Charlie Brooks '18 : One Student's Path to a Dream Job at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Charlie Brooks '18 - Marine Systems had a very clear career goal in mind when he enrolled at IYRS - to work aboard an oceanographic research vessel. He grew up in Rye, NY and attended the University of Rhode Island where he graduated with a degree in Marine Science.  Wanting to learn more, Charlie enrolled in IYRS’s Marine Systems program to learn the hands-on, technical skills he knew he needed to pursue his long-term career goal.

While researching IYRS externship opportunities, he applied to MATE (Marine Advanced Technology Education) to sail on a research vessel during the summer of 2018.  He didn't hear back right away and instead took an externship position at Oyster Harbors Marine on Cape Cod, a respected boatyard and yacht brokerage. Oyster Harbors was a valuable learning opportunity for Charlie where he worked as an electrical technician installing VHFs, chart plotters, stereos, lighting, and other electrical components to meet his customers’ specifications. His skilled work during his monthlong externship led to a full-time offer from Oyster Harbors.  

Charlie never lost sight of his dream of working aboard a research vessel though. He finally heard back from MATE while he was working full-time at Oyster Harbor. Oyster Harbor generously allowed him to take May and June off to work for MATE aboard the research vessel Hugh R. Sharp as an oceanographic research technician, also known as a martech or restech.

With the skills and experience from IYRS and MATE bolstering his resume, he applied to Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, CA and was hired in the fall of 2018 as a restech. Scripps is one of the most important centers for global earth science research and education in the world. Scripps scientists work to understand and protect the planet by investigating our oceans, Earth, and atmosphere to find solutions to the world's greatest environmental challenges. The dream job had arrived.

In the two and half years Charlie has been working for Scripps, he has sailed on various research vessels providing technical support to scientists and conducting deck operations on research cruises all over the Pacific. He has sailed along the entire West Coast of the United States, and to Hawaii, the Southern Ocean, and New Zealand.

One of his most exciting work experiences has been the "Midlife Refit" of Scripps' global class research vessel, R/V Roger Revelle. This extensive refit involved a complete overhaul of the ship’s scientific systems to prepare it for another 20 years of service to the scientific community. Charlie spent 6 months of the 14-month refit in the shipyard working to upgrade the ship's systems and on other critical projects to prepare Revelle for the second half of its service life.

“It was very gratifying to have helped to tear down and build back up a ship that I now sail on, with the knowledge that the work I helped accomplish will positively impact Revelle’s service to the global scientific community for years to come,” Charlie says.

Charlie's work on the refit led to his promotion to Lead Technician on Revelle in the spring of 2020. Adventure is never far away, and he is currently sailing aboard Revelle on a nearly 60-day research cruise from Hawaii to 60° S latitude in the Southern Ocean and back again, a journey of approximately 12,000 nautical miles!

When asked about how his experience at IYRS impacted his career, Charlie said, “My experience in the Marine Systems program was invaluable to my career development. I can confidently say that without the skills, certifications, and confidence I developed at IYRS, I would not be where I am today. When I was selected for my MATE internship, I was told that the formal instruction and certifications that I had received at IYRS made me a well-rounded candidate and were a large factor in my selection for the internship, which in turn led to being hired by Scripps.”

Charlie’s determination in pursuing his dreams is inspiring, and IYRS is thrilled to have played an early role in Charlie’s many successes. We look forward to following his career and adventures while living his dream!