Department of Ocean Engineering

Current Goals and Objectives, Focus, and Priorities

The world's oceans hold the key to the origin and continuity of life on our blue planet. The ocean covers more than 70 percent of the earth's surface and extends to depths of 10,000 meters. Ocean engineering plays a pivotal role in man's understanding of his world, global climate, commerce, national security and more. MIT's Department of Ocean Engineering (OE) is, and must be, at the forefront of these areas.

Ocean exploration is critical to understand our world. Mankind has limited knowledge of ocean physics, chemistry, and biology in the shallow ocean (upper 1,000 meters). Little is known, however, about the remainder of the ocean. Some general knowledge of deep-ocean biology is known from a few studies of deep marine life, but details of the deep-ocean food web, resources, and properties are unknown.

The role of the ocean in global climate is enormous. The oceans form the largest reservoir on earth for holding dissolved greenhouse gasses. We are just beginning to understand how to measure the ocean to predict effects on global climate—for example, the climatic effects of El Niño.

Improved ocean technology leads to increased capabilities and efficiencies for commerce and national security. There are vast resources in and under the ocean, with subsea oil and gas among the best known. The largest tonnage of products and materials that is transported on earth is moved over the ocean. There is a real need for faster, more fuel-efficient ships and more economical and rapid shipping systems.

The oceans play a major role in defense. Naval ships must operate in both the littoral and blue waters of the oceans. Security issues are important in littoral waters of the United States, where there is a need to monitor, identify, and respond to threats and emergencies. Designing and improving naval vessels and systems will help assure international freedom and security.

We see the Ocean Engineering Department's leadership in complex marine systems as enabling society to better shepherd the world's oceans.

This is a truly challenging engineering task, since it involves exploring and using the ocean and harnessing its resources in such a way that international stability, security and prosperity are attained without jeopardizing the future health of our planet.

The mission of the Department of Ocean Engineering is:

Consistent with this mission and responding to the "Ocean Challenges and Opportunities" as outlined in the new 2003 Ocean Engineering Strategic Plan, the revitalized department will focus its efforts on the following five specific thrust areas:

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Discover Ocean Engineering

For the fifth year, we offered Discover Ocean Engineering: A Special Introduction to MIT to the incoming freshman class. This innovative program was set up in 1998 as a four-day program to provide a first glimpse of what engineering is all about. It also allows the students to become familiar with some of the opportunities that the field of ocean engineering has to offer. In addition, they get a jump-start on becoming involved in campus life and building a close relationship between the students and our faculty and staff. As in the past, the agenda consisted of hands-on experience building small, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), testing them in the MIT pool, and using them to explore Boston Harbor. This preorientation program remains extremely popular among students. It has inspired "Discover" ongoing programs in other departments, spearheaded by Discover Ocean Engineering alumna.

T. Francis Ogilvie Young Investigator Lectureship in Ocean Engineering

In October 2002, Dr. John M. Castano presented the 8th annual T. Francis Ogilvie Young Investigator Lecture. The lecture on "Synergistic Hydrodynamic Drag Reduction" described a series of tests that combined two well-known turbulent skin friction drag reducing techniques to determine the feasibility of generating enhanced levels of drag reduction over a flat plate. Dr. Castano is senior hydrodynamicist in the Hydrodynamics Branch of the Weapons Technology and Undersea Systems Department at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division, Newport.

Robert Bruce Wallace Prize

The winner of the 2003 Wallace Prize, awarded to an outstanding undergraduate in the Department of Ocean Engineering, was Johanna Mathieu. Johanna was selected from a list of extremely qualified candidates and will be provided a full academic year of tuition and a stipend for FY2004.

Robert Bruce Wallace Lecture

The 17th Wallace Lecture on "Predictability and Uncertainty in Large-Scale Simulations" was presented in March 2003 by George Em Karniadakis, professor of applied mathematics at Brown University.

