Engineering for the Marine Environment
More than 70 percent of our planet is covered by water. Engineering for the marine environment covers the design and production of all types of systems to operate successfully in this often harsh and demanding environment. In addition to traditional naval architecture and marine engineering, instruction is offered in offshore engineering, coastal engineering, and marine environmental engineering. Recent graduates are active in design and research related to offshore oil and gas exploration and production platforms. Others are involved in overcoming water-borne pollution transport in the Great Lakes and the oceans, and coastal erosion predictions, as well as the design of traditional ships, submersibles, high-speed vessels and recreational craft. A number of our alumni have leading roles in the design of America’s Cup racing yachts.
Since the design of modern marine systems encompasses many engineering fields, graduates of this department are called upon to handle diverse professional responsibilities. Therefore, the program includes study in the fundamentals of the physical sciences and mathematics as well as a broad range of engineering aspects that constitute design for the marine environment. To provide the appropriate educational breadth, it is also desirable that as many courses in the humanities and social sciences are elected as can be accommodated. It is recognized that the under-graduate program cannot, in the time available, treat all important aspects of engineering for the marine environment that may be desired by the student; therefore, graduate work is encouraged.
Ship and offshore platform analysis and design require knowledge of hull geometry, vessel arrangements, hydrostatic stability, structures, resistance, propulsion, maneuvering, and seakeeping. Other areas of concern are the economic aspects of design and operation, production, model testing, propulsor and control theory, vibration problems, and piping and electrical system analysis and design.
The undergraduate degree program is arranged to give the student a broad engineering mechanics education by requiring basic courses in the areas of structural mechanics, hydrodynamics, marine power systems, and marine dynamics. These courses cover engineering fundamentals and their application to the design and construction of marine vehicles and systems. Courses in marine structures deal with the design and analysis of marine vehicles and platforms including static strength, fatigue, dynamic response, safety, and production. Resistance, maneuvering, and seakeeping characteristics of bodies in the marine environment are the subject matter for courses in marine hydrodynamics. Marine power systems involve all the mechanical systems on a marine vehicle with particular emphasis on the selection and arrangement of the main propulsion system. In marine dynamics, the student studies the vibrations of marine structures and engines and the rigid body responses of the vessel to wind and waves. Through the use of technical and free electives, students may decide to focus their education in areas such as:
- Marine Structures
- Ship Production and Management
- Sailing Yachts
- High Speed Craft
- Marine Power Systems.
An integration of the material covered in earlier courses takes place in the two-semester, final design sequence. In the first course of this sequence, the student works on a class design project using state-of-the-art computer-aided design tools. In the second semester, the students form design teams and work on projects of their choosing. Recent final design projects included a Volvo Around the World racing yacht, high-speed ferry boats, an escort tug, a Coast Guard offshore cutter, a sport fisherman, a large cruise ship, a small deep-submergence submarine, harbor design, and a mega yacht.
The department works closely with the marine industry and is able to assist graduates in obtaining positions in the field. The department is in constant touch with the country’s marine design offices, shipyards, ship operators, government agencies, and other organizations concerned with ocean development. A summer internship program allows students to work in the marine field and receive academic credit. Academic credit is earned by successful completion of a job-related project; the final written report is formally presented to faculty and students the following semester.
Students who meet the academic requirements of both departments may earn an additional B.S.E. degree in another engineering discipline, or in combined programs with other engineering departments. The combined programs allow substantial substitution of courses required in one regular program for those required in the other, and typically can be completed in one extra term.
Facilities for Undergraduate Use
The department operates the Marine Hydrodynamics Laboratory (MHL) located on Central Campus. The laboratory houses a 110 x 6.7 x 3.2 meter towing tank, a low turbulence-free surface water channel, a gravity-capillary water wave facility, a 35-meter-long gravity wave tank, and a propeller tunnel for student use. The laboratory is equipped with appropriate shops and state-of-the-art instrumentation, much of which was developed in-house.
Undergraduate students are required to take at least one laboratory course that uses the model basin. The MHL also hires students on a part-time basis to help with ongoing research.
The department provides the Undergraduate Marine Design Laboratory (UMDL) to support student design work in sophomore through senior classes. Teams of seniors work in this laboratory to develop and present their final design projects. The laboratory contains 15 team work areas, each with a Windows workstation, small drawing layout table, and work desk. This laboratory also contains major Michigan-developed and industrial ship design software needed in the design activities. The laboratory also supports digitizing, scanning, and printing needs.
For students with special interests, dual degree programs leading to two bachelor’s degrees are available. Favorite second degree areas of concentration among naval architecture and marine engineering students are aerospace engineering and mechanical engineering. Combined degrees with other departments can also be arranged. As early as possible, students interested in such dual degree programs should consult with the program advisors in both programs to work out optimum combinations of courses.
Candidates for the Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering (Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering)—(B.S.E. Nav. Arch. & Marine E.)—must complete the program listed under Undergraduate Program Requirements. This sample schedule is an example of one leading to graduation in eight terms.
In the fourth year, students are required to select two four-credit technical electives from a prescribed list. These electives allow students to focus their education in specific areas. Example focus areas and possible courses are as follows:
- Marine Structures: NA 410 and NA 440
- Marine Manufacturing: NA 410 and NA 562
- High speed Craft Design: NA 401 and NA 431 or NA 440
- Marine Power Systems: NA 431 and NA 401 or NA 410
- Sailing Yachts: NA 403 and NA 410, NA 431, or NA 440
These and other combinations of free and technical electives should be selected in consultation with the Undergraduate Program Advisor. Students are strongly encouraged to review the possible options prior to their senior year.