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Gary Harkins

Director Emeritus, EPS Department & Department Director





Research Interests

Program Management, System Design


Gary Harkins is the Director of the Laboratory's Electronic and Photonic Systems Center. He currently manages a team of 32 electrical, mechanical, and software engineers with expertise in the design of state-of-the-art oceanographic data collection and data processing systems. Working for both Department of Defense and National Science Foundation sponsors, the team has developed the ability to handle all phases of system development from the conceptual stage to prototype fabrication and final acceptance testing. The Center's engineers are also fully experienced in operating these systems at sea on various types of U.S. Navy vessels and test ranges as well as other non-DOD oceanographic platforms.

Mr. Harkins has been with the Laboratory in 1966 and has many years of experience as an electrical design engineer. He currently works primarily on the development of new programs.

Department Affiliation

Electronic & Photonic Systems


B.S. Electrical Engineering, Seattle University, 1965

M.S. Electrical Engineering, University of Washington, 1968

In The News

New lab to give scientists underwater access

KIRO TV, Donna Gordon Blankinship

Scientists are eager for access to information from a quarter-billion dollar lab at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean that they hope will teach them about climate change, earthquakes and even the origins of life on Earth and other planets.

19 May 2013

Preparing to install the world's largest underwater observatory

UW News and Information, Hannah Hickey

The National Science Foundation in 2009 launched the $239 million effort led by John Delaney, UW professor of oceanography, to create a cabled observatory that will bring power and Internet to the ocean floor. This new concept will use remote-controlled instruments and high-bandwidth video to create an enduring, real-time presence in the deep ocean.

More Info

15 Apr 2013

Researchers in the UW's Applied Physics Laboratory were tasked by Delaney to build and test the equipment that will make up the observatory. Much of that equipment will be installed this summer. This is the biggest project the 70-year-old marine engineering institute has ever undertaken, said project lead Gary Harkins, a principal engineer with the lab.

"This concept of a real-time observatory will change what we do as ocean engineers, what we will learn how to do, and what ocean scientists can do with these systems now and in the future," Harkins said.

The cabled observatory, known as the Regional Scale Nodes project, is part of the national Ocean Observatories Initiative, an effort to integrate U.S. measurements of the ocean and seafloor. Other partners will build coastal and global observing networks, manage the data and conduct educational outreach. The Pacific Northwest observatory will span the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate off the Washington and Oregon coasts, the likely source of the next large regional earthquake.

Undersea cable laid for 'transformative' ocean observatory

KUOW Radio, Tom Banse

This spring, there was a big volcanic eruption in the Pacific Northwest. It happened under the ocean off the northern Oregon coast. All this week, a University of Washington research ship is streaming live video via satellite of lava flows in the undersea crater.

24 Aug 2011

Acoustics Air-Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing Center for Environmental & Information Systems Center for Industrial & Medical Ultrasound Electronic & Photonic Systems Ocean Engineering Ocean Physics Polar Science Center