USM’s uncrewed maritime systems tier 2 operator certificate program graduates first class

Published 5:00 pm Wednesday, December 22, 2021

The University of Southern Mississippi’s (USM) School of Ocean Science and Engineering (SOSE) recently celebrated the first graduates of the Uncrewed Maritime Systems (UMS) Tier 2 Operator Certificate Program.
In November, five Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO) students were recognized as the first to complete the Tier 2 Operator Certificate Program.
The Tier 2 Operator Certificate course is the second UMS certificate offered by USM. The five-week course covers the characteristics of specific uncrewed platform types and focuses on the operation of buoyancy vehicles. Students learn how to operate sea gliders, including planning a mission, piloting, launching and recovery.
In the Fall 2021 course, students earned valuable real-world operations experience by piloting a USM sea glider that was deployed prior to the start of the class to conduct hurricane monitoring 150 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. At the end of the course, the class went out on the R/V Jim Franks to recover the sea glider.
“This real-world situation of piloting a USM glider in the field allowed students the opportunity to conduct daily analyses of real-time engineering and scientific data from the system,” said Kevin Martin, USM uncrewed systems instructor.
Within the Tier 2 program, students learn the characteristics of specific platforms and sensors, as well as physical environmental factors affecting UMS in both operational and research and development settings. The curriculum draws knowledge from real-world case studies of specific situations, sensors and platforms.
“Understanding the vehicles and sensor characteristics is critical to a successful mission execution,” said Neil Van de Voorde, USM uncrewed systems instructor.
The University of Southern Mississippi is the only four-year institution in the United States to offer an Uncrewed Maritime Systems Certificate Program (Tiers 1 and 2). USM’s Tier 1 Certificate Program began in 2017. In Tier 1, students learn foundational material in oceanography and ocean engineering principles related to uncrewed undersea and surface vehicles (UUVs and USVs), such as powered vehicles and gliders.
“Obtaining the hands-on experiences with multiple system types within the course allows students to understand commonalities between the systems, as well as understand operational variability in the systems,” said Martin.
For more information about the Uncrewed Maritime Systems Certificate Program at USM, visit
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) is a comprehensive public research institution delivering transformative programs on campuses in Hattiesburg and Long Beach, at teaching and research sites across the Mississippi Gulf Coast, as well as online. Founded in 1910, USM is one of only 131 universities in the nation to earn the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education’s “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity” designation, and its robust research enterprise includes experts in ocean science and engineering, polymer science and engineering, and large event venue safety and security, among others.
USM is also one of only 39 institutions in the nation accredited in theatre, art and design, dance and music. As an economic driver, USM generates an annual economic impact of more than $663 million across the state. USM welcomes a diverse student body of more than 14,000, representing 71 countries, all 50 states, and every county in Mississippi.
USM students have collected four Truman Scholarships and 37 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships, while also leading Mississippi with 27 Goldwater Scholarships, an honor that recognizes the next generation of great research scientists.
Home to the Golden Eagles, USM competes in 17 Division I sports sponsored by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). For more information, visit

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