Only two people have ever been to the deepest part of the world ocean, and Dr. Don Walsh is one of them. In 1960 Walsh, along with Swiss inventor Jacques Piccard, piloted the U.S. Navy’s bathyscaph Trieste to a spot at the bottom of the Marianas Trench known as the Challenger Deep, which lies 35,800 feet (nearly seven miles) below the surface and some 200 miles southwest of the island of Guam.
Inside Trieste’s seven-foot diameter cabin and with more than 16,000 pounds per square inch pressure outside, Walsh relied on the knowledge and skills of the ocean engineers and marine technicians who built the craft and supported its operation. This dependence is why he is so concerned about “the chronic shortage of well-trained [marine] technicians to support seagoing operations in academia, industry, and government.” He believes the solution is to increase public awareness of ocean occupations, do a better job of recruiting, and provide excellent technical training programs. This outlook makes him an important member of the MATE Center’s National Visiting (advisory) Committee (NVC).
"Only two people have ever been to the deepest part of the world ocean, and Dr. Don Walsh is one of them"
Walsh has been a part of the NVC since the Center’s inception. He brings forty-five years of seagoing experience with undersea vehicles to the Committee. A former naval officer, Trieste pilot (designated “U.S. Navy submersible pilot #1”), and submarine captain, he served twenty-four years in the navy.
After retiring, Walsh joined the University of Southern California (USC) to establish and direct the Institute for Marine and Coastal Studies, which has evolved into the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies. At USC, he also served as the dean of marine programs and was a professor of ocean engineering. In 1983 he left the university to devote full time to International Maritime, Inc. (IMI), a consulting practice he formed in 1976.
IMI has worked on projects ranging from training Japanese submersible pilots to providing technical advice to movie productions and advising governments on locations for cruise ship terminals. Through IMI, Walsh has dived on the wrecks of the RMS Titanic and the German battleship Bismarck; explored Antarctica; visited hydrothermal vents on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean; and traveled on board a Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker to the North Pole.
"Someone has to translate science into actions, whether they are for facilitating scientific research or the development of resources"
Walsh’s wealth of experience provides the MATE Center with an overall perspective of work force and training needs of industry, government, academia, and research. He notes, “someone has to translate science into actions, whether they are for facilitating scientific research or the development of resources. Marine technology and ocean engineering are the key links in the chain that ties together oceanography and effective uses of the sea.”
“I believe MATE makes a vital contribution to ocean operations through the development of educational programs that train a technical work force to support those activities,” Walsh explains. “MATE’s educational competencies, national network of college partners, and relationships with industry are the Center’s biggest successes. I look forward to being part of and contributing to the organization’s future growth.”
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