Opportunity: NOAA Research Explorer-in-Training Program

The 2000 President’s Panel on Ocean Exploration Report, Discovering Earth’s Final Frontier: A U.S. Strategy for Ocean Exploration, calls for a national ocean exploration program to “train the next generation of ocean explorers."

One of the many ways the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER) addresses this goal is through a partnership with the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) to provide early career explorers hands-on experience in ocean exploration on board NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, “America’s Ship for Ocean Exploration”.

A pictorial feature about Okeanos Explorer appears in the upcoming issue of ECO, which mails out on 26 January 2018.

Apart from working with UCAR, NOAA OER has worked with academic, industry, and government institutions to create opportunities for students, faculty, and professionals to gain first-hand, at-sea and shore-based experiences with Okeanos Explorer expeditions. Partners include the NOAA Office of Education, NOAA Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship Program, NOAA Educational Partnership Program, Naval Sea Systems Command, Naval Undersea Warfare Center, the Five College Consortium, and regional NOAA Sea Grant offices.

Since 2009, UCAR and OER have hosted over 100 mapping explorers in training. For many, this first at-sea experience was invaluable in subsequent academic and career pursuits. OER continues to seek opportunities to work with external groups to train the next generation of explorers.

Interested to get involved with NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer field activities? Check this out.

Currently Open Explorer-in-Training Opportunities

The application period for 2018 is now open and applications are currently being accepted for opportunities between March to September of 2018. Applications are due January 19, 2018.

The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) places mapping trainees to participate in the Okeanos Explorer-in-Training program. This program is open to enrolled undergraduate and graduate students as well as individuals who have recently graduated from a higher education program. The Explorer-in-Training program will provide the opportunity to gain experience using an advanced multibeam bathymetric sonar mapping system, while contributing in a significant way to the Okeanos Explorer ocean exploration mission.

A typical placement will consist of one 20- to 30-day expedition either offshore aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer and/or onshore at the University of New Hampshire Exploration Command Center in Durham, New Hampshire. Trainees stand an eight-hour mapping watch each day. The duties of mapping watch standers typically include the acquisition and processing of multibeam data and associated sound velocity profile data, as well as precise record keeping. Each trainee also completes a project of their own interest, with approval and support from experienced mapping team personnel.


  • U.S. Citizenship
  • Ability to stand an eight-hour at-sea watch
  • Familiarity with Windows and Microsoft Office tools
  • Willingness to learn and follow shipboard Standard Operating Procedures
  • Interest in learning about seafloor mapping operations

Additional information about the Okeanos Explorer and the Office of Ocean Exploration and Research.

Past Explorer Trainees

The more than 100 past participants in the NOAA Explorer-in-Training program have come from a variety of places across the country. Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research.  Download high-resolution version (3.8 Mb).

Meet past "Explorers-in-Training" to learn more about their experiences:

Read mission logs from past trainees:

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