GenSea Mississippi
(Above and close up below) Students from Long Beach HS watch as USM’s Dr. Gero Nootz talks a student volunteer through launching the Iver, a remotely-operated research vehicle, during a GenSea field trip. (Photo credit: Madison Collins, GulfBlue, USM)
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GenSea: A New STEM Workforce Program Brings Gen Z to the Sea

Mississippi’s coastal corridor remains a vibrant economic driver for the state. A sector dubbed the “Blue Economy” contains the standards like shipbuilding and oil exploration along with newer offshoots such as companies who develop robotic marine exploration tools or renewable energy resources.

Additionally, multiple government agencies — NOAA, NASA, and more — employ highly technical staff in their Mississippi offices.

The job opportunities are growing, but do today’s students know they exist? This is where GenSea comes in. Thanks to the generous support from the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation, the Center for Science and Mathematics Education and the School of Ocean Science and Engineering at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) are leading this new partnership.

GenSea professionals are spreading the message about the array of well-paying STEM careers in the Gulf South region along with a pair of new USM programs — Ocean Engineering and Hydrography — that prepare students to walk right into excellent careers after graduation.

“Most people have no idea these emerging fields exist at all, much less that they exist in our back yard. What’s more, USM offers multiple degrees in these fields. On top of that, USM is the only university in the country to offer Hydrography,” shared GenSea Director of Communications & Curriculum Tara Skelton.

GenSea provides interactive field trips for high school students from all over the state free of charge to tour USM’s cutting-edge training and research facilities and engage in hands-on STEM projects. If students are unable to travel, the GenSea teams will visit classes across the region to share information and activities, either virtually or in person.

Events are not limited to the school year. Over the summer, GenSea will host teacher development opportunities to learn about coastal growth and STEM career opportunities with CEU credits. GenSea will also work with USM scientists and industry partners to sponsor paid summer internships for students interested in learning more about these fields.

Dr. Julie Cwikla, Director for both GenSea and the Center for Science and Mathematics Education, noted, “GenSea is opening the world of coastal careers for Mississippi students and teachers. The next decade will see a surge of STEM career opportunities across the coastal counties. We are grateful to the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation and their vision to help prepare the region for economic growth, expansion, and education.”

For more information, visit: https://usm-gensea.org/

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Written by 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 in central and southern Mississippi, as well as online. Founded in 1910, USM is one of only 130 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 sport venue safety and security, among others. USM is also one of only 40 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 $600 million across the state. USM welcomes a diverse student body of approximately 15,000, representing 71 countries, all 50 states, and every county in Mississippi. USM students have collected four Truman Scholarships and 36 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships, while also leading Mississippi with 24 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 usm.edu.

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