Be a life support system technician!
Do you have a flourishing aquarium at home? Or maybe you have worked in a public aquarium before. Perhaps you’ve done both. Either way, you most probably have a passion for marine animals, and would be right at home working with the life support system team at the Marine Life Park. Ho Ju Ward, a life support system technician, tells us more about what it takes to be one.
1) Hi Ju Ward! Firstly, what does a life support system technician do?
A life support system technician ensures that the system runs flawlessly by monitoring the equipment and troubleshooting problems. Our key role is to ensure the marine animals are kept healthy at all times.
2) How long have you been in this field?
About 12 years as a career, but I have been interested in aquarium water management ever since I was a kid. I started out as a diver in another aquarium, but because of personal interest or should I say fascination, I studied more about aquatic animal life support systems before I became part of the life support system team. With more than 10 years in public aquarium life support system and animal husbandry, I joined the Marine Life Park in May 2011.
3) How did your interest in this field start?
I started out as a fish hobbyist and enthusiast. When I was a child my grandmother used to bring me along on her trips to the market and she would leave me at the aquarium stall. Once done with her shopping, she’d buy me a fish of my choice, which I would add to my own mini aquarium at home. As a fish hobbyist, I wanted to ensure that my fish thrived, so I tried to understand the parameters of the water. It’s an uncommon challenge, but I enjoy it.
4) Why did you choose to join MLP?
I’m hungry for a bigger challenge. I was with my previous workplace for 14 years, and although I learned a lot, I needed something to break the routine. Here at MLP with the advanced system and the wide range of different marine animals, everything is just at a much larger scale and presents a different sort of challenge – something that I was looking for.
5) What is your typical day here like?
For now, my key duty is to ensure that the proper nuts and bolts go in the right places.
When the park opens, it will be a different story. Our main role then will be troubleshooting if the system fails, and ensuring that everything runs like clockwork. The aquarium is fully automated with advanced software that performs various functions like the regulation of the water flow. The life support system team will have to monitor the system to ensure that it is working, and if readings are out of target ranges, we’ll need to pinpoint why and rectify the issue.
6) How has your experience with MLP been thus far?
It’s organized chaos! Right now there are so many things to coordinate logistically and so many people to work with. A lot of things here are on a larger scale than what I was used to. But it’s been challenging in a good way; now, I need to think in a more macro sense. And this is exactly why I joined MLP in the first place.
In all honesty, I look forward to work every day because I’m doing something I enjoy; I have never woken up to regret my choice of work.
7) What are the basic requirements of a person interested in this job?
Interest and foundation in life support is necessary; basic understanding of aquarium equipment like reading gauges (for water flow, air flow and pump pressures etc.), monitoring nutrient levels, understanding various filters and plumbing equipment (like ball valves and butterfly valves) will be very helpful. Regardless of whether it is large scale or small, is still applicable. Of course, he or she must also be committed to and have a passion for the marine animals and their well-being.
8) How is this job challenging?
The lives of the animals are in your hands. Perhaps like a doctor, what we do have repercussions on the lives of others; we must do what must be done with complete accuracy and timeliness. So it’s about having to be focused and driven.
9) What is the difference between working here at MLP and elsewhere?
It’s too soon to say, but one thing that might be different is the extensive variety of fish. Some animals might be more sensitive than the rest, and it will be an advantage to have some more know-how to ensure that they thrive.
10) What are the positives of being part of the MLP team?
We’re multinational! It’s a big family with many cultures trying to cooperate and work as a single unit, so you get to see and experience things from many different perspectives and be exposed to different opinions. It makes the workplace more colourful and interesting.
11) Describe a Life Support System technician in 3 words.
Passionate, driven, and enthusiastic. You should expect the unexpected.
12) What words of advice would you give someone interested in becoming a Life Support System Technician?
You should not be afraid to learn. Most importantly, you should leave your ego behind – it’s not about you or me, it’s about the marine animals.