DIT Instructors & Faculty

Daniel Matthes, Director of Training

Daniel was born and raised in Tome, NM, a small farm town of less than 2000 people nestled along the Rio Grande Valley on the foothills of the Manzano Mountains. He came to DIT right after high school and served as DIT class president for 106-06, later doing adding General Studies at Lonestar College in Houston and General Studies/Lab Assistant at the University of New Mexico. (Ask Daniel about his UNM Paper: Identification of Skunk Species Submitted for Rabies Testing in the Desert Southwest.)

Early in Daniel’s commercial diving career, he worked deep water platform support with Epic Divers and Marine, eventually moving over to the shallow water pipeline support sector with G&G Marine. The majority of his dives were conducted in the blackout conditions of the “mud hole” part of the Gulf. The work is very similar to that of an offshore diver, however, crews operate closer to that of the Inland sector, so Daniel’s experience shows how interconnected these sides of the industry can be. He began supervising full time in mid-2013 before making the transition to Seattle to join the DIT family in August 2017, where he’s since revamped the Inland module and is challenging students daily in their real-world Inland dive site skills.

Quotes to live by:

Failure is only postponed success as long as courage ‘coaches’ ambition. The habit of persistence is the habit of victory.” – Herbert Kaufman

Discipline is based on pride, on meticulous attention to details, and on mutual respect and confidence. Discipline must be a habit so ingrained that it is stronger than the excitement of the goal or the fear of failure.” – Gary R. Blair

Randy Busby, Assistant Director of Training, PO3/E4/USN

Randy is a 1998 graduate of DIT. He served in the Navy as a Boatswains Mate 3rd class and was a rescue swimmer attached to the Inshore/Underwater Warfare group in the Pacific NW. His diving career began with a year in the Gulf of Mexico, then five years as an inland diver conducting repairs and inspections on dams, water towers and piers. Randy spent seven years with Global Diving & Salvage in the Gulf working on P & A, salvage platforms and hurricane work.

Randy became an instructor at DIT and enjoys students’ enthusiasm. His favorite part of instructing is seeing students’ faces when they’ve accomplished a task and realize the project was not so bad, or that it was hard, but they got it done and can be proud of themselves. Randy thinks that the hardest challenge for new graduates entering the dive industry is the learning curve for the rate or speed of how work gets done in the industry; new divers need to learn quickly 100% of the time to move ahead. Randy teaches DIT students the need to put in their time starting in the industry, knowing that they don’t get stuff handed to them as young divers.

Advice to Divers

“Ears open, mouth shut. Be a sponge; soak up every bit of knowledge. Also, look at the divers ahead of you. Find a diver you respect and emulate him; do what he does, find out what gear he wears and wear that, follow his example and become like him.”

Jake Dow, Director of Placement / DIT Instructor–Offshore, HazMat

A Pacific NW native, Jake was born and raised in Centralia, Washington although his offshore dive work has taken him to places like Nigeria, Mexico, and the Bahamas. Jake graduated from DIT in 2006 and also was trained as a Union Journeyman Carpenter, working both for Kuney Construction and then later Cal Dive International. In commercial diving, Jake’s favorite work is heavy, big salvage work like removing old platforms with 800- to 1000-ton lifts because the process is big and the work is exciting. As a diver, Jake valued his dive team like family–especially a particular core group of guys who dove together, bailed each other out, and “became men together.”

Advice to New Divers
“Set clear short term and long term goals. Focus and do your best to obtain them! In the dive world you have to have “grit.” Work hard!”

Bradley “Pete” Peterson, DIT Instructor—DMT (Advanced Course), SSG/E-6/USA/RET

A Coos Bay, Oregon native, Pete graduated from both the U.S. Army Special Operations Diver’s Course and Dive Medical Technician Course in 1998 and served 21 years as a U.S. Army Medic. Pete also trained in the Advanced Diving / Hyperbaric Medical Team Program in Key Largo, Florida and is a NAUI Instructor. In October 2015, he completed the Undersea & Hyperbaric Medical Society’s (UHMS) two-week, extensive Physician’s Training in Diving Medicine course at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) campus in Seattle to further expand his knowledge and skills.

Pete has been on several active Army dive teams and his military dive experience includes salvage, mapping and recovery work for the Joint Personnel Accountability Command (JPAC), demolitions of a 300-man barracks and UXO in the Marshall Islands, and international missions such as security swims, recovery of military equipment, and beach landing and harbor surveys in Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar.

Pete is currently the Course Director of the Diving Medic program at DIT, filling these highly demanded positions in the undersea industry.

