We are in the process of designing and building the ReefBot Exhibit. Please visit us again soon for more information!


ReefBot is a Pittsburgh-based team of individuals that seeks to create, develop, and commercialize marine robots for the purpose of exploring the deep reef and enabling its future conservation. ReefBot’s success depends upon the participation of important local institutions ‘ specifically, Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute, the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium and the Robotics Academy. ReefBot recognizes the importance of community outreach, and considers the ReefBot Exhibit to be an important opportunity to educate the local community, especially children, about the vitality of its mission.
ReefBot Team:

    Justine Kasznica
    Program Manager

Justine Kasznica is a practicing corporate attorney and a business consultant for a variety of Pittsburgh high-tech start-ups. Justine earned her bachelor degree in political science at Yale University in 2003, and received her J.D. degree from the Rutgers School of Law in 2006. After law school, she worked as a commercial litigation associate for WolfBlock LLP in Philadelphia for two years, during which time she also taught constitutional law seminars in the Politics Department at Princeton University. In 2008, Justine accepted a Third Circuit federal judicial clerkship with the Honorable Thomas Hardiman in Pittsburgh. In 2007, Justine helped form BeatBots, LLC, a Pittsburgh-based entertainment robotics company responsible for the development of Keepon, a dancing robot that is used in early childhood psychology research, autism therapy, and entertainment. Justine continues to remain actively involved in BeatBots, serving as the company’s counsel and business advisor. She is also active in the community, working on a variety of entrepreneurial and community outreach endeavors focused on children’s entertainment and enrichment.

    Ashley Kidd – Special Projects Aquarist – Penguins & Dive Program, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium

Ashley Kidd is an aquarist at the PPG Aquarium. Ashley received her bachelor’s degree in 2008 from the University of Toronto, specializing in Ecology and Conservation Biology. While the ReefBot Exhibit is her first foray into exhibitry, the project is backed by her experience in educational outreach in developing countries and a close relationship to the sea as a SCUBA professional. She has cultivated her knowledge of coral reefs throughout the course of her internship and employment at the PPG Aquarium. Ashley initially brought forth the idea of creating a collaboration between the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute and the PPG Aquarium, and serves as the critical liaison between the PPG Aquarium and the ReefBot team.

    David Wettergreen – Research Professor, Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University

David Wettergreen is an Associate Research Professor at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. David earned his bachelor’s in applied science and mathematics in 1987, his masters in software systems in 1989, and Ph.D. in robotics in 1995, all at Carnegie Mellon University. His research and courses focus on robotic exploration: underwater, on the surface, and in air and space, and in the necessary ingredients of navigation: perception, planning, learning and control for robot autonomy. David currently leads projects in robotic exploration using robots to investigate the geology and biology of the Atacama Desert in Chile and to sample micro-organisms living in the Antarctic ice sheet with Nomad. Relevant to the ReefBot project, David led research in underwater robotics as a research fellow working at the Robotic Systems Laboratory at the Australian National University. While there, David led development of Kambara, an autonomous underwater robotic vehicle. He designed the architecture for onboard autonomy and designed Kambara’s underwater visual servo-control for vehicle guidance including dynamic target following. David also led navigation and autonomy research for the Deep Phreatic Thermal Explorer (DEPTHX) project, an underwater investigation of flooded caverns in Mexico. Researching sonar-based simultaneous localization and mapping for enclosed spaces and designing planning and autonomy techniques for cave exploration.

    Mark Desnoyer – Ph.D. Candidate, Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University

Mark Desnoyer is a Ph.D. student in the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. Mark earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Cornell University in 2006. While at Cornell, he was a member of the science team for NASA’s Deep Impact mission. In this role, he developed the calibration process for the instruments on-board the spacecraft which captured the man-made impact on comet Temple 1. He has also spent time in larger industry, developing software for large scale systems at companies including Google and CBS Interactive. His research endeavors have included automatically designing self-replicating robots, developing electronics and software systems for lunar rovers and teaching robots how to capture pleasing imagery. In his current research, he is interested in intelligent camera systems that can understand their environment and use that knowledge to improve more complex systems. For example, a camera that can classify rocks enables a Martian rover to explore areas more likely to be useful to planetary scientists. In another example, a camera that can identify fish species can be used in an aquarium exhibit in order to trigger the display of species specific information. This would allow guests to learn more easily about marine life as they will be able to make a direct connection between the animal they see and knowledge about where it comes from.

