USM Marine Research Center will open soon
In late 2016, the Port of Gulfport broke ground on their property to build a $12.2 million marine research center for the University of Southern Mississippi. Now they are just weeks away from completing the project.
School of Ocean Science and Technology Professor and Director Dr. Monty Graham said, “This is a front and center opportunity for the university to have its marine program, our flagship marine programs, here at a prominent location.” The Port of Gulfport serves as the home port for the 135 foot USM research vessel ‘Point Sur,’ Southern Miss will now also conveniently have their marine research center on the same grounds. “The equipment that we use on the ships, we can work on it here, maintenance it, the engineering, before it goes on the ship, we are using all that capacity to build out opportunities for education and additional research.”
The new facility will provide support of research vessels, a brand new undergraduate ocean engineering program as well as unmanned maritime systems program. “This is the perfect opportunity to have Mississippi, the Port of Gulfport, lead on some of the advanced work with unmanned shipping. It’s the wave of the future, the Norwegians are already doing it. So this country is going to have to catch up as well.”
Port of Gulfport Executive Director and CEO Jonathan Daniels said, “It’s a very proud moment, not only are we looking at opportunities for development in infrastructure, but we are looking for developments that have more of an impact on a more global basis.”
Although contractors remain on the scene, Daniels tells us it won’t be long until the project is complete. “We are looking at handing over the facility to them in the next three weeks. It’s happening very quickly, all the work you’re seeing now being done on the outside are the finishing touches.”
Daniels says programming is expected to begin in May and classes will take off in the fall. “This hopefully is priming the engine for science technology based jobs here on the Coast.”