Everett Community College’s Ocean Research College Academy (ORCA) will launch its new research vesel on November 22 with a celebration at 11 a.m. at the Port of Everett.
The dedication of the Phocoena (the scientific name for harbor porpoise, pronounced FOE see nuh) will happen at the port’s travel lift, located in front of ORCA’s classrooms at 1205 Craftsman Way in Everett.
The 36-foot Phocoena was funded by a $218,000 grant from the National Science Foundation and built by Bean Custom Marine Fabrication. The boat’s design includes all necessary equipment for research conducted by EvCC’s ORCA students. The Phocoena features a bow door to provide easy equipment deployment and beach access.
“We have been chartering the Hat Island passenger ferry for this research for the last 10 years, and the new vessel will transform the experience for students,” said Ardi Kveven, ORCA executive director and captain of the new vessel. “While we have valued the relationship with the Hat Island community, to have NSF recognize and support a community college program with a grant such as this is a tremendous honor.”
ORCA is an early college academy for high school students, who can earn up to two years of college credit while completing their high school education. Most students graduate with an associate’s degree in addition to a high school diploma. According to ORCA, the program is the only early college academy of its kind in the country – and now is the only program with a dedicated research lab and research vessel.
ORCA students have been conducting research in Possession Sound for the last 10 years. This research initiative teaches core science content coupled with hands-on learning, catalyzing student development of critical thinking skills as they analyze and interpret real data from the local estuary. Since inception 11 years ago, the ORCA program has expanded at the Port of Everett Waterfront Center, adding two new classrooms which will be open for viewing during the boat dedication.