May 25, 2019  

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19th Class of USM’s Master of Science in Hydrographic Science Program Honored in Graduation Ceremony

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Nine students earned their Master of Science in hydrographic science degree during a graduation ceremony held earlier this month. (Submitted photo)

The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) celebrated nine students in a graduation ceremony held Aug. 2 for their completion of the Master of Science in hydrographic science program.

“The opportunities in hydrographic science are endless,” said Max Van Norden, coordinator of the Hydrographic Science Master’s Degree Program. “Hydrographers are the most sought after professionals in the offshore world.”

Beginning in 1999, the rigorous one-year program has matured into the foremost hydrographic science program in North America. USM was the first educational institution in the United States to receive the Category A requirements set by the Féderation Internationale des Géométres, International Hydrographic Organization and International Cartographic Association (FIG/IHO/ICA) International Board of Standards and Competence for Hydrographic Surveyors and Nautical Cartographers.

“Everything we are used to in life from cell phones, clothes, food and cars all are imported by cargo ships across our oceans,” Norden said. “Your research and data is allowing for the foundation of life that so many people around the globe enjoy.”

The program, worth 36 graduate credit hours, provides students with technical and practical expertise in advanced hydrographic methods and standards. The advanced curriculum covers all aspects of geodesy and hydrographic science.

The 2018 class represents the course’s 19th graduating class. In total, the program has graduated more than 200 students with participation from 28 foreign countries.

“This program epitomizes the diverse campus USM believes in,” said Dr. Karen Coats, dean of the University’s Graduate School. “One class sharing different ethnicities, educational backgrounds and from all walks of life coming together to master the subject they are passionate about.”

Coats compared the class to explorers throughout history such as Lewis and Clark and Christopher Columbus.

“Exploring new frontiers and adventure is all about maps,” she said. “Your work will matter. Your success will improve and likely even save lives.”

Capt. Ronald Shaw, U.S. Navy, graduated from the program 12 years ago and was the event’s keynote speaker.

“Hydrography is pivotal in the Navy being a true global sea power,” he said. “The foundation of every mission is quite literally charted by hydrographers.”

Shaw reflected on his time in the class and how the skills he learned affected his career.

“The data we find impacts the entire spectrum of Naval operations,” he said. “What you will do every day directly affects the well being and safety of hundreds of millions.”

As the event, held in the Fleming Education Center (FEC) on the Gulf Park campus in Long Beach, came to a close, Shaw remembered the life of Rear Admiral Ken Barbor, U.S. Navy (ret), who died in July.

Barbor, 67, was the founding director of the Hydrographic Science Research Center at USM and was pivotal in the creation of the program.

“His legacy will be felt through this program forever,” Shaw said. “I am sure his spirit is with us today on this stage and he is proud of each and every one of you graduates.”

To learn more about the hydrographic science program at USM, call 228.688.3177 or visit: