Jun 19, 2024  
2017-2018 Catalog 
2017-2018 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Department of Ocean Engineering and Sciences

Ocean Engineering
Stephen L. Wood, Ph.D., P.E., Interim Head

Ocean Sciences
Kevin B. Johnson, Ph.D., Program Chair

Degree Programs

Earth Remote Sensing, M.S.  
Environmental Resource Management, M.S.  
Environmental Science, B.S.  
Environmental Science, M.S.  
Environmental Science, Ph.D.  
Ocean Engineering, B.S.  
Ocean Engineering, M.S.  
Areas of Specialization:
  Coastal Engineering and Processes
  Hydrographic Engineering
  Materials and Structures
  Naval Architecture
  Ocean Energy
  Ocean Instrumentation
  Ocean Systems/Underwater Technology
Ocean Engineering, Ph.D.  
Oceanography, B.S.  
Oceanography - Biological Oceanography, M.S.  
Oceanography - Chemical Oceanography, M.S.  
Oceanography - Coastal Zone Management, M.S.  
Oceanography - Geological Oceanography, M.S.  
Oceanography - Physical Oceanography, M.S.  
Oceanography, Ph.D.  

Undergraduate Minor Programs

Environmental Science Minor 
Oceanography Minor  

Kevin B. Johnson, Ph.D., benthic and water column ecology, invasive species, planktonic grazing and distributions, estuarine restoration, predator-prey interactions.

George A. Maul, Ph.D., Atlantic tsunami mitigation, marine meteorology, climate and sea level change, maritime natural hazards, physical oceanography, remote sensing.

Ronnal P. Reichard, Ph.D., composite materials and structures, composite manufacturing.

Geoffrey W.J. Swain, Ph.D., materials, corrosion, biofouling, offshore technology, ship operations.

John H. Trefry, Ph.D., trace metal geochemistry and pollution, geochemistry of rivers, global chemical cycles.

Gary A. Zarillo, Ph.D., sediment transport technology, coastal and estuarine sedimentation, barrier island and tidal inlet processes.

Associate Professors
Charles R. Bostater Jr., Ph.D., environmental modeling, remote sensing, estuarine particle dynamics, water quality instrumentation, environmental optics, environmental geophysical fluid dynamics, physical oceanography.

Prasanta K. Sahoo, Ph.D., naval architecture, numerical modeling, computational fluid dynamics, propulsion, wave dynamics and hydrodynamics of high-speed craft.

Robert J. Weaver, Ph.D., coastal flooding and transport, water quality, 2D/3D circulation modeling, littoral processes.

Stephen L. Wood, Ph.D., P.E., underwater robotics, underwater vehicles, advanced navigation, control systems and ocean energy systems.

Assistant Professor
Austin L. Fox, Ph.D., nutrient and trace metal biochemistry, biomagnification, coastal eutrophication, chemical oceanogaphy.

Research Assistant Professors
K. Hunscker, Ph.D.
Emily Ralston, Ph.D.
Leesa A. Souto, Ph.D.

Professors Emeriti
Thomas V. Belanger, Ph.D.; Iver W. Duedall, Ph.D.; Dean R. Norris, Ph.D.; John C. Sainsbury, Ph.D.; John G. Windsor Jr., Ph.D.; Andrew Zborowski, Ph.D.

Mission Statement

The mission of the department of ocean engineering and sciences is to integrate oceanography, ocean engineering, environmental science, earth remote sensing and related academic concentrations into interdisciplinary knowledge-based optimal solutions to vital contemporary issues through education, research and service.

Directions in the department tend to mirror the interdisciplinary nature of the interests and expertise of a closely related multidisciplinary faculty in oceanography, earth remote sensing, ocean engineering and environmental sciences, with each program offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.

The spectrum of research in ocean engineering and sciences ranges from using the scientific method to understand particular phenomena to a more applied approach developing solutions to specific problems. The understanding of problems and a vision of alternative solutions are manifested in research and engineering design of systems or components with direct benefit to human quality of life.

A student who wants to pursue a doctoral degree directly after a bachelor’s degree needs to complete at least 24 credit hours of coursework, at least 24 credit hours of dissertation, and 0-24 hours of research credits. The total credit hours must be at least 72. Each student must complete at least 24 credit hours of coursework and pass a comprehensive exam to be formally admitted into the doctoral program.

The comprehensive examination should be taken in the second year of graduate studies. If a student later decides to abandon the doctorate and pursue instead the master’s degree, the student must complete all the requirements for the master’s degree. Similarly, a student who is accepted into a master’s degree program, but later decides to go directly to the doctorate, must compete a minimum of 18 semester credit hours of coursework beyond the master’s degree requirements and pass the comprehensive exam.


Minors in environmental science and oceanography are offered through the department. A minor in sustainability is available through the Department of Education and Interdisciplinary Studies. A complete policy statement regarding minors can be found in the Academic Overview  section. Information about current minor offerings is available through the individual colleges/departments.


