News & Updates

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NE Pacific Ocean

Meet the Team-Clara Smart, Navigator

Susie Hill / Ocean Exploration Trust

What does it take to be a Navigator aboard Exploration Vessel Nautilus? An excellent background in math and science, the ability to visualize globally (get the whole picture), flexibility, and good communication skills.  Clara Smart, one of our Nautilus Navigators, definitely has all of those qualities!

As a Nautilus Navigator, Clara is the main link between the ship’s bridge and the operations team. Her job is to clearly give directions from the science team to the bridge based on the goals of the current dive. An example would be for her to inform the bridge of desired changes to ship’s speed based on what the remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) are doing (e.g. the ship will need to stop if the ROVs are preparing to be towed). In preparation for an immediate change to occur, like bad weather or a moving ship, the Navigator works with the ROV team and bridge to create a backup plan which is then communicated to the scientists so everyone is prepared. Safety always comes first.

When not a Navigator, Clara studies under Dr. Chris Roman at the University of Rhode Island (URI). They are using high-resolution sensors to map the seafloor and Clara is working towards her Masters and PhD in Ocean Engineering. Ever since seventh grade, Clara has had a passion to work with machines, especially with robotics in research. Because of that passion, she has pursued studies in Engineering and Computer Science with an emphasis on sensors and systems. As she explains about the evolution of robotics, “the body of robots has been designed, and now let’s give the robots a brain and better feeling mechanisms.”

Her advice to anyone wanting to pursue a career in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math is to “figure out a project that is cool and exciting to you. When it gets tough, don’t forget your inspiration.”