You’ve heard the real estate adage about “location, location, location.” Well, when hiring marine technicians it’s “attitude, attitude, attitude.” That is what Dirk Rosen, President and CEO of Deep Ocean Engineering (DOE), looks for when interviewing for his company’s technician positions. Mechanical and electronics aptitude is very important, too, but “attitude and team work are essential, and you can’t teach that,” Rosen emphasizes.
Located in San Leandro, California, DOE designs and manufactures underwater equipment including remotely-operated vehicles (ROVs), manned submersibles, and a wide variety of instruments and accessories. The company’s Phantom series ROVs are used in more than thirty countries for applications as diverse as customs and police work, nuclear and hydroelectric plant and tunnel inspections, ship hull inspection, environmental monitoring, and broadcast quality filming. DOE also provides worldwide support services including training, repair, spare parts, and special engineering. DOE’s customer list includes NASA, the Army Corps of Engineers, Oceaneering, and Dr. Bob Ballard, the explorer who discovered the wreckage of the Titanic. The company also constructed the ROV exhibit at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California.
"Mechanical and electronics aptitude is very important, too, but attitude and team work are essential, and you can’t teach that"
Of DOE’s twenty-five employees, eight are technicians. The company’s technical positions fall into four main categories: flotation, ROV assembly, electronics, and “Level 3 Technician.” Flotation technicians manufacture, cast, shape, and finish the special foam from which ROVs are constructed. In ROV assembly, technicians install the electronics and wiring, including motors and sensors, and seal the units. Electronics technicians are responsible for quality control on all components, such as circuit boards, the control system, and wiring.
It takes several years to become a Level 3 technician – probably the most envied technician position at DOE. These are the individuals who do customer training, field work, and trouble-shooting over the phone. “A Level 3 technician knows the vehicle inside-out, mechanically and electronically, and can help a client over the phone or fly out to do a service,” Rosen explains.
“We don’t expect our technicians to walk in the door with all the requisite training and experience,” says Rosen, “but we do look for certain basics.” A couple of courses in electronics, mechanical aptitude, and those intangibles like attitude and initiative are all important qualities in a marine technician. “Are they ocean people? Have they taught themselves something in this field? Do they have curiosity and initiative? – these are things we like to see,” says Rosen.
"We don’t expect our technicians to walk in the door with all the requisite training and experience, but we do look for certain basics"
Education programs such as those offered by MATE partners can help aspiring technicians get much of their training. “A technician can’t get too much training in the electronics area; just about everything has a computer in it these days,” Rosen emphasizes.
ROV technology is just one area where marine technicians can find work. Rosen cites marine archaeology, marine resource management, and the oil/gas industry – among many others – as potential markets. “Some industries are somewhat cyclical in their need for marine technicians, while others are growing,” he says. Still, Rosen believes it comes back to attitude and effort: “if you’re good at what you do, you’ll find a job.”
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