Ocean industries account for twenty percent of the U.S. economy and support one in six jobs. Offshore oil and gas industries, telecommunications, underwater archaeology, underwater engineering and construction, shipping, port and harbor security, and ocean research all depend on ocean-related technologies. Recruiting highly-skilled technical professionals to support ocean activities is critical. Yet, despite the need for a well-prepared technical workforce, students and educators are not always aware of the ocean-related career opportunities because the educational pathways to these careers have not been well mapped out and promoted. There are only a handful of programs whose curricula are clearly aligned with relevant workforce needs, and even fewer articulated pathways that connect middle schools to high schools to community colleges and universities.
The Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center is a national partnership of community colleges, universities, high schools, employers, and working professionals whose mission is to enhance marine technical education and increase the number of skilled marine technology professionals. In this journal article, you’ll read about how MATE uses its workforce research to improve and develop marine technology-focused educational programs, including an international underwater robot competition that uses remotely-operated vehicles (ROVs) to help students improve their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills and prepare them for oceanrelated careers, and an ocean drifter project that helps community college and university partners develop curriculum and activities incorporating ocean observing and data collection technologies that are aligned with workforce needs.