First Cohort of UNCW’s Coastal Engineering Program to Graduate

Friday, December 09, 2022

In 2019, UNCW launched the Bachelor of Science in Coastal Engineering, its first engineering degree and the first of its kind in the U.S. This month, 17 students will graduate from the program – another first for the university and the nation. 

The program prepares students to address beach renourishment, dredging, sediment management, coastal structure analysis and design, wetlands/marsh stabilization and restoration – all pressing issues for southeastern and mid-Atlantic coastal communities.

“Until now, a master’s in coastal engineering was required to enter the field, but there is an increasing demand for entry-level engineers trained in the fundamental skills and practices needed to meet coastal resilience challenges,” said Dr. Joseph Long, associate professor of coastal engineering and director of the program. “Our program aims to fill that need while also constructing a curriculum specific to the skills and background needed for the profession.”

There are currently 96 students (declared or planning to declare the major) active in the program.

Professor of Physics and Physical Oceanography and former department chair Dr. Dylan McNamara said the impetus for the degree came from the combined efforts of former UNCW Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli, current Chancellor Aswani K. Volety (who was then dean of UNCW’s College of Arts and Sciences and Executive Director of the Center for Marine Science) and himself.

“The metaphor I used as the program was being built was that it was like walking along a bridge while you were constructing it,” he said.

After visiting nearly a dozen engineering firms and NC State University, it was clear the need for engineers in the region was strong and there was significant support for UNCW’s plans.

“Once the program was approved, we hired engineering faculty while moving the first cohort of students through the program,” said McNamara. “Thankfully we were successful in every faculty search. We have also been able to utilize professional engineers in the region as part-time faculty and we have relied on some of our existing departmental expertise in the closely related physical oceanography field.”

According to Long, the Covid pandemic affected the courses and students similar to other programs, but the group showed resilience and adapted to new formats.

“Our graduating seniors (listed below) are a great example of the breadth of opportunities that students can pursue with this degree,” he said. “They have accepted graduate school positions throughout the country and jobs including state and federal government positions, private engineering consulting firms and geospatial mapping companies.”

  • Andrew Scott Davey
  • Nicholas Daniel Deosaran
  • Jacob Austin Doncsecz
  • Scott Finnis
  • Ethan Michael Guinn
  • Maegan Elizabeth Hoce
  • Ashley Noelle Holsclaw
  • Dawson James Howell
  • Grayson Blaine Jackson
  • Tanner Allen Jernigan
  • Noah Christian Johnson
  • Colver J. Krietemeyer
  • William Heath Marston
  • Katherine Grace Riley
  • Claire Elizabeth Sorensen
  • Jacob Byron Stasiewicz
  • Zane David Williams

Group Photo

UNCW leverages its unique location by offering in-depth curricula and research experiences in coastal and ocean sciences. Students have access to state-of-the-art facilities, including the Center for Marine Science and a recently constructed coastal engineering facility. Learn more about the program here.

-- Caroline Cropp