TRAVERSE CITY — Northwestern Michigan College trustees approved a plan to begin offering bachelor's degrees in marine technology.

The new degree, the third Bachelor's of Science offering at NMC, builds upon college officials' push to establish NMC as a water studies destination in the United States, said Hans Van Sumeren, director of the college's Water Studies Institute.

"It's another way for Traverse City and the college to be a magnet for water-related education," Van Sumeren said. 

"You start to think of Traverse City as being the place to do a lot of things in water, and I think that's really attractive."

The college also offers maritime-engineering officer and maritime-deck officer bachelor's degrees.

Van Sumeren said the new degree was designed to meet employers' needs for qualified employees who know how to operate equipment and work on projects related to fields like hydrographic surveying, marine data processing and marine mapping.

The degree will prepare NMC students to work on offshore oil rigs and research vessels, and also on inland infrastructure like bridges, dams and tunnels.

The new program initially will be open to 32, but Van Sumeren hopes demand for the bachelor's degree will quickly surpass that total.

"It's by no means a cap," he said. "We'd prefer to have the problem of more students wanting it and then us developing more ways to deliver it."

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