Martin A. Abkowitz International Fellowship Program

The following individuals were awarded the Martin A. Abkowitz International Fellowship: Dr. Franz Hover for his participation in a conference in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia, held this past December 2002, where he presented a paper and reported on some of his work in the Testing Tank; and travel for two students (Steven Licht and Karl McLetchie) to attend the 2nd International Symposium on Aqua Bio-Mechanisms in Honolulu in September 2003 with Professor Michael Triantafyllou.

Ship Design and Shipbuilding Technology Symposium

On May 8 and 9, 2003, the Department of Ocean Engineering hosted the Ship Design and Shipbuilding Technology Symposium, part of a series of symposia and workshops established in 1986, at the MIT Faculty Club. This symposium is held to establish and maintain positive communication with industry and US Navy laboratories and programs on research and education issues relevant to the Naval Construction and Engineering curriculum. Following an introduction by the faculty supervisor, the Naval Construction and Engineering Program (13-A) graduate students presented their theses and design projects, which as always were very well received. Rear Admiral Jay Cohen, chief of Naval Research, was the featured dinner speaker on May 8. Over 100 people from academia, industry, and the government attended this annual event.

Alumni Reunion

The 23nd annual Ocean Engineering reunion was held at the Westin Copley Hotel in Boston in September 2002. The reunion is traditionally held in conjunction with the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME) Annual Meeting. The 2002 reception was hosted by Professor Henry Marcus and was well attended by alumni, faculty, and guests. This year, Ocean Engineering students were directly involved in the planning and preparation of the student program for the three-day meeting and hosted a reception at MIT for student members of SNAME, who came from around the world to attended.

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Administrative Initiatives

Professor Chryssostomos Chryssostomidis stepped down as department head effective September 1, 2002, and Professor Henrik Schmidt agreed to assume the position of acting department head effective the same date. Our administrative officer, Helen L. Broderick, left the department in August 2002, and Carolyn H. Brooke assumed the position of acting administrative officer in the following month.

Ocean Engineering Review Committee

With the department head stepping down, the dean of Engineering decided to take the opportunity of performing a thorough review of the department and its degree programs.

A committee made up of three OE faculty members (McCord, Triantafyllou, and Schmidt), plus Tony Patera (ME), Amedeo Odoni (Aero/Astro), and Steve Lerman (CEE), and chaired by Al Oppenheim (EECS), was established in September 2002; it presented a preliminary report of its findings to the 2003 Visiting Committee. A set of recommendations was presented to the administration in June 2003 regarding the conditions for Ocean Engineering to remain a strong program at MIT—either as an independent department or as a component of a new department resulting from a merger with another unit. No specific merger was recommended, but instead the committee concluded that any merger the administration feels should be pursued should be anticipated by further investigation by a separate committee identifying the intellectual synergies and the associated risks of such a merger. The committee was unanimous, however, in reaffirming the importance of MIT's Ocean Engineering to the Institute and the nation and the need to maintain a strong Ocean Engineering identity and degree program at the Institute.

Strategic Planning

Following a faculty retreat in December 2002, the acting department head appointed an ad hoc committee charged with leading the development of a new strategic plan for the department. The committee consisted of Professors Chip McCord (chair), Nick Makris, Jerry Milgram, and David Burke.

With input of the faculty through interviews, the 2003 Visiting Committee, faculty meetings, and a full-day retreat, a new strategic plan will be drafted during the summer of 2003. Following the development of new department vision and mission statements, the Strategic Planning Committee identified the major challenges and opportunities facing Ocean Engineering and defined the five main thrust areas that the department plans to pursue over the next decade, as stated above, led by the development of a new educational infrastructure for educating the ocean engineers of the future and followed by four research thrust areas, representing contributions that the MIT Ocean Engineering Department is uniquely placed to lead, including Advanced Naval Architecture and Autonomous Marine Systems. At a May retreat, the faculty developed unanimous consensus around the thrusts and initiated the development of the plans of action and milestones for each thrust, which are key components of the Ocean Engineering Strategic Plan that will be presented to the administration in August 2003.

