Divers Institute of Technology

Established 1968 – Veteran Owned & Operated

Come Fly With Me: Will Webb, ROV Tech

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Like many divers at heart, Will Webb is a man of the ocean. Growing up in a California college town and spending as much time as possible at the beach, Will loves to surf and just can’t get enough of the big briny blue. Falling in love with SCUBA diving in Monterey at 18, Will followed his independent streak to a career that lay underwater. After a couple of years making frequent trips to the California coast to SCUBA dive, Will came to DIT and got into our training to become a commercial diver.

DIT Grad Will Webb applied his experience and education in commercial diving to his current career as an ROV Tech.

DIT Grad Will Webb applied his experience and education in commercial diving to his current career as an ROV Tech.

As any diver will tell you, commercial diving is hard work, conditions are tough and divers face danger often. After graduating, Will worked inland for a few years and had some hair-raising experiences. “I had one too many real close calls, so I decided after a particularly nasty one that it was time to switch it up a little bit.” Will learned about employing remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) for diving applications, and the technical aspect of working with these machines appealed to Will’s cerebral side. “I did some research [about working as an ROV tech] and wound up finding out that I could get trained by the company I wanted to work for. So I applied, went to the interview and I got the job.”

What is an ROV?

Typically working a few weeks on followed by a few weeks off, Will pilots working class ROVs in the gulf of Mexico. Controlled by a technician on the surface, ROVs are aquatic robots that travel through the water with sets of propellers. They are attached to a vessel by fiber optic cables that allow for remote piloting and for data – like video – to be sent from the ROV back to the technician. Will flies these around oil rigs collecting inspection footage of the undersea structures and machinery. Another part of Will’s job is keeping the ROVs in good shape. Even though they are “pretty bulletproof,” they require maintenance, and an ROV pilot technician needs engineering, electrical and mechanical savvy as well as keen spacial awareness.

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Example of an ROV being lowered into the water. Photo Attributed to Geir Johnsen / NTNU AUR-Lab

Love Your Work!

Will loves what he does and it shows in his eager, confident tone as he discusses his work and his life. “Coming from the diving side, I just love being around the water. I wouldn’t give that up. And because you’re dealing with a fairly complicated machine, things change a lot; you’re always seeing something new so you always have something to learn. I like learning and seeing how things work. Plus, flying is cool! It’s a cool job and there’s something to be said there too. You know, when you’re young you’re told you can be whatever you want to be. As you get older, it kind of changes. You just do what you gotta do to pay the bills – so to have found something that I really love to do makes me feel so blessed.”

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Example of ROV operators station. Photo Credit Geir Johnsen / NTNU AUR-Lab

And then of course, there’s the great schedule, especially for a young, single person. “When I get home, I take care of whatever needs to be taken care of …And then maybe I’ll drive up to Tahoe, or go to the beach! I’m an artist too, I play music. Your options are pretty unlimited in terms of what you can do in your time off. ”

 So if you think you might enjoy staying dry while still working underwater, using both your brain and your body, and long breaks from work when you can travel (or surf, or play music,  or brew beer, or design jeans, or whatever…) until your heart’s content, consider a career as an ROV pilot technician.

Written for DIT by Londi Gamezde

 

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