Advice to Divers

“Make sure you have a strong family and a solid plan for finances. Divers’ lives are that of the nomad, very similar to the military. Divers have to be wise about money matters, and have a deep larder for slow work periods. It’s a great lifestyle, with great pay and benefits, but there are slow times. It takes time and you have to pay your ‘dues’ to work your way up in the industry.”

Jason Conover, DIT Instructor –Lightweight/ Rigging, Physics/Medicine

Jason was born in Seattle and is a Seattle/Everett, WA native who attended DIT as a member of the 110-08 class. After he graduated, Jason started his diving career working offshore in the Gulf of Mexico with Epic Divers & Marine. He later expanded into diving internationally, working with Technip and Aqueos, as well as doing some inland diving with Associated Underwater Services (AUS).

Some of Jason’s favorite dive work has included the demolition of decommissioned oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico using hydraulic diamond wire saws and explosives, as well as installing spool pieces in saturation for new pipeline construction.

His professional background includes a diverse welding background using all processes but focusing on TIG welding on aerospace parts, hydroplane propellers, and basically anything except regular steel (titanium, stainless, brass, aluminum, etc.). He’s also been a Nutritional consultant and Level 1 CrossFit Trainer and Coach at CrossFit Advantage, with an emphasis on CrossFit Weightlifting and Gymnastics. Jason returned to join the DIT Instructor Staff in September 2016.

Advice for new divers: “Keep your head down and work hard, and work to develop a keen eye for details. Keep your safety and your coworkers’ safety a top priority.”

Mandy Hamerston, DIT Instructor – Physics, Lightweight, Rigging

Mandy grew up in the interior of British Columbia, Canada. She is a 2009 graduate of DIT and joined the Instructional Staff in January 2013 to work with the SCUBA and Inland courses. Mandy’s varied experience includes working as a Dive Master on a yacht on the Great Barrier Reef, which allowed her to travel and dive in Australia, New Zealand, and Thailand. In non-dive work, she spent 5 years rappelling out of helicopters fighting forest fires. As a commercial diver, Mandy has worked for an inland company on Vancouver Island. In jobs all over the province, her inland work included Inspections, Salvages, Hazmat diving, and mainly underwater construction such as dry dock extensions, drilling in anchors, and installing mooring systems for the Vancouver float plane terminal.

Quote to Live By:

“What we anticipate seldom occurs, what we least expected generally happens.” Benjamin Disraeli

Melanie Lyman, DIT Instructor – Welding, NDT

SteveColemanMelanie grew up in Logan Lake, British Columbia and attended DIT in 2011. She started her commercial diving career working offshore. She then moved over to freelance work for a company out of British Columbia. In 2012 Melanie moved to the inland sector where she was the lead inspector for their nuclear coatings program. Her responsibilities included working on hydroelectric dams doing inspection and maintenance all over the US and Japan.

“We can judge our progress by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers, our willingness to embrace what is true rather than what feels good”. – Carl Sagan

Mike Hemion, DIT Instructor—SCUBA, Inland

Mike is from Los Angeles, California and has been teaching all levels of SCUBA for more than 30 years. He has certified divers for PADI, NAUI and CMAS . He has done SCUBA repairs for over 35 years and spent numerous years doing hydro testing on SCUBA tanks. Mike has done underwater search and rescue, search and recovery, underwater inspections and repairs. Mike spent several years working for Los Angeles area studios as a dive supervisor, dive consultant, Medic/First Aid and dive trainer for shows such as Baywatch and Murder, She Wrote. Mike also trained the Los Angeles’ sheriffs in Search and Rescue and trained stuntmen for movies and studios. He has organized countless underwater clean-ups and received the Denny Award from the City of Seattle in 2011 for underwater clean-ups in numerous local lakes. Mike has owned and operated two dive stores in the past and has been and Instructor at DIT since 2001.


“Be excellent to each other and party on, Dudes!” –Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

“From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is bolted to earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free.” – Jacques-Yves Cousteau

Nick Robinson – DIT Instructor, Lightweight and Rigging

Nick RobinsonOriginally from Chicago, Illinois, Nick was a Graduate of DIT and has been an Instructor with us since September 2019. In addition to graduating from the Divers Institute he received his Degree in Education from Northern Illinois. He has years of Salvage and Nuclear diving experience all from the mid-west region. 

