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For over two decades, the University of Washington has enabled at-sea experiences for undergraduate and graduate students through cruise participation. The UW has continued its commitment to providing 15 days of ship time per year to the UW Regional Scale Nodes Observatory effort using the 274' global class research ship the Thomas G. Thompson. Each year, 10 to 20 undergraduate and graduate students work and study alongside UW researches and the ships crew to learn all aspects of seagoing research, ship operations, and life aboard an oceanographic research vessel. 

During the cruises, students develop projects around the use of robotic vehicles, mapping, and linkages among geological, biological, chemical, and physical oceanographic processes. Students share their experiences with the public by contributing to a live web site. The VISIONS'11 cruise is continuing this tradition with 11 students aboard.