USM’s STEM in the Sound shows potential for blue economy jobs

The event had about 50 students participating.
Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 2:48 PM CST
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - There aren’t many classrooms that are cooler than a boat.

And there aren’t many environments in which to learn better than out on the water.

“I’m not from where there’s water every single day like people live at the Coast,” said Pearl River Community College student Carson Ward. “And it really means a lot to me because I’ve always thought of it as such a privilege.”

Thursday was the second “STEM in the Sound” for about 50 students from Gulf Coast Community College and Pearl River Community College through USM’s Coastal Operations, which concentrates on blue economy jobs.

“We are interested in encouraging students and supporting pathways for careers that are in high demand,” said Jacob Breland, associate vice president for academic affairs with Coastal USM.

Mahmoud Bosita, an exchange student at MGCCC, is majoring in computer engineering, but this experience, he says, could alter those plans.

“It is nice, and it is so good to see new stuff and to learn new things,” he said. “It’s going to be a good experience if I’m going to change to this major.”

Students spent time on the Mississippi Sound learning research techniques such as trawling for marine life specimens. They also got hands-on experience with water sampling, which is an important process to understand habitat health.

That strikes a nice chord for those who cherish the environment.

“People get so comfortable and we have to remember that this is beautiful, but we have to take care of it, so it remains beautiful and that the things inside of it are cared for and they are still here in 20 years,” Ward added.

MGCCC architectural student Nathan Dement sees the business side of this as well as the environmental.

“Since I’ve always lived down here and been near the Coast, I’ve always seen it as a thing that’s always been a potential for us to learn,” he said. “And it shows great place to see all the sciences and how the engineering can help benefit the society that we live in.”

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