PRCC STEM Club dives into the world of hydrography through USM and Navy visit

Published 5:01 pm Thursday, October 21, 2021

By Laura O’Neal

PRCC Public Relations

POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Current students as well as a few faculty and staff members at Pearl River Community College gathered Tuesday for an informative and interesting presentation on hydrography. This was the first meeting of the year for the STEM Club on the Poplarville campus with several students joining remotely from the Forrest County Campus as well.

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Representatives from the University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Ocean Science and Engineering as well as the Navy were on hand. They brought a pair of jet skis and an autonomous surface vehicle (Teledyne Z-boat) equipped with hydrographic survey equipment used in work by the U. S. Navy Fleet Survey Team for students to inspect after the presentation.

USM is the only school in the United States that offers a Bachelor of Science in Marine Science with a hydrography emphasis.

And they are only one of two programs to offer master’s and PhD programs. The program is certified by the International Board on Standards of Competence for Hydrographic Surveyors and Nautical Cartographers. Graduates from the undergraduate or graduate level programs can take their degree and skills to work anywhere in the world.

This school year saw the addition of two hydrography classes to the Unmanned Aerial Systems Program at PRCC. The classes are offered at the Hancock County Campus in coordination with the National Oceans and Applications Research Center.


Simply put, hydrography is the measurement and description of physical features of a body of water. This information is then used to create up-to-date nautical maps for safer navigation of waterways. It can also be used when planning marine renewable energy and aquaculture, a growing industry for the United States.

Alberto Costa Neves is a retired Captain from the Brazilian Navy who recently joined USM as the Hydrographic Science Program Coordinator/Instructor. He began the presentation with an overview of what hydrography is, why it is important, who would make a good hydrographer, and where they are employed.

“We have better maps of the moon than we do of the ocean floor,” said Costa Neves. “With only 20 percent of the ocean surveyed, there is plenty of opportunity for work. Students in the program at USM often have offers in hand before graduation.”


Dr. Stephan Howden joined the USM faculty with a background in physics and oceanography. He shared that hydrography provides the geospatial background for studies done in oceanography.

“Hydrographers take a measure once, use many times approach to field work,” he said. “A wide array of applications for the data collected exists.”

Calvin Martin is the Technical Director\Chief Hydrographer for the U. S. Navy Fleet Survey Team located at Stennis Space Center. He knew nothing about hydrography when he first began work as a civilian employee. He was promised the opportunity to travel the world and his first time ever on a plane had him going to Australia. 

He is passionate about hydrography and enjoys sharing what he has learned while being of service to his country.

“The center at Stennis has the largest concentration of hydrographers and oceanographers in the world,” said Martin. “We have this incredible place in our own backyard, but many don’t know about it.”


Ahmarion Luckett is a freshman at PRCC with plans to become a physical therapist. He came to the STEM Club meeting to try something new and meet other students. He came away with knowledge of a field he had not heard about before.

“I didn’t know about this field and found the presentation very interesting,” said Luckett. “They shared so many great opportunities available to a hydrographer including travel around the world. Plus, learning more about the ocean can help our military and anyone on a boat.”

PRCC students interested in opportunities in science, technology, engineering, or math are invited to join the STEM Club by emailing STEM Club coordinator Emily Carlisle at Upcoming meetings include Nov. 4 to learn about the Rural Health and Physicians Scholarship program and then on Nov. 9 to learn about geography with guests from USM.

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