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Scott Beatty

Man with a moustache and colourful short sleeve shirt crouching on a shoreline amongst electronic buoys.
  • Category: Emerging Alumni Award
  • UVic degree: Master of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering, 2009; PhD in Mechanical Engineering, 2015
  • Current hometown: Sooke, BC
  • Birthplace: Edmonton, AB

About Scott

As founder and CEO of MarineLabs, Scott Beatty has his dream job at the nexus of ocean-enthusiast, tech visionary and coastal weather expert. After completing a PhD focused on ocean engineering, Scott spent more than 18 years working as an engineering researcher and consultant in maritime technology. He’s produced influential and highly cited work on wave energy, served as convener of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) committee on wave energy performance assessment, helped international governments invest more than $100 million in marine tech, and served as judge for US Department of Energy (DOE) Blue Economy prize competitions. MarineLabs, founded by Scott in 2017, aims to transform marine safety and help build climate resilient coastal infrastructure through its fleet of ocean sensors and data sources. 

How did your experiences at UVic shape you?

The people that I spent so much time with have become lifelong friends and colleagues. Their ideas have shaped me, and my ideas have shaped them.

What skills or traits are needed to be good at what you do?

Intuition about the feasibility of a hard technical solution or a hard technical problem. Being able to see something in your mind's eye that is potentially possible, and being able to assess how possible is it. Can my team do this thing?

Another one is tenacity. There's a lot of problems that are hard. And if you give up when you get a tough result, then you're not going anywhere. It’s about continuing to push. Keep trying it in different ways. That is something I ended up learning at the University Victoria was that ability to research and continue to dig deeper, to try to get the answers.

What motivates you?

I want to see my work improve the world somehow. In grad school, it was about “Let's see if we can get this renewable-energy source online. Let’s see if we can reduce carbon and build a new renewable energy source for society.” That was extremely motivating. I've moved on a little bit in terms of the problem itself… To me it's about leaving the world in a better place than when I arrived. That's fundamental to me.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I have an 18-year-old daughter, and I'm most proud of her. She's in first-year university right now. She doesn't text message me enough, but I'm still super proud of her.

What's a valuable piece of advice someone has given you?

When you’re in a technical profession or in a technical pursuit, it can be easy to get buried in that technical piece. And if it didn't go quite as well as hoped, then the thing you seem to initially focus on is the technical failure. But, in the long run, it doesn't matter what technology or objects you were working on, it's the people and relationships that you will remember. And that stuck with me. It allowed me to decouple a bit from the objects and the technical stuff and think more about the people.

What’s your advice to someone who’s about graduate or uncertain about their future?

I'm thinking that Venn diagram of what you're good at and what the world needs. If you're good at it and you love it and the world needs it… and if you're working on that thing, then your work is actually more like play… and that can open up doors in a career and in a life.

What’s something that brings you joy?

Joy is having an idea in my mind's eye of a solution, and then it actually happens. That point where you realize that it actually happened after all the work you needed to put in. It's not only satisfaction of a job well done, but that that idea is now real.

What do you do to relax?

Get out in the ocean and go surfing. Or even boating or canoeing—just somehow getting on the water.

What’s a secret talent you possess that might surprise people?

Origami. I can pull that out once in a while. I didn't have cable as a kid, so building things out of paper and cardboard ended up being the backfill on all that time. Paper airplanes and origami were a big hit for me.

Are there parallels between that and what you do now?

Definitely, because there's a point where you want to build what's not in the instruction book and try to come up with your own [idea], and you can think about what it might look like, and then try to build the thing in your mind's eye, and if it succeeds, that gives you this feedback, that is the joy that I'm talking about.

About the Distinguished Alumni Awards

Nominations for the 2024 awards are now closed. Nominations for the 2025 Distinguished Alumni Awards are open through Oct. 18, 2024.