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Scientist Spotlight: Scott Hansen

November 23, 2010
Scott Hansen

Scott Hansen

Scott Hansen grew up interested in sailing, knowing that he wanted to spend time out in the ocean. Today, he has a career that allows him to do so in a unique manner. Scott is a mechanical engineer who does contract work with the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Jason through Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Scott is a pilot for Jason, in charge of manipulating Jason’s mechanical arms in order to collect specimens.

Many times he has piloted Jason on expeditions to collect specimens for geology, biology, and archaeology. In the Extreme Corals Expedition, Scott is using Jason’s mechanical arms to collect coral samples in the Gulf Stream region.

Scott compares operating the Jason ROV to playing a video game. The ROV control booth is where the crew is stationed to control and monitor Jason as it moves through the water. Seven joysticks are used to operate Jason, as well as a touch-screen graphical user interface (GUI). Sixteen different screens provide views and information about Jason during its operation. Scott states that all of these parameters have to be monitored at once to build “a 3-D image of whats going on around you.”

At any given moment, Jason can be 500–6500 meters away from the ship where the ROV control center is located. As the pilot, Scott must pretend that he is in the center of the ROV, thousands of meters away, and make decisions based on the parameters provided by the monitors and GUI in the control booth. He must also stay aware of Jason’s buoyancy and the ship’s location compared to Jason’s, all the while trying to collect delicate pieces of coral and other specimens from the depths of the ocean. Scott has demonstrated his skill and expertise in piloting the Jason ROV through the Extreme Corals Expedition.

Interview with Scott (mp3)

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