Magazine article Oceanus

Rob Munier Comes aboard as New Head of Marine Operations

Magazine article Oceanus

Rob Munier Comes aboard as New Head of Marine Operations

Article excerpt

Sometimes, a career change has the feel of deferred destiny.

"I was in the Caribbean," said Rob Munier, "at Grand Cayman Island, doing graduate work in the mid-1970s, and one day, there was Alvin at the dock with its tender ship, R/V Lulu. It always stuck in my mind as an exciting image of oceanography and science."

Now, Munier has responsibility for the submersible Alvin, as well as the rest of the deep-submergence vehicles, ships, and ocean observing systems at Wood Hole Oceanographic Institution. On March 1, 2010, he became WHOI's vice president for Marine Facilities and Operations. He succeeds Susan Humphris, who had served as acting vice president since November 2008.

Munier came to WHOI from Tyco Telecommunications, a company specializing in large-scale undersea technology. During a 30-year career in ocean engineering, he has worked on cable systems for telecommunications, oil and gas exploration, ocean observing, military applications, ocean energy, and oceanographic research. Most recently, as managing director for Tyco, he developed transoceanic fiber-optic systems, the underlying infrastructure for the global Internet and voice communications.


"For the first half of my career, I was frequently aboard ships and have spent more than 500 days at sea--mostly putting things in the ocean and taking them out," he said. "I look at this job as cutting down on travel! But no matter what, I plan to periodically get out on the WHOI ships to be sure I appreciate what's going on at sea.

"The challenge of this job is very different," he said. "I come from an environment where the pressure's on to deliver a product. In a commercial venture, failure is not an option. Here, the process is part of the objective, because you're doing experimental work."

Nevertheless, as a service provider for the scientists using WHOI ships, vehicles, and tools, the Marine Facilities and Operations Department "needs to be reliable, so the scientists have leeway to try things," he said. …

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