The department of ocean engineering and sciences occupies the first and second floors of the Link Building with laboratory, lecture, computer facilities and office space, with additional space in the Frueauff Building and the Surf Mechanics Laboratory.

Research activities in the department are diverse and vary with increased knowledge from current research, changes in demands in the research community and new developments in experimental procedures and instrumentation. Separate laboratories exist for biological, chemical, physical and geological oceanography, and instrumentation investigations.

Environmental Sciences

The environmental sciences program offers specialized facilities for instruction and research. The Marine and Environmental Chemistry Laboratory is equipped with standard water and wastewater sampling and analysis equipment. In addition, analytical instruments provided for advanced study include a total organic carbon analyzer, atomic absorption spectrophotometers and scintillation counters. Florida Tech maintains a variety of small and large boats for fieldwork. Analytical capabilities are extended by means of cooperative projects with the departments of biological sciences and chemistry.

Faculty and graduate students are actively engaged in a variety of environmental research projects, including effects of agricultural and urban stormwater runoff on river and estuarine water quality, measurement of quantities and quality of groundwater seepage in Florida lakes, dissolved oxygen budgets in aquatic systems, trace metal contamination of natural waters and sediments, acid deposition, lake trophic state classifications, trace organic contamination in coastal systems, hyperspectral remote sensing, decomposition and sedimentation of aquatic macrophytes.

Ocean Engineering

The ocean engineering program includes facilities for traditional design activities, several stations for computer-aided design techniques and a reference data collection. Ocean engineering provides facilities for structural testing and pressure testing and a Surf Mechanics Laboratory. The materials and corrosion laboratory specializes in design and testing of materials (concrete, composites and plastics) for marine applications.

Research interests of the faculty center on coastal engineering, corrosion and materials, ocean mineral exploitation, waste disposal, naval architecture and shipbuilding (including small craft), fluid dynamics, instrumentation engineering and development, marine positioning, ocean energy and underwater vehicle development.

Ocean engineering facilities support both traditional design activities and computer-aided design. The Underwater Technologies Laboratory has facilities for the design and construction of surface and underwater vehicles such as ROVs and AUVs. The Instrumentation Laboratory is equipped with testing and calibration equipment, machining and construction tools, and deployment facilities.

A close relationship is maintained with the engineering division of Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute of Florida Atlantic University. Graduate students, especially those having interests in submersibles, exploratory equipment and instrumentation, may have the opportunity to conduct thesis research in conjunction with the Harbor Branch staff and use facilities at the institution.

Ship and marine facilities provide an excellent base for research activities involving all aspects of offshore and coastal ship operations, structures, erosion and environmental control applications. The sheltered waters and geography of the Indian River Lagoon allow excellent conditions for undertaking control and propulsion research using large models or full-scale craft.


Biological oceanography: The major emphasis in this laboratory is directed toward pelagic and benthonic investigations. Available equipment for student and research needs include fluorometers, collection nets, trawls, grabs, and photographic and microscopic instruments. A controlled environmental room is operated within this laboratory.

Chemical oceanography: This laboratory is equipped to enable both routine and research-level analyses on open ocean and coastal lagoonal waters. Major and minor nutrients, heavy-metal contaminants and pollutants can be quantitatively determined. Analytical instruments include scintillation counters, organic carbon analyzers, fluorescence spectrometers, ultraviolet and visible light spectrophotometers, an atomic absorption spectrometer and field measurement equipment.

Marine geology and geophysics: This laboratory contains state-of-the-art equipment for the compositional and textural analysis of sediment and water samples, including a rapid sediment analyzer and computer-assisted sieve stations. High- and low-temperature ovens, PC-based computer workstations and suspended sediment filtration systems are also available. In addition, the laboratory houses vibracore and sediment grab sampling equipment.

Physical oceanography: Supports graduate research in ocean waves, coastal processes, tsunamis, climate change, circulation and pollutant transport. In addition, current meters, tide and wind recorders, salinometers, wave height gauges, a side-scan sonar, CTD system, ADCP and other oceanographic instruments are available.

Evinrude Marine Operations Center and research vessels: This facility houses small outboard-powered craft and medium-sized work boats. These vessels are available to students and faculty for teaching and research use in the freshwater tributaries and the lagoon. Chartered research vessels are the focal point of research in the Indian River Lagoon and coastal areas, as well as teaching in oceanography and marine meteorology.

Vero Beach Marine Laboratory: This oceanfront marine research facility is owned and operated by Florida Tech and located in Vero Beach, just 40 minutes from campus. Laboratory and office space total approximately 4,500 square feet. Flowing seawater allows research in such areas as aquaculture, biofouling and corrosion. See the Institution Overview  section.

Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute of Florida Atlantic University (HBOI): The department maintains a close working relationship with HBOI, located about an hour from campus between Vero Beach and Fort Pierce. Scientists and engineers from HBOI interact with Florida Tech’s students and faculty, and make their facilities and expertise available in directing student research.

Surf Mechanics Laboratory: The wave channel in the laboratory supports teaching and research in wave mechanics, marine hydrodynamics, ocean instrumentation and coastal processes.