Students, Sponsors: Beware of Pacific Nautilus 1

This is rant. You’ve been warned. This will hopefully be the last time I ever mention Pacific Nautilus on this blog. Also this is my personal opinion and may or may not be representative of the San Diego City College Robotics Engineering Club and its members. For background read my last post.

It looks like Pacific Nautilus is trying to assemble another team. Actually, when I say Pacific Nautilus it should be clarified that I mean Chris Carter. There is no one, to my knowledge that is still apart of his pseudo-organization. For a second year in a row, an entire team has left Chris. So when Chris writes “we” he is being optimistic. Let me detail why this year’s team left him.

During the first day of the competition Chris and I were the only ones actually at the facility from our team. The first two days are set aside for testing and is also when you have to actually qualify for a spot in the competition. Like many schools, we were having some problems. During this time, there were various people coming around to see what teams were doing and asking questions. While I was trying to trouble shoot the problems and eventually fix them he took every opportunity to tell each and every person that passed how “they”, meaning the team, “wouldn’t listen” to him and hadn’t “kept it simple.” After hearing this 5 times, I was extremely irritated. After 20+ times I was infuriated. Still, I said nothing. I wanted to keep everything as professional as possible. Basically, I was there for 12 hours trying and eventually getting the sub to work all while Chris stood around and talked shit about the work that the rest of the team and myself had put hours upon hours into.

The next day the sub was working and with a few quirks we made it straight through the gate to qualify. At this point Chris starts to change his tone. Instead of “they” he starts to include himself in the teams work by using “we.”

Now lets talk about sponsors. I had identified a source on the Internet for possible sponsorship of hydrophones. I gave Chris the information and he contacted the organization and eventually the guy in charge. This turned out to be a gold mind. The guy made us a set of 4 custom-made, matching hydrophones. he also sent us an adjustable pinger made to match what was used in the competition. Now, however, our team has no hydrophones nor a pinger. These are all in Chris’ possession and, although I’m sure the sponsor was donating them to “the team,” we have no access to these because instead of donating them to the Club they (we believe) were donated to Pacific Nautilus. The same thing happened to a $2500 camera that was donated to the team.

The main difference between Chris and the other team members is that he wanted to have ownership of everything. He wanted to have City College pay for as many things as possible (shirts, entry fee, etc) but he wanted Pacific Nautilus to own the Sub. I and many others wanted to be apart of a project that the next generation of students could work on. Chris hated the idea that what he started could later be controlled by someone else. I had the feeling the entire time that Chris would not be apart of a project of which he was not the leader. We had and have an extremely good team but Chris was never interested in being a team player and I therefore don’t consider him to ever have been apart of “the team”. He was interested only in being the leader.

So now let’s talk about the Pacific Nautilus website. There, Chris lauds the achievement of 2007 team for placing 11th out of 27th. I’d like to correct him. We actually placed 9th as the there was a error in tallying the final score. This will be officially corrected soon. He also lists a fictitious UCSD team which he has been talking about for a year. Chris uses area schools to make Pacific Nautilus sound more reputable. He falsely represents Pacific Nautilus as being somehow in cooperation with San Diego academic institutions. In reality, Pacific Nautilus acted as a barrier in the case of our team. City College was extremely wary of this outside organization that would offer no written agreements. The Club tried on several occasions to get Pacific Nautilus’ relationship with the Club formalized in writing. Chris never wanted this and it never happened. Having formal agreements didn’t allow Chris the flexibility to take his ball and go home. Now that we have completely broke with Pacific Nautilus (and I’m sure because of our success), the school is more willing to offer support.

After a certain point we, the team, all kinda decided that we would put off the politics in order to put together a working sub for the competition. We knew it wasn’t going to be pretty once we expressed to Chris that we no longer desired to have him in charge. We actually never got around to telling him that due to the somewhat dramatic conclusion to the competition.

Wow, this is getting long. Even though I have more to say, I think I’ll cut it short here.

In closing, if you’d like to join or sponsor one of the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle teams in San Diego, you’ve got 2 legitimate teams to choose from: The first team that broke from Pacific Nautilus – San Diego iBotics or the second team that broke with Pacific Nautilus (my team) – San Diego City College Robotics Engineering Club.

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