Local students participate in STEM on the Sound

Community college students went on a voyage to discover new career paths working with maritime technology on land and sea.

The University of Southern Mississippi School of Ocean Science and Engineering is leading the way in maritime research. It is also home to the largest concentration of oceanographers and hydrographers.

Today was a chance to learn a little more about the programs USM offers. Program Manager Samantha Capers said, “STEM on the Sound is a partnership with Pearl River Community College and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and it is an opportunity to get them out in the field, hands on experiences that are relevant to their course of study and it serves as a bridge for our programs that we offer at USM.”

Gulf Park Admissions Recruiter Dylan Tyrner said, “Those programs include marine science, marine biology, marine science with a high emphasis on hydrography, and also ocean engineering.”

On the pier, students learn about ocean engineering and operating autonomous vessels. Hydrography Scientist Instructor Calvin Martin said, “It’s called an Echo boat 160. This is an unmanned surfaced boat. What it is capable of doing is going out and conducting hydrographic surveys. It actually does the same mission that you’ll see the bigger vessels doing.”

PRCC student Bryson Rowell said, “It drives itself. You can put a map in the computer and it will map the bottom of the ocean, wherever you want it to go without even touching anything.”

Participants were out trawling and conducting water quality tests. “When we take those parameters, they’re really important to us and our Coast because it tells us what fish are here and the quality of water those fish live in.”

Students were impressed by the programs that USM offered. MGCCC student Nathan Dement said, “I actually enjoyed it. I didn’t even know USM did all of this to begin with and doing the water sampling and doing the trawling actually gave me a real insight of what all goes on to make all this happen.”

MGCCC student Ashleigh Price said, “I never even knew that a lot of this existed. I knew there were boats out here in the water and they were doing a lot of work, but for the details of it and knowing that it’s actually a career path in my own backyard. It’s pretty amazing.”

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