NOAA
Office of Coast Survey
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
U.S. Department of Commerce


October 9, 2019

Hello Coast Survey,

Last week, I had a whirlwind trip to the great state of Michigan. I landed in Traverse City on Tuesday morning and met with Hans Van Sumeren, the director of Northwestern Michigan College's Great Lakes Water Studies Institute. This program does an amazing job of educating undergraduates in the sciences that contribute to ocean mapping. I was able to tour their facility, see their "maker space" where they build their own unmanned systems, and tour their boat where they hold mapping classes. The highlight of the visit was meeting with the students themselves during a job fair. The students’ enthusiasm and interest in working with NOAA was front and center.

I spent following day at the Lakebed 2030 – Mapping the Great Lakes Conference that focused on the state of mapping in the Great Lakes. Much like the rest of our Exclusive Economic Zone, only 4% of the Great Lakes are mapped to modern standards. It was great to see a collaborative forum where the community was focusing on how to accomplish this important work. The partnerships on display were a great example of Integrated Ocean and Coastal Mapping at work.

I rounded out my Michigan trip visiting with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the Sault Sainte Marie locks that separate Lake Superior from Lake Huron. This engineering structure is the vital link that allows commerce to flow from the mines in Minnesota to the forges in Detroit, Cleveland, and other ports along the Great Lakes. Keeping these waterways open and working is the lifeblood of United States commerce. It was great to see how NOAA's services, in partnership with the services of other federal agencies, keeps American industry moving.


Capt. Rick Brennan

Acting Director, Office of Coast Survey
Chief, Hydrographic Surveys Division