It All Started With Endeavour
How did you first decide to work in marine engineering?
Joe Curcio discovered his passion for sailing while studying engineering at the University of Vermont. From early adventures racing a variety of boats in Lake Champlain, he eventually found himself involved in the resurrection of an old America’s Cup 12 Meter winner, Intrepid. It was aboard Intrepid, racing with other classic yachts in Narragansett Bay that Joe first laid eyes upon two world classic J-Class yachts, Shamrock V and Endeavour. Despite his initial limited sailing experience, Joe inquired and persevered and eventually found himself working full-time aboard Endeavour as a deck hand and eventually as Chief Engineer. Over the course of roughly a decade, Joe sailed thousands of miles aboard Endeavour, crossing the Atlantic several times and exploring the waters of the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and portions of the Pacific Northwest. During slack periods with Endeavour, Joe was also invited to sail and work as engineer aboard Shamrock V. Joe’s responsibilities as engineer included routine maintenance and overseeing periods of extensive restoration and refits with both yachts.
During one pre-dawn watch aboard Endeavour, Joe found himself at the wheel as his watch mates were busy prepping breakfast and cleaning up down below. The sun was just creeping up over the gentle Atlantic swell and glinting off the stainless binnacle. In a moment, Joe realized that he found his home. There was literally nowhere else on earth that he felt so connected and alive as during these profoundly peaceful times skimming across the sea. The gentle sound of cresting waves and wind whispering through the rigging was like an orchestra providing the sound track to a life well-lived. Without fanfare, without discussion, Joe made a decision that would profoundly impact the remainder of his life. He decided to forego an excellent offer to join a world-class biomedical engineer at a world renowned research institute who was developing cutting edge robotic prosthetics. Instead, Joe decided to tack. His new career trajectory would somehow tie his passion for the ocean with his background in mechanical and biomedical engineering. He wasn’t clear exactly how this would happen or where this would take him, but he was certain that a new course lay ahead for him.
Upon returning to Newport Rhode Island, Joe continued to fulfill his responsibilities with Endeavour as they entered into another refit that entailed substantial engineering effort. During free time, Joe went to the library and researched opportunities for aligning engineering and ocean science. It was here that he discovered programs at MIT and the University of Michigan in marine engineering. He applied to and was accepted at both institutions, ultimately choosing MIT as it allowed him to remain closer to family and friends in Maine and New England. At MIT, Joe found a new passion for marine robotics and environmental stewardship. He worked in the Sea Grant Lab developing and operating early underwater robotic vehicles. Joe was tapped to fulfill the role as Chief Scientist aboard research ships operating multiple robotic systems for US DoD and environmental research interests. He eventually founded a company and led teams developing his own vehicles and systems.