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Future Plans

Professor Henry S. Marcus requested and was granted a sabbatical for academic year 2004. His plan is to spend his sabbatical leave at the University of Hawaii.

Professor Jerome Milgram requested and was granted sabbatical for the spring 2004 semester. He plans to use his sabbatical leave to focus on his research project, Dynamics of AUV's in Shallow Water in Waves, after he completes his recovery following major back surgery in spring 2003.

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Personnel Information

Captain David Herbein, USN, was appointed professor of the practice and head of the Naval Construction and Engineering Program (13-A) in June, replacing Captain Raymond S. McCord, USN (ret.). Commander Timothy McCoy, USN, was appointed associate professor of the practice and assistant head of the program in May 2003 to replace Commander John Amy, USN, who will terminate in August 2003.

Professor John V. Amy served as a proposal review panelist for the NSF's program, Electric Power Network Efficiency and Security. He also served as a proposal review panelist for the Office of Naval Research program, National Naval Responsibility for Naval Engineering.

Ford professor Arthur Baggeroer completed his sabbatical leave during the spring 2003 term. At the spring meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, he was awarded the prestigious Helmholtz-Rayleigh Interdisciplinary Medal for his contributions to acoustic signal processing. He continues to serve on the Ocean Studies Board and the Naval Studies Board. He was a member of the National Research Council panels, "Impact of Environmental Information on Naval Warfare" and "Implementation of Seafloor Observatories." Professor Baggeroer also continues to be in great demand for providing his expertise to high-level navy advisory panels, such as the CNO Team A Task Force on ASW.

Dr. David Burke acted as department communications and DSpace coordinator.

Professor Chryssostomidis continues as director of the MIT Sea Grant College Program. He is also chief scientist for the National Naval Engineering Research and Education Consortium.

Professor John Leonard was promoted to associate professor with tenure effective July 1, 2003.

Professor Nicholas C. Makris was promoted to associate professor with tenure effective July 1, 2003. He organized a research cruise for the Geoclutter Acoustics Experiment in April 2003.

Professor Hank Marcus was cochairman of the Technical Committee for the World Maritime Technology Conference 2003 (sponsored by SNAME), presented a paper on "The Role of Competitive Strategies and the Charter Market in the International Liner Industry" at the MIT/Marsoft Conference on Investment and Risk Management, August 2002, and published "Increasing the Size of the Effective United States Control Fleet" with Steven Torok, Timothy Glinatsis, Parker Larson, and Philip Loree, MIT, August 2002.

Professors Raymond S. McCord and John Amy organized and successfully conducted seven short courses over a nine-week period for the Professional Summer Program in order to meet unique navy educational needs that cannot be met on-campus during the regular academic year.

Professor Jerome Milgram continues a major experimental program dealing with the forces on autonomous underwater vehicles in shallow waters with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI). This is in response to the navy's increased interest in operations in the littoral zone.

Professor Nicholas Patrikalakis continues as the Kawasaki professor of engineering.

Professor Henrik Schmidt continues as acting department head until a final decision is made regarding the future of the Ocean Engineering Department. Professor Schmidt is a member of the Dynamics of Earth and Ocean Systems Committee, advising the National Science Foundation on the implementation of a new major research equipment initiative, which beginning in FY2006 will deploy a $230 million ocean observation infrastructure for use by the oceanographic and geophysical science communities.

Professor Paul Sclavounos published "Nonlinear Three-Dimensional Solitary Waves Generated by High-Speed Vessels Advancing in Shallow Waters."

Professor Alexandra Techet was presented the Henry L. and Grace Doherty professorship of ocean utilization in July 2002. This is a two-year professorship providing an annual budget of $25,000.

Professor Michael Triantafyllou served on the Ocean Engineering Review Committee.

