Coastal Engineering


Barrier island are dynamic systems that present challenges to the residents who live on them. This aerial image is of the village of Salvo viewed from the south.

Coastal Engineering Research Program

The Coastal Engineering program at the Coastal Studies Institute is focused on investigating  coastal processes that potentially have a significant effect on residents of Northeastern North Carolina. The barrier islands that make up the Outer Banks are both dynamic and complex systems which can be greatly affected by storm events and erosion. As our natural environment continues to change, new challenges arise for existing and future infrastructure along the economically important and developing coastline.

The coastal engineering program studies both human-induced and natural changes to coastal systems by investigating the complex interactions between land and ocean processes.  Applied research on these important help policy and decision makers gain a clear understanding of what is happening to our dynamic coastal environment, and support their decision basis with meaningful engineering and science.

Research Focus: North Carolina Renewable Ocean Energy Research Program

Oregon InletOcean waves, tides and currents offer significant potential for electrical power generation.   The development of ocean energy technology is a critical step in the expansion of our nation’s energy portfolio. The Coastal Studies Institute, along with the Colleges of Engineering at North Carolina State University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University, UNC Charlotte and East Carolina University are leading a research program designed to bring together the coastal, electrical and industrial engineering needed for the research and development of technologies to harness this form of energy and develop a strategy for future integration into the energy needs for the state of North Carolina.   MORE INFORMATION

Latest News
  • Research Experiences of a High School Intern: NC Renewable Energy Challenge

    By Julia Bachman On April 6, 2019, from 9:00-2:00, the Coastal Studies Institute (CSI), located on the ECU Outer Banks Campus in Wanchese, NC, is hosting the Fourth Annual North Carolina Renewable Energy Challenge. CSI has partnered with KidWind, Jennette’s Pier and Appalachian State University for the NC qualifying event before the national KidWind competition. …Read More

  • Research Experiences of a High School Intern: Analyzing Lab Samples From Shoreline Stabilization Sills at CSI

    By Julia Bachman, Photojournalism Intern The Outer Banks experiences constant challenges from shoreline erosion every year. With the continuation of coastal development, change in sea level rise, climate change, and intense storms, the configuration of our coast will change. Estuarine erosion is an obstacle that will proceed to impact coastal environments. We, humans, establish infrastructure …Read More

  • Coastal Studies Institute Hosts the 7th Annual North Carolina Renewable Ocean Energy Symposium

    April 5th and 6th marked the 7th annual North Carolina Renewable Ocean Energy Project (NCROEP) Symposium at the Coastal Studies Institute (CSI) in Wanchese, NC. NCROEP is an ongoing partnership led by CSI in consort with the Colleges of Engineering at NC State University, NC A&T, UNC Charlotte, and East Carolina University that serves to …Read More

  • Scientists Study Current Interactions at Cape Hatteras

    By Meghan Savona The waters off North Carolina’s Outer Banks are an extremely dynamic area. With colliding currents of varying origin, temperature, and salinity, the coast of Cape Hatteras is a hotspot for studying the way that different currents interact. “North Carolina is kind of like the Mason-Dixon line of physical oceanography,” researcher Mike Muglia …Read More

  • Researching Sargassum and Phytoplankton in the Gulf Stream

    By Meghan Savona, First Flight High School Intern With the possibility of harnessing energy from our oceans becoming an increasingly feasible idea, it’s important to look at how alternative energy development may affect other marine life and impact open ocean ecosystems. The North Carolina Renewable Ocean Energy Program (NCROEP) has identified the Gulf Stream as …Read More