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 nearly a decade, the University of Washington has been actively engaging students in the at-sea experiential learning program ‘VISIONS’. Since 2010, over 150 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 in 2019, 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 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 >140 RCA instruments directly connected to the Internet on shore. This summer the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) Cabled Array VISIONS’19 cruise will be aboard the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution research ship the  R/V Atlantis (hosting the deep-diving submersible Alvin), and will include the ROV Jason. The cruise will be from May 29 to July 6th and will include a team of scientists from the College of the Environment – School of Oceanography, engineers from the Applied Physcis Laboratory, and professors from Grays Harbor College. Over 20 graduate and undergraduate students will participate on this cruise.

Visit the Expeditions link on this website for past cruises in which students have participated. During the VISIONS’19 Expedition, 19 undergraduate and graduate students will participate in this experiential learning program.