Engineering Excellence at Sea
For half a century we have demonstrated science and technology expertise and gained a national reputation. The Ocean Engineering Department serves as a resource to scientists at APL-UW, the University of Washington, other research organizations, and the U.S. Navy. We provide engineering know-how to support ambitious basic and applied research programs.
Mechanical, electrical, software, and field engineers design, fabricate, and deploy systems in the deep and coastal ocean environments, and under polar ice.
Instrument design and fabrication
- Scientific and naval instrumentation
- Autonomous undersea vehicles
- Moorings, underwater structures and towers
- Harsh environment packaging (polar, shipboard, and airborne systems)
- Finite element analysis
- Acoustic transducers
- Corrosion and abrasion analysis and control
- Low-power, battery operated, embedded systems
- High-speed data acquisition systems and signal processing
- Custom analog and digital board design, PCB layout
- Complex system design, electro-mechanical systems
- Custom and OEM sensor integration
- Embedded systems
- Remote/autonomous operation
- TCP/IP instrumentation
- Linux, Windows, and DOS systems
- C++, Visual Basic, Labview, Matlab, and web-based languages
To support shallow water and under-ice field experiments, the Department has five scientific divers certified by the American Academy of Underwater Sciences and by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration for nitrox mixed gas diving.
- Deployment, operation, and recovery of equipment at sea and in the Arctic
- Logistics and operations support in the Arctic, at sea, and remote locations
- Diving open water and under-ice
Russ Light, Department Head
"We work with our customers to meet their needs with state-of-the-art engineering."
Vision Takes Form
APL-UW engineering expertise is a big part of making the vision of "plugging into" the deep ocean a reality. The Regional Scale Nodes component of the National Science Foundation Ocean Observatories Initiative is a power and communications network stretching hundreds of miles offshore the Pacific Northwest. Installation of many components of the regional cabled observatory was successful during the VISIONS'13 cruise. More >>
Target and Reverberation Experiment 2013
Local Educators on Shelf Science Cruise
On Earth Day the UW-operated R/V Thompson began an expedition for research and education off the Washington coast. Local teachers aboard learned about current ocean research topics and how to bring real time ocean data to their classrooms. More >>
Basic and Applied Research Push Seaglider's Capabilities
Seaglider offers depth, versatility, and persistence at an operating cost far less than an ocean research vessel. People should like them because they're really cool, but they do like them because they're comparatively inexpensive. In May 2013, UW's Center for Commercialization licensed the manufacture of Seagliders to Kongsberg Underwater Technology, Inc., granting them sole rights to produce, market, and continue the development of Seaglider technology. More >>
In the News
Company plans carbon-fiber sub to dive deeply, cheaply
The Seattle Times, Alisa Reznick
31 Oct 2013
In collaboration with the University of Washington's Applied Physics Lab and Boeing's Research and Technology wing, OceanGate co-founder Stockton Rush's "Cyclops" is being designed to take five passengers up to nearly 10,000 feet below the ocean's surface. It is expected to debut for charter use in 2016.
Work this summer extends reach of cabled deep-ocean observatory
UW New and Information, Hannah Hickey
1 Jul 2013
The University of Washington research vessel Thomas G. Thompson is loading up for six weeks at sea. When the team returns to Seattle in late August they will have extended the cabling to key research sites, an important part of building the first real-time, continuous eye on the mysterious creatures, currents and geologic forms in waters off the Pacific Northwest coast.
Freeman, S.E., et al., including J.A. Mercer, "Estimating the horizontal and vertical direction-of-arrival of water-borne seismic signals in the northern Philippine Sea," J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 3282-3298, doi:10.1121/1.4818843, 2013.
1 Oct 2013, Link
Mathis, J.T., R.S. Pickart, R.H. Byrne, C.L. McNeil, G.W.K. Moore, L.W. Juranek, X. Liu, J. Ma, R.A. Easley, M.M. Elliot, J.N. Cross, S.C. Reisdorph, F. Bahr, J. Morison, T. Lichendorf, and R.A. Feely, "Storm-induced upwelling of high pCO2 waters onto the continental shelf of the western Arctic Ocean and implications for carbonate mineral saturation states," Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, doi:10.1029/2012GL051574, 2012.
11 Apr 2012, Link
Stewart, A., M. Cao, A. Nedic, D. Tomlin, and N. Leonard, "Towards humanrobot teams: Model-based analysis of human decision making in two-alternative choice tasks with social feedback," Proc. IEEE, 100, 751-775, doi:10.1109/JPROC.2011.2173815, 2012.
1 Mar 2012, Link