WATCH: Victoria grad student to defend his thesis underwater

WATCH: University of Victoria graduate student Mike Irvine talks to BC1‘s Aaron McArthur about his attempt to make history by defending his Masters thesis in real-time from the bottom of the ocean. 

In what may be the world’s first, a University of Victoria grad student is going underwater to defend his Masters degree.

Mike Irvine will attempt to make history by defending his Masters thesis in real-time from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

The project has been three years in the making, and this afternoon, he will finally defend his thesis while donning his scuba diving gear.

Irvine’s thesis is titled: “Underwater web cameras as a tool to engage students in the exploration and discovery of ocean literacy.”

“The defense is the physical embodiment of the research itself,” says Irvine. “Underwater cameras give people around the world an opportunity to connect with marine sites from anywhere they are. The ocean is a mysterious place to a lot of people. Very few people around the world ever had the opportunity to see what’s down there, even locally. So, it is about motivating and engaging students in marine science through observation of life under water.”

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His entire presentation should take 15 minutes, followed by questions from the committee.

Watch the live stream of Irvine’s thesis here. It starts at 12:30 P.T. this afternoon.

Irvine says he has a few “contingencies” in case technology does not cooperate.

“Worst case scenario, I have to come to the surface and I would finish the defense [there] either via cell phone or video conferencing,” he says.

Although his project is raising many questions and eyebrows, Irvine says his goal is clear.

“There are a lot of things going on in the ocean today. The English Bay [spill] is probably a good example of a more recent impact. [The ocean] covers over 71 per cent of the Earth’s surface. It is very important culturally, economically and for many other reasons as well. We need to be able to understand those connections, and live interactions with marine sites makes it a little more real and accessible.”

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