Professor Kim Vandiver continues with his fourth year as the dean for undergraduate research. This includes being director of the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) and director of the Edgerton Center, as well as the codirector of the Office of Academic Services.

Professor Tomasz Wierzbicki was on sabbatical for academic year 2003.

Professor Dick Yue continues his service to the Institute as associate dean of engineering with special responsibility for educational programs in the School of Engineering and the Institute.

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Student Awards

Julie Chalfant, Benjamin Connell, Justin Harper, Parker Larson, Steven Licht, Anna Michel, Mark Rapo, and Saul Rosser have been awarded or continued to receive the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship that provides three years of funding toward tuition, a stipend, and fees.

Melissa Harness received the SNAME Graduate Award FY2003, with an award of $8,000.

The following students received scholarships from SNAME: Kwang Lee ($7,500), Jason Dahl ($3,500), and Daniel Sura ($2,000).

Presidential Fellowships were provided to Stephen Geiger (fall) and Jessica Donnelly (fall and spring). These fellowships are awarded by the Institute and provide one-year funding toward tuition and a stipend.

The American Bureau of Shipping Fellowship was awarded to Richard Allen Smith, a Webb Institute graduate student in the Ocean Systems Management (13-B) Program.

Xiaoxia Dong received the Chyn Duog Shiah Memorial Fellowship from the MIT Graduate Student Office, with full tuition and a stipend, fall 2002/spring 2003.

Meghan Hendry-Brogan received $5,000 for the Alfred Keil Fellowship for the Wiser Uses of Science and Technology.

Jennifer Watson received the Lincoln Lab Fellowship with full tuition and stipend.

Iason Chatzakis and George Dikos received Fulbright Scholarships.

Johanna L. Mathieu and Karl-Magnus McLechie received ROV Scholarships from the Marine Technology Society (MTS).

George Dikos received the Onasses Fellowship and the Eugenites Fellowship.

The MIT student section of Arine Technology Society (MTS), under 13SEAs,was awarded "student section of the year." Anna Michel also won the MTS scholarship. Both awards will be presented at the OCEANS 2003 Conference in September.

Katie Wasserman and Johanna Mathieu were both recipients of a Dean Horne Award this year. The awards were presented at the June 2003 reception to honor Ocean Engineering graduates. Katie Wasserman and other Ocean Engineering students also received funding from Microsoft to create the iQuarium, whereby visitors to MIT will be able to gaze at—and even manipulate—displays of fish that swim alongside the pedestrians in the Infinite Corridor.

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Teaching and Curriculum

As a result of the findings of the Ocean Engineering Review Committee and as a spin-off of the strategic planning exercise, the department's Undergraduate Committee, chaired by Professor Patrikalakis, investigated the feasibility of replacing the current Ocean Engineering major by a jointly taught undergraduate track in another department—specifically Mechanical Engineering—similar to the 2-A track in Biomechanical Engineering. The committee presented its findings to the Faculty, who subsequently incorporated it into the 2003 Strategic Plan as described elsewhere. It was found that not only was such a joint undergraduate degree in "ocean and mechanical engineering" feasible, it would also lead to a significant increase in the number of students studying ocean issues as part of their MIT undergraduate experience; this would increase class sizes and thus OE faculty participation in undergraduate teaching at the Institute. It would give the students a "mainstream" ME degree in addition to their OE degree, thus overcoming the common misperception of Ocean Engineering as a "narrow" discipline. As stated repeatedly by the industry members of our Visiting Committee, this is truly a misperception; jobs are waiting for the kind of students we are educating. Also, such a joint interdepartmental degree could serve as a model for similar arrangements between large departments with many undergraduates as well as small, predominantly graduate departments.

Professor Milgram taught 13.024 Numerical Marine Hydrodynamics and revised the curriculum. He added more aspects of numerical hydrodynamics, particularly numerical integration of the boundary layer equations. At the request of the 13-A Program, he changed the programming in the subject from Fortran90 to MATLAB.

