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Office of Coast Survey

NOAA's Navigation Response Teams

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MEET: Vitad Pradith

Physical Scientist, Office of Coast Survey

As a physical scientist in NOS’s Office of Coast Survey, my primary duties involve driving policy and technological innovations for the Navigation Response Branch. This is accomplished through reengineering of processes related to hydrographic data collection for the Navigation Response Teams (NRTs). I also play a support role to the NRTs and am a member of a Mobile Integrated Survey Team (MIST). MISTs are typically deployed following events such as hurricanes to identify potential hazards that may impede safe navigation.

Vitad Pradith

What do you like most about working at NOS?

NOS provides an exciting environment that fosters discovery and innovation. I enjoy the opportunity to make such contributions. Having managers that support this is also very important, and is certainly evident within the organization. Being part of NOAA has affirmed my respect and admiration for the organization, its mission, and its people.

What is the hardest part of your job?

The most difficult challenge is managing change with respect to technology while also guiding changes to established protocols and procedures. The constant digestion of new innovations can be overwhelming. The “drinking from the fire hose” analogy applies here!

What is your educational background?

I have a master’s in geospatial information science from the University of Maryland and a BA in geography with a minor in Biology from San Francisco State University. I tend to enroll in academic courses whenever the opportunity arises. Other schools I have attended include the University of Massachusetts-Boston, Grays Harbor College, Bunker Hill Community College, and Prince Georges Community College. 

What inspired your interest in the ocean and coasts?

My interest really started when I was an undergraduate living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Being exposed to this marine-centric culture provided plenty of inspiration and opportunities.

How did you end up working at NOAA?

I was an intern for the National Park Service’s (NPS) Golden Gate National Recreation Area, performing cultural and invasive species mapping using aerial/satellite imagery and Global Positioning System technology. Coincidentally, the San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve cooperative with NOAA recently had been established, and cemented my interest after I waffled between NPS and NOAA. After graduation, I applied for an internship and began my career with the Office of Coast Survey’s Navigation Response Team Three. Initially, I performed hydrographic surveys out of Westport, WA.

What advice do you have for young people wanting a career in the "ocean realm"?

Geographers make great candidates! The spatial theories and concepts are very similar and transition quite nicely to the ocean realm. And don’t forget those soft skills. Being able to explain what you do to the public is as important as those tech talks with your peers.