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Chung-Kuk Jin, a doctoral student in the Department of Ocean Engineering at Texas A&M University, chose to pursue an education in the field due to the endless possibilities to impact a vast number of industries.

“For traditional oil and gas industry, ocean engineers may conduct offshore structure design or offshore platform installation,” Jin said. “While for the rising renewable energy industry, ocean engineers are expected to design energy collecting devices or structures to make use of different types of renewable energy from the ocean. Thus, ocean engineers have many possibilities to develop their career in different fields, which fascinated me most.”

Over recent decades, ocean engineering has expanded to the exploration of offshore renewable energy, underwater automatic vehicle and other edge-leading topics, which shows the sustainable development of this field.

“In my point of view, ocean engineering is a rising and promising field which is never limited to the traditional oil and gas production,” Jin said. “I’m really optimistic about the future development of ocean engineering because it makes me feel that fresh ideas and opportunities will never dry out in this field.”

Jin is currently conducting research on three different research topics. The first project is to develop a wave energy converter (WEC) that could convert the energy of a wave to electric energy by making use of the motions of a floating device.

“Recently, since people have gradually put more emphasis on the exploration of environmentally friendly energy, the wave energy converter has become a hot topic where related research projects blossom,” Jin said. “Our design focused on the low cost of the device and its high energy transformation rate, so that it could be profitable for many offshore sites in North America. In the United States, higher wave energy is concentrated in the west coast. Therefore, the potential location of the WEC device is on the west coast to harness the ocean energy.”

Jin’s second project studies the dynamic analysis of a submerged floating tunnel to help solve transportation issues between countries and continents. By properly locating the submerged floating tunnel, many items can be imported and exported by trains or cars instead of ships, which will save transportation time and expenses.

“This idea was initiated by Norway to cross the fjords,” Jin said. “We are trying to ease its dynamic responses under possible dangerous conditions since large responses of this structure will directly relate to passengers’ safety. This work will largely contribute to an innovative transportation method in areas with a special landform.”

The third project focuses on developing an estimation tool for dredging production with Dr. Robert Randall, professor emeritus in the department.

“We developed an estimation program that is able to quickly simulate the basic need for a dredging project, including pipeline length and power of pumps needed,” Jin said. “Marine dredging is necessary for saving the environment by removing toxic material, and our tool is of great practical use.”

He has worked closely with two faculty members on his projects thus far – Dr. Moo-Hyun Kim and Randall. Kim, a professor in the department, serves as Jin’s advisor in his studies and research initiatives.

“They are both great scholars with rich experience in ocean engineering field,” Jin said. “Their constant enthusiasm toward this major makes me genuinely love what I’m doing now. Whenever I get stuck in my studies, their advice always helps me realize that there is something more that I can try. In addition to receiving the necessary training as a doctoral student, I can see the growth of my character over the past five years because of working together with these two great professors.”

Jin was recommended and selected to receive the outstanding graduate student award in April 2018 by the faculty members in the ocean engineering department. He is also the sole recipient in North America selected by International Society of Offshore and Polar Engineers (ISOPE) to receive the 28th ISOPE Outstanding Graduate Student Fellowship.

When speaking to prospective students thinking about working toward a doctoral degree in ocean engineering, Jin becomes excited because he knows the future in the industry is bright and more energized professionals are needed.

“Since getting a doctoral degree is definitely a long journey, I believe that an optimistic character and determination are the key to success,” Jin said. “Being an independent researcher requires long-term training, which could be very challenging and sometimes even frustrating. Thus, a proper way to quickly release the stress and gain the confidence to start again could be beneficial to every graduate school candidate.”