Dr. Franz Hover taught 13.017/018 Design of Ocean Systems 1 and 2 with Tom Consi this year. Teaching of 13.017/018 was based, as in previous years, on a single focusing challenge; this year, the students were charged with developing a model SWATH (small waterplane twin-hull) vessel and collecting data relating to response in waves and pitch instability. Doctors Hover and Consi felt that this was a beneficial departure from the underwater vehicle efforts of the past and allowed them to address some of the fundamental elements of naval architecture.

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Current Research Projects


Free Surface Hydrodynamics of High-Speed Vessels (Sclavounos)

This research proposed the development of analytical and computational methods for the study of the hydrodynamic performance of high-speed vessels in calm water and in waves.

Computation of Wave Impact and Green Water Loads on Ships (Yue)

This research is in conjunction with a statement of work for the Office of Naval Research (ONR) S&T Wave Load Program proposed by Dr. Woei-Min Lin of Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). The objective of the combined two-year effort is to develop an effective and practical model for reconstruction of nonlinear incident irregular wavy e-fields based on wave-probe data or wave-energy spectra and to incorporate the model into the SAIC Large Amplitude Motions Program for nonlinear ship motion predictions.

The Numerical Simulation of Breaking Waves and Spray (Yue)

This is a three-year joint program between MIT and SAIC to obtain scientific understanding, and develop complementary numerical capabilities to simulate the breaking of waves, the formation of spraysheets and droplets, and the resulting entrainment of air around a ship.

Mechanistic Investigation of Small-Scale Coupled Air-Sea Dynamics (Yue)

This program aims to develop direct-numerical simulation (DNS) and large-eddy simulation (LES) capabilities for mechanistic modeling of small-scale coupled air-sea dynamics and to understand the detailed mechanisms of air-sea coupling by performing LES of turbulent flows in both the air and ocean with coupled free-surface boundary conditions.

Deterministic Modeling of Water Entry and Drop of Mine-Shaped Bodies (Yue, Kim, Liu)

Deterministic Modeling of Water Entry and Drop of Mine-Shaped Bodies: An Essential Development for Stochastic Modeling is a project for the prediction of water-entry impact and motion dynamics of underwater mines.

Advanced Technologies for Autonomous Unmanned Surface Vessel Operation in Rough Seas (Yue, Liu)

This proposal describes the detailed tasks of the second phase of the seeding project on advanced technologies for autonomous unmanned surface vessel operation in rough seas. The research will be supported by ONR, with the funding provided by the federal Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Mechanics of Flow-Structure Interactions for Marine Cables (Triantafyllou)

A three-year theoretical and experimental effort is proposed to study the basic mechanisms governing the problem of flow-structure interaction of marine cables in shear flow. The experimental effort includes development of a forced cylinder apparatus with closed loop control, which will allow simultaneous computer simulation and experimental data gathering.

Flow Visualization Apparatus for Flow-induced Vibration at High Reynolds Number (Triantafyllou, Techet, Hover)

Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) funds have been requested for a force-measuring and flow visualization apparatus to be used for flow-induced vibrations of bluff and streamlined bodies and unsteady motion of foils at a high Reynolds number of at least 500,000, based on diameter or chord. The system will be specially designed and mounted on the MIT Propeller Tunnel.

Maneuvering Performance of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (Hover)

This four-year effort will create high-fidelity models of Bluefin Robotics Corporation's BPAUV/Odyssey III autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), integrating experimental data and theoretical predictions into a comprehensive simulation tool. We will develop high-performance flight controllers for the vehicles in their various configurations. The focus will be on linear control techniques, but we will also consider several highly nonlinear maneuvering scenarios. The proposed work includes substantial participation in field experiments with the vehicles, as well as assistance in formulating test procedures and developing improved vehicle designs.

