When I got to college I was more or less only concerned with sailing. Having come from a relatively no-name junior program and equally no-name high school team, I was frothing for a "full on" college sailing experience. I got what I asked for, but upon competing in my last ICSA nationals and graduating with a degree in Material Engineering, I remember asking myself the inevitable question, "now what?"
Any type of 9-5 cubicle program was strictly not an option, and the idea of working at a land-locked material science lab made me cringe equally. I tried my hand at an Olympic Campaign (49er), but didn’t have what it took. At one point, out of sheer curiosity, I drove down to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute near my hometown, and took a tour. Boats, outdoor work, lots of sailors, a resounding "lets save the planet" mentality….not bad. But the entry barriers were tall. It took me a few years, tons of persistence, and plenty of luck, but I was able to grind my way into the small world of Applied Ocean Science & Engineering.
What is it all about? I write "applied" in the title because this isn’t simulation-only work, we actually get to get our hands dirty. From marine materials to autonomous robotics, you can pursue whatever you have a passion for. For me, I love robotics and sailing….so I built a robotic sailboat. Lately we have been working on developing vision-based navigation for small autonomous robotic boats. Sort of needs to be seen to believe.
So to all you sailors out there looking for a challenge, check out ocean science an engineering…and don’t forget to take a math course every year you are in school, you won’t regret it!