December 2023

IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society organizes student activities at IEEE Sri Lanka Section Congress

 Suleman Mazhar, Chair of OES Student Activities and Co-Chair of Underwater Acoustics Technical Committee

Sri Lanka SYW Congress 2023 participants. Photo courtesy of the Sri Lanka SYW Congress 2023 Organizing Committee

Spending winter in snowy Harbin, China is a pretty tough job. Hence, when asked if I could represent the OES at the IEEE Sri Lanka SYW Congress 2023, the flagship event of the IEEE Sri Lanka Section, I was quick to say a Yes!

Sri Lanka, historically known as Ceylon or Serendib, and famous for the finest tea and exotic spices, can truly be termed as the pearl of the Indian Ocean. However, currently, the country ranks high on the global climate risk index. Variations in temperature are disrupting rainfall patterns, exacerbating water scarcity and water quality. The country is rich in water resources but faces serious water management issues. In this context, there seems a unique opportunity for local IEEE chapters and IEEE-OES to join hands to address Sri Lankan challenges with technological strengths available from OES platform.

Lecture at Colombo International Nautical and Engineering College (CINEC), Colombo

The IEEE Sri Lanka SYW Congress 2023 was held from the 3rd to 5th of November, at Carolina Beach Hotel in Chilaw, a small but beautiful suburban coastal town about 2 hours’ drive from Colombo. The event also hosted the annual award ceremony to recognize the outstanding volunteer activities of student members of the IEEE Sri Lanka Chapter. During the congress, IEEE OES was represented by Dr. Venkatesan (Co-chair, TC on Ocean Observation Systems and Environmental Sustainability, IEEE OES) and myself. Dr. Venkatesan delivered a key note talk on “Sustaining the Blue Planet: Climate Change and Oceans” with a relevance to the Indian Ocean. He emphasized the role of young engineers to find solutions for climate change challenges such as cyclones, marine heat-waves, and floods. The congress also featured an expert panel discussion on future technologies for youth careers. The panel included two industry managers and myself, where I shared my perspective on the role of education and the importance of the blue economy and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for future job markets as well as for climate change management. The next day, I presented an orientation talk about IEEE OES and told the audience about many opportunities available at the society’s platform, such as SBC grants, student poster competitions, Berth of Opportunity program, and Oceans Decade program. Over 200 students and senior IEEE members attended all these events at the Chilaw Beach Resort with a nice ambience, thanks to the volunteer efforts of IEEE Sri Lanka chapter under the leadership of Prof. Buddhika Jayasekara (Chair IEEE Sri Lanka Section 2023 and Professor, University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka), Mr. Dhammika Marasinghe (Chair Elect IEEE Sri Lanka Section Student Activities Committee), Mr. Dinuka Thathsara and Mr. Shakil Arifeen (Vice-chairs IEEE Sri Lanka Section Student Activities Committee).

During the event, I met many student volunteers and faculty members from Sri Lankan universities. They took a great interest in engineering and climate change aspects of IEEE-OES. In addition, I visited Colombo International Nautical and Engineering College (Colombo city) and gave a talk about IEEE-OES and future career opportunities for engineering students in the field of Ocean Engineering and Climate Change Management. During these visits and talks, participants showed a keen interest in technical activities and opportunities offered by IEEE-OES due to their relevance to Sri Lankan economic and geographical context. Therefore, in the coming days, we look forward to an enhanced presence and activities of the IEEE-OES in Sri Lanka.

I shall like to say special thanks to Dr. Venkatesan for accompanying and delivering the invited talk and the IEEE Sri Lanka chapter for hosting us during the congress.