Students get up-close look at ROV

ALPENA – The Underwater Robotics 2 remotely operated vehicle team had a unique opportunity to meet a representative of Oceaneering and show off their ROV on Thursday. The team returned from Seattle at the end of June from the MATE International ROV Competition, where they initially met and captured the attention of Darian Breaux, a regional ROV training manager with Oceaneering.

Breaux came to Alpena to meet with Alpena Community College marine technology instructor David Cummins and discuss the marine technology program offered at ACC. The training in the program is geared toward job opportunities offered by Oceaneering and other deepwater oilfield engineering service providers.

“The curriculum here meets the need of the oil industry,” Breaux said. “We want to show our commitment to the college program here as well, and will hopefully recruit employees out of this area. We have over 12,000 employees in 53 different countries and cover a wide variety of different cultures.

“This job isn’t for everyone. You make a good living, but are offshore 28 days at a time. Currently we have 340 jobs listed on our website and hire around 150-200 ROV technicians annually. We’re continuously growing.”

The starting wage for a first year technician is around $55,000, and within four years, employees could be up to six figures.

“The job is based on rotation,” Breaux said. “It’s six months on, six months off in cycles. The first year is always the hardest, but if they stick with it, it’s worth it.”

Cummins was excited about Breaux’s visit.

“It’s big for the program to have Oceaneering’s support,” he said. “They are the largest employers for ROV technology. Breaux has been in Alpena checking out the program and what we’re doing here at the sanctuary and at ACC.”

Breaux said he was very impressed with the junior high UR2 ROV team at the International competition, and made a point to spend time with them on his visit to Alpena.

“It’s great to see the young kids interested in this field,” he said. “Their enthusiasm makes the future brighter. We wanted to see more of them. It’s great to see them so involved. We will definitely be following them.”

The team had the chance to drive a commercial ROV while on the shipwreck the Monohansett, and were very impressed on it’s handling and long tether.

“It goes a lot quicker,” Elizabeth Thomson said. “We’ve been researching for design rationale for next year and this really helped us. We picked up ideas from the way the commercial ROV was designed.”

Teammate Sam Beatty agreed.

“It was nice not being limited on a short tether,” Beatty said. “It was more efficient and was cool seeing the wreck.”

Breaux said he enjoyed working with the team and looks forward to his next visit to Alpena.

“I’ve definitely enjoyed the sights here. The scenery is beautiful,” Breaux said. “I look forward to coming back and meeting with the first class to graduate from the ACC program. I hope to do interviews here with the first class. It’s promotional too, we like to get our name out in the community.”

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.