rep-           professional prospects.                              In: Observing the Oceans in the 21st Century.
resentatives, that the oceanographic commu-                 It is significant that the President’s Com-     eds. C. J. Koblinsky and N. R. Smith. pp. 29-38.
nity will support professional certification.          mission on Ocean Policy has recommended the          Melbourne, Australia: GODAE Project Office
Professional certification will require sponsor-       immediate implementation of IOOS (U.S.               and Bureau of Meteorology,
ship of one or more professional societies and         Commission on Ocean Policy, 2004). Other             Ocean.US. 2002. An Integrated and Sustained
close support from allied industries. Adoption         initiatives like NSF’s ORION, NEPTUNE,               Ocean Observing System (IOOS) for the
of a certificate will establish a national stan-       and OOI ( will           United States: Design and Implementation.
dard knowledge base that is relevant and es-           also require individuals with strong oceano-         Arlington, VA: Ocean.US. 21 pp.
sential to the developing ocean science and            graphic and technical skills for their implemen-
                                                       tation and maintenance. Current operators of         Ocean.US. 2004. Promoting Lifelong Ocean
technology career fields.
                                                       ocean observing systems are strongly inclined        Education. Integrated Ocean Observing
     Certification will no doubt require an it-
                                                       to consider for employment individuals with          System-Coastal Ocean Observing System and
erative process among academic, industrial,
                                                       professional Ocean Observing training.               Education Workshop Report. Ocean.US
and government sectors. The training stan-
                                                            More information concerning the TAMU            Publication No. 4. Arlington, VA. 43 pp.
dards adopted and applied to students of this
unique program will certainly evolve as the            Master of Geosciences Certificate in Ocean           U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. 2004.
OOS field develops. As with any new train-             Observing Systems can be found on the De-            An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century.
ing program, the certificate program expects           partment of Oceanography Web site at: http:/         Final Report. pp. 394-411. Washington D.C.:
to develop and evolve to provide the most              /           USCOP.

98         Marine Technology Society Journal

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