Jacob Wessling

Jacob Wessling

ROV Engineering Intern
University of Hawaii at Hilo

Tell us about your work/research. What kinds of things do you do?

I specialize in all small boat and diving operations. As a University of Hawaiʻi scientific diver, I am trained in many different survey techniques that may be utilized for different projects. Specifically as a member of the Multi-scale Environmental Graphical Analysis (MEGA) Lab, I use underwater three-dimensional photogrammetry mapping techniques using high-quality DSLR cameras to quantify ecological characteristics of coral reefs. Living on Hawaiʻi island, we are lucky to have many different coral reef systems stemming all around the island. Many days consist of long hours on the boat or near shore doing multiple dives.

What sparked your initial interest in your career?

I grew up on the south shore of Oahu in a place called Ewa Beach. This place was home to the beach where I grew up fishing and surfing as a kid. It was a place to get away and stay out of trouble. Sadly, I saw my home break deteriorate right in front of my eyes. This was tragic to me and the community but also sparked my interest in wanting to protect this reef and coastline and others around the world. The ocean shaped me into the person I am today and its mysteries are what keeps me coming back for more.

Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?

The people who influenced me and encouraged me the most are the whole team at The Multi-scale Environmental Graphical Analysis (MEGA) Lab located in Hilo, Hawaiʻi. The team at this lab is filled with other Native Hawaiian and local scientists who all had the same upbringing as me. Seeing how successful they are within the STEM field really made me realize that a small-town kid like me can also be successful in doing work in the places that shaped me.

What element of your work/study do you think is the most fascinating?

The element of my work that is the most fascinating is being able to SCUBA dive in many different locations and being able to survey coral and different fish species. Each location is beautiful in its own way and is very interesting to see different ecosystems interact. Especially living on Hawaii island, there are many different types of ecosystems all around the island. So being able to live in a place with such diversity not only helps me understand different systems but also get to experience all that this underwater world has to offer.

How did you get involved with the Ocean Exploration Trust?

I was lucky enough for a spot to open up and was approached by the OET team after some consideration from colleagues and mentors. These mentors and colleagues believe that I have the right knowledge and skills to flourish in an ROV engineering intern position. I am all about learning new things and ready for whatever challenges that come before me.

What are your degrees and certifications?

Bachelor of Art in Marine Science - University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo 2023

What are your hobbies?

I love to hunt and fish. Being deep in the mountains or miles out at sea, I love being surrounded by the elements. I love the hard work that goes along with both hobbies and love the reward even more!

What advice would you give someone who wants to have a career like yours?

If you want to be a scientific diver and work on boats, I believe that you must love the ocean and everything that comes with it. The good days and the bad, the nice waters and the rough seas. You have to be willing to adapt to any situation and conditions that the ocean throws at you. I truly believe that you have to love everything that the ocean offers because some days it can be rough and rainy but I always say that a bad day on the water beats a good day on land any day.


Jacob participated in the following Ocean Exploration Trust expeditions: