They head down to the Santa Barbara Harbor and spend the next 20 minutes loading up the dive boat, Conception.
They are embarking on a nine-hour journey that few community college students dare to dream of. Under the professional supervision of the MDT staff, the amateur divers are about to gain valuable hands-on experience.
These offshore trips visit a wide variety of locations along the coast, including the Channel Islands. Today, Conception is taking 31 people including students, faculty and crew, just off Hendry’s Beach.
First semester scuba divers and second semester surface-supplied divers suit-up and prepare to make a splash.
Surface-supplied divers took turns practicing underwater cutting on an iron pole using a device called a stinger.
According to department chair, Geoff Thielst, these offshore trips not only allow students to complete tasks in a natural environment, but also teach them the work ethic of being a successful diver.
“Well, in class we really touch on many different things from rigging, moving loads, using lock shackle that kind of stuff, to seamanship skills, operating boats and knowing how to work on and around boats. We work with hydraulic tools, we work with engines and equipment,” said Thielst.
Riley Booth, the only female student who went on the trip, remains unfazed by the male-dominated industry.
“It’s just a whole different world within our world I guess, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever done before, it’s amazing,” said Booth.
The MDT program prepares students for a wide range of career possibilities and provides them with an extensive contact system in the field.
“I just know I love diving and that’s what I’ve done. Ever since I went to Hawaii as a kid, I went on my very first dive just with some guy who took me and I went down there and I was like ‘that’s all I want to do the rest of my life,’ so I’ve just been kind of following that this whole time,” said Jack Fischetti, MDT student.
“The students don’t know this: it’s not what we do in the water today—or did in the water today. It’s showing up this morning, on-time, ready to be prepared to load the truck, bring the equipment, get it from our facility down here, set it up, make sure we have it, make sure it works, make sure it’s operating and then mobilize to a remote location. And that’s what’s important. Anyone can just stick a helmet on a hose at the marine tech building and go diving. Now it’s not just us and the project, it’s us, the project, the boat and the ocean. That’s what’s important about it,” said Thielst.