The Last Word

Underwater Magazine had the opportunity to speak with Hans VanSumeren, Director of the Great Lakes Water Studies Institute, for this feature. Thank you to Hans for all of your help!

UNDERWATER Magazine: How did you get involved with the industry?

HVS: I studied Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering at the University of Michigan and actually became the first ROV pilot for the school in 1994 when we acquired what was then a medium-duty research vehicle. It was the first on the Great Lakes. And I used that vehicle throughout all of the Great Lakes and U.S. Coastal Oceans on a number of different projects. Then, almost 11 years ago, I came here and an opportunity came up to lead the institute at NMC. I was lucky enough to secure that opportunity, to come home and also build something unique. The first things that we tried to do here were create more opportunities for students in areas of water and marine applications.

UW: What would you say has been the most rewarding part of your career within our industry?

HVS: If you take out the excitement of many of the opportunities I have gotten to be a part of under water, I would say right now if I look back, it’s seeing where these students are. It’s hearing about their experiences or the jobs they have gotten or the work they are doing within their jobs. To me, that’s probably the ultimate gratifying piece of what I do. We have been able to help create these next careers and I see it as limitless in terms of their opportunities. Every single student from our program are all employed and they all have very good jobs and we connect with them. They ask us questions to this day, even if they have been out of the program for a year or two, asking for help. The industry is recruiting our students, hiring their classmates, helping train our faculty. That’s the most rewarding part. That continued networking of everyone who has gone through this program and the long-term relationships.

UW: 2018 was the ADCI’s 50th Anniversary. What would you like to see the association do to make sure the next 50 years are just as productive?

HVS: The workforce challenges or opportunities, however you’d like to look at that, as we look into the next 50 years is that the person who is performing this type of work and the companies who really are the core of ADCI, the work won’t go away, but how they perform the work will change. I think staying at the leading edge of being a provider of the necessary competencies for what it takes to be successful, to be both a good employee of the company as well as to be a company who can meet the future challenges. That’s where I’d really like to see ADCI continue and really thinking about how do we make sure that not only are we providing a credential through our endorsement that has value, but that we’re making sure that credential maintains current status with where the industry is headed. I certainly see that now and I think if that’s the way things continue, then ADCI and the industry will be in great shape.

UW: Anything else you would like to add?

HVS: We’ve got these academic programs, we’ve got the ADCI ROV-specific training that we’re offering but we’ve also developed what I’ll call the triad of opportunity in surveying and inspection. We’re strong in the un-manned aerial sector, we have a great program there. We are now just adding in the professional land survey component. And then we have the marine. So you think about these companies and the work that they’re doing, they’re all going to be using a component of all of these things to be a real player in how things are moving forward. We have that going here and we’ve taken all our academic training and we’re not providing it from a professional perspective. So the ROV school is an example of that, and we’re going to do short-course training in various components of all three, air, sea and land sectors as it relates to inspection and mapping and surveying.