Structures and Fabrication

Joint MIT/Industry Ultralight Consortium (Wierzbicki)

Over the last five years, research efforts have been intensified in the automobile industry to develop a lightweight car that is fuel efficient, environmentally friendly, safe, and inexpensive. The innovative feature of this MIT research is to integrate ultralight aluminum honeycombs or foam cores with a thin skin in profiles or various sandwich constructions.

Harvard University MURI Project (Wierzbicki)

The main objective of the proposed research program is to get an in-depth understanding of the mechanics of deformation and tearing of metal structures subjected to a contact or stand-off explosion. Based on this knowledge, an optimization process will be promoted and several innovative design concepts of hull protective structures will be put forward for immediate verification and implementation by the US Navy.

Instron 8803 VHS Dynamic Test System for Studying Fracture Due to Explosive and Impact Loads (Wierzbicki)

Research is to expand the ICL lab's experimental base and to purchase unique equipment for testing materials and structures at high strain rates. This VHL system covers a wide range of strain rates up to 10 to the 3rd 1/sec and, in some loading configurations, an order of magnitude higher. The equipment can also be used for testing both materials and structures. A unique feature of the new system is that it will work parallel with our new custom design-and-build equipment for biaxial testing of materials.


Hydrodynamic Model for the Remus Vehicle (Milgram)

This ONR proposal is to develop a computational model for Remote Environmental Monitoring Unit System (REMUS) motions under differing control commands through a range of vehicle depths and wave forces. MIT's proposal to WHOI is to extend the mathematical modeling of underwater vehicles—and the REMUS Class vehicle in particular. This research will include the results of tank testing, comparison of the tank test results with the open water test results, and development of an integrated mathematical model.


Real-Time Feature-Relative Navigation and Obstacle Avoidance Using Wide-Beam Sonar (Leonard)

This research addresses the following two questions: (1) How can highly maneuverable AUVs use sonar for obstacle avoidance and feature relative navigation? and (2) How can high maneuverability be exploited to develop new methods for mapping underwater scenes and for detecting and localizing objects?

Multistatic Active Acoustics of Ocean Waveguides (Schmidt)

Professor Henrik Schmidt's research on the multistatic active acoustics project is to develop fundamental understanding of the acoustic environment of the seabed and to develop new numerical models of the 3-D scattering by seabed objects, such as mines and hazardous waste containers, on and below the seabed in shallow water. Closely tied to the Multistatic Acoustics effort is the Generic Ocean Array Technology Sonars (GOATS), a new system concept for acoustic observations in the ocean environment that replaces the traditional hard-wired hydrophone arrays. This is done by a virtual array of small underwater vehicles, each equipped with a small aperture array and linked together by high-bandwidth acoustic or optical links. GOATS is envisioned as the enabling technology that—with the new 3-D modeling capabilities—can be synergized into an entirely new sonar concept for mine countermeasures and undersea warfare in shallow water. This ONR project is conducted in close collaboration with the Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic (SACLANT) Undersea Research Centre in La Spezia, Italy.

Shallow Water MCM AND ASW using Off-Board, Autonomous Sensor Networks and Multistatic, Time-Reversal Acoustics (Schmidt)

This is a new project carried out jointly with Scripps and SACLANT Antisubmarine Warfare Research Center under a new ONR initiative, for which Professor Schmidt is chief scientist. This initiative is closely related to GOATS, aimed at developing multiplatform sonar concepts for seabed mapping and target detection.

Adaptive Rapid Environmental Assessment (Schmidt)

The objective of the MIT component in Adaptive Rapid Environmental Assessment (AREA) is to develop robust and reliable, high-resolution navigation concepts, high-resolution acoustic tomography approaches, and optimal, adaptive sampling strategies for collection of oceanographic and geological data by AUVs operating in a large-aperture sampling network.

