Journey to the Deep: Alumnus Finds His Comfort Zone 35,853 Feet Underwater

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Following his graduation with a bachelor’s degree in ocean engineering, Mat Jordan ’11 began work at Spartan Electronics, a company specializing in hard-to-find, obsolete and allocated electrical parts. Soon after beginning his career, he was offered the opportunity to work at Triton Submarines thanks to connections he made at Florida Tech. In fact, it was his now wife, Alexandra Gottschall ’12 M.S., who made the transition possible. Alexandra had hired another Florida Tech graduate, who later offered Mat his position, and as they say, the rest is history.

Triton Submarines is a private state-of-the-art submersible designer and manufacturer in Sebastian, Florida. As an electrical engineer for Triton, Mat has to don a lot of different hats. His responsibilities span designing electrical systems, conducting field troubleshooting, performing piloting work and orchestrating sea trials for various Triton subs.

Manned submersibles were never a career Mat considered while studying at Florida Tech, and he focused mainly on autonomous vehicles and robotics. He was under a shared impression that manned submersibles have disappeared.

“In reality, they have just shifted from commercial to pleasure use,” Mat says.

On April 28, 2019, Victor Vescovobroke the world record for the deepest dive in history aboard a Triton 36000/2. Vescovotook his Triton to a depth of 35,853 feet below the surface into Challenger Deep, part of the Mariana Trench and the deepest point on Earth. By comparison, the highest point on Earth, Mount Everest, is 29,029 feet.

Mat was directly involved in the project from its infancy through its completion. He was part of the early design stages, worked through the electrical system and was responsible for the majority of the final design work to ensure the sub was ready for manufacture. Once manufactured, Mat accompanied the crew for the initial sea trials, which were held in the Bahamas and off the coast of Newfoundland.

The 36000/2 submarine is a staggering feat of engineering due to its ability to be reused repeatedly. Vescovo’s expedition lasted an entire year and utilized the same sub, ship and crew to hit each of the five deepest points around the world, conducting multiple dives at each location.

“The submarine itself is the first repeatable diving, ultra-deep diving submarine. Up to this point, no submarine has been able to dive to such depth repeatedly,” Mat says.

Mat is particularly excited about a new submarine that Triton is building and that he designed the electrical system for, as it is being developed for purely science and filming uses.

“To me, that bit is rewarding, knowing that this sub will not just go on a super yacht for some guy to use when he wants—but this is going on a research vessel to be used for science and to discover new things or, basically, do a lot of research, which I like,” he says.

When he first came to Florida Tech’s campus, after visiting both Georgia Tech and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mat enjoyed seeing all of the hands-on projects the students were involved in; he loved the area and felt that it was a good fit.

“When visiting Florida Tech, I saw there was a lot of hands-on stuff, and I really liked the professor that I talked with, Dr. Wood.”

Mat feels his undergraduate degree at Florida Tech prepared him well for his current role.

“I learned a lot of skills, which I use every day here [at Triton],” he says. “I learned how to learn—that was a big one.”

Fun Fact: Mat and Alexandra love the deep so much that they got married in a submarine at a depth of 1,000 meters (3280.84 feet)!

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