In 2012, Alvin, the nation’s only deep-diving human-occupied submersible dedicated to marine science gradually was re-assembled and tested as part of a $40 million upgrade. It was all thanks to the generosity of many donors, including the Institution’s Trustees, members of the Corporation, and the Deerbook Charitable Trust, who helped WHOI meet its $5 million cost-share to the National Science Foundation for the project.
The latest developments in Alvin’s Stage One upgrade include:
- A new personnel sphere: Constructed of titanium, it weighs more than 5.5 tons and its walls are nearly three inches thick – an inch thicker than the sphere in use since 1973. The interior volume is 19 percent larger and allows for better ergonomics. The number of viewports has been increased from three to five, and easy-viewing computer monitors have replaced switchboards and gauges.
- R/V Atlantis modifications: The ship’s handling system underwent a major modification and overhaul. The A-frame and swinging beam assembly was upgraded.
- High-definition cameras: The Deerbook Charitable Trust also funded Alvin’s camera upgrade, a significant technological enhancement focused on its imaging capabilities. New high-definition cameras will provide unparalleled close-up video and still photography of the seafloor and inhabitants of the deep ocean.
The Deerbrook Charitable Trust also supported a workshop aimed at helping WHOI attract qualified minority scientists and engineers to ocean science. James Yoder, vice president of Academic Programs and dean of the MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography, brought together science professors from minority-serving institutions and programs from around the country to introduce them to representatives of the U.S. ocean science graduate programs.
“By establishing a pipeline between science and engineering programs at minority-serving institutions and ocean science graduate programs, we expect an increase in applications to our national graduate programs and enrolled students from underrepresented groups,” Yoder explained. “Participants in this workshop appreciated getting to know us better and learning more about career opportunities in oceanography.”