Val Schmidt received his Bachelor’s degree in Physics from the University of the South, Sewanee TN in 1994. He served as an officer in the US submarine fleet aboard the USS HAWKBILL from 1994 to 1999. In 1998 and 1999 the USS HAWKBILL participated in two NSF sponsored “SCICEX” missions to conduct seafloor mapping from the submarine under the Arctic ice sheet. Val served as Sonar and Science Liaison Officer during these missions. Val left the Navy in 1999, working for Qwest Communications as a telecommunications and Voice Over IP engineer from 2000 to 2002. In 2002 Val began work as a research engineer for the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, where he provided science and engineering support both on campus and to several research vessels in the U.S. academic research fleet. Val completed his Master’s Degree in Ocean Engineering from the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire in 2008. His thesis involved development of an underwater acoustic positioning system for tracking tagged whales. Val continues to work as an engineer with the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping.