Faculty Awards and Honors

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Don Barthelmess


Annual Faculty Lecturer 2007-2008

Don Barthelmess, son of Doris and Donald Barthelmess, Sr., was born and raised in Long Island, New York. Growing up in the coastal town of Patchogue, his family members were avid boaters and baymen. Don spent his youth on the waters surrounding Long Island, gaining an early appreciation for the ocean and those who made their living through it.

In 1973, at age thirteen, Don made his first SCUBA dive while visiting the Florida Keys. This experience influenced his decision to learn more about diving and make a career of it. Don attended Florida Institute of Technology in 1978, after graduation from high school. He received an Associate in Science Degree in Underwater Technology, with distinction, from FIT.

After college, Don worked for Taylor Diving and Salvage of Belle Chasse, Louisiana, and Solus Ocean Systems of Houston, Texas. He later joined International Underwater Contractors, Inc. of City Island, N.Y. At the time, IUC was expanding services in deep water using advanced diving technology and manned submersibles. IUC sent Don to Great Yarmouth, England, where he was trained and certified as a pilot for their new Mantis class advanced diving systems (ADS).

With IUC, Don worked in the Gulf of Mexico and off Santa Barbara, using submersibles and surface-supplied diving. In 1983, IUC established a U.S. depth record for working dives with an ADS, by diving Mantis 010 to 1,979 feet aboard the drilling rig Penrod 75. IUC and Jet Research Corp. later successfully placed and detonated the deepest shaped explosive charge, in 1,650 feet of water, to sever a wellhead. Don was the sub pilot during both these record-setting dives. Later that year, he established another record in the Santa Barbara Channel by piloting Mantis 011 to 1,450 feet during a live-boat environmental survey for the California State Lands Commission.

IUC provided Don with tremendous opportunities to travel worldwide and advance in his career, as the firm ventured into ROVs, hyperbarics, diver training and deep-sea filming for the National Geographic Society. In 1986, he was promoted to Manager of IUC’s Pacific Division in Ventura. Don left the firm in 1989, exchanging the rigors and demands of the offshore industry to settle down and start a family. Don accepted a full-time tenure-track position with the highly- acclaimed Marine Technology Program at Santa Barbara City College. He served SBCC as Program Director from 1994 to 2003, and as an Academic Senator and member of the College Planning Council.

In 1996, Don was tasked with redesigning the traditional academic structure of the Marine Technology Program to meet the rapid technological changes taking place in higher education. In 1998, the newly restructured program received the Exemplary Program Award from The Chancellor of the California Community Colleges.

Don has remained active in industry throughout his career. Since 1994, he has served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Commercial Diving Educators. He was Vice Chairman of the Marine Technology Society’s Los Angeles section. Don served on the Board of Directors of the Historical Diving Society USA and is a Past President of the organization. He was a member of the West Coast Chapter Committee of the Association of Diving Contractors.

Don was a co-author of the certification scheme for the American National Standard-Commercial Diver Training Minimum Standard, ANSI/ACDE-01-1998. Additionally, he serves on the Technical Diving Advisory Board for the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI).

In 2003, Don completed an undergraduate degree in Occupational Studies at California State University, Long Beach. He stepped down as Director of the Marine Technology Program to return to the class- room and complete a graduate degree in Educational Technology from Pepperdine University. Don continues his passion for learning, technology and education by training and diving with his students in local waters.

Don’s educational philosophy embraces constructionism. He believes that knowledge is not transferred from teacher to student, but built collaboratively in phases, through rich and meaningful experiences. He believes long-term learning is embedded in social contexts supported by a dynamic community of practice.

Don has been happily married to his wonderful wife Carol Kallman for 19 years. Don and Carol live on the Santa Barbara Mesa with son Robby, 18, and daughter DeeDee, 16.

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