New URI symposium to showcase maritime programs and career opportunities

Sept. 29 Sea Services Symposium open to URI, CCRI and high school students

KINGSTON, R.I. – Sept. 12, 2023 – Students from the University of Rhode Island, Community College of Rhode Island and the state’s high schools will have the opportunity Sept. 29 to learn about sea service missions, career paths, as well as career opportunities through URI’s maritime degree programs.

Those connections, as well as informational exhibits and a speaking program, will be part of URI’s first Sea Services Symposium Friday, Sept. 29, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Kingston Campus Quadrangle and in Edwards Hall.

The program will promote the links between the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and URI as a top maritime center of excellence and education.

Those interested in attending should register by Sept. 26.

The symposium will feature welcoming remarks by URI President Marc Parlange in Edwards Hall at 10:30 a.m. and keynote addresses by Mary Landy, retired rear admiral of the Coast Guard and a URI alumna; Richard “Dick” West, retired rear admiral of the Navy and member of the URI Graduate School of Oceanography Dean’s Advisory Council; and Vincent Patton III, retired master chief petty officer of the Coast Guard.

Throughout the day, participants will be able to visit 40 information booths showcasing marine, ocean, coastal and land-based water programs on the Quadrangle and in Edwards Hall. And just to make sure students realize that the ocean and coastlines are meant to be enjoyed, hold a drawing for a free surfboard, which has been donated by Warm Winds surf shop at noon.

“We will be featuring our nation’s sea services, URI programs and industries all over the blue economy,” said Bob Flynn, director of the Center for Military and Veterans Education at URI, who is coordinating the program with Dave Hill, an adjunct faculty member in URI’s marine affairs program. “It’s exciting to be able to spread the word about these great opportunities. We expect there is going to be great energy. There has been so much interest in this program that we unfortunately had to turn some exhibitors away. It just grew and grew.”

Flynn said the sponsor of the event and a program exhibitor, General Dynamics/Electric Boat, told him the company wants to hire up to 6,000 people this year, with 3,000 jobs being offered in the region.

Flynn, a retired commander in the Navy who flew S-3B Viking carrier-based jets and was the executive officer for the Blue Angels, said the inspiration for the event came from the marine affairs program and Hill, a retired Coast Guard captain.

“Marine affairs approached me to discuss how the program could enhance its visibility among its students and marine programs overall,” Flynn said. “Dave and I talked about increasing our reach to the marine services, industry and other partners.”

Hill enjoyed a 35-year career in the Coast Guard. He attended Officer Candidate School and received his commission as a Coast Guard officer.  His primary operational expertise was counter drug operations in the Caribbean, search and rescue, and naval warfare. He served in five Coast Guard cutters, rising to a commanding officer.

“Having climbed the ranks from seaman recruit to captain, I am well aware of the opportunities, benefits, rewards, and challenges that come with a sea service career,” Hill said.  “Carrying out our nation’s many maritime missions is extremely important to protecting, defending, and advancing our national security interests in coastal waters and on the high seas,” he added.

In addition to the military services, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Northeast Maritime Institute, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, World Oceans School and Warm Winds surf shop will be offering exhibits. The Coast Guard will display some of its boats on the Quad.

“The ocean and the water inspire lots of passion,” Flynn said. “Our maritime spaces are beautiful resources. They inspire us to take care of them.”

He added that the event will demonstrate the links among the academic world and its research to industries and military services all in one place. High school students planning to attend can count this as a college visit, especially since the Office of Admission will be offering campus tours, starting at the Quad, Flynn said.