OES Scholarship Student Profile

OES recently awarded a student scholarship to Jeremiah Sullivan, who is studying Oceanic engineering at University of Rhode Island (undergraduate). The following statement was written by the scholarship recipient.

Personal Statement by Scholarship Recipient by Jeremiah Sullivan:
During high school, I was fortunate enough to have a math teacher who truly inspired me. She taught Algebra I, yet she went above and beyond the syllabus to share her love for math with us. I quickly developed that same passion while learning about Fibonacci and the Golden Ratio. Patterns within nature interest me to no end. This curiosity about the natural world ultimately led me to where I am today, double majoring in ocean engineering (acoustics focus) and Italian at the University of Rhode Island.
     As a kid, I was fortunate enough to experience the Ocean hands on. My uncle taught me to SCUBA dive when I was 12 years old, exposing me to a majestic, alien environment just beneath the waves quickly nurtured a passion for the underwater world. Combining my love for math with the ocean, underwater acoustics was the natural choice.

Academic Profile
As a junior at URI, I have primarily been focused on my core engineering classes, but I have been able to supplement these classes with few interesting electives, including scientific diving and several supplementary math courses. In addition to engineering, I am working towards an Italian major. I am currently preparing to spend my next year studying abroad, as part of URI’s International Engineering Program. Outside of Engineering, I row for the URI Men’s Crew team and work in a machine shop on campus.

Areas of Oceanic Engeneering of Interest To You:
I am currently working with a small ocean instrumentation company which is collaborating with the Equipment Development Laboratory at URI’s bay campus. I have had a chance to work on many unique ocean engineering projects in this position. One project over the past few months is our Son-O-Mermaid buoys. This project’s end-goal is to create a network of low-cost sonar, drifting buoys to listen for seismic activity around the world. The purpose is not for early warning or tsunami detection, as land based stations are very good at this already. Rather, this network would be used to help map the earth’s inner layers. Mermaid records exactly when and where it hears an earthquake, and by cross referencing the time and position of the epicenter (calculated through preexisting seismometers) it is possible to determine the time it took for the earthquake to cross through the earth. While land based systems can accomplish this already, there is a huge lack of data from the Ocean, and since the Ocean covers the vast majority of our planet, it represents a huge, untapped data source. Since these buoys drift freely, a large scale deployment would record seismic data from places never before sampled. In later versions, the buoy could also be outfitted to measure other data, such as salinity, acidification, and temperature; at various depths in the water column.
     The buoys contain solar charging and satellite communications abilities to maximize deployment time and provide real-time access to data. In order to record clean, accurate signals; Mermaid’s hydrophones are attached via approximately 1000 meters of faired cable. This is designed to eliminate all possible noise, especially during rough weather. The buoys therefore must be launched in full ocean depth water, which makes the operation very difficult. Luckily, we were able to join a cruise in early summer 2015 on the RV Atlantic Explorer out of Bermuda. Unfortunately we faced several setbacks while preparing to deploy the instrument, and we did not receive the data we had hoped for. But, the cruise was great preparation and has given us insight to improve many aspects of the buoy.
     This project embodies several aspects I truly love about my studies. Working on a project making an actual difference in pure science is somewhat amazing in itself. It amazes me how much we do not know about our universe, or even what is just a few miles below our feet. Before working on this project, I had no absolutely no knowledge of seismology or geophysics, the way ocean engineering can facilitate research in other areas really excites me. I loved collaborating with people completely out of my expertise, and I found it innately satisfying to know we were helping to research something as fundamental as the composition of our planet.

Professional Goals
As a junior in college, am still very dynamic with my professional goals. I enjoy working hands on with projects, and using my dive experience, I have been able to assist in testing many unique projects. We are currently developing a multipurpose, acoustically-activated lift bag system that could be deployed by divers. This has the potential to improve safety when lifting unstable objects, as the diver can clear the area and does not need to tend directly to the bag. In my opinion, acoustics has so much more potential in the realm of diving and ocean research in general. Eventually, I hope to see acoustically based gear to become as integrated into everyday dive equipment, much like the modern dive computer. Unfortunately there are many challenges prohibiting this, but as an ocean engineer I hope I can help overcome a few of those challenges. Ultimately I want to work with ocean acoustics in a way that directly impacts our access to and knowledge of the underwater world.
     In my eyes, the ocean contains almost limitless possibilities, and at a time where the rest of our planet has been trampled over, the ocean is relatively untouched. I hope my career can contribute to future exploration and sustainable exploitation of the ocean. I am very excited to become involved with IEEE and the Ocean Engineering Society, as this has allowed me to connect with a wide network of professionals in the engineering. I strongly encourage all ocean engineering students to become involved with OES, as they offer incredible scholarship opportunities, and also can provide empirical advice for your engineering career.
     I believe we will rely on it more and more in the coming years as our population grows. Naturally Ocean Engineering will continue to grow as a field; from oil-rigs and wind farms, to commercial fishing and aquaculture.