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Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology

Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology

Hawaii Natural Energy Institute

Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory

International Pacific Research Center

Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research

Pacific Mapping Program

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Hawaii Space Grant Consortium

Ocean and Resources Engineering


Ocean and Resources Engineering

Holmes 402
2540 Dole Street
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-7572
Fax: (808) 956-3498
E-mail: admin@ore.hawaii.edu
Web: oe.soest.hawaii.edu/


*Graduate Faculty

*K. F. Cheung, PhD (Chair)—coastal and offshore engineering, hydrodynamics, computational methods, water wave mechanics, sediment transport
*R. C. Ertekin, PhD—naval architecture, offshore engineering, hydrodynamics, computational methods
*B. D. Greeson, PhD—offshore engineering, hydrodynamics, ROV/submersible operations
*H. J. Krock, PhD—environmental engineering, mixing and transport, water quality, ocean thermal energy conversion, hydrogen
*G. Pawlak, PhD—coastal mixing processes, fluid dynamics, sediment transport
*J. C. Wiltshire, PhD—acoustics, marine minerals, marine mining technology

Cooperating Graduate Faculty

J. M. Becker, PhD—general ocean circulation
R. H. Knapp, PhD—structural engineering
A. Malahoff, PhD—ocean resources engineering
S. H. Masutani, PhD—ocean resources engineering
G. McMurtry, PhD—oceanographic engineering
M. A. Merrifield, PhD—coastal and near-shore processes
G. Nihous, PhD—ocean resources engineering
H. R. Riggs, PhD—structural engineering
J. R. Smith, PhD—marine survey
J. Yu, PhD—marine bioproducts engineering

Affiliate Graduate Faculty

D. Rezachek, PhD—ocean energy and engineering design
J. van Ryzin, PhD—mechanical and ocean engineering
D. Vithanage, PhD—coastal engineering, nearshore circulation

Degrees Offered: MS in ocean and resources engineering, PhD in ocean and resources engineering

The Academic Program

Ocean and Resources Engineering is the application of ocean science and engineering design to the challenging conditions found in the ocean environment and to the synthesis of novel products from marine systems. Waves and currents, turbulence, dynamic loads, mobile sediment, high pressure and temperature variations, as well as chemical and biological processes, are among the considerations that set ocean and resources engineering apart from conventional land-based engineering.

Educational and research emphasis is placed on coastal engineering, offshore engineering and ocean resources engineering. Coastal engineering deals with coastal and harbor problems, sediment transport, nearshore environmental engineering, and coastal flood hazards. Offshore engineering is concerned with structures and systems used in the deeper parts of the ocean, including the continental shelf. It also includes hydrodynamics of fluid-body interaction, seakeeping and dynamic responses of marine vehicles and platforms, and hydroelasticity of very large floating structures. Ocean resources engineering is concerned with the engineering systems to develop the energy, minerals and living resources of the oceans, the use of the ocean for waste disposal, and the environmental and economic aspects of these activities. The MS program in ocean and resources engineering is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), which provides accreditation services to the first degree offered by engineering programs.

The educational and research programs in the department have a good balance between numerical and laboratory modeling as well as field observation. Computing facilities consist of several IBM RS/6000 servers and many networked PCs installed with application software. Supercomputer facilities at the Maui High Performance Computer Center are available to students working on their research projects. The Department’s Environment Fluid Dynamics Laboratory focuses on the study of coastal marine processes including turbulent dispersal of pollutants and nutrients, wave dynamics, and sediment transport. Laboratory instrumentation includes an acoustic doppler velocimeter, a laser-based Particle Imaging Velocimetry system, and an Argon-Ion laser with digital still and video cameras. The Department maintains research facilities at Kewalo Basin and Snug Harbor in Honolulu for field work and in-ocean experiments. These facilities include field research equipment and instrumentation, access to a 17 ft motorboat and an 18-m coastal research vessel, as well as machine shop support. A 7-acre in-ocean test range off Kewalo Basin extends from 5 to 20 m depth with test platforms equipped with land-based power supply outlets and data connections.

The graduate program in ocean and resources engineering channels the students’ previous engineering or scientific experience to ocean-related careers. Approximately 55% of the 1993 – 2001 graduates found work in private industry including oil companies, shipyards, consulting and environmental service firms, classification societies, and construction companies in the U.S. About 25% of them joined or continued their employment with federal and state agencies. Another 10% continued to study in the US and 10% returned to their countries of origin.

