As part of its mission to train the next generation of ocean explorers, the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research hosts undergraduate and graduate students in the Explorer-in-Training program, where participants gain valuable experience in deepwater mapping and exploration. The applications period for 2020 opportunities is now closed. Please check back later for information about 2021.
The NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER) provides the nation with unparalleled capacity to discover and investigate new oceanic regions and phenomena, conduct the basic research required to document discoveries, and seamlessly disseminate data and information-rich products to a multitude of users. OER strives to provide resources, develop technological solutions, and innovate applications to address critical problems in undersea exploration. A fundamental part of the OER mission is the engagement of the marine science community and the general public and the training of the next generation of explorers.
The 2000 President’s Panel on Ocean Exploration Report, Discovering Earth’s Final Frontier: A U.S. Strategy for Ocean Exploration, calls for a national ocean exploration program to “train the next generation of ocean explorers." One of the many ways that OER addresses this goal is through a partnership with the Cooperative Program for the Advancement of Earth System Science (CPAESS), a community program of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), to coordinate research and collaboration activities of OER’s expeditions on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer.
NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer is the nation’s only federal vessel dedicated to ocean exploration. The ship is equipped with advanced tools that support systematic exploration of unknown ocean regions. High-resolution sonars, deepwater remotely operated vehicles, and telepresence technology are used to collect baseline information in unexplored areas. Real-time collaboration with scientists and other experts at Exploration Command Centers around the world enables rapid dissemination of information-rich products to the scientific community, allowing them to directly participate in expeditions, even from shore. Telepresence technology ensures that data from new discoveries are available almost immediately to experts in relevant disciplines for further analysis and research.
Since 2009, CPAESS/UCAR and OER have hosted over 120 mapping Explorers-in-Training. For many, this first at-sea experience was invaluable in subsequent academic and career pursuits. OER continues to seek opportunities to work with external groups to train the next generation of explorers.
OER also hosts graduate and undergraduate students as Explorers-in-Training in collaboration with NOAA’s Educational Partnership Program and Cooperative Science Centers.
Okeanos Explorer exploration for 2020 will focus on the Atlantic Ocean, including the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone near Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and New England; the Mid-Atlantic Ridge; and Atlantic Maritime Canada. Current undergraduate and graduate students, and recent graduates from higher education institutions in these regions are encouraged to apply. Students traditionally underrepresented in the sciences are also encouraged to apply.
A typical Explorer-in-Training (EiT) placement will consist of one (1) 20- to 30-day expedition either offshore aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer.
EiTs will stand an eight-hour mapping watch for seven days a week throughout their cruise assignment(s). The duties of at-sea mapping watch standers typically include the acquisition and processing of multibeam data and associated sound velocity profile data, as well as precise record keeping. Trainees will also complete a project of their own interest, with approval and support from experienced mapping team personnel. Travel and housing will be provided.
Standard experiences and training during an expedition include:
For additional information about the Okeanos Explorer and the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, please visit: https://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/okeanos/ and https://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/about/welcome.html.
Additional information about the program is available through the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. The application period for 2020 opportunities closed on January 31, 2020; information on 2021 opportunities will be posted when available.
Since 2009, OER has hosted more than 120 Explorers-in-Training. Learn more about their experiences here.
Read mission logs from past trainees: