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Military veterans take steps underwater towards civilian careers

National University has 1 of 6 dive programs in US
Posted at 5:25 PM, Sep 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-02 20:25:40-04

One of the most unique and dangerous classrooms in the country sits in the heart of San Diego on National University’s campus. 

It’s a 44,000-gallon fresh water tank used to train divers and military veterans appear to be taking advantage of it.

10News got a tour of the facility Friday as the University was hosting an open house. National University said roughly half of the students that enroll in the program are military veterans.

“As a Marine I was a welder and then I heard about this. I wanted to take it to the next step,” said Christopher Aguilera, who spent four years in the U.S. Marine Corps.

The National University Polytechnic Institute's dive program is one of only six in the United States and the only one in San Diego. It’s not SCUBA diving. These divers wear gear that weighs them down and their breathing apparatus is actually at the surface. They are tethered to machines that pump oxygen to them beneath the surface. Divers can also have two-way conversations with the surface.

Program instructors said the training is important, especially for intricate underwater construction jobs like on ocean drilling platforms. National University has about 20 people move through the eight-month program several times a year.