Behind every great Sea Machines system is a powerhouse team of talented mariners, engineers, coders and autonomy and perception scientists. Here, we invite you to meet some of them.
A Boston native, Lauren Lamm grew up hearing stories of her father’s U.S. Coast Guard career. While in high school, Lamm attended a Science Technology Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) program at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA) and knew her career would follow in his footsteps.
“I realized then that I didn’t want a traditional desk job,” Lamm said. “The STEM program at Mass Maritime exposed me to some aspects of ship life, from maintenance to safety. It was exciting.”
After graduation, that passion inspired her to enroll at MMA, to which she was accepted. It was during her freshman MMA Sea Term that she reaffirmed her passion for bridge navigation aboard ships. Her four-year stint at the academy began as a marine transportation major and member of the crew team, and ended as regimental training and retention officer, with sea-going experience as a deck cadet aboard a Maersk Line car carrier. While still enrolled at the academy, she met her husband (a fellow mariner-in-training) and earned her 3rd Mate Unlimited Tonnage license, an accreditation that helped her land her first job after graduation in 2013, sailing for Otto Candies.
As she gained experience on the bridge with Otto Candies, she also upgraded her license to a Master Unlimited Tonnage upon Oceans and began to take an interest in marine autonomy.
“I was originally attracted to autonomy as a way to help avoid human error in our industry,” she said. “Now, I also view it as a tool that will make the marine sector safer and more efficient. While the industry has been slow to change, it’s obvious this is the direction it’s going. I view autonomous marine technology like dynamic positioning (DP) was viewed 20 years ago. Back then, it seemed foreign to mariners, but now people rely on it and it has added so much value. It’s just a matter of time before our systems are embedded in maritime operations, helping to make everything smoother.”
In July 2018, she followed her new interest in emerging marine technology and joined Sea Machines as a vessel test lead. The job now lets her use the company’s SM series of products for commercial vessels and provide recommendations from the mariner’s perspective that make them easier to use and more intuitive.
“Sea Machines considers me the voice of the customer,” Lamm said, referring to the mariners who use Sea Machines products. “I love being out on the water putting our products to the test so we can make improvements. I take this responsibility seriously and I enjoy showing the industry that this high-end technology is easy to use and integrates fully with vessels. I know the work I’m doing is going to help create a safer environment for mariners to operate in.”
Lamm is a founding member of the Northeast Chapter of the Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA) and is an avid runner and cyclist, including participation in the 2015 and 2018 Pan Mass Challenge and 2019 Boston Marathon. Her husband currently works as a mariner in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.
Originally from Connecticut, and a life-long ocean enthusiast, Sea Machines’ Chris Sotzing originally set out to study biology at Colby College, in Waterville, Maine. While enrolled in his undergraduate program, his interest in studying marine animal behavior evolved into a curiosity about the creation of behavior and he switched to a degree in computer science, focusing on robotics. The moment helped to define his future career, as it allowed him to recognize the opportunity to combine his two passions of engineering and the ocean.
In 2004, after he completed his undergraduate degree, Sotzing relocated to Edinburgh, Scotland, where he earned his Ph.D. in autonomous underwater vehicles from Heriot-Watt University. He remained in Edinburgh until 2017, working for SeeByte – as a software developer for autonomous systems – in positions of increasing responsibility. His most recent position in the United Kingdom was project manager for the Autonomous Inspection Vehicle (AIV) project, which had commercial application in offshore, deep-water inspections.
“I discovered that I really enjoyed not only the development of cutting-edge autonomy technology but also the application of that technology to real world problems,” Sotzing said. “It’s been incredibly fulfilling to see code that I’ve written used to overcome real challenges offshore.”
In 2017, Sotzing relocated to the U.S. to open SeeByte’s Boston office. He held the position until February 2018, when he joined the Boston-based Sea Machines team as director of engineering. Now a valued leader of the Sea Machines team, Sotzing has primary responsibility for ensuring the successful development and deployment of the company’s SM300 and SM200 products, as well as managing the engineering team in Boston.
“It’s rewarding to use my passion for marine engineering and skillset in developing and delivering intuitive, autonomous vessel systems to deliver robust solutions for the company’s commercial marine customers,” Sotzing said. “This is an exciting time to be involved in these types of technology advancements, particularly for surface vessels, and it’s exciting to contribute to a start-up that is growing so steadily.”
A Long Island, NY, native, Frank Marino’s engineering career began in his early years building LEGO sets. As he grew, he took apart cars and other items just to put them back together. This passion for building and fixing later drove Marino to Northeastern University, in Boston, to tandem pursue his B.S. and M.S. degrees in mechanical engineering, with a concentration in robotics.
“I was drawn to robotics over other engineering specialties because machines are animated. I enjoy building robots with the purpose of completing tasks,” he said.
While in school, he participated in three co-ops. The first allowed him to optimize the efficiency of greenhouse operations using robots. This included managing the mechanical and electrical design for robots to recognize heavy potted plants and move them to designated locations for ideal watering and management.
“Before robots were used, greenhouse labor was manual and expensive. Automation helped the greenhouse reduce costs and increase safety, which was rewarding,” he explained.
The next co-op he participated in was for QinetiQ, where he had the opportunity to use his mechanical engineering expertise to retrofit large vehicles with advanced, remote-control systems.
Marino’s final co-op was for Hydroid, a marine automation company, that helped to connect his engineering passion with his love of the water and recreational boating. There he was tasked with providing mechanical engineering support to the company’s automated underwater vessels. He continued supporting Hydroid for several months after his 2016 graduation from Northeastern.
Then, in January 2017, Marino joined the Sea Machines team as a mechatronics engineer. The job now allows him to work on Sea Machines’ hardware and electrical design integration, and has fused his passions and experience into one package that is fulfilling him in new ways.
“Every boat is like a new puzzle to me,” he said. “And working for a start-up is exciting. What I am building now for Sea Machines is the foundation for future iterations of technology, which will be a more compact and sleeker design. What we’re learning will help us build tomorrow’s products. One day, every boat will have some kind of automation built in, like cars do now. It’s neat to be a part of that.”
When asked what he enjoys most about his career at Sea Machines, he said, “The company is one of the few developing this type of technology. I like that the company’s systems offer robotics solutions that will ultimately solve the challenges of ‘dull, dirty and dangerous’ work, and will help to save lives, keep people healthier and allow companies to be more productive.”