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CBI Field Operations Crew

An Outstanding Islander

Photo of CBI Field Operations Crew

Maintaining the Gulf Coast

For a team of four alumni/graduate students at the Island University, it’s not uncommon for “another day at the office” to include being suspended from bridges and piers, navigating to an offshore buoy in the Gulf of Mexico, calibrating highly-technical sensors in the lab, repairing an observation station, or installing specialized instrumentation in Florida.

As the Conrad Blucher Institute (CBI) Field Operations Crew, Brian Lorentson, Zachary Hasdorff, Kelby Boehl, and Hugo Mahlke are one of a few elite groups of technicians around the nation trained and qualified to build, operate, and maintain equipment on behalf of the National Ocean Service.

Lorentson, a Research Technician II, finds that having a set of specialized skills, including good problem-solving skills, is both challenging and exciting. 

“A love of the outdoors and being able to work along the Texas coast in all types of weather conditions including intense heat is a characteristic we all share,” said Lorentson. “Many organizations utilize the information and the data we provide. To be a leader in this field is very rewarding.”

Lorentson, who is working on his certificate in Geomatics, hopes to take the skills that he has gained at the CBI and continue this line of work for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The CBI has built and maintains 30 Texas Coastal Ocean Observation Network (TCOON) stations and more than 20 of the NOAA’s Physical Oceanographic Real Time Systems (PORTS) along the Gulf Coast. These stations collect information on water level, wind speed and direction, air and water pressure, even through storms and hurricanes. For two decades, the CBI has provided the University with large research grants pertaining to the coast of Texas and is well known around the nation for having the best and densest observation network in the world. These accomplishments would not be possible without CBI Field Operations team.

Hasdorff’s advice to someone interested in this type of work is to be prepared to learn, work hard, and understand how those tasks are critical to preserving the coastal environment. 

“TCOON is the envy of many other states that have often turned to the expertise of CBI for consultation on developing their own networks,” said Hasdorff, Research Technician III. “It means a lot to be a part of a scientific and technical organization whose mission it is to preserve and enhance the nation's coastal resources.”