AUV for Bistatic Sonar Concept Development (Schmidt)

DURIP funds were granted in 2002 by ONR for purchasing an Odyssey III AUV from Bluefin Robotics. This vehicle supplements the existing Odyssey III, purchased earlier through another DURIP grant (Leonard), to enable joint research between the Marine Robotics group (Leonard), and the Acoustics group (Schmidt) to develop new multiplatform, environmentally adaptive sonar technology for autonomous ocean observation systems.

NPAL Acoustic Noise Field Coherence and Broadband Full Field Processing (Baggeroer)

There is relatively little known about the very low frequency vertical structure of ambient noise. In this experiment, we are using the four 700-m and one 1,400-m vertical array instruments to resolve the vertical structure in the 0–20 Hz spectral band. The dominant contributions found have been from whales and spectral lines of shipping. Seasonal dependences on both components are present.

Adaptive Array Processing in Stochastic and Snapshot-Limited Environment (Baggeroer)

Most adaptive array processing algorithms use the spectral density covariance matrix, which must be measured in any application. The paradox is that the more sensors there are in the array, the more "snapshots" are required to estimate this matrix, so one can reach a point where additional sensors actually degrade performance. In addition, most algorithms treat the desired signal with a single degree of freedom representation, whereas the ocean imparts a stochastic aspect to it. This research focuses upon mitigating the snapshot-limit problem and designing novel methods that treat the stochastic aspect of the signal.

Matched Field Processing for Active and Passive Sonars (Baggeroer, Schmidt)

This project is part of the ONR series of funded monographs documenting the state of the art in several fields of ocean acoustics. Professors Baggeroer and Schmidt (MIT), Professor Kuperman (Scripps Institute of Oceanography), and Dr. Mikhalevsky (Science Applications International) are the coauthors of a forthcoming monograph on matched field processing.

Professors Baggeroer and Schmidt pioneered the development of matched field processing (MFP) in the late 1980s. MFP is a physics-based signal-processing approach that incorporates the substantial information contained in the multipath structure of the acoustic field in the ocean waveguide into the processing, rather than considering it noise as was common in conventional sonar processing. Thus it was demonstrated that this approach could be used, for example, to estimate the range source using an acoustic array, not just the classical bearing estimate provided by towed sonar arrays. The concept was rapidly developed in the 1990s and is now being transitioned into the operational navy. Baggeroer and Schmidt have been tasked by ONR, together with colleagues at Scripps and SAIC, to put together a monograph on MFP, to be completed and published in 2004.

Identifying the Causes of Geological Clutter in Continental Shallow Waters, Phase I: The Geological Clutter Acoustic Reconnaissance Experiment (Makris)

The ONR Geoclutter Program, for which Professor Makris is the chief scientist, is an interdisciplinary, multi-institutional, experimental/theoretical program that will extend for five years or more and cost upward of $20 million. The purpose of this program is to determine the causes of environmental clutter in the navy's long-range active sonar systems. Clutter is the primary problem in active sonar operations in continental shelf environments. Two major offshore field experiments were conducted in 2001 and 2003. The dominant cause of the clutter, as recently found in the 2003 experiment, is from highly concentrated fish schools. The program has essentially developed a new technology for rapidly imaging and making movies of large underwater fish schools over tens of kilometers in near-real time. This technology may become important in monitoring fish abundance, behavior, and response to environmental conditions in the US continental shelf environments that are rapidly being depleted of fish stock.

ONR Graduate Traineeship Award in Ocean Acoustics for Ms Deanelle Symonds (Makris)

Each year, ONR funds only one or two Graduate Traineeships in Ocean Acoustics nationally. Only the most promising young students are selected. Ms. Symonds was an MIT OE undergraduate. Her research involves correlation of long-range acoustic imaging data with local measurements of fish school concentration acquired during a major offshore field experiment in which she took part.