    John Thornton – Senior Research Engineer, Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University

John Thornton works as a Senior Research Engineer in the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. John earned his bachelor and master degrees in mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, both in 2007. John recently led teams of students, staff, and technical partners in the technical development of a robotic system capable of winning the Google Lunar X Prize as part of Carnegie Mellon’s flagship mission to commercialize the moon. John also led the development of the robot Scarab, a NASA concept robot for lunar drilling that has since taken on $1.5M of follow-on contracts. As an undergrad, John led a student organization, Fringe, in fabricating and racing award-winning composite vehicles. He then joined Boeing and worked as a manufacturing engineer at Boeing’s Composites Fabrication Center, overseeing the fabrication of composite test parts for the 787 program. He has brought his knowledge of composites to Carnegie Mellon’s Field Robotics Center, where he has founded the Composite Development Center, a research, training, design, and manufacturing center specializing in light-weight composite applications for robotics.

    Michael Furlong – PhD Candidate, Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University

Michael Furlong is a Ph.D student in the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. Michael completed his undergraduate degree in electrical and computer engineering at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Michael has worked on software that identifies fish species based on the shape of their diving bladders and built motor controllers for automated wheelchairs. After graduation, Michael spent two years working for Verafin, Inc. where he used Bayesian Belief Networks to identify fraudulent activity in banking transactions. In 2007, Michael started as a Masters student in the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. There Michael wrote software for and field tested CMU’s early prototype robots for entry in the Google Lunar X Prize. Simultaneously, Michael completed his master’s thesis on model-predictive control for robotic platforms with re-configurable chassis. Continuing as a Ph.D. student in the RI, Michael is researching deliberative planning and computational neuroscience.

    Scott Moreland – PhD Candidate, Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University

Scott Moreland is a Ph.D. in the Carnegie Mellon University Mechanical Engineering Department. Scott completed his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Toronto and a masters degree in mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon in 2009. Currently, the core of his research at the Robotics Institute addresses understanding the performance of vehicles in planetary environments such as the Moon or Mars for the application of space exploration. Specifically, this work centers on the evaluation of the next generation lunar vehicles for man’s return to the moon. In recent years, Scott has also focused his efforts on the development and deployment of a prototype lunar rover for NASA in various lunar analogue environments. He brings to the ReefBot team experience in the design of robotic and mechatronic systems needed for the control of electromechanical aspects of the underwater vehicle.


ReefBot Partners:


The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium:

Ranked among the top 10 zoos and one of only six zoo and aquarium combinations in the country, with more than 4,000 animals, the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium children’s zoos in the country, the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium consistently offers some of the best family and children’s events in the region. Committed to education, research, and wildlife conservation, the PPG Aquarium supports both local and non-local conservation efforts. Notably, the Aquarium is a member of SECORE (SExual COral REproduction), a non-profit international initiative of public aquariums and coral scientists dedicated to coral reef conservation. The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium is graciously providing its state of the art facility and contributing other resources and support to the ReefBot project. Please visit for more information about the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.

Carnegie Mellon University, The Robotics Institute:

ReefBot’s engineering team is comprised of dedicated faculty, research engineers, and graduate students from Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute, a world leader in developing and integrating robotic technologies into everyday life. The engineering team has expertise in machine learning, underwater mobility and communications, lightweight composites, and robotic vision. The team, with the support of the CMU Robotics Institute, is responsible for the system integration of the Exhibit?s remotely operated underwater submersible and the development of onboard fish-recognition software and user-friendly interface and display. Please visit for more information about Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute.


The Sprout Fund:

The ReefBot Exhibit is supported in part by Spark, a program of The Sprout Fund. Spark catalyzes projects and programs that engage children ages birth to eight through the creative use of technology and media. Spark challenges individuals, organizations, and communities to generate inventive technology-based solutions to the issues and opportunities facing today?s young child. Through its funding opportunities and extensive network of support, Spark is unleashing the innovative potential of Southwestern Pennsylvania and transforming our region into one of the best places on earth to be a kid.

The Sprout Fund enriches the Pittsburgh region?s vitality by engaging citizens, amplifying voices, supporting creativity and innovation, and cultivating connected communities. Founded in 2001, Sprout facilitates community-led solutions to regional challenges and supports efforts to create a thriving, progressive, and culturally diverse region.

If you would like to support the ReefBot team and its projects, please contact Justine Kasznica at


If you would like more information or would like to partner with ReefBot, please contact Justine Kasznica
We look forward to hearing from you!

