1. Hello, my name is Catrin Wendt. I am a senior and McNair scholar studying marine science. I am here with you today to show you how research is both an evolving process and a balancing act between what you need to accomplish and your limitations. Together we will follow the design of an underwater video system at it bounces between our research site and our engineering lab. We will watch how the design evolves according to shifts in project needs and constraints.
2. Now, let’s orient ourselves. The research takes place on a remote island in the Pacific Ocean. This island, located within Micronesia, is home to disturbed reef habitats. Due to its remoteness, previous research has focused on snorkeling depths. Deeper reefs are, for the most part, unstudied. This is where our role comes in. In order to study these deeper reefs, a type of baited underwater camera system needed to be designed. It’s a bit difficult to build technology on a remote island. So, while the field research was conducted in the heart of the Pacific, our lab was located 3 days of flight travel away, in Monterey.
3. The baited camera systems, which I’ll refer to as BRUVs, were built here at CSUMB in the Ecosystem electronics lab.
4. During our first design, we balanced our needs of a bait component and video data with our limitations. The design needed to be both robust and portable – it will be transported over 4 flights to the remote island. The BRUVS also needed to be low cost and user-friendly so that others can use it as well. After the design was complete, it travelled back…
5. … to the remote island to collect data!
6. Unfortunately we don’t have any pictures of it in action! But, as you can see, the design is bait friendly, can record video data, and is easily assembled with low-cost materials. The BRUVS did not get too much water time, but we did learn a lot to apply to a new design. At the end of the 2014 expedition, a group of very exhausted engineers returned to California with BRUVS 1.0 in tow.
7. Back in the lab, we decided to make some modifications. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if the BRUVS 2.0 were modular to allow deployment in mid-water and rocky substrates, in addition to the sandy-bottom design of the previous version? While we were still limited in what we could build, we created a new design.
8. In Summer of 2015, the new and improved BRUVs flew back to the middle of the Pacific for round 2 of data collection. As you can see in the first photo, the design is much different. This is an example of the mid-water deployment of the BRUVS. You can see the bait bag on the left and a rudder, designed to control camera direction, to the right. We also have an example of some data collected – or lake thereof! The fish were not interested in the bait we had to offer!
9. Back to the lab in Monterey, and back to the drawing board! It is time for BRUVS 3.0. One thing we learned while on the island is that our fancy modular designs were unnecessary! As it turns out, the mid-water design, the one pictured earlier, was very versatile. For our next design, we will streamline the BRUVS to make it more portable. We will also need to test new bait. This will add additional limitations. We will be limited in the types of bait we test according to what the inhabitants on the island will allow us to use.
10. This summer, after another round of modifications, we will be making the trek back to the island where we will test the newest design. As you can see, we are nowhere near a solid end to the project. Research and engineering is a constantly evolving process as you adjust your project needs and limitations.
11. I would like to thank my lab here at CSUMB, our collaborating research group: One People One Reef, the People of Ulithi, and UROC for our support in this adventure!