UNDERWATER Magazine had the opportunity to speak with John Paul Johnston-Executive Director, Divers Institute of Technology.
UNDERWATER MAGAZINE: Tell me about how you got involved with the industry and what your responsibilities are at your current job.
John Paul Johnston: Most of my diving career was with the U.S. Navy. I was an enlisted saturation diver and then upon being commissioned as an Ensign, I was a special operations officer and had the privilege of commanding the USS Denton (ATS-1), one of the Navy diving vessels that could be fitted with at sat system. Upon retiring, I was offered the job as the executive director of Divers Institute of Technology located in Seattle. I am responsible to our owners, Bruce Banks and Jack Ringelberg, to ensure that all training is conducted safely, with strict adherence to the requirements of the Diver Certification Board of Canada (DCBC) by which we are certified most importantly — ensuring our graduates are fully ready to take on the challenges upon entering the diving industry.
UM: How have you been involved with ADCI?
JPJ: I have been aware of the ADCI since my early years in Navy diving and have followed its progress since then. DIT has been a long-standing member of the association, and we are working closely with Phil Newsum on the issue of full certification recognition by the international community.
UM: What has been the most rewarding part of your career in the underwater industry?
JPJ: There have been many rewarding moments during my career, but I think the last 20 years have been especially rewarding. DIT was the first school in the U.S. to attain full international recognition through the DCBC in 2003. Then, the school moved to a state-of-the-art facility in 2011, and last year we celebrated our 50th Anniversary. Each day I watch young people develop skills and traits that will have a marked effect on their success. Additionally, it is amazing to meet some of the individuals who graduated in the first classes DIT starting in 1968. Some of these folks are and have been leaders in the industry and the ADCI.
UM: What types of issues are most prevalent in the industry now? How would you like to see ADCI approach these?
JPJ: Without a doubt, safety is and will always be the most important factor in our industry. From where I started in 2000 to the current date, I strongly believe the ADCI and the international bodies have all taken on this issue and as things happen, we will see more stringent requirements. Another area that is getting a significant amount of attention is — globalization. I know that the ADCI is working closely with the international community to fully achieve global recognition, and I believe that it will change the conduct of business in some sectors of our industry.
UM: Where will the industry be in 5 years?
JPJ: I think there will be new technologies that will create changes in how we conduct our operations and will create educational challenges. I believe that our safety standards will be stronger, the global industry more cohesive, and the ADCI will remain at the top of the leadership for divers worldwide.