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Though Cameron is an "Explorer-in-Residence" with the National Geographic Society, and he has worked on several deep-sea exploration projects, including diving the wreck of the Titanic and setting a record for the deepest solo dive in a submersible, he holds no formal science degree.

As the director readily admitted during the award ceremony, since he began building diving equipment and underwater cameras for his movie The Abyss in 1989, he has been "practicing engineering without a degree." Cameron titled himself "co-designer" of the DeepSea Challenger submersible, the vehicle that recently took him 36,000 feet beneath the surface of the ocean. But he made sure to mention that a team of highly qualified scientists and engineers, including some from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, provided the necessary expertise. Scripps scientists signed a non-disclosure agreement before participating in the project.

Cameron donated the $25,000 cash prize to another deep-sea exploration venture, and the sub will be transferred to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachussets. A 3D documentary film about the record-setting Marianas Trench dive is in the works with National Geographic, and the DeepSea Challenger begins a cross-country tour Saturday at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.

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