Center for Ocean Engineering

Director: Michael S.Triantafyllou | Email | Website

77 Massachusetts Ave. • 5-228 • Cambridge, MA 02139 • (617) 253-4330

The Center for Ocean Engineering supports the research and educational activities of ocean engineering students and faculty in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. We attract funding from a broad range of industry and government sources and work closely with these partners to understand and address their current and future technology needs.

Our faculty and students create novel technologies that are applied in areas from ocean exploration to hurricane warning systems to experimental hydrodynamics and conduct research to enhance understanding of ocean processes and marine-related phenomena. The Center provides rigorous intellectual challenges to students and faculty alike, and enables our student-researchers to gain experience working independently and collaboratively. Research in the Center focuses on several key areas:


MIT is a leader in ocean acoustics research. We have advanced the development of new propagation modeling algorithms, which help scientists understand how sound moves through the oceans and form the basis for using sound as a sensing tool. Applications range from deducing temperature changes in the ocean to studying the effects of sound on marine mammals and assessing fisheries on a large scale.


Our researchers explore the fluid forces exerted on structures built for ocean applications, from surface and submerged vehicles and offshore structures to port facilities, and improve understanding in ocean physics, chemistry, weather, pollution, and shore erosion. We use advanced methods to model the most complex hydrodynamic problems, such as the motion of ships and oil platforms in steep, breaking waves.

Instrumentation and smart sensors

This multidisciplinary area focuses on applying new measurement techniques to the field of ocean engineering using principles in biomimetics, mechanics, electronics, computing, and optics.

Marine exploration

We are contributing to the development of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), which have unprecedented capacity to survey the ocean, map the ocean floor, and retrieve objects and artifacts from the water.

Marine robotics

This area focuses on developing and applying robotic technology to ocean research. Current efforts include the deployment of numerous networked robotic ocean observatories, which will expand the quantity and quality of data available to scientists and the public; developing navigational algorithms for the ocean (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping – SLAM); and the development of biomimetically designed underwater vehicles.

Ocean systems management

In coordination with the Sloan School and within the Leaders for Global Operations (LGO) program we are offering an educational track, providing knowledge in business, economics, ocean engineering, environmental science, and government policies to develop best practices for the management of shipping and other systems related to the sea.

Ship design and technology

Our naval construction program, which is over 100 years old, educates naval officers and civilians, providing a comprehensive education in designing naval systems. Additionally, our research in this area includes offshore platforms, AUVs and ROVs, oceanographic equipment, fishery facilities, and a wide range of ocean systems.