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Factors to Consider When Buying a MIG Welding Machine

MIG welding or metal inert gas welding is a process in which an electric arc forms between a consumable wire electrode and the metal being welded, causing them to join, forming the weld. When buying a MIG welder it is important to consider many different factors:

  • Electrical supply
  • Purpose of the welder
  • Duty cycle
  • Budget
  • Manufacturer
  • Location

Electrical Supply

MIG welding requires an electrical source to feed the spool of wire into the welding gun. Electricity also provides the power required to maintain the welding arc between the wire and object being fused. The required power supply varies by machines models is either single or three phase. Running your machine without adequate power supply will trip breakers or cause your machine to run inefficiently. Be sure to read the specifications required for power supply before purchasing your unit.


Deciding what welder to buy should be based on your intended use for the welder.

  • Hobby
  • Small business
  • Industrial

A hobbyist would choose a welder at the small-range while a small business such as a farmer would require a mid-size welder able to perform bigger scale work. Professional welders who make a living in this trade would choose a higher end industrial model. Once you know what your use will be you can then begin looking in your model range without being overwhelmed.

Duty Cycle

A duty cycle is generally defined as the number of minutes out of a 10 minute period a welding machine can operate within the manufacturer’s safety guidelines. Important factors to consider when reviewing the duty cycle of a welder are:

  • How long the machine can operate without overheating or becoming damaged.
  • Length of duty cycle running the machine at 10% capacity (with an active arc)

Low end models have lower duty cycles while industrial models have high end duty cycles. It is important to make sure any model you purchase has an emergency overheating protection system.


Purchasing equipment such a MIG welder is a large investment. Consider the following when purchasing your welder:

  • New or used
  • Size
  • Ease of use
  • Accessories
  • Quality

Depending on your needs, buying used or new could be important for your budget. New welders usually come with a manufacturer’s warranty protecting your investment in case of malfunctioning. If a warranty is not important, looking in classified ads such as craigslist or your local newspaper are viable options. On line auction sites such as Ebay offer a large quantity of used welders in various models and sizes. As with buying anything used, make sure your purchase is covered in case of faulty or non-operating equipment. The advantage of buying used is the price is more affordable and it allows you to try a model you may not have otherwise tried especially in the case of a hobbyist who wouldn’t rely on a welder to run a business or provide income.

Mig welder reviews, the size of a welder will influence the price and has to be taken into consideration. A small hobbyist or home use welder costs approximately $400 dollars while an industrial welder can cost approximately $10,000 dollars.

Ease of use is one major factor to be considered before buying your welder. How the wire feeds, internally or externally as well as portability of a machine will further impact the price.

Accessories are also to be considered. Looking at the replacement costs for the various parts of your welder will help in your decision. The following is a list of items to be considered:

  • Contact tips
  • Torch liners
  • Nozzles
  • Torch necks
  • Adaptors
  • Welding gun
  • Gas regulator

Once you’ve narrowed down your selection, knowing the cost of replacement parts and accessories can help you determine what machine is best for you.

Quality is the biggest consideration on your budget. The old adage of you get what you pay for is good to remember. Low quality machines being manufactured overseas don’t stand up to the test of time, but if that is not a concern, looking for a unit from overseas may be a good choice for your budget.

The higher quality machines have better electronics inside and better wire feeds. An advantage of a quality machine for example, is the wire feed. The more expensive units have better wire feed control and vary to suit the power being used as well as better motors to support the automatic feeding of the wire.


MIG welders are manufactured all over the world. Knowing your purpose and budget will help in determining which is best for you. According to this is a list of some of the best manufacturers of MIG welders:

  • Lincoln
  • Miller
  • ESAB
  • Hobart
  • Thermal Arc

There are many online forums available open to the discussion of which is the “best”. Asking for and reading reviews of any model will help narrow down the decision but be advised you will find people favor their machine or brand as they do their preferred choice of automobile.


Once you’ve decided on what model you want, finding the location to purchase it is next. Several items to consider are the following:

  • Repair center available
  • Supplies readily available
  • Dealerships

When choosing a manufacturer, check to see if there is a local repair center for that brand. Oftentimes discount hardware stores will sell a particular model but not have any local support in case of needed repairs which could leave you scrambling to find a repair center.

The same applies to supplies and replacement parts. Having a store that carries your items and supports your purchase should be factored into your decision.

Dealers are generally welding supply shops authorized to carry certain brands, their supplies as well as are certified to do repairs on the equipment. If you depend on a welder for your business or income, it is best to use a certified dealer, while a hobbyist would be best served with a discount or box hardware store.

When purchasing a MIG welder you have many things to consider, such as use, duty cycle, electric needs, budget, manufacturer and location to purchase. Taking your time to research your purchase will save you money in the long run.

You can read more about buyer’s guide in site: