Distinguished Technical Achievement Award

Distinguished Technical Achievement Award Recipients

The Distinguished Technical Achievement Award is given to honor an outstanding technical contribution to oceanic engineering in either the fundamental or applied areas. The recipient need not be a member of the Oceanic Engineering Society or the IEEE. The award recognizes either a single major invention or scientific contribution or a distinguished series of contributions over a long period of time.

2019 Distinguished Technical Achievement Award

William (Bill) Kirkwood was presented the Distinguished Technical Achievement (DTA) award for excellence in research and development of underwater vehicles, and associated technologies.

William Kirkwood receives the Distinguished Technical Achievement Award from OES president Christian de Moustier.

Bill’s experience in the Oceanic Engineering Society started in the 1990’s as a member, then in 2003 he started the Autonomous Underwater Vehicles tutorial series and became an OES Administrative Board Member (ADCOM) in 2008 and became a Senior Member in 2010. Bill has served as Assistant to the Treasurer for 4 years and then as OES Treasurer for 4 years from 2013 to 2017. Bill also Co-Chaired OCEANS’16 Monterey, which   brought the largest number of abstracts submissions to date and one the highest attendance records at an OCEANS conference. Bill served as Chair of the Unmanned Maritime Vehicles (UMV) and Submersibles Technical Committee and supported AUV Symposia from 2008 until 2018. Bill stepped down to the role of Co-Chair in 2018 moving Dr. Hanumat Singh into the leading role. He also Chaired the Technical Committee on Innovative Technology, a startup proposition for new growth. Bill moved the Innovative Technology committee into the UMV committee and reformed the committee to Autonomous Maritime Systems, bringing Aerial, Surface and Subsurface platforms as well as supporting equipment under one umbrella. Currently Bill is focusing on new initiatives, working with the Office of Naval Research and a number of institutions around the globe to bring more innovation to autonomous systems and comparative competitions around the globe through the creation of an advisory body.

Currently the Senior Research and Design Engineer for the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), Bill has been focused on the applied research and development of next generation technologies for the advancement of ocean science. Creating technical solutions to ocean problems has been the core of his work for almost 35 years.

Bill’s primary expertise is in subsea robotic vehicles and instrumentation.  As project manager and mechanical designer, Bill lead the development of the ROV Tiburon platform. Later, Bill was the MBARI project manager on the Dorado class AUV co-developed with Sea Grant at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Bluefin Robotics Inc., a small to medium sized underwater robotics company, spun out from this effort and commercialized the resulting vehicle system, which is now a division of General Dynamics Mission Systems. Bill patented and licensed the distinctive blue ringtail used on the Bluefin 21 AUV’s. Bill further developed AUVs as project manager and lead designer for MBARI’s mapping AUV, which operates 9 acoustic devices simultaneously and is still in high demand as one of the premier mapping systems for science in the world. Bill’s more recent work has centered on instrumentation for multidisciplinary biogeochemistry research. Bill’s efforts have created a plug and play 4000 meter rated laser Raman instrument and precision positioning systems for in situ optical spectroscopy. Bill was also Co-PI and project lead on the Free Ocean CO2 Enrichment (FOCE) experiments studying the impacts of ocean acidification (OA).  The FOCE system is a combination robot and instrument performing in situ closed looped control of pH resulting from the anthropogenic release of CO2. The control loop is based on predictive models of atmospheric CO2 and allows scientists to “dial” in a future pH to observe the potential impacts of higher pH and the resulting lowering of oxygen. Several FOCE systems have been built and deployed around the globe, including the Mediterranean, The Great Barrier Reef, Casey Station Antarctica, Frame Straight and of course Monterey Bay. One FOCE system performed regular operations at 900 meters in Monterey Bay for 17 months and year long coral studies on the Great Barrier Reef. Future deployments are in process for Stoneybrook University’s inland water way and in the coral reefs of Panama at Bocas Del Toro.

As part IEEE-OES, Bill has published extensively with OES as well as other peer reviewed journals and magazines. Bill provided content and served as a technical and editorial reviewer for the MATE textbook “Underwater Robotics: Science, Design & Fabrication” published in 2010. Bill has several other book chapters on development of deep-sea sensors and optical instrumentation. As an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University, Bill teaches classes in ocean engineering as well as mentoring student projects in robotics and instrumentation and has served as an advisor to graduate students on marine related projects. Additionally, Bill continues consulting and provides design, manufacturing and management services for a number of aquaculture firms, universities and scientists with limited access to engineering.  Bill was also awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2018 Autonomous Underwater Vehicles Symposium.

Past Recipients of the Distinguished Technical Achievement Award
2018 Martin Klein
2017 Peter N. Mikhalevsky
2016 John E. Ehrenberg
2015 Milica Stojanovic
2014 Christian de Moustier
2013 Gwyn Griffiths
2012 Joseph Vadus
2011 Christopher von Alt
2010 Tamaki Ura
2009 Robert T. Bannon
2008 Thomas B. Sanford
2007 Donald E. Barrick
2006 Fred Noel Spiess
2005 Douglas C. Webb
2004 John P. Craven
2003 Georges Bienvenu
2002 James Candy
2001 Werner R. Alpers
2000 Albert J. Williams 3rd
1999 William M. Carey
1998 Burton G. Hurdle
1997 Newell Booth
1996 Frederick H. Fisher
1995 Mack O’Brien
1994 Edmund J. Sullivan
1993 William J. Plant
1992 Arthur B. Baggeroer
1991 Henry Cox
1990 Robert C. Spindel
1989 Victor C. Anderson
1988 Chester M. McKinney
1987 James R. McFarlane
1986 Robert J. Urick
1985 William N. Nierenberg
1984 John B. Hersey
1983 Alan Berman
1982 Ira Dyer
1981 No Award
1980 Neil Brown
1979 David W. Hyde
1978 Richard K. Moore
1977 Howard A. Wilcox
1976 Werner Kroebel
1975 Robert A. Frosh