Venugopalan Pallayil, General Chair, OCEANS 2020 Singapore.
Singapore, the Little Red Dot, with an area of 725 square km is home to 5.6 million people. One of the busiest ports in the world, Singapore connects over 600 ports in 120 countries with 130,000 vessel calls annually. This heavy-shipping scenario brings up a unique set of complicated operational constraints. On the other hand, we now live in a world that has realized the importance of upholding the sanctity of its oceans. Maintaining a balance between crucial market flow and ocean conservation is a complex problem that demands attention. It may arguably be the most pressing issue at hand. The relevance and significance of holding a conference like OCEANS in Singapore hence needs no further justification.
After a gap of 14 years, the Garden City is set to host OCEANS Conference during 6-9 April 2020. Our theme for OCEANS 2020 Singapore is “Green Ports: In Harmony with Oceans”, which reflects the need to address preserving our ocean environment through the use of smart marine engineering and technological solutions. This instance stands out in particular as OCEANS celebrates its successful legacy on its 50th anniversary. The conference is expected to attract over 600 delegates, 350 to 400 technical presentations and 40 odd exhibitors from marine and freshwater related industries. Apart from regular presentations by researchers from many different fields of oceans science and technologies, there will also be special sessions on emerging research and technologies organised by experts in those areas. Special sessions on Marine Archeology and Marine Plastic Pollution are being planned to be organized for the first time in an OCEANS conference. Another feature of the conference will be sessions and topics focused on local needs and scenarios. We are also looking forward to organizing some exciting keynote sessions by world renowned institutions like Ocean Infinity, Schmidt Oceans Institute and possibly by National Geographic. The exhibitors will be given opportunities to demo their products in a lake next to the conference center. The student poster competition will also be held as usual.
The Venue: The conference venue, Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre is an iconic venue hosting a 150m long infinity swimming pool on top of the world’s largest cantilever platform and also a 340m long SkyPark. This venue is an integrated resort with hotels, shopping malls, convention centers and the world’s largest atrium casino. There are also ‘celebrity chef’ restaurants, museums, floating crystal pavilions and arts-science exhibits. It is worth watching this video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjz1ebDIIYc, or the video from National Geographic, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uX9fTuv9xc8 , to understand how this amazing facility was built. Words are not adequate to describe this unique facility and you have to see and experience it to believe it.
Technical Visits: The Local Organising Committee is planning to arrange guided tours to a couple of facilities in Singapore. One such facility is the Marina Barrage, a dam built across 350m wide Marina channel to keep the seawater out. The facility serves three purposes: a source of freshwater supply, flood control mechanism and also a recreational facility. Find out more about it during your technical tour to the facility.
Another technical tour is planned to the Technology Centre for Offshore & Marine Singapore (TCOMS), which is Singapore’s first R&D Facility for Industry. It hosts the next generation Deepwater Ocean Basin facility equipped with state-of-the-art wave and current generation systems that can simulate harsh marine environments including those in ultra-deep waters.
Getting around: The venue is about a 15 to 20 minutes drive from the airport or about 40 minutes by the train (MRT or Mass Rapid Transport). The train takes you right into the venue. Plenty of transport options, including buses or taxis, are available. Singapore has a very good and reliable public transport system and hence moving around the city center is easy.
Cable car, gondola lift providing aerial link between Sentosa Island and Mount Faber
Attractions: Attending a conference is not just about participation in the technical programme and exhibition. It also provides the delegates over the world an opportunity to explore, understand and experience the unique cultures of the country where the conference is being held. One of the safest countries in the world, Singapore is also the best example of how people of different religious faiths can co-exist in peace and harmony. We hope to showcase a cultural show during Gala Dinner that would be a blend of local cultures. A Garden City state with lush green vegetation in an urban setting, good transportation system, world class airport, mouthwatering international cuisine and ease of communication in English language all make it very special for visitors. There are a variety of food available to match everyone’s taste and make sure you do not miss the essential ones. Ask your LOC members or PCO on those ‘must try’ food items.
Tourist Attractions: There are many tourist attractions in Singapore and to list all of them here is not practical. Night Safari is a very unique attraction where you get to see the animals at night. Singapore Zoo, Gardens by the Bay, Botanical Gardens and National Orchid Garden, Universal Studios, Sentosa Island, China Town, Little India Market, Singapore-Flyer, Clarke Quay boat ride, etc., are some of the attractions to name a few. Time permits, you should catch a glimpse of Changi Jewel, which is a newly built shopping complex at the airport featuring the world’s highest indoor waterfall. The 1-Altitude rooftop gallery and bar, standing at 282 meters and with 360-degree view, is the highest alfresco bar in the world.
Being an Easter Weekend, this is also a great opportunity for visiting many neighbouring countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia, to name a few, which are all 2 to 3 hrs by flight from Singapore.
The Singapore AUV Challenge (SAUVC): The OES Singapore Chapter has been organizing an international student Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) competition since 2013. The 2020 edition of this competition will be held in conjunction with the OCEANS conference. The competition date will be 3-6 April 2020. More details on this competition can be found at www.sauvc.org. Check out the related Facebook page as well. We have so far received interest from more than 70 international teams for the year 2020 competition. We are also organizing talks under the distinguished lecturer program by OES (DL-fest) alongside this competition. It will feature prominent speakers who are experts in the field of marine engineering. So, if you plan your trip a couple of days early, you can catch the excitement of this unique competition and interact with the next generation underwater roboticists.
We look forward to welcoming you all to Singapore for an exciting conference. Please visit the conference website https://singapore20.oceansconference.org for more details.