I am Mike Conway, a marine operations technician at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, also known as MBARI. My primary responsibilities here are to build, set up, and maintain scientific equipment used on our Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs). During my first three years here at MBARI I was an operator, or pilot, for our ROV, Ventana (which means “window” in Spanish). My experience as an ROV pilot helps me to understand how to implement equipment on our deep-diving ROVs to achieve our scientists’ goals.
"My primary responsibilities here are to build, set up, and maintain scientific equipment used on our Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs)."
I have a bachelor’s degree in biology with an emphasis in marine biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. I also have an AS degree in electronics and a certificate in marine technology from Santa Barbara City College. My work experience includes research diving in Alaska, Antarctica, Australia, Hawaii, Idaho, and all over California. I am happy to have settled down here in the Monterey Bay area with my wife Ket and our three-year old son, Keenan. Ket is an artist and teaches art in the Santa Cruz school district. Among her accomplishments is the illustration of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s first hardback children’s book, The Young Explorer’s Guide to Undersea Life.
A lot of the things we do here at MBARI, such as collecting deep-sea specimens or acquiring oceanographic data, haven’t been done before on a long-term or continuous basis. So we often have to start from scratch to build a piece of equipment for use on our ROVs. That’s the real beauty of my job. I get a lot of opportunity to be creative in solving problems that come up. Since the equipment we are building is going down into the deep sea, many of my past classroom lessons in physics come into play in very real ways. Mechanics, hydraulics, and electronics are almost always involved. Building equipment like this is always an educational experience.
"That’s the real beauty of my job. I get a lot of opportunity to be creative in solving problems that come up."
Computer skills are essential to my work, as they are in just about any job these days. We have an in-house program for computer training, offering all sorts of classes frequently.
Working at MBARI is a lot like being in college, in that the learning is a continuous process. Since I have worked here I have learned how to weld aluminum and stainless steel and use computer aided drafting software to design equipment we are building. It is somewhat unusual to find a job that allows the same person to design, build, and implement a piece of equipment. I feel fortunate that my position at MBARI is one of those jobs.
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