The New England Aquarium runs summer camps, volunteer programs and internship programs for students of all ages. One program, called the Career Pathways Lecture Series, focuses on introducing local high school students to ocean-related career fields and real-life people who have those careers. I was asked by Gina Parente, Education Lecture and Program Coordinator at the Aquarium, to speak on my experiences as part of the Invasive Species Career Pathways Lecture Series.
I spoke about my broad experiences as an ocean engineer while focusing on a project to build a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that would be used by scientists and environmentalists to capture Lionfish along the eastern coast. Lionfish are a highly invasive species and current efforts to curb the population are limited to capture by scuba diver. The project, still very much in the early stages of development, worked as a great example because the students and I were able to “workshop” the design of the ROV. We brainstormed what we would need as sub-systems and components; we tried to account for the different challenges a robot would face while performing the mission of capturing lionfish.
The Lecture Series was last night, July 10th, and lasted about two hours between the three presenters. I gave the students in attendance a broad overview of my ocean engineering work at MIT and then we talked about the specifics of the Lionfish invasive for the better part of my presentation. We discussed the different sub-components one would need to build a robot capable of targeting and tracking Lionfish in the wild. The students had a lot of great questions and all-in-all I really enjoyed the opportunity to meet Gina and the other presenters (Jo and Anita, research scientists at the Aquarium).
Plus, I’m going to get to go back to the Aquarium at some point in the future and get a backstage look at the exhibit of my choice as part of my “thank-you” for coming to the lecture series! I think that’s a pretty sweet deal. I’m not sure yet which exhibit I’ll choose … probably the seals or maybe the sea lions! I wonder if they have otters … It’s been a while since I visited the Aquarium as, well, a visitor.