Cabled Array in the Classroom

Sea-Going Research and Discovery

Undergraduate students from the University of Washington, University of Puerto Rico, and Queens College, New York gather for a last goodbye at the end of the UW-OOI-NSF cruise RR1713, Leg 1 of the Regional Cabled Array Operations and Maintenance Expedition.

For two decades, the University of Washington has been actively engaging students in the at-sea experiential learning program ‘VISIONS’. Since 2010, over 160 undergraduate and graduate have participated in this uniquely interdisciplinary, hands-on at-sea course that provides training in research related to many important oceanographic processes operating within the Northeast Pacific ocean and on the seafloor. The oceanographic expeditions are an important component of the National Science Foundations’ Ocean Observatories Initiative Regional Cabled Array (RCA) operations and maintenance cruises using the global class research ships the R/V Thompson (UW), the R/V Revelle (SIO), and the R/V Atlantis (WHOI). All cruises utilize state-of-the-art underwater robotic vehicles (ROV) that allow students to directly witness some of the most extreme environments on Earth. Their fascination and enthusiasm for this region of hydrothermal activity, underwater volcanoes, methane seeps, methane ice deposits, and exotic life forms has continually inspired them to find ways to share their explorations and discoveries during research expeditions with audiences around the world.

UW undergraduates Katie Gonzalez, Bing Yu Lee, and Eve Hudson fill cylinders on the RAS-PPS to prepare it for transport. Credit:  M. Elend, University of Washington, V18

During ~10 day to >5 week durations at sea, the students work alongside experienced scientists, engineers, the ROV team, and the ship’s crew to gain at-sea and research experience using advanced oceanographic research instruments. Students conduct their own research using data collected with some of these tools and data streamed live at the speed of light from 150 RCA instruments directly connected to the Internet on shore.

Due to COVID-19, only two students will participate on the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) Cabled Array Operations and Maintenance cruise aboard the UW research ship the R/V Thompson, which will host the ROV Jason. The cruise will be from July  30 to August 1 and will include a team of scientists from the College of the Environment – School of Oceanography and engineers from the Applied Physcis Laboratory.

Visit the Expeditions link on this website for past cruises in which students have participated.