As It Happens

Grad student set to defend his thesis underwater

Splish-splash he was . . . defending his master's thesis? A University of Victoria education student prepares to don a scuba suit and complete his degree while diving below the surface of the sea.
University of Victoria graduate student Mike Irvine is getting ready to defend his masters thesis underwater. (Courtesy of the University of Victoria)

Mike Irvine is set to make a splash in the dry world of academe. The University of Victoria student is getting ready to defend his masters thesis in education from below the surface of the Salish Sea off the coast of British Columbia.

And lest you think he's not taking his thesis defense seriously, he'll be wearing a pinstripe suit over his wet suit.

"People need to connect with the ocean," Irvine tells As It Happens host Carol Off. "A lot of what my research focuses on is about bridging that gap. How do you connect people from different places and spaces to marine environments, to begin to start a conversation about learning about ocean literacy."

Irvine's thesis, "Underwater web cameras as a tool to engage students in the exploration and discovery of ocean literacy," will be streamed live on YouTube as well.

His thesis defense will take about 15 minutes and, following his presentation, he'll face two rounds of questions from his advisors. He expects to be underwater for about an hour.

"We're in a very controlled environment," Irvine explains. He adds that the dive will be supported by a team of underwater experts who have volunteered their time for his project. 

"I'm also on a tether, so if I blacked out, they can reel me up the surface," he jokes.

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