1. Who are you, where are you from, what is your role in the project?
I actually started out in Nuclear Physics, working for 10 years in the Electronics Division of Argonne National Laboratory. In that position, I had opportunity to work with a large variety of scientists in varied fields: Reactor Physics, Reactor Engineering, Biology, Physics, Accelerator Division, Chemical Engineering...
In 1976 I came to the University of Hawaii and switched my field from Nuclear Physics to Geophysics. Again I have enjoyed a wide variety of projects all the way from astronomy to the deep ocean. This is one of the attractions of Electrical Engineering as a career. It can open carrer opportunities in a very wide range of interesting areas.
2. What questions/problems are you addressing/trying to answer, & why?
When Dr. James Cowen, the Chief Scientist on this project, first came to the Engineering Support Facility, he knew what scientific data he wanted to collect. He had selected two commercially availabe instruments to do the actual collection. What was needed was a means to deploy the instruments and a way of controlling them. Dave Copson (our Mechanical Engineer) and I explored various practical ways of occomplishing the science. We recommended an overall plan which he included in his proposal -- which was subsequently funded.
Turning general ideas into actual electronic circuits and hardware is almost always much more complicated and difficult than expected. It is hard to anticipate all of the details needed to actually implement a plan. Many of those details become clear only as we are working on the actual designs. These details sometimes require changes to be made in other parts of the design.
As the actual circuits and hardware are assembled, we first test the individual sections independently. When they are functioning as expected, they must then be combined to test how they work together. Finally, the whole experimental system must be tested simulating as nearly as possible the actual conditions in which it will be operating. The individual parts must be tested to ensure that they can survive the tremendous pressure of the ocean bottom. The failure of just one component can sometimes cause the failure of the entire experiment. The more testing and the harder the testing done, the more confidence we have that it will work properly on the ocean floor. But deployment is risky and difficult, and there are no easy experiments on the ocean bottom.
3. What brought you to your current career position (how'd you come to be in marine sciences-related field?)?
What is exciting about this work is that much of what we do has never been done before. We have a limited amount of time and money to develop the whole experimental system and get it ready for sea. There is a wonderful sense of accomplishment when an instrument we designed and built works as planned and brings back new scientific data. Each project is a learning experience that helps us design the next experiment.