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Eric McRae

Principal Electrical Engineer





Research Interests

Real time control systems, undersea instrumentation, motion control, and autonomous systems


Eric McRae is responsible for electronic and software design of the vertical mooring and shallow profiler systems for the OOI RSN project . He also provides electrical engineering support for the RSN shore station in Pacific City, OR. Graduating from Michigan State University with B.S. High Honors and M.S. Honors degrees in Electrical Engineering, he entered a long career in embedded software and hardware design. Eric worked for several well known electronics companies until 1991, when he launched his own embedded systems engineering company. From that base, he delivered engine control for Ford vehicles, earth and space bound aircraft software, medical devices, and supercomputer power and cooling control systems. An avid diver and marine science enthusiast, he volunteered for the Port Townsend Marine Science Center and the OrcaSound Hydrophone network. He has mentored student groups building competition ROVs and a group developing a real science exploration ROV for PNNL. He joined APL-UW in 2011 to work on RSN and enjoys the high caliber of scientists and engineers who collaborate on the project. Eric is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Department Affiliation

Electronic & Photonic Systems


B.S. Electrical Engineering, Michigan State University, 1975

M.S. Electrical Engineering, Michigan State University, 1980


2000-present and while at APL-UW

Deep trouble! Common problems for ocean observatories

Howe, B. M., and E. McRae, "Deep trouble! Common problems for ocean observatories," Eos, 98, https://doi.org/10.1029/2017EO073657, 2017.

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22 May 2017

Science observation of the ocean is difficult. The cost to repair or replace a failed device can run many orders of magnitude higher than the base component cost.

Instruments, cables, and connectors supplied by commercial oceanographic equipment vendors fail at unacceptably high rates. Most ocean observatories have developed testing and burn-in procedures to weed out problem instruments early, but tested instruments still commonly fail after deployment.

In September 2016, representatives from ocean observatories around the world attended a workshop at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute to share their experiences and exchange ideas for improvement. Attendees were asked to describe specific examples of trouble and approaches for mitigation. Several oceanographic equipment vendors were also invited, and a few were brave enough to attend. Bravery was needed because products from many vendors have been identified as sources of trouble by more than one observatory.

Continuous real time scanning of the upper ocean water column

McRae, E., "Continuous real time scanning of the upper ocean water column," Proc., MTS/IEEE OCEANS Conference, 19-23 September, Monterey, CA, doi:10.1109/OCEANS.2016.7761359 (IEEE, 2016).

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1 Dec 2016

The Cabled Array portion of the National Science Foundation funded Ocean Observatories Initiative is a large scale, high bandwidth and high power subsea science network developed by the University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory. Part of that system is a set of moorings and winched profilers which continuously scan the upper 200m of the ocean at their deployment sites. The profilers have been in operation since July 2014 and have accumulated a significant performance record. The general design approach, performance results and lessons learned are described.

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