CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — There are students at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi that are about to learn a lot more about the port.
The Conrad Blucher Institute reached an agreement this month with an engineering company to introduce students to advanced technology used in the industry.
Jim Naismith wears two hats, one for T. Baker Smith as senior solutions lead and another for TAMU-CC as the hydrographic and coastal surveying chair at the institute. His work with both helped make the new agreement between them possible.
Naismith spoke with 3NEWS and said, "Putting those two together was an obvious fit for me. We want access to the students as they're coming through the program because we obviously want to hire them." He explained, "We need more people, everything is growing, and the emphasis on the ports."
The agreement began February 1. Students will now have access to iBlueHarbor, a web-based application created by Naismith three years ago to collect data for water depths.
The data is monitored for ports, channels and private industry. Naismith said it's described as "big buttons and crayons," bringing data and tools to decision-makers in the industry in a simplified way.
"It's a simple system to use, it's very powerful in the backend. The calculation ability and things are very powerful. But, big buttons, we just want to analyze data and we want to be able to make decisions and then we want to be able to communicate," Naismith said.
The technology will be available to the school's staff and students, and other graduate programs that can use it for research data.
Naismith said T. Baker will fund the agreement with $200,000 to start, allowing students to learn how to use it and see if they're interested in working with them full-time.
"Safety and situational awareness, so ya, the students get access to it so that they can, if they're familiar with it before they get out, before they start." Naismith added.
Students at the institute will also have an opportunity to work as interns for T. Baker. He said the institute's work with artificial intelligence will integrate with T. Baker's work on weather and water-level forecasting.
Having access to iBlueHarbor now is how he said students can get ahead before graduation. "These students are way ahead. When they show up, they already know what we do, they know how we work, they know the culture, they know all the pieces on how that goes together." Naismith said. "So, it moves things ahead very, very quickly."
Naismith told 3NEWS that the agreement reflects how the industry has changed over time. From paper and PDF's to data and decision making.
He explained it will help students learn how to be proactive instead of reactive. Focusing more on forecasting for ports and how to be prepared for what's coming.
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