Divers Institute of Technology

Established 1968 – Veteran Owned & Operated

Three hard-core, hands-On DIT grads share their experiences

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A military diesel mechanic, a builder and a business owner walk into a dive school.

Less than a year later, the mechanic, Crystal, drives down to Louisiana with two thousand bucks and a trunk full of plans, gets hired onto CalDive doing sat systems and is now loving life, currently training to be a Life Support Technician for sat dives. The builder, Max, drives down to Louisiana too, works for CalDive (now DeepCor) too, dives an epic three hundred and thirty feet, and has just graduated from a saturation closed bell course, ready for a career in saturation diving. Not for claustrophobics. Alex buys a one-way ticket down south, starts working for CalDive right away and is still with DeepCor today. Graduating from the same DIT class, these three have lots of dive experiences in common though they are at different stages of their lives and careers. A few things they all agree on are that diving is challenging, fun and always changing.

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Crystal Kizer DIT Class 110-11 Working Offshore

“It’s kind of hard to define the coolest [dive] job, because it’s all new–it’s all a lot of fun. No-one sees what you get to see… it’s just it’s so different… the massive structures in the middle of nowhere…” Despite the changing nature of the jobs, a few things hold it all together: the team, the project and its trajectory. All three divers feel a strong sense of satisfaction from being part of a team that takes a project from start to finish.

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Max Szarka DIT Class 110-11 Working Offshore

Even though it always feels new, some moments stand out–especially the ones involving the ocean’s incredibly vast wildlife. “A little while ago I was in the water and I got to see a whole school of manta rays swim by,” remembers Alex, who owned his own construction company before studying at DIT. Max’s crew was operating a grappler, a “giant hydraulic hand,” picking up pieces of spool from the bottom of the ocean. “The first piece of the pipe that we picked up and put on deck, a Moray eel slithered out, and bit a guy! We had to cut him up into little pieces and pry his jaw off…”

Alex DeGroot DIT Class 110-11 Jumping in for a Dive Offshore

Alex DeGroot DIT Class 110-11 Jumping in for a Dive Offshore

The oil rigs on the Gulf are like a whole city out there. “There’s only one place in the USA where you can see these kind of structures and actually be on them and that’s the development in the Gulf. To see the underwater parts of it–that’s something no one gets to see. Divers and ROVs, that’s it. To see the structure that’s so small on the surface, and then to see it underwater–it’s three, four or five times bigger underwater—it’s amazing.”

Alex Burning Underwater

Alex Burning Underwater

Alex is about to “break out” as a surface diver and Crystal’s currently training as a Life Support Technician. “I’m learning a lot of different things, which is the most exciting thing for me. Learning how to create the atmosphere, for people to live in–it’s pretty insane, everything that goes into it. People think it’s all about watching gadgets, gizmos and gauges, but it’s way more!”

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Crystal Tending a Dive Offshore

Max loves the hands-on work. “My favorite [job] was working for Exxon Mobil In Mobile Bay. We spent six months there though it was bid for three months. It was a wide range of everything: we did pile drives, pipe lay, burying, salvage. We did tie-ins, pressure tasks… there was a lot going on. It was a lot of fun!”

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There’s a strong sense of family among divers who’ve lived, worked and toughed it out together, in this massive, unfamiliar ocean city. They all love their jobs, and as their dive careers are developing, they are finding their niche in the big blue underwater world of diving.

Written for DIT by Londi Gamedze from interviews compiled by Nick Crivello

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