Tell us about your work/research. What kinds of things do you do?
I will be starting my 4th year to complete a B.S. in Physics: Applied Physics and Engineering in the Fall of 2020. In the past, I operated and maintained 3-D radars and their large scale electronics in the US Navy for operational testing. Specifically, I worked on discovering new ways to push the limits of the ship's sensors and their capabilities for sea-surface, air, and orbital tracking operations for use across the Fleet. Moving forward, I wish to understand various forms of sensor instrumentation (Sonar, Radar, etc.) to eventually research ways to improve upon and integrate them. I am excited to be working aboard the Nautilus this summer to experience how the ROV's sensors and instruments operate in tandem.
What sparked your initial interest in your career?
My relationship with science began when I first set sail with the US Navy. The fast-paced environment coupled with my work on complex electronics and intricate machinery quickly captured my curiosity. I was enthralled by the applications of electronics, as I witnessed the acquisition and tracking of objects in real-time. What made things even more special was that I participated in the Navy's test team for these new technologies, which, in turn, drove me to want to study and remain at the forefront of new technologies.
Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?
In the Navy, my fellow shipmates and the civilians with whom I worked noted my passion for physics and engineering and eagerly encouraged me to endeavor towards exploring new sciences, technologies, and applications. Their support continues to motivate me every day.
What element of your work/study do you think is the most fascinating?
The most undeniably fascinating thing that I have come to appreciate is that we experience the world through electromagnetic forces, from cell phones to radars to even our sense of touch and thoughts. With every physics course I take, I have come to better understand that the foundations of how we interact with the natural world, in its most basic form, can be expressed through electromagnetism. It blows my mind every time.
What other jobs led you to your current career?
The largest influence that led me to where I am now comes from my 6 years in the Navy. At that time, I learned how to operate in many roles. When I first started, I began things from a technician's perspective, learning the ins and outs of the radar entrusted to me. I then moved into a more managerial role, where I coordinated with the ship's schedule, Port Operations, and civilian test teams to plan out maintenance, update and equipment install, and ship-wide operational test projects. Luckily, because I was stationed on a test ship, I had the opportunity to learn how to write and test out new maintenance procedures, and translate new operational capabilities in a concise technical manner for equipment manuals; this, on top of keeping up my Seamanship skills and duties. These experiences taught me that science is a team endeavor, almost anyone can participate, and that it can take place anywhere, even in the wildness of the open seas.
What are your degrees and certifications?
Bachelor of Science- Physics: Applied Physics and Engineering (in progress)
Associates of Science in Physics, Math, and Natural Sciences -- Pasadena City College 2019
Electronic Technician Journeyman Certification - US Dept. of Labor
What are your hobbies?
Surfing, open water diving, performing stand-up and improv, cooking and baking fresh bread, and, of course, playing D&D with friends.
How did you get involved with the Ocean Exploration Trust?
Surprisingly enough, I encountered the Ocean Exploration Trust through the Nautilus Live Instagram page. After following their page for a number of weeks, they posted that the Science & Engineering Internship Program applications had opened up. I then shot my shot and applied; luckily, I was selected, and I could not be happier to join the expedition.
What advice would you give someone who wants to have a career like yours?
The best advice I can give, at current, is to ask questions-- a lot of questions. Do not be afraid to look stupid, because, if you continually ask good questions, you'll look like you are learning. I have discovered that people in science love teaching as much as they love learning. In fact, one of the foundations of science is to ask questions. So-ask, listen, learn, repeat.
Mychal participated in the following Ocean Exploration Trust expeditions: