David is a general engineer for NOAA’s Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS), which provides for accurate, reliable, and timely tides, water levels, currents, and other vital coastal oceanographic and meteorological information.
I assemble, test, and maintain oceanographic and meteorological observation systems for CO-OPS. I do routine maintenance and software upgrades, and I calibrate, configure, and test hydrological and meteorological sensors. I also troubleshoot faulty observatories remotely and notify our field techs when a site visit is needed to resolve an issue; then I recommend solutions and provide technical support as needed. I collaborate with other divisions on system enhancements and work to improve and maintain software, such as schemas to reduce data size for satellite transmission.
After obtaining my bachelor’s in computer science and a master’s in electrical and computer engineering, I searched for a job that would merge my technical expertise and my passion for innovation and allow me to make a positive impact. This led me to apply to CO-OPS for the general engineer position as a contractor. It didn’t take me long to realize that I had made the right decision. When a similar federal position became available, I applied for it and was fortunate enough to get it.
Ever since I was a kid, I have loved tinkering with electronics, even if it meant I occasionally broke something. This early fascination earned me the nickname “Engineer” from my parents. As I got older, I became interested in computer programming. I combined computer science and electrical and computer engineering so I could indulge in both of my passions. It was invigorating to learn that NOS values a diverse range of talents in its workforce. At that point, I knew I could contribute to the mission in the capacity I am passionate about and which I have been doing to this day.
First, I would like to acknowledge my parents. Without them I would not be where I am today. My wife also has been a source of strength. She has supported and encouraged me since 2015 when I moved to the United States from Nigeria and during my transition to graduate school at Old Dominion University the following year. She helped me understand American culture while I was pursuing my career. This was not as easy as it sounds.
Early in my NOS career, I took on a project to simulate ocean tides by varying the water level in a test tank. These simulations would be used to test water level sensors before their deployment to NOS tide stations. My academic background had been primarily theoretical, so this project offered a valuable hands-on experience. I developed a theoretical model as a basis for creating a pump system and programmed the pumps to run according to the model. I let the system run overnight and set up water-level sensors and data loggers to collect data.
The following day, I eagerly examined the results and was thrilled to find that the practical data closely aligned with my theoretical model. This particular experience was a turning point in my career, and it gave me a sense of satisfaction to know that I could translate abstract concepts into tangible real-world outcomes. I have since tackled more substantial projects, but this moment remains a pivotal and lasting source of inspiration.
I find most of the projects I work on exciting, so it’s tough to choose one as the top project. But, I must say, I really enjoy projects that involve working with different teams and divisions. It’s a great chance for me to learn and collaborate with others.
My Nigerian heritage has instilled in me the importance of education and hard work. This cultural influence has motivated me to continue my education in a field that truly resonates with my passions and to pursue a career that supports those aspirations.
Be ready! Acquire the knowledge and credentials you will need to succeed in your area of interest as best as you can, so when the opportunity arises — and it will — you will be fully prepared to seize it.