When a five-person submersible descends to the floor of the North Atlantic, part of a historic series of private excursions to map the famed RMS Titanic’s wreckage in 3D imagery, it will be WSU Everett students that helped make it possible.
“The whole electrical system – that was our design, we implemented it and it works,” said Mark Walsh, a 2017 WSU Everett graduate in electrical engineering from the WSU Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture. “We are on the precipice of making history and all of our systems are going down to the Titanic. It is an awesome feeling!”
Developed by Everett-based OceanGate, the Titan submersible was built at the Port of Everett. It uses an advanced carbon-fiber hull, but also technology as simple as off-the-shelf gaming controllers. Up to eight-hour dives will include 90 minutes to go down and back, leaving up to five hours for exploring the most world’s most famous shipwreck.
The links between OceanGate and WSU Everett began as part of a group tour of the company’s facilities by students in the University’s Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers club. Walsh was the club’s treasurer at the time and explained that when OceanGate’s director of engineering, Tony Nissen, described during the tour some of the challenges the company faced, Walsh and fellow student Nick Nelson volunteered solutions. “Tony said, ‘OK, you’re hired.’”
Walsh is now the electrical engineering lead at OceanGate. “If electrons flow through it, I’m in charge of it,” he said with a laugh. That ranges from monitors, keyboards and tablets to the Wi-Fi and sonar.
The workload allowed Walsh to hire a couple of WSU Everett interns. These internships take hands-on learning to a new level – in this case, below sea level.
“I like that we have a close relationship with WSU Everett because the interns have been so great,” Walsh said. “They’ve been taught right at WSU Everett, so this summer we’re going to be hiring more.”
From a WSU Everett engineering lab to the deep blue sea
“There are some inherent benefits for students coming from our programs in Everett,” said Dr. Jacob Murray, electrical engineering program coordinator. “Our students have more one-on-one time with faculty, have direct access to employers in the area and explore interdisciplinary experiences that they would not be able to at a larger campus.”
“The exciting part is that we’re applying so many different things we learned at WSU Everett,” Nelson said.