Deep Frontiers: Ocean Engineering at MIT, a new exhibition at the MIT Museum's Hart Nautical Gallery (first floor of Building 5), showcases the vital role that MIT's Department of Ocean Engineering has played in uncovering the mysteries of the ocean.
Co-curated by Justin Manley (SB '96), the MIT Sea Grant Program and Kurt Hasselbalch, curator of the the Museum's Hart Nautical Collections, the exhibition focuses on the evolution and impact of leading-edge research and technology that has come out of Course XIII.
Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) developed by MIT ocean engineers are veritable celebrities in the world of underwater research. Deep Frontiers illustrates why aquatic robots like the Odyssey IIb AUVs have made such a name for themselves. An Odyssey AUV can operate in 90 percent of the ocean, may be deployed from almost any seaworthy vessel, and costs just a fraction of other deep diving vehicles.
Marine robotics research is increasingly important to industry and the ocean sciences. Deep Frontiers showcases the broad range of related ocean engineering research, from hydrodynamics to underwater communication and climate monitoring.
In addition to undersea craft, the exhibition explores the design and fabrication of ocean structures such as offshore platforms and supertankers. A section on the management of marine systems illustrates the complexity of balancing the needs of marine industries and ocean resources.
Deep Frontiers also chronicles the compelling history of Course XIII. In 1970, the department changed its name from the Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering to the Department of Ocean Engineering--a reflection of its evolution from the preeminent designers of surface craft to explorers of the entire ocean realm.
Deep Frontiers is a long-term installation and will evolve to reflect the latest research emerging from the department. Funding for this exhibition was provided by the Council for the Arts at MIT, John Lednicky (SB 1944), and the Department of Ocean Engineering.
MIT Museum's Hart Nautical Gallery celebrates its 75th anniversary with the installation of Deep Frontiers. The gallery is open daily except holidays from 9am-8pm. Admission is free.
A version of this article appeared in the April 7, 1999 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 43, Number 25).