Only weeks into his faculty position, Ryan S. Mieras submitted his first grant proposal as a UNC Wilmington employee not quite eight months ago. The proposal has yielded an impressive award from the National Science Foundation totaling $925,975 to develop an instrument for measuring sand movement at shorelines, leading to the development of more resilient coastal communities.

Mieras, an assistant professor of coastal engineering, is the first full-time, tenure-track faculty hired in the Bachelor of Science in Coastal Engineering program, the university’s first engineering degree program and the first of its kind in the U.S.

Over the next two years, Mieras, Jack A. Puleo, a faculty member at the University of Delaware, and Sean Griffin, owner and lead systems engineer at Proteus Technology, LLC, will build the CCPflex, a tool critical to observe and quantify geomorphic change and surface dynamics in coastal, ocean and marine environments. Numerous undergraduate students will be involved in the prototype testing and assembly stages, educating the next generation of applied instrumentation users and designers.

“This project highlights UNCW’s commitment to growing the coastal engineering program through being on the cutting edge of coastal processes research, serving as one of only two locations in the world that will have the capabilities and instrumentation developed via this grant,” said Mieras.

Portions of the instrumentation development project will be carried out in the future Coastal Engineering Wave Laboratory as well area beaches. Additional research and testing may also be carried out at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Field Research Facilities in Duck, NC.

Mieras notes that many universities with degrees in coastal engineering are not on the coast, but hours inland. He is appreciative of UNCW’s location and the ability to guide many aspects of the budding program, which just saw the first full academic year of classes.

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