Sean Day, DIT Instructor—SCUBA, Inland, Lightweight, TM2 (DV/SS)/USN

Sean grew up in a military family and was born in Landstuhl, Germany and was raised in Florida, New York, and Washington. Sean was in the Navy as a Weapons Division Diver attached to the submarine USS Providence before attending DIT in 2014. He spent his diving career working inland all over the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. He worked on everything from installing and inspecting pipelines to bridges, dams and piers. 

Advice to New Divers

Commercial diving is a challenging industry that will refine you. It will bring the best out of you if you are willing to face the challenge.”

Jadon Anderson – Deep Dives and Finals / SAT diver

Jadon graduated from DIT in 1998. He began his dive career working inland then moved to the offshore sector, spending 4 years in the Gulf of Mexico and Malaysia. In 2003, Jadon took his SAT ticket in Tasmania which led him to projects across Asia and India. In his off time, he makes his way back to DIT to share his experience and teach new divers. He enjoys seeing our graduates work alongside him in the industry. In addition to instructing and SAT diving, he is also a supervisor for an inland company in Washington State.

Advice for students – “Be the first on deck and the last off shift. Never stop learning, ask the old hands for help.”

Matt Coppola, DIT Instructor – Lightweight and Rigging, PO2/E5/USN

Matt was born and raised in New Jersey. His diving career started when he joined the Navy after graduating high school. He spent his military career stationed in San Diego where his dive work included using sonar equipment for search and recovery of ordinance and ship wreckage. After Matt separated from the Navy, he started at DIT and was in class 112-17. He spent his commercial diving career working Inland and spent the majority of his career working in Washington State in Lake Union and Lake Washington. He worked on over 30 different salvage jobs in one year: mostly salvaging ships and personal watercraft. His Inland work also included flotation jobs and floating home maintenance, building piers, docks and setting piles for piers as well as piling work. He started working at DIT in the tool room where he focused on campus and tool upkeep as well as maintenance on all dive hats. Matt became an instructor in 2020 and teaches lightweight and rigging. He finds it very rewarding to lead the students through putting equipment on and getting in the water for the first time.

Advice to students “Don’t overthink what you are doing. Situational awareness goes a long way.”

Colton Dillman, DIT Instructor – Welding & Burning, SGT/E5/USMC

Colton grew up in Baker City in Eastern Oregon. He joined the Marines after graduating from high school and was stationed in Okinawa Japan. After the marines, Colton moved to Seattle and attended DIT, class 101-16. He spent his diving career working Inland, all over the Midwest and down south. Colton became a skilled topside and underwater welder and holds 4 underwater welding certifications. His favorite dive job was in Lake Superior in the winter, cutting out wood pilings with underwater chainsaws and getting to use the clam bucket crane to remove massive concrete blocks to decommission a paper plant. Colton started teaching and underwater welding and burning at DIT in 2021. 

Life Support & Hat Technicians

Robert “Bobby” Roe—Director of Life Support & Facilities Manager

Robert RoeBobby was born in Columbus, Ohio (“Go Buckeyes”) in 1983. As a child, Bobby traveled with his family while his father was in the Navy (CPO). When his father retired from the Navy in 1989, Bobby’s family returned to the Pacific Northwest and settled in Everett, Washington. At age 14, Bobby started working for his grandfather in a furniture/woodworking business, where his grandfather taught him the use of various hand tools, power tools, and heavy machinery. At age 17, Bobby became a supervisor in his grandfather’s company with a crew of 5 employees. When his grandfather retired and closed the business, Bobby then worked in the construction field until he enrolled at DIT in 2009.

After graduating from DIT, Bobby worked for an inland diving company based in Montana and was promoted to dive supervisor after a short time. He spent 3 years working with the inland company, and traveled throughout the United States before joining the Life Support and Facilities team at DIT. Bobby is a certified Kirby Morgan Hat Technician and trainer. He teaches the monthly Kirby Morgan Hat Technician course for graduates and members of the diving community.

Dive Vessel Captains

Andre Ninaud, DIT Vessel Captain

Andre has lived in the Pacific Northwest for more than 30 years and is an experienced vessel captain who has worked in the fishing industry throughout Alaska, the Aleutian Islands and Bering Strait for nearly 20 years. He later joined Clipper Navigation and spent 10 years running fast catamarans to Canada. He also has operated various other vessels prior to joining DIT in 2010. Andre holds a U.S. Coast Guard license 100-ton Master/1600 Mate.

Robert Simmons, Alt Vessel Captain

Robert is the part-time captain of DIT’s training vessel for divers during dives on Lake Washington.

A day in the life of a DIT Student

Divers Institute of Technology offers our students a wide variety of support services to enhance your education experience.

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