Construction continues on UW-Superior’s Lake Superior Research Institute Floating Classroom

Construction continues on UW-Superior’s Lake Superior Research Institute Floating Classroom


After a year and a half of planning, the University of Wisconsin-Superior’s Floating Classroom is entering the construction phase. The state-of-the-art catamaran designed with a hybrid engine will be used for education and research on Lake Superior. The UW-Superior Lake Superior Research Institute will operate the boat. The plan for a floating classroom became a reality after a successful fundraising campaign conducted by the UW-Superior Foundation.

UWS administrators sign contract for construction of the floating classroom.
UW-Superior administrators sign the contract to begin construction of the floating classroom.

 “The Together We Are Superior campaign exceeded our goal of $20 million by bringing nearly 3,900 alumni, friends, and businesses together to bring excellence and distinction to our ‘anchor of the north’ university,” said Jeanne Thompson, vice chancellor for advancement and executive director of the UW-Superior Foundation. “The Superior Floating Classroom is one of the many new and innovative initiatives made possible through the campaign.”

 “The floating classroom will be an important addition to our research and educational programs,” said Chancellor Renée Wachter. “Through the unwavering generosity of the Swenson Family Foundation, this contemporary multi-use vessel will be constructed and equipped completely with private funding.”

The 65-foot aluminum catamaran will be 24-feet wide with a maximum capacity of 49 passengers. The main deck will have fully equipped wet and dry research labs, a moon pool opening, and fold-down diving platforms for sampling and analysis. A reinforced hull will allow operation in light winter conditions and the 4.6-foot draft will be operable in nearshore areas. A large classroom on the second deck with internet and communication technology will provide a flexible educational space.

The ship will be designed by Incat Crowther and built by Midship Marine in Harvey, Louisiana. It is slated to be completed in 2024 and will be sailed to Superior after ice-out where it will be docked at the LSRI’s ballast water research facility at Montreal Pier.

 “I am so pleased to be moving forward on this important project,” said Amy Eliot, LSRI associate director and project lead. This stable, quiet hybrid catamaran will enable LSRI to continue and expand freshwater research initiatives, as well as provide opportunities for students and community members to connect with Lake Superior.”