October Executive Director’s Message – MTS: Now More Than Ever Connecting Marine Technologists Worldwide

October 20, 2020

By Kathleen Herndon, Ph.D.

At the close of this, our first virtual GLOBAL OCEANS conference, I am overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude and relief. As many of our members may know, planning the OCEANS conference is a multi-year process, involving partners and contractors from around the globe. With only a sense of professional pride for payment, volunteers commit thousands of hours to assembling the conference. Little did our volunteers know that this year, the global pandemic would derail their efforts to produce an in-person conference. But with courage and determination, our conference Co-Chairs, Tom Wissing, Venu Pallayil, Craig Peterson, and Chia Chin Swee, along with their combined Local Organizing Committee (LOC), Honorary Government Co-Chairs Quah Ley Hoon (CEO, Marine Port Authority, Singapore), the Command for Naval Meteorology and Oceanography (CNMOC), and Chan Eng Soon (CEO, TCOMS, Singapore), and Honorary Corporate Co-Chair Leidos leapt to replace our in-person conference with a high-tech and successful virtual conference.

Kathleen Herndon, Ph.D, Marine Technology Society Executive Director

In just four months, our team of tireless volunteers produced a conference with over 500 technical papers, blending innovation from Asia and North America. Over the course of two weeks, we presented dozens of sessions on everything from autonomous systems to sustainable development. Each session was hosted by a team of experts, and featured live, interactive content. These sessions would not have been possible without the hard work of our technical program committee, session chairs, and moderators. I extend our sincerest thanks to our Keynote Speakers: RADM Lorin Selby, Chief of Naval Research, U.S. Navy, Dr. Hanu Singh, Northeastern University Singapore, and RDML (ret) Tim Gallaudet, Ph.D., NOAA who spoke on Autonomous Systems & Marine Autonomy; Hon. Roger Wicker, U.S. Senate, Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, RDML (ret) Tim Gallaudet, Ph.D., NOAA who spoke on Visions for the Blue Economy; RDML John Okon, Oceanographer & Navigator of the U.S. Navy, Dr. Ruth Perry, Shell Exploration and Production Americas, and Mr. A.J. Reiss, SES, who spoke on Operational Oceanography; and Dr. Jyotika Virmani, Schmidt Ocean Institute, who spoke on Exploring Worlds Beyond the Coastline.

Our exhibit hall featured 34 exhibitors, standing at the ready to educate and inform our attendees. Special thanks to Kongsberg, Leidos, NOAA, Teledyne Marine, and the University of Southern Mississippi for their support as Gold Sponsors and to our tutorial and workshop leaders.

In this new setting, which capitalized on the inclusivity of the virtual format, we were excited to present a Town Hall on Women Leadership in Marine Technology and Science. This group discussion was designed to address topics surrounding women working in oceans sciences from early- to mid-career levels. Many thanks and congratulations to our Moderator, Dr. Rita Colwell of the University of Maryland, and our panelists, Mr. Kenneth M. Bailey, NOAA; Captain Christi Montgomery, USN; Ms. Anne Hale Miglarese of Saildrone, and Ms. Zdenka Willis of MTS.  

At the close of the conference we featured our first-ever global, virtual Student Poster Competitions, Chaired by Stephan Howard and Too Yuen Min, and sponsored by NOAA, the Schmidt Institute, the Office of Naval Research (Global), and the University of Southern Mississippi. Featuring 24 students from 15 countries, we were thrilled to honor the following students with the Norman Miller SPC Award for their outstanding research:

Gulf-Coast

  1. Jordan Pierce, University of New Hampshire  ($3,000)
  2. Francesco Ruscio, University of Pisa  ($2,000)
  3. Kavita Varma, Florida Atlantic University  ($1,000)

Singapore

  1. Marija Jegorova, The University of Edinburgh, UK  ($3,000)
  2. Matias Carandell, Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, Spain  ($2,000)
  3. Eduardo Ochoa Melendez, University of Girona, Spain  ($1,000)

I offer my congratulations to our students for their hard work and participation in the conference and offer our thanks to the many judges and volunteers who made this event possible.

I would also like to congratulate the many professionals who were honored by our Society at this year’s State of the Society and Awards Presentation. Because of the efforts, expertise, guidance, and generosity of these outstanding professionals, we are able to continue to propel forward the field of marine technology, elevate the profile of our Society, and inspire the next generation of marine technologists. Read more about this year’s honorees on the MTS website.

I am amazed – blown away – by what our dedicated team of volunteers was able to present to the marine technology community, and I offer my sincerest thanks and admiration for their efforts on the conference. As our fearless President, Zdenka Willis would say, Bravo Zulu!

Don’t forget – you can still access the conference on demand through October 23rd. Exhibit hall passes are free!

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