Are you passionate about…
The environment and the ocean? Save the Whales! Exploring the deepest depths of the sea? Pushing technology to the limit? Building sensors that can withstand the harshest forces of nature? Sea foam? Wearing a snorkels and flippers? Why not consider a career in oceanographic engineering?
In a Nutshell, Who is RBR?
Did you know that the ocean covers nearly 71% of the Earth’s surface? Woah! Well, companies like RBR help to monitor, track and measure changes in the makeup of the water all around us. RBR develops and manufactures submersible data loggers, recorders, sondes, controllers and sensors for water quality measurement, such as, changes in salinity, C02 and turbidity.
Since 1976, RBR Ltd. has been manufacturing high precision instruments for oceanographic, freshwater, groundwater and cryospheric research. Founded by Richard Brancker, the company is now run by a team of enthusiastic engineers and oceanographers.
What is the atmosphere like on the day-to-day? What would you see when you walk in the office doors?
RBR is not what you might picture from oceanongraphic engineering firm: scientists roaming the halls in lab coats, thick glasses and suspenders. Although the technology that they develop is cutting edge, their collaborative and futuristic workspace is similar to the offices of a high-tech company and not the labs of The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper. The RBR team sits in an open-concept, futuristic layout that allows everyone to collaborate.
With a staff of about 30 people, employees get involved in all aspects of everyday functions. “You get to learn numerous functions in comparison to large companies,” says Emily MacPherson, Marketing and Communications for RBR. “Because of our size, you get to develop many skills. You are constantly learning and have the ability to wear different hats.”
RBR is a family owned company, so it comes as no surprise that the atmosphere is family-oriented and a supportive environment. “On a daily basis, you unfortunately do not have the opportunity to socialize with all the departments, so we organize a lot of activities to encourage teams to get together and chat to learn more about different parts of the organization,” Emily notes. “We have BBQ’s, team building activities, spur-of-the-moment lunches, cake to celebrate birthdays, and lots of pot-luck to encourage people to spend time together. We also believe in celebrating family milestones, such as, buying a new home, weddings, births, and educational accomplishments.”
Since RBR’s technology is for monitoring oceans, you need to go where the oceans are. Occasionally, the team travels to the open waters for product testing. Avast, ye landlubbers! “Our products can go anywhere that there is water. Last week our team was testing in Baja, off the coast of Mexico,” Emily exclaims. “We were also involved in James Cameron’s dive into the Mariana Trench. The Avatar film director descended to the deepest-known point on Earth through a joint expedition with National Geographic and Rolex, named Deepsea Challenge. It was exhilarating to see our DR-1050, a small pressure recorder, taken into the unexplored abyss at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.”
What makes them a cool place to work?
Not since the time of Jacque Cousteau exploring the depths of the ocean, has oceanography been this exciting! RBR helps to track mega storms, like Sandy or deadly tsunamis, to alert the public of impending natural disasters. Their C.T.D data loggers were also featured on the award winning documentary, #peopleofafeather, film about a unique Inuit culture that relies on birds for food and clothing, and the challenges they share adapting to changing sea ice ecosystems.
“Without our equipment, institutes like Environment Canada, NOAA, environmental agencies, wouldn’t get the essential data that they need to give the public vital statistics on drinking water quality and contamination levels to protect the public,” Emily explains. “One of our products acts as an alert warning system for natural disasters such as tsunamis,” says Emily MacPherson.
Emily goes on to explain how rewarding it is to build a product from scratch: “It’s pretty cool to take something from nothing, from the ground up that can have a big impact on the oceans and environmental world. Our products will save wildlife and people, all while collecting important information.”
What also makes things fun is the variety. “Every day is different. The technology is so progressive and interesting that you don’t get bored; and we are one of the few companies pushing the boundaries in this area,” Emily explains. “It’s also very rewarding to be working in the environmental market.”
What skills you will need?
There are a number of soft skills that you will require to work at a company like RBR:
- Thinking outside the box
- Flexibility and open-mindedness to work with people from around the globe
- Ability to multi-task
- Creativity while still understanding the technical side
- Passion for putting things together
You will also need to brush up on your technical skills, such as:
- Linux, Java Virtual Machine, JBOSS, Jetty, Tomcat
- Networking (TCP/IP, Load Balancing, Proxies, Firewalls, etc…)
- Python, BASH or Perl
- MySQL or Oracle
What kind of job could you have?
Want to learn more about coops or internships with RBR?
“We hire summer students to come and work with the engineering department (software development, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering or general IT). We have a pretty heavy IT department, due to the nature of our products,” Emily explains. “RBR is always looking for young minds interested in engineering, who are also passionate about environmental studies.”
James Cameron Dives with RBR: