Underwater Welding School - Divers Institute of Technology
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Into the World of Underwater Welding: Featured DIT Graduate Travis Knauss

Divers Institute of Technology (DIT) graduate Travis had plenty of construction experience – framing, iron work, repairs – you name it.

But he wanted something different, something out of the ordinary.

DIT Grad Travis Knauss on the job in Norway.

“I have always been attracted to jobs that were challenging,” Travis says.

Commercial diving was the perfect fit.

On-campus Tour: Look No Further

Travis was part of class 106-12 at DIT. After participating in his first campus visit, he loved what he saw.

“I came to visit the DIT campus and I was hooked.”

 

Travis decided not to look at other dive schools – DIT had the right program and instructors for his future career in diving.

And it certainly worked out for him. He’s taken his skills everywhere:

“The traveling has been the biggest highlight. Everywhere from Norway to Korea, Vanuatu to Colombia and many many places in between.”

Laying the Foundation: Key Skills from DIT Modules

Travis outlined several learning outcomes from DIT that have been crucial to his work in the professional field:

  1. Mechanical Aptitude: “Once you get underwater it’s just like any other job site. It you don’t know how it operates you’re going to struggle.”
  2. Common Sense: “You have to be able to figure out problems of all sorts on the fly. Sometimes with little or no explanation or guidance.”
  3. Hard Work: “Our dives range from 4-6 hours on average. Sometimes up to 8-10 hours…you have to be efficient in the water to complete tasks in the allotted time.”
  4. Clear Communication: “Don’t ‘roger up.’ Jim Bernacki [DIT Welding Instructor] told us that when we were in school and it holds true in the field. If you say you know what you’re doing for a specific job, you better be able to perform. Otherwise you waste a lot of valuable time and you look bad.”

Career Experience: It Starts with Swallowing Pride

Travis picked up many skills, but one of his greatest passions is underwater welding – specifically wet welding. He landed a position at Subsea Global Solutions (SGS), where he’s taken his welding talents to a new level.

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DIT Grad Travis Knauss on a dive in Chile.

It started with observation – then humility:

“Welding is a skill like any other. To develop it you have to use it. As I came up in the company I was never scared to ask senior guys about different techniques they use. Sometimes you have to be humble and put your pride aside and ask for help. Nothing worse than a guy who says he can do it all and can’t perform in the water.”

 A Jack of All Trades

Travis doesn’t always work in the same capacity.

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DIT Grad Travis Knauss on the job with Subsea.

Sometimes he welds.

Or inspects.

Or supervises.

Or trains.

It depends on the day, available staff and project.

“With my new 4F overhead welding certificate, I have been doing much more underwater wet welding. Which is fine with me cause I really love it. In fact, I just spent three weeks in Chile on a weld job that specifically called for ‘certified class A overhead welders.’”

Dispelling Underwater Welding Myths

There’s always a few underwater welding myths floating out there, which Travis and his team aim to dispel.

One of the most common myths is the belief in a universal underwater welding certificate – that is – a certification that allows you to underwater weld anywhere, in any capacity.

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Subsea diver in St. Croix welding on a thermal barrier on a cruise ship. (Photo by Travis Knauss)

Travis explains, using his company as an example:

“At Subsea Global Solutions the certification is only valid while one is an employee; this is because we own our own procedures for the type of work we conduct. Of course for any new hires that already have certs, this shows experience and history of experience, and could make them a more viable candidate for hiring. But they would still need to be trained to Subsea Global Solutions standards.”

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Divers at Hydroweld’s facility in Los Angeles. (Photo by Travis Knauss)

Travis has worked in tandem with Hydroweld, a company originally based in the United Kingdom. Uwe Aschemeier, Hydroweld’s US representative and welding engineer at SGS as well as Michael Pett, Hydroweld’s UK representative, train individuals in underwater wet welding.

Uwe explains the underwater welding certification process in a different way:

“You must not earn a certificate for each underwater weld you perform, you must earn certification for a particular weld class, various welding positions and weld joints. At SGS our underwater wet welders are certified to AWS D3.6 – Class A.”

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Subsea diver in St. Croix welding on a thermal barrier on a cruise ship. (Photo by Travis Knauss)

Class A is the highest quality underwater weld (wet or dry) that can be performed. In fact, some of their wet welds are considered “permanent,” not just a temporary patch.

To reach this level of expertise in underwater wet welding, Uwe lays out some of the characteristics of a high quality course:

“Small class sizes, maximum in-water time, thorough theoretical and practical training, knowledgeable and skilled instructors, excellent facilities.”

Ideal Diver: Travel-Hungry, Work Focused & Solution Driven

Travis is content in his multiple roles at SGS, and he’s excited to continue working in countries around the world.

He offers up some advice for new wannabe divers:

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DIT Grad Travis Knauss at Hydroweld’s Facility in LA.

“Don’t believe you’re going to make a bunch of money, at least not at first. It takes time to build your skills as a diver. You have to really want it. In a few years you can be making six figures but it takes a lot of work…It’s not for the faint of heart but if you really want it, this is truly one of the coolest jobs in the world. And I don’t have to go to crossfit every night to feel like a man.”

Written by Matt Smith, Creator of Water Welders.

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