Chief scientist for Bothell-based Teledyne BlueView helps provide acoustic underwater vision and measurements.

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SYSTEMS ENGINEER
Brian Zoebisch

What do you do? I am the systems engineer and chief scientist for Teledyne BlueView, a [Bothell-based] company focused on providing acoustic underwater vision and measurements. Specifically, I am in charge of integrating our sonars with Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUVs), Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) and other custom installations. I am also responsible for investigating root causes of system failures and for providing a holistic approach to improving our existing systems.

How did you get started in that career? It’s been a long, strange path! When I began studying physics and electrical engineering, I was involved with nondestructive evaluation of materials using ultrasound. I was later involved with testing piezoelectric materials, arguably the basis for acoustic imaging. When I graduated, I spent 12 years of system level analysis of the latest defense torpedo for the Navy, which is where I learned a complete perspective of how underwater vehicles function.

What’s a typical day like? Every day is challenging and dynamic. I typically have at least three major projects going and am constantly in demand for insight and direction. One moment I might be supporting a sales order, and the next troubleshooting a random electrical noise problem. One morning I might be busy analyzing data and running meetings, and in the afternoon, out on Lake Washington testing image quality.

What’s the best part of the work? It keeps my mind occupied and there is never a dull moment. I also get to travel onsite to provide system integration support, which could be just about anywhere in the world! It’s very fulfilling to see the results of my work firsthand and to be there when the customer launches their vehicle into the water with our sonar on it.

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What surprises people about what you do? I think just the job itself. I often get puzzled looks when people ask what I do for a living, but I try to explain it to them as I like things explained: Pretend I am a 5-year-old. A good deal of people are pretty familiar with things like fish finders, but when you can show them an image of a small crack in a bridge piling or a sunken airplane, it’s eye-opening for them to see how far underwater acoustic imaging has come.

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