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Kaitlyn Tradd

Growing up, I spent summers down here on the Cape and Martha's Vineyard and always loved swimming and snorkeling. I got my SCUBA license at age 12—a birthday present from my parents, knowing how much I loved exploring the sea. At a very young age, on a rainy summer day, I toured #WHOI and got to sit in a mock-up of the Alvin personnel sphere. At that point, WHOI skyrocketed up my list of the coolest jobs in the world.

I did a summer student fellowship before my senior year of college and got the chance to participate in a 6-week research cruise to the Mid-Atlantic ridge. It was a trip to study four different hydrothermal vent sites and I was in charge of a brand-new fluid sampling instrument that I had modified to use on the remotely-operated vehicle #ROVJason. It was an incredible experience, and I knew I wanted to work at WHOI when I graduated.

Now, I get the opportunity to see a project like that from concept all the way to implementation. At WHOI, I work as something like a freelance engineer or contractor, providing mechanical design and expertise to scientists in every department across the institution. It's unique as an engineer to fill the role of CAD designer, drafter, assembler, field technician, and sometimes research scientist! I love the challenges I am faced with during each part of the process, troubleshooting problems in the field or figuring out how someone would machine the part I have conceptualized in my head.