Bonney headshot

Jake Bonney

ROV Pilot
Recent Graduate Student
University of Rhode Island

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

I work in the field of ocean engineering, where I apply concepts from various engineering disciplines and an understanding of ocean physics to solve problems in and around the ocean environment. For my master's research, I modeled the detection range of acoustic fish tags used to detect and track tagged fishes. As a Ph.D. student, my research involves incorporating adaptive sampling techniques on ocean vehicles to have them sample more effectively.

What sparked your initial interest in your career?

Growing up in Rhode Island I had the opportunity to spend lots of time exploring the coastline. Some of my most vivid memories are fishing for blues or digging for quahogs and exploring the islands of Narragansett Bay. I knew from an early age that I wanted to spend as much time around the ocean as possible.

Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?

My dad, who works as a Naval Architect, brought me aboard the RV Hugh R. Sharp during its initial launch when I was 9 years old. I was awestruck seeing the ship in person after having watched my dad work on designing the ship from a very young age. He was also the first person to tell me about the Ocean Engineering program at URI.

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

It's awesome to think about the parallels between ocean exploration and space exploration. Both environments present engineering challenges which require you to think outside of the box to solve.

What other jobs led you to your current career?

I spent my high school as a lifeguard, picked up construction work during time off in college, worked as a bouncer at a local college bar, and more recently held a number of different engineering internships. At the moment I hold a position as a graduate teaching/research assistant at URI. I've jumped at many opportunities over the years that may not have jived completely with my career goals, however, they have helped me develop invaluable skills which I am thankful for today.

What are your degrees and certifications?

Bachelor of Science in Ocean Engineering - University of Rhode Island 2019 Master of Science in Ocean Engineering - University of Rhode Island 2021 FAA Remote Pilot Certification USCG Captains License

What are your hobbies?

I recently bought an old sailboat and have been learning how to sail, although most of my time has been spent rehabbing and keeping the thing afloat!

How did you get involved with the Nautilus Exploration Program?

I applied for the SEIP ROV Engineering Intern position after hearing about the program from my mom, who insisted that I apply. During the 2019 season I spent 3 weeks aboard the Nautilus as an ROV intern and I was immediately hooked. After some persistence, I was invited back on board as an Argus Pilot for the 2020 season.

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

Never shy away from trying something new or reaching out to people you don't know. Fields like engineering can be daunting at times, however, you learn the most when you challenge yourself to take on difficult tasks.