Graduate Study

Educational Objectives

The Department of Ocean and Resources Engineering offers a graduate program leading to the Master of Science (MS) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees. The goal of the program is to prepare students for the engineering profession and to conduct research in the support of the educational program. The objectives of the program at the MS level are to produce graduates who, during the first few years following graduation:

  1. Are effective and creative engineers applying knowledge of mathematics and science to the solution of practical engineering problems;
  2. Have general understanding of and ability to work in the ocean and resources engineering disciplines;
  3. Are proficient in one or more of the ocean and resources engineering disciplines;
  4. Are aware of professional, managerial, legal, ethical and other non-technical issues commonly encountered in engineering practice;
  5. Can communicate and work effectively with peers, clients and the general public in promoting new ideas, products or designs; and
  6. Can adapt to the changing needs and technology of the ocean and resources industry.
    The program at the PhD level shares these objectives with the additional emphasis to produce graduates who:
  7. Are productive researchers conducting original research and developing new technology in ocean and resources engineering; and
  8. Have the experience to publish in refereed journals.

This additional emphasis prepares the PhD graduate to pursue research careers in the industry or academia.

Admission Requirements

Students are admitted for graduate study on the basis of their scholastic records. Applicants for the MS program usually have a bachelor’s degree in an engineering discipline that provides an adequate background in mathematics, science, and mechanics. Students with mathematics, physics or other science backgrounds may be admitted to the program, but are required to take specific undergraduate courses to satisfy the pre-program requirements, which include one year of college-level mathematics and science, one and one half years of basic engineering topics, and a general education component complementing the technical content of the curriculum.

Students seeking admission to the PhD program should have an MS in engineering or equivalent qualification. However, exceptionally well-qualified students with a BS in engineering, who do not have a master’s degree, may petition to be admitted to the PhD program directly. Official scores in the GRE General Test are required for all PhD applicants.

Master’s Degree

The MS degree in ocean and resources engineering may be earned under either Plan A (thesis) or Plan B (non-thesis). The program requires a minimum of 30 credit hours. At least 24 credit hours must be earned in advanced courses numbered 600 or above. Up to 2 credit hours of directed reading and 6 transferred credits can be counted toward the MS requirements. Students are required to take the general examination during the first semester of their full-time enrollment to test their knowledge in mathematics, science, and basic engineering. Passing the examination advances the student to master’s candidacy.

Students generally devote their first semester to the basic disciplines in ocean and resources engineering and then specialize in coastal, ocean resources, or offshore engineering by taking the required courses in the area. The core courses ORE 411, 601, 603, 607 and 609 cover the basic disciplines that include hydrostatics, hydrodynamics, oceanography, water waves, underwater acoustics, and field and laboratory work. One credit of seminars, ORE 792, is also included in the core requirements. The required courses are ORE 661, 664 and 783B in coastal engineering; ORE 612, 630 and 783C in offshore engineering; and ORE 677, 678 and 783D in ocean resources engineering. The ORE 783 Capstone Design Project is team-taught by faculty members and practicing professional engineers to prepare students for the engineering profession. The core and required courses amount to 25 credit hours and the remaining credits are to be chosen to form a coherent plan of study.

Students complete their study with a Plan A thesis or a Plan B independent project. The thesis option is research oriented and students receive 6 academic credits for the work. The project option focuses on engineering application or design and carries 3 academic credits. Both require a proposal outlining the subject area, objectives, proposed methodology, sources of data, and anticipated results that must be approved by a committee of at least three graduate faculty members. The work results in a thesis or a report that demonstrates both mastery of the subject matter and a high level of communication skills. Students must present and defend the work at a final examination, which provides the faculty a final opportunity to test the students’ understanding and ability to integrate their work at the MS level.

The general and final examination may be repeated once. The general examination must be taken earlier than the semester in which the final examination is taken.

PhD Degree

Students pursuing the PhD degree are required to achieve a broad understanding of the principal areas of ocean and resources engineering, as well as a thorough understanding of a specific area. Students must, at a minimum, possess the knowledge covered by the core and required courses of the MS degree in ocean and resources engineering.
All intended candidates for the PhD degree must take a written qualifying examination before or during the third semester of full-time enrollment. In addition to covering the basic undergraduate fundamentals, the examination tests the students’ understanding of the coursework at the MS level. After passing the examination and being advanced to candidacy, students must take a comprehensive examination, which tests their ability to carry out original research and preparation for the selected dissertation topic.

The dissertation topic must be approved by a committee consisting of a minimum of five graduate faculty members with at least one outside member. Students are encouraged to publish the research work in refereed journals in order to obtain feedback from the research community and to develop a publication track record prior to graduation. They must present and defend the novelty of the dissertation at a final examination.

The qualifying and comprehensive examinations may each be repeated only once. The final examination may not be repeated, except with approval of the graduate faculty involved and the dean of the Graduate Division.


Upon admission, the department chair meets with each incoming student at a preliminary conference to discuss the program requirements and determine any pre-program deficiencies. The student identifies a major area of study, and selects an academic adviser from the departmental faculty. The department chair serves as the adviser to the students without an undergraduate engineering degree until they satisfy the pre-program requirements and select academic advisers from their areas of study. The academic advisers review the coursework of the students every semester until they progress to the research stage and are advised by their MS or PhD committees. The research advisers are also tasked to monitor the students for three years after their graduation. All the information is recorded in the student progress form, which provides data for subsequent program assessments.

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