MIT Reports to the President 1998-99


The Joint Program of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers advanced degrees in oceanography and applied ocean science and engineering. Graduate study encompasses virtually all of the basic sciences as they apply to the marine environment: physics, chemistry, geology, geophysics, and biology. Students who choose applied ocean science and engineering may concentrate in the major fields (civil, environmental, mechanical, and electrical), materials science, or oceanographic engineering. More than 160 scientists/faculty from the two institutions participate in the Joint Program. There are currently 130 students enrolled in the five areas of study offered in the Program: biological , chemical, and physical oceanography; marine geology and geophysics, and oceanographic engineering.

Since all the MIT faculty involved in the Joint Program are members of an academic department, their individual accomplishments and awards are reported through those departments. These include Courses I, II, VI, VII, XII and XIII.

A Student Assistance Fund was created in order to provide financial assistance to Joint Program students towards certain incidental expenses such as travel and equipment purchases which is not available for one reason or other through the student's principal advisor. To date, more than thirteen individuals have received grants from this Fund.

In August, 1998 an external review of the Joint Program was conducted as a follow-up to the Internal Review which took place in 1994.

The members of the External Review Committee were charged with examination of the following topics: content and quality of the educational and research program; quality of teaching and advising contributing to the learning environment for the graduate students in the program; student support and student life issues, including climate for women and minorities; balance of support between the two institutions; organization of the overall program.

The committee concluded that in spite of the loss of key faculty members at MIT and increased competition among rival schools for the best candidates in oceanography, the MIT/WHOI Joint Program remains one of the two top programs in marine science in the world, and continues to attract the top candidates in the field. The more than 500 alumni and alumnae include many of the scientific leaders of oceanography.

A report is being prepared by the MIT Director and the Dean of Education at WHOI which addresses the issues and recommendations proposed by the External Review Committee.

The Joint Program celebrated its 30th Anniversary in September, 1998 with three days of meetings to discuss the current state of education in the marine sciences. Admiral James D. Watkins delivered the Keynote Address, "Changing Scene in Ocean Science and Engineering Education" followed by a symposium entitled "Ocean Science and Engineering Education: Meeting the Challenge."

More information about this Program can be found on the World Wide Web at

Paola Rizzoli, Ronni Schwartz

MIT Reports to the President 1998-99