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What kind of skills would I need to work in ocean engineer?

I’d like to know what type of skills (modeling programs, GIS..) are required to work in coastal engineering and what type of jobs could I get.

#engineering #coastal #modeling


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Maya’s Answer

Maria,

A solid understanding of coastal environments and also fluid dynamics and hydrology are important foundations to have. From there, you can specialize as little or as much as you like. Statisticians and business people work on calculating risk and probability of flooding and make a case for funding coastal resiliency work. Structural engineers learn what specialty materials they can use to build seawalls that will not deteriorate from the high salinity from ocean air and waves. Water engineers model the flow at different storm events or climate change scenarios to track flood paths and prioritize neighborhoods or infrastructure to protect. In my opinion, no matter what skills you have, you are needed in coastal engineering and there will be a place for you.

But if specific software is what you want, know that many companies develop their own based on the same fluid dynamic or sediment transport theory that you would learn in a Masters program. If you have a solid education (and some coding experience) you can build models yourself. Otherwise, some free government software that I have utilized include HEC-RAS, HEC-HMS, etc for modeling flooding and CEDAS for wave action and sediment transport. ArcGIS will always be helpful, and so will some sort of coding skills. Power BI, Tableu, or other database manipulation tool is helpful because you will most likely work with lots of instantaneous data that can overwhelm an excel spreadsheet pretty quickly.

My biggest piece of advice if you are serious about a career in coastal engineering in the US is to read through and study the US Army Corp of Engineers Coastal Engineering Manual: https://www.publications.usace.army.mil/USACE-Publications/Engineer-Manuals/u43544q/636F617374616C20656E67696E656572696E67206D616E75616C/

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Peter’s Answer

Coastal Engineering is a highly specialized profession that is full of challenges. Maya Goldman's answer provides a good background for the types of skills that are required. Given the predicted consequences of slowly rising sea levels exacerbated by climate change, there is sure to be a growing demand for coastal engineers. A college major in Civil Engineering is a good base from which to pursue this profession. A masters degree will certainly enhance your career opportunities in this specialized area.

Peter recommends the following next steps:

Research college that carry a coastal engineering program.

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Cameren’s Answer

So I found a website that may be useful for you and lists the skills that would benefit your resume when applying to coastal engineering positions- https://www.thebalancecareers.com/list-of-civil-engineer-skills-2062371. However, as with any job it will beneficial to have good communication, critical thinking, leadership, and specific technical skills. The site I included goes into very detailed skills that are relevant to coastal engineering.

As for employment opportunities and positions, from my research it looks as thought there is a vast amount of jobs relevant to coastal engineering. For starters, you could dedicate your time to research although that may not be where you want to take your knowledge. Some entry-level jobs I found include coastal engineer site inspector, coastal restoration engineer, disaster recovery, civil/structural engineer, etc. My advice would be to look into each of the career paths available and find one that best suits/interests you.

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Peter’s Answer

Ocean Engineering is a pretty wonderful fusion of civil, mechanical, and chemical engineering disciplines. Adding to the resources already shared by other responders, I would point to https://www.marineinsight.com/careers-2/what-is-ocean-engineering/ for a useful discussion. From my own experience, in which design of an offshore structure was a capstone project for my bachelor's in civil engineering, I would say that fluid mechanics is a key topic here: the manner in which the forces and the dynamic effects of water interact with structures, whether fixed (e.g. drilling platforms) or mobile (e.g. ship hulls) involve really interesting mathematics and many opportunities for computer modeling. Designing structures to deal as well with wind, seismic, and extraordinary events like a tsunami makes this a demanding field that leads to high demand for scarce and valued people.

Since the question here focused on coastal engineering, I would add that a lot of what happens will depend on an understanding of policy-making practices and institutions, for example the already-mentioned U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (whose regulatory branch in Massachusetts offered me my first paycheck-earning position as an intern while doing my undergrad work). Time spent in that office was a strong real-world orientation to the processes and the priorities of seeing real projects develop and get done.

As to specific software skills, another responder has provided many good suggestions to which I would add (if you have access to them) one or more of MATLAB, Mathematica, and Python for modeling and analysis -- and, although I almost hate to say it, strong Excel skills because so much data manipulation and visualization get done that way. You'll be able to make valued contributions if you know more than most people about getting things done in Excel without needing more exotic (and often unavailable) tools.

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