ONR Postdoctoral Fellowship Award in Ocean Acoustics for Dr. Purnima Ratilal (Makris)

Each year ONR funds only one or two Postdoctoral Fellowships in Ocean Acoustics nationally. Only the most promising young graduates receive this award. The purpose of this funding is to allow Dr. Ratilal to develop her skills in the area of ocean acoustics. Under this funding, Dr. Ratilal codesigned and directed the final major offshore field experiment of the ONR Geoclutter Program and has developed a number of fundamental new theoretical results for propagation and scattering in a random medium and imaging in a waveguide. She is currently writing a paper for Nature on the newly developed technology for rapidly imaging fish schools over wide areas in near-real time.

Other Research

Professor John Leonard is undertaking a research program for the ONR as part of its new Autonomous Operations Future Naval Capabilities initiative. In this work, he is part of a team led by Bluefin Robotics, an MIT spin-off company devoted to the commercialization of Odyssey AUV technology. The goal of this four-year effort, which commenced in the summer of 2002, is to demonstrate rapid undersea search and survey over large areas using heterogeneous networks of AUVs. This is a vital capability for future national defense. MIT's role in this project is to create a sensor data fusion architecture for multiple AUV navigation, based on a novel formulation of cooperative simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) by multiple autonomous vehicles.

The Ocean Engineering faculty continues to have strong ties to the Sea Grant College Program. Several faculty members conduct research involving students and staff in the department, with the cost center being Sea Grant.

Professor Nicholas Patrikalakis continued with his Solid Freeform Fabrication (SFF) research, a major NSF and ONR project that has as its objective the development of a generalized solid modeling method for SFF, providing support for design, representation, visualization, and manufacture of solids with local composition control (LCC), which is not possible in today's CAD/CAM systems. In the CAD area, Professor Patrikalakis works on two additional NSF–funded projects. The first relates to the intrinsic watermarking of solid bounded by sculptured surfaces, thereby providing a method for object identification and ownership protection in an electronic environment. The second project relates to robust intersection algorithms and rectification of CAD models to allow their correct interpretation during translation from one CAD system to another. In addition, Professor Patrikalakis—based on early work on his NOAA–funded project, Poseidon: A Coastal Zone Management System over the World Wide Web—initiated research on a new major NSF/ITR project, also under the name Poseidon, for rapid real-time interdisciplinary ocean forecasting in a distributed computing environment, focusing on adaptive sampling and adaptive modeling aspects of the problem.

Professor Michael Triantafyllou, among several other projects, has completed the first period of research funded by Sea Grant and partially by Naval Sea Systems Command, on the development of a biomimetic underwater vehicle capable of "swimming" in strong currents and large waves, thanks to fishlike flapping fins. A fin-based actuator has been designed and constructed that produces large forces rapidly. This is the first of several such fins that are needed for the vehicle, which will have many uses for oceanographic, reconnaissance, and archeological work underwater.

Professor Chrys Chryssostomidis carries out all his research under the MIT Sea Grant. He is the principal investigator for the MIT–led National Naval Engineering Research and Education Consortium, funded as one of the three National Naval Responsibilities Initiatives. Other department Faculty and staff involved in this program are David Burke, Thomaz Wierzbicki, Michael Triantafyllou, and Dick Yue.

Professor Nicholas Makris is conducting a research program through Sea Grant, jointly with Professor Kerry Emanual of the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, with the objective of using remote acoustic sensing for classification of hurricanes. The purpose of this program is to determine whether ocean acoustic sensors can determine the destructive power of a hurricane more accurately than current satellite-based techniques. The satellite-based techniques are often in error and can lead to faulty predictions that may cause loss of life and property. The effort involves theoretical modeling, analysis of NOAA field data from Hurricane Bonnie, and laboratory measurements in a hurricane simulator tank created with MIT Edgerly funds. The current analysis of field data indicates that the acoustic measurements can be significantly more accurate than those of satellite-based techniques. The results are in preparation for submission to Science.

Henrik Schmidt
Acting Department Head
Professor of Ocean Engineering

More information about the Department of Ocean Engineering can be found on the web at


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