NOARC Launches Autonomous Special Project Class at PRCC
A workforce development initiative with the National Oceans and Applications Research Center (NOARC) and the Pearl River Community College (PRCC) Hancock Campus was launched in early June 2021 to connect students to new jobs in autonomous coastal mapping and monitoring. The special project class is navigating the maritime world of autonomous systems. NOARC and PRCC have signed a five-year Collaborative Applications Research Agreement to support this development initiative.
“There is a need for coastal mapping technicians, with experience in precision, unmanned environmental monitoring systems and this is critical to new business opportunities on the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” said David Brannon, President of NOARC.
This course will help students acquire real-world experience that generates relevant, marketable skills. It will also allow potential employers who have full-time work requirements to be matched early with students during externships, internships, classroom instruction and co-op programs. These students will complete the program with in-demand experience on their resume and providing business owners with trained, skilled employees.
“Pearl River Community College is thrilled to partner with the NOARC leadership in offering this state-of-the-art program,” Dr. Adam Breerwood, PRCC President, stated, “We will be the first college in the nation to offer a curriculum that combines maritime and aerial unmanned systems training. We work diligently to provide our students with the skills necessary to compete on a global stage. NOARC’s innovation and expertise are essential in this effort.”
Coastal mapping technicians are in high demand, for instance, each new project targeted by the NOARC team will require one hydrographer and up to five hydrographic techs per project. The average starting salaries for hydrographers range from $70,000 to $80,000 per year. Hydrographic support technicians have annual salaries ranging from $50,000 to $60,000. There is a limited technician workforce for precision autonomous system operations, and it limits response to current markets. By creating this special course with PRCC, NOARC is making strides to change that.