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UNH Receives $3M Gift to Expand Marine Research and Opportunities for Undergraduates
DURHAM, N.H. – Thanks to a $3 million gift from an anonymous alumnus, the University of New Hampshire will be able to expand its work in ocean exploration with the construction of a new wing at the Chase Engineering Laboratory to support a recently created bachelor’s degree in ocean engineering and faculty research.
UNH is the only university in northern New England, public or private, with an undergraduate degree offering in ocean engineering — and one of only a very few around the country. That means even more UNH students every year will be able to learn through real-time, hands-on experiences in state-of-the-art facilities, in a program with strong ties to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) and private partners.
In addition to the undergraduate experiences the new wing will make possible, it also means UNH is preparing the next generation of leaders in coastal, marine and other ocean science fields — a vast area of employment that is expected to see a nearly 20 percent growth in just the next five years, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
“Our students are in a unique environment to create exciting employment opportunities for themselves, and make an impact in confronting challenges we face including rising sea levels, building sustainable infrastructure and exploring ocean generated alternative energies,” said Charles Zercher, interim dean of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, which hosts the ocean engineering undergraduate degree. “We are grateful for this generous gift and what it will make possible for our students.”
The School of Marine Sciences and Ocean Engineering, founded in 2013, allows students and faculty to engage in innovative research across a broad platform of marine and ocean studies, through both lab and field experiences. The building expansion will include four research labs, an instrumentation lab, a machine shop and a computer cluster room for students. It will also house a 90-seat lecture hall, a seminar classroom and a large covered outdoor workspace. Work is currently underway, with the new features set to open in the fall.
The new research labs will provide space for UNH’s four identified areas of academic study and research within ocean engineering: ocean structures, coastal sediments, ocean acoustics and marine robotics.
The additions will join an already impressive list of facilities at the Chase Laboratory: a wave/tow tank with a hydraulic wave generator, an engineering tank and a high-speed cavitation tunnel used in hydrodynamics. The original lab, built in 1994 thanks to the generous donation of Jere A. Chase, houses the Ocean Engineering Center, the Marine Program and is the headquarters for the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping (CCOM) and the Joint Hydrographic Center. Resident faculty use the lab to conduct research in ocean engineering, ocean mapping, ocean acoustics, hydrogeology and hydrographic surveying.
“The Jere A. Chase Ocean Engineering Laboratory has a proud history of providing a laboratory space for established and emerging ocean engineers and scientists. This generous gift will enhance that legacy with new labs, technology enhanced classrooms, and computer clusters for future generations of students. But it’s even more than that,” said Diane Foster, professor of mechanical and ocean engineering. “This investment in UNH will also provide critical laboratory space for research groups who are addressing critical questions and designing future solutions involving ocean exploration.”
While the donor chose to make his gift anonymously, he shared his thoughts on why he supports UNH in this way: “The new Chase Laboratory Ocean Engineering Wing will provide much needed space and afford many more students the opportunity to work with the outstanding engineering faculty that UNH has assembled for this important effort."
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