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.

At-sea engineering

Research diving

Instrument design and fabrication


Expertise

Mechanical Design

  • 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

Electrical Design

  • 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

Software Design

  • Embedded systems
  • Remote/autonomous operation
  • TCP/IP instrumentation
  • Linux, Windows, and DOS systems
  • C++, Visual Basic, Labview, Matlab, and web-based languages

Field Operations

  • 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
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.

Russ Light, Department Head
"We work with our customers to meet their needs with state-of-the-art engineering."


What's New?

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   More >>

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

5 UW startups to watch this year

Puget Sound Business Journal,

29 Jul 2014

The C4C business incubator, the New Ventures facility, was recently was named "emerging incubator of the year" in the 2014 University Business Incubators Global Index. BluHaptics and MarqMetrix, seeded from research sponsored at APL-UW, are among the exciting startups to emerge.

UW startup creates underwater robotics with a human touch

UW News & Information,

7 Apr 2014

It should be just as easy to use a robotic arm as it is to use your own hand. That's the thinking behind University of Washington startup BluHaptics, which is taking telerobotics — controlling robots from a distance — to a new level: underwater.

Tethered robots tested for Internet-connected ocean observatory

UW News and Information,

13 Mar 2014

A massive digital ocean observatory will include a new generation of ocean explorers: robots that will zoom up and down through almost two miles of ocean to monitor the water conditions and marine life above. Scientists, engineers and students will be at sea from July to October 2014 to finish installation of the high-tech facility, which will be the world%u2019s largest Internet-connected ocean observatory.

Recent Papers

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

Ryden, F., A. Stewart, and H.J. Chizeck, "Advanced telerobotic underwater manipulation using virtual fixtures and haptic rendering," Proc., Oceans, 23-27 September, San Diego, 8 pp (IEEE, 2013).

23 Sep 2013, Link

Joslin, J., E. Celkis, C. Roper, A. Stewart, and B. Polagye, "Development of an adaptable monitoring package for marine renewable energy," Proc., Oceans, 23-27 September, San Diego, 8 pp (IEEE, 2013).

23 Sep 2013, Link

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