History-making explorer Victor Vescovo ’84 is seeking out Marksman ingenuity to solve a problem in his upcoming deep-sea expeditions. Victor’s team is trying to collect soil samples from the ocean floor, nearly seven miles beneath the surface, but their current methods are not working. During a tour of St. Mark’s Winn Science Center last year, Makerspace Director Stewart Mayer offered the expertise of the School’s award-winning robotics team. Victor took up his offer and the boys got to work.
On January 28, the boys took turns presenting Victor with digital renderings and 3D-printed scale models of their prototypes. The devices would have to survive the immense deep-sea pressures, be able to collect enough material to be scientifically viable, and not rely on electricity to operate. Victor listened closely to each presentation, asking pointed questions about the design and deployment of each device and providing unique insights into the harsh environment on the ocean floor. At one point, Victor paused and turned to the group, saying “You know, this is very similar to what happens in product design and development in real corporations that I work with.” His most important question for each presentation was “How can this fail?”
Afterward, when asked if he trusted high school students to design such an important component, Victor said, “Absolutely. The wonderful thing about young people is that they don't know what they should not be capable of doing. These boys are gaining tremendous experience from seeing an engineering project go from the ideation phase to winnowing out the best design, and then actually making something that is useful.”
In March 2020, Victor will receive the 2020 Explorers Club Medal at the 116th Explorers Club Annual Dinner. The Medal is awarded for extraordinary contributions directly in the field of exploration, scientific research, or to the welfare of humanity. Past recipients include Neil deGrasse Tyson, Gen. James Doolittle, and Neil Armstrong. In April, Victor will return to St. Mark's for the Spring Alumni Dinner, where he will be honored as the 2020 recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award.
In April 2019, Victor broke the undersea depth record
when he piloted his submersible DSV Limiting Factor
down 35,853 feet into the Mariana Trench’s Challenger Deep in the Pacific Ocean. One month later, Victor returned to St. Mark’s to deliver the Commencement Address to the Class of 2019
. In August 2019, Victor and his team completed their historic Five Deeps Expedition, visiting the deepest point in the world’s five oceans.
Before setting his sights beneath the sea, Victor became only the 53rd person in history to complete the Explorers Grand Slam, which includes climbing the Seven Summits and skiing to both the North and South Poles. Throughout his adventures, Victor has displayed his Lion pride, wearing a St. Mark’s crest on his diving uniform and carrying a St. Mark’s flag to the summit of Mt. Everest and the South Pole.
After graduating from St. Mark’s, Vescovo earned degrees from Stanford University, MIT, and Harvard Business School. He co-founded the private equity firm Insight Equity and spent more than two decades as an operational intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve.