Lakebed 2030 TechSurge Brings Focus to Great Lakes Mapping

October 16, 2019

The Marine Technology Society’s Great Lakes Section hosted a TechSurge in Traverse City, MI on October 1-2, 2019, at Northwestern Michigan College’s Great Lakes Water Studies Institute. Lakebed 2030 was the first MTS conference held in the Great Lakes region.

Analogous in focus to the Seabed 2030 effort, Lakebed 2030 aimed to establish communication among stakeholders across the region, promote new data collection techniques, and support discussions toward a central repository for information and data on bathymetry, bottom habitats, coastal topography and benthic ecosystems. The Great Lakes lakebed mapping needs encompass diverse stakeholder groups across two nations, eight states and one province. 

The TechSurge was a great success with 85 registered participants including 30 new MTS members. Multiple stakeholder groups including NOAA, EPA, USGS, Michigan Sea Grant, Michigan Technological University, Northwestern Michigan College, Stockton University, Rutgers University along with several industry partners. There were thirteen vendor displays including Great Lakes Observing System, R2Sonic, Kongsberg, Fugro, Teledyne Caris, Busch Marine, Teledyne Marine, QPS, Hypack, Norbit, Seaview Systems, State of Michigan Office of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy (EGLE), Northwestern Michigan College, and Michigan Technological University. View the conference agenda.

Many thanks go to our event sponsors including R2Sonic, Great Lakes Observing System (Gold), Kongsberg (Silver), Busch Marine, Fugro, and Teledyne Caris (Bronze).

Equipment Demonstrations

Several vendors conducted equipment demonstrations for attendees in Northwestern Michigan College’s Great Lakes Campus harbor on the 56-foot research vessel RV Northwestern.

R2Sonic – 2024 multibeam aboard RV Northwestern
Michigan State Police –  IVER 3 AUV
Kongsberg – BlueROV2 with Payload Skid and Flexview High Frequency sonar
Seaview Systems Inc. – BlueROV2 with integrated UHD camera
White Lake Dock & Dredge – Echoboat ASV with integrated NORBIT iWBMS Multibeam Sonar

Student Poster Symposium

A Student Poster Symposium was incorporated into the TechSurge. In addition to presenting their posters during the meeting, the students were invited to submit a summary of their poster for a “Student Poster Spotlight” feature in a future special edition of the Marine Technology Society Journal.

Twenty-four students attended the TechSurge event and through the robust sponsorships and conference attendance, all student registration fees were waived for the event.  Students were encouraged to attend a Career Fair held in conjunction with the event at the end of the first day.  Five industry partners and one governmental discussed career opportunities with students in a “speed dating” style format.  Fugro, NOAA, Teledyne Caris, QPS, and Hypack all participated. 

Special Great Lakes MTS Journal Edition

A special edition of the Marine Technology Society Journal will be produced in May 2020 to capture the science, engineering, and technologies presented during the TechSurge. The special edition of the MTSJ will provide an opportunity for communities focused on Great Lakes mapping to publish in the MTS Journal.

A call for papers was released and we welcome contributions from non-attendees as well. To submit a manuscript for the special edition, please contact Hans VanSumeren (

Looking Forward

The Great Lakes TechSurge was impactful and an important step toward improvements in Great Lakes mapping and collaboration that struggle with issues such as:

  1. Great Lakes mapping and observation data is limited (in scale and appropriate resolution) across all of the Great Lakes. 
  2. The Great Lakes community as a whole is diverse and lacks a cohesive network for sharing information or priorities. 
  3. New technological developments for mapping and observing are slow to reach the Great Lakes in support of these efforts.
  4. Great Lakes commercial and recreational vessel traffic is highly influenced by water level change, coastal processes, and funding limitations.  There is a constant need for updated information. 
  5. Great Lakes decision-making processes for a sustainable and resilient Great Lakes future needs mapping and observation information.
  6. Current record high water levels across the Great Lakes stress the need for coastal resiliency and best practices for coastal communities.

These points remain urgent, and not all were addressed in the first one-and-a-half-day forum, which offered important research topics to support future TechSurges in the region. Given the amount and scope of issues facing the Great Lakes, there is a great need to continue supporting meetings in the region and empower MTS to be a facilitator of collaboration and technological advances in the Great Lakes.

Join Us for The Great Lakes TechSurge 2020

A follow on TechSurge is already in preliminary planning stages and dates are confirmed for October 1-2, 2020.  Please save the date!  

Author: Hans VanSumeren, MTS Great Lakes Section Chair, Director, Great Lakes Water Studies Institute


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