Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Dr Rob. L. Evans

» Cape Abilities Partnership

» MT Survey of the East African Rift


» Cascadia MT


» Coastal Change: Drowning of Barrier Beaches

» Mariana Subduction System MT

» Archean Craton Studies: The SAMTEX Experiment

» Coastal and Continental Shelf Electromagnetics

» An EM Survey of Hydrate Mounds

» Mid-Ocean Ridge Research

A Partnership with Cape Abilities to Find Work for People with Disabilities


As part of an MRI2 proposal to NSF, we set up a partnership with Cape Abilities, a Cape Cod non-profit, which finds work experience for people with disabilities. The initial purpose of the partnership was o have Cape Abilities manufacture silver silver-chloride electrodes for a new fleet of seafloor magnetotelluric instruments. To make this work, we hired a project manager, Trevor Harrison, in the fall of 2010. Trevor worked in our lab, learning the existing manufacturing protocol. We worked to redesign the electrodes, not only to streamline the manufacturing process so that it could be tackled piecewise by different workgroups, but also to make some improvements in materials used and to cut production costs. Trevor built a small batch of prototype electrodes which were an improvement on the existing design. Workgroups from Cape Abilities underwent  WHOI safety training worked in the lab, assisted by Trevor and Buzz Friend, a Cape Abilities "Job Coach". The manufacturing process was completed smoothly and the electrodes performed well. After Trevor left for graduate school, we hired another project manager, who worked with us for another year. In addition to electrodes, Cape Abilities crews helped manufacture sediment traps for the Coastal Systems Group in Geology and Geophysics, have soldered some battery packs, and have done some sediment processing in the lab.

As funds ran out for further salary support, we applied to the Tower Foundation for an award to support the program for another 3 years. That award was successful, and we are in the process of advertising for the next project manager.

We would encourage other groups within WHOI who manufacture or process large quantities of items that could be put into a similar workflow to contact Rob Evans. We will work with you to see how that production might be carried out by Cape Abiliites crews. This partnership makes a powerful broader impact for NSF proposals. A video describing how the project came about can be seen at: More details on the partnership can be found at:

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