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A lifelong fascination with marine life brought Jason Gillham right into the thick of one of Canada’s most iconic underwater archeological undertakings in recent history.

A lifelong fascination with marine life brought Jason Gillham right into the thick of one of Canada's most iconic underwater archaeological undertakings in recent history.

Since Parks Canada discovered the wreck of HMS Erebus in 2014, there have been many unanswered questions about Sir John Franklin's ill-fated 19th-century expedition to explore the Northwest Passage.

Now, many of those questions might be answered with help Mr. Gillham's company.

Mr. Gillham, 33, founded 2G Robotics in 2007 as an engineering student at the University of Waterloo. The tech firm manufactures cutting-edge underwater laser scanners used by Parks Canada to preserve archaeological records from Erebus. These lasers use an "advanced version of trigonometry" to calibrate multiple points by scanning the surface of the wreck over and over again, creating a 3-D model of the site, said Mr. Gillham.

Parks Canada can then use these incredibly detailed models to study the geometry of the wreck, or virtually "dive" the wreck site sitting at headquarters in Ottawa.

Divers have yet to enter the Erebus, as certain "archaeological measures" have to be put in place first, said Marc-Andre Bernier in April. 2G's scanners allow divers to get a virtual inside-view without having to enter any cabins or the wreck, said Mr. Gillham.

"This technology has the potential of producing very rapidly highly accurate three dimensional recordings under water, therefore saving very valuable time when working on complex sites with limited access," said Parks Canada spokesperson Eric Magnan.

Mr. Gillham, who grew up in a small hamlet outside Collingwood, Ont., recalls a childhood trip to the west coast where his family camped right on the water's edge. He was fascinated with "star fish of all different colours and sea urchins and all sorts of creatures" trapped in a tidal pool. That memory, paired with his experience growing up near the Great Lakes, inspired him to dive into the world of marine technology.

"To be able to be a part of one of the most iconic subsea or underwater expeditions through Canadian history in Canadian exploration," said Mr. Gillham, is "fascinating and intriguing."

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also worked with 2G on a demo in early 2014 to scan the Monohansett shipwreck site at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in northwestern Lake Huron.

"It's hard to beat laser scanning," said NOAA deputy superintendent and research coordinator Russ Green in a phone interview from Alpena, Mich. "It's so incredibly accurate."

Mr. Green added that 2G's technology will push the envelope for marine archaeologists, generating public interest in shipwrecks, including the 200-plus wreck sites that sit at the bottom of Lake Huron.

The company has grown to 15 employees over the past five years and is experiencing an average financial growth of 50 per cent per year, said Allison Rittenhouse, 2G's head of marketing.

Although 2G receives most attention for its work in marine archaeology, its target market is the offshore oil and gas industry, focusing on pipeline survey and inspection. There has also been a growing demand for 2G's scanners for offshore inspection operations.

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