The Stuff Heroes Are Made Of: DIT Graduates Following Their Dreams And Changing The World

The Stuff Heroes Are Made Of: DIT Graduates Following Their Dreams And Changing The World

Commercial divers are heroes.

For average men and women with high ambitions and big dreams, it gives them the opportunity to do something extraordinary.

The intensity of commercial diving is not for the faint of heart. But it can be for anyone

Strong and Mighty Divers

Even if the man or woman is small in statue, if they have the guts to do something bold, and sometimes dangerous, they can leave lasting legacy.

The machines are big. 

The jobs are big. 

And the impact on the world around us is HUGE.We’ll take a look at some commercial divers who’ve graduated from Diver’s Institute of Technology (DIT) to see how they’ve been changing the world.

Age Is Nothing But A Number

Commercial diving is a young man’s game, right?


One of the most inspiring former DIT graduates is Rusty Bryant.

SAT System Rusty Used During His Time as a SAT diver

Never Too Old

Now in his 70’s, Rusty was one of the first DIT graduates

He graduated in 1971, just a few years after The Divers Institute Of Technology was founded in 1968.

Rusty landed a job for Mcdermott, one of the two biggest commercial diving companies during that era. He found himself working as a saturation diver before moving on to start his own diving company.

Rusty continued to dive full-time until the age of 49. 

Then he decided it was time to hang up his helmet. But he continued in the commercial diving industry as a consultant for Exxon. 

Even today, he is still involved with the industry to which he has given his whole life. 

Though Rusty is well aware that commercial diving is a “hard, dirty, dangerous job”, his passion and enthusiasm are a shining example to all those people of all ages and stages.

A Late-r Start

“I was 36 when I graduated from DIT,” says commercial diver Will Dean. “I was old.”

Despite being a latecomer to commercial diving, Will Dean decided to quit his job in construction and take a chance.

After graduation, Will quickly landed a job working in Alaska as a salvage diver for Resolve. 

Despite finding it hard being crammed up with 15 to 20 people in a small living space, and missing his family, he proved his worth and built up valuable experience.

Will on the job in Morgan City with his collegues

This experience would help him get a job back in the US. 

Stationed in Louisiana, Dean works inspecting and cleaning the tug boats that push barges up and down the country’s waterways from New Orleans to TX.

Will’s advice to all new graduates, “The more strength you show, the quicker the opportunities.”

Women In A Man’s World

Sharon Knoll was another one of DIT’s first graduates.

Despite taking the plunge in an industry that remains almost entirely dominated by men, she made big waves from the very beginning.

Showing The Men The Ropes

In a test project at DIT that involved driving the spike into an underwater piling, Sharon managed to beat every guy in her class

Try as they might, the boys were simply unable to beat her time.

After graduating, Sharon embarked on a successful career in commercial diving. 

She worked a variety of jobs. One in particular almost cost her life when her foot got sucked into an underwater vortex.

Sharon’s top tip for new graduates, “Always ask questions, especially the ones you think are dumb”.

Seattle Times Article about Sharon and Alice

Small But Mighty: Rockstar Millee

On the outside, DIT grad Millee Fritz might surprise you with her petite stature.

At 5’2” 120 pounds, Millee faces some hefty challenges on the job. 

But she doesn’t let her size keep her from doing her job. In fact she enjoys them. 

She loves her job and loves the feeling of a successful dive.  

Millee working offshore

“When your dive goes well, you walk out of the water feeling like a rockstar,” says Millee.

Millee works training dive tenders and servicing offshore equipment, like inspecting offshore platforms used on oil rigs.

Veterans Lead The Way

Commercial diving is especially intriguing for military veterans as it provides a familiar work environment.

Military veterans make excellent commercial divers.

Many of the challenges that commercial divers face are those veterans can already handle in their sleep.

Cramped work conditions, strict routines and schedules, working under pressure and in teams, to name but a few are nothing new to most vets. 

This is why they are usually better at jumping in and getting things done, the ultimate goal of every dive. 

A Fast And Furious Life

Veteran Damon Beattie was working before he even graduated DIT. 

Then, he was on his first job only 7 days after completing his diving training.

He has been involved in a variety of different operations, including raising a World War II tugboat in Alaska and helping build the Seattle Tunnel SR99, a major infrastructure project along Seattle’s waterfront.

For Damon, the world is an open book. 

DIT Graduate and Army Veteran, Damon Beattie on the job

Going Solo: Carving Out A Business In The Commercial Diving Industry

After just a short time in the industry, DIT graduate Matt Fitt decided to start his own company.

Using his experience in marine construction and HAZMAT, and with the help of a small loan, he started a business that specialized in maritime installation and repair.

His business was a success, and these days he spends most of his time as a consultant. 

Fellow DIT graduate Jake Green also started his own business. His would be quite different from Matt’s, focusing on the fishing industry. He now runs a successful business that harvests geoducks (a type of clam), sea cucumber, and sea urchins.

DIT Grad and Navy Veteran, Matt Fitt (Class 106-13) with his Underwater Welding test plate during his time at school.

An Incredible, Life-Changing Journey

These individuals represent just a few of the amazing life stories and careers that are available to all commercial diving graduates.

All over the world, commercial divers are risking everything to maintain oil and gas platforms, ships, ports and tunnels, and everything else that is located beneath the waves. 

There is no blueprint as to what kind of person makes a good commercial diver. 

What is true is that commercial divers do it as much for excitement, challenge, and adventure as they do for the paycheck. 

Aran Davis, Writer for Water Welders

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