Cool New Job

Coral, Arduino, and plenty of Automation!

Posted by Adam Musciano on January 23, 2017
Being geeky in Petco ended up getting me my dream job

Job Description

I am working under a Professor that has assigned me to designing the setup of the currently empty lab meant for doing tests on sps coral. The experiments may change over time, so the system needs to be able to handle many different circumstance. Automation is a big concern, all information should be highly accurate and highly accessible.

In High School, I would have told you that a position like this would be my dream job. It seems very ironic that I would end up getting a job doing everything I had wanted in a job when I was younger, at a time when I didn’t know jobs like these even existed.

I had first heard of the job through a woman in passing, who had overheard me talking to my roommate about coral. She introduced herself as a grad student, and said they were looking for someone with the experiences and goals that I had. I am very grateful for this person, you can check out her portfolio website here

It's easy to see the allure to reef keeping with species such as this

Prior Experiences

In the summer before my freshman year of High School, I started my first Marine Reef Aquarium. Turning my parent’s basement into a 14 year old’s skewed depiction of a laboratory (thanks Mom and Dad!), I started to foster a reef aquarium.

For those aware of the many acronyms and terminologies of reef keeping, I grew three types of coral: some soft, few lps, and many sps.

This tank let me experiment and learn about many different skills that I normally wouldn’t have been exposed to – especially at such a young age. Reef keeping didn’t just educate me in specifics that might only help in academia (spectroscopies, water chemistry, etc), but it taught me more about the world around me. I think it gave me a more inquisitive perspective of nature, and taught me not to fear seemingly “big” tasks, and instead to break them down.

Reef keeping also gave me my first entrance into practical programming. No more Right triangle calculators, card games, or magic 8 ball scripts – now my fish and coral’s lives relied on my code to work flawlessly. From scripts to mimic the times of moonlight vs. sunlight during the year, to scripts to help automate maintenance of the tank, I learned about how much utility there is to learning a programming language.

To give you a picture of how important the health of coral is to some hobbyists, here is a listing for 3 inches of a collector’s edition acropora, priced at 900$.

Yes, these are real