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On the map

Ocean mapping master's program achieves international recognition

Teaching and Learning

By Kim Thornhill

The Marine Institute has become a member of an elite group.

Two young men in safety gear handle equipment on the side of a boat at sea.
Two Marine Institute ocean mapping students at work at sea.
Photo: Submitted

The institute’s School of Ocean Technology’s Master of Applied Ocean Technology (Ocean Mapping) Program has received the prestigious S-5 category A recognition for hydrographic surveyors from the International Board on Standards of Competence for Hydrographic Surveyors and Nautical Cartographers (IBSC).

Only a handful of category A hydrography master’s degrees are offered worldwide, including those in Germany, Italy, the U.K. and the U.S.

The IBSC global recognition program is a joint initiative of the International Federation of Surveyors, the International Hydrographic Organization and the International Cartographic Association to promote, develop and maintain global standards for hydrographic surveyors and nautical cartographers.

The degree becomes Canada’s first graduate-level program to achieve the certification and is the highest level of international recognition the IBSC can award, making it attractive to prospective students and employers worldwide.

“This recognition demonstrates to the international hydrography industry that we are delivering a relevant and progressive ocean mapping curriculum with exceptional teaching from our faculty,” said Joe Singleton, head, School of Ocean Technology.

Quality programming

The master’s degree focuses on refining an ocean mapper’s technological competency to manage ocean data and develop real-world solutions for the sustainability of our oceans. The program is for students looking to attain a higher level of credential with opportunities to gain extensive knowledge and skills.

In category A recognized programs, students participate in courses ranging from geology and oceanology to survey operations and data management. A complex multidisciplinary field project is also required, including a demonstration of analytical reasoning, decision-making and solutions to non-routine problems. Project instruction must include a scenario from which students must develop survey specifications and plan a survey operation.

With appropriate experience, graduates can become senior professionals in the global hydrography field.

Highest standards

“I want to congratulate and thank our faculty and staff who led our IBSC submission,” said Dr. Paul Brett, vice-president, Memorial University (Marine Institute). “It was an intense and detailed effort to submit our program for evaluation and I’m very proud of their accomplishment and their dedication to growing our ocean mapping programs.”

Five white men of various ages stand in a group while two hold a framed certificate.
From left are Joe Singleton, Craig Bulger, Dr. Paul Brett, Dr. Sean Mullan and Paul Elliot.
Photo: Submitted

Graduate and undergraduate-level ocean mapping programs at the institute are now globally recognized. In 2016 the institute’s diploma of technology/bachelor of technology in ocean mapping degree attained the Canadian Technology Accreditation Board accreditation at the technologist level and IBSC recognition as a category B hydrographic surveyor program. Memorial University’s Marine Institute is the first post-secondary institute in Canada to offer both category A and category B ocean mapping programs.

Ocean mapping demand

The school’s faculty and staff hope its ocean mapping programs will attract and produce even more leading hydrographic surveyors and nautical cartographers.

“Right now, the Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project hopes to inspire the complete mapping of the ocean, which covers over 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface, by 2030. As of 2022, 23.4 per cent of the world’s ocean is now mapped,” said Mr. Singleton. “The Marine Institute is a partner in this project, so there is a lot of work to do in the next seven years. Our ocean mapping graduates will be well positioned to contribute to these types of initiatives with the highest calibre of education, experience and expertise.”

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