Ocean Engineering




AUV launchThe drive to overcome the formidable technical challenges of ocean research was essential to the founding of Harbor Branch by J. Seward Johnson, Sr., in 1971. This spirit was embodied by Johnson’s friend, inventor Edwin A. Link, whose lifetime of innovation included the first flight simulator, the first diver lock-out submersible and the Johnson-Sea-Link submersibles. Discoveries enabled by Link’s work, such as Florida’s deep water reefs and thousands of marine organisms used in FAU Harbor Branch drug discovery efforts, continue to shape understanding and appreciation of the oceans.

Inspired by Link’s legacy, we develop technologies that enable us to discover, map, observe, quantify, sample, cultivate and conserve the ocean’s diverse organisms and habitats. Laser-based sensor system research and industry partnerships with maritime robotics manufacturers are among the ways we work to improve the coverage, quality and bandwidth of sensor data and imagery in undersea habitats. We also have developed technologies that help protect Florida’s endangered manatees from injury and death by the water control and navigation infrastructure of our inland waterways.


  • Underwater laser imaging and free space optical communications
  • Active optical sensing within marine environments
  • At-sea testing of networks of sensors and robotic platforms
  • Surface and sub-surface hydrocarbon detection and characterization
  • Database management and data visualization
  • Advanced image and video processing


  • 13 meter laser test tank facility that can maintain a wide range of scattering suspension to represent turbid waters
  • 3 meter bio-photonics salt water test tank that can support live plankton and larvae
  • 5 meter salt water ballasting tank and glider calibration facility
  • Mechanical design and fully-equipped machine shop for prototype development
  • 4,500 psi (10,100 fsw) pressure testing tank, which can accommodate items up to 0.6 meters in diameter and 1.5 meters in length

Ocean Engineering & Technology team

Ocean Optics research program

Department of Ocean & Mechanical Engineering