Department of Marine and Environmental Systems
Ocean Engineering Program
Florida Institute of Technology

150 West University Boulevard, Melbourne, Florida 32901
Tel: (321) 674-8096

Coordinator: Dr. Stephen L. Wood

Location: 212 Link Bldg.

The Underwater Technology Laboratory (UTL) in the department of ocean engineering at Florida Institute of Technology is part of a national effort to develop an "Integrated, Sustained Ocean Observing System," see U.S. Global Ocean Observing System.  The UTL is primarily concerned with the development of hardware and software for navigation, path planning, collision avoidance, fault detection and recovery, and communication for obtaining oceanographic data over an extended period at extremely deep depths.

FL COOS, (Florida Coastal Ocean Observing System)

SEACOOS (Southeast Atlantic Coastal Ocean Observing System),

SECOORA (Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association)

Core technologies for Underwater Technology Laboratory

In support of the ocean engineering program at Florida Tech, the Underwater Technology Laboratory plays a key role in both exposing students to instrumentation and methods that will be later used in industry, and providing support for all ocean related projects, both in the surface vessel and underwater areas. The UTL includes the core technologies which directly relate to vehicle missions and control. The charter of the UTL includes:

  • Vehicle Design

  • Underwater acoustic sensors

  • Geophysical sensors

  • Underwater communications

  • Marine power supply strategies

  • Underwater Networking

A sensors lab has been established to address issues two and three. Located in the Geophysical Sensors Lab (second floor of the LINK building), the capability is being established to design, manufacture, and characterize both geophysical sensors, and acoustic transducers for sensing and communications applications.

In the UTL itself, the focus is on related technologies applicable to all underwater operations. A common computer approach is being developed with the idea that the UTL be involved in not just vehicles but also fixed location buoys and remote sensing packages. Beyond that, a host of support technologies is targeted to support the vehicle and buoy projects. Areas being established for in house development include:

  • Pressure housings, Non penetration power and information transfer, Novel propulsion and buoyancy control, Seawater battery for UTL use, Acoustic modem technology, Communication/detection methods for underwater data transmission, Autonomous computer operations/fault tolerance/redundancy, Software Development for remote computing, Software Development for neural network control


Research Areas

Ongoing Projects at Florida Tech: 

The Underwater Technology Laboratory is actively researching several topics associated with the deployment of high technology systems beneath the surface of the surface of the ocean. The goal is to support the development of such systems for deployment by the oceanographic and industrial community and also to advance the state-of-the-art of underwater engineering globally.  Current research interests include:

Autonomous Oceanographic Data Acquisition System  

It is the intention of the ocean engineering program at Florida Institute of Technology (Florida Tech) to design and develop an inexpensive autonomous oceanographic data acquisition system that is capable of operating at depths to 600 meters. The system will comprise four key components: 1) an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), 2) an underwater refueling and information exchange station, 3) an oceanographic mooring similar to those used by NOAA for measurement of surface conditions, and 4) a satellite connection between the mooring and Florida Tech's base-of-operations.






AUV - Autonomous Underwater Vehicles

ASV - Autonomous Surface Vehicles

ROV - Remotely Operated Vehicles


  • Wing Wave - Ocean Energy using the wave action of ocean waves - large scale. The first prototype will be installed in the summer of 2010.

  • Gulf Stream Current energy system: Proposal

Ocean Energy Links

Other Activities:


The Underwater Technologies Laboratory has a 500 square foot electronic workshop in the Frueauff Building with all of the systems necessary to maintain the Autonomous Underwater Vehicles. Florida Tech also operates a 60 ft research vessel "Delphinus" which is available for at-sea operations.