December 2023

OCEANS 2023 Gulf Coast: Memory of A Lifetime

Shihab Hossain Saran, OCEANS  2023 Gulf Coast SPC First Prize Winner

A visit to the Mississippi Aquarium

Participating in the Student Poster Competition at the OCEANS 2023 Gulf Coast conference was like a dream come true to me as this is one of the most competitive and prestigious events for undergraduate and graduate students in the ocean sciences and marine technology fields. Though this is the second time I participated in the OCEANS conference, being selected as one of 22 finalists in the Student Poster Competition (SPC) for the first time has made this conference a significant life event of mine. Generally, when we think of participating in a science conference, we certainly think of sharing and presenting several research works, gathering recent scientific and technological knowledge and findings, and so on. However, participating in SPC at the OCEANS conference makes me realize that a conference can go beyond these opportunities. So, I highly encourage other students who are working with oceans should give a try to be a part of this great opportunity.

First, I would like to mention that if any student gets the opportunity to participate in SPC as a finalist at any OCEAN conference, all the expenses i.e., travel, accommodation, and registration are going to be covered by the conference authority. I express my cordial gratitude to IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society (OES), Marine Technology Society (MTS), and Office of Naval Research (ONR) for sponsoring this conference and SPC. As a part of student mixing, I participated in the dinner that was arranged for the SPC students where I got the chance to get familiar with the other students from different countries all over the world. That was an amazing experience for me as we all shared our research work and got the chance to discuss different cultures and foods in a welcoming environment. I never experienced such a great opportunity to build networks and make new friends at a conference I previously attended. One of the greatest surprises was waiting for us on the first day of the conference, 25 September, when we came to know that we were going to visit the Mississippi Aquarium riding on a large luxurious limousine. We spent about 4 hours there to enjoy different living fish of different species including the dance of dolphins. We captured these valuable moments as a memory of a lifetime.

Though I was initially nervous to attend the SPC, as this was my first time presenting a poster at a conference, the friendly environment with the other students made it enjoyable to present my research. At some point I felt that I was not competing; rather I was telling the story to the audience from different backgrounds. It was challenging, but at the same time, it was interesting when the audience interacted with me and gave their valuable feedback to me. Their feedback inspires me to continue my research work in full swing. Among the audiences, I got the chance to interact with different professionals i.e., faculty members, research scientists from famous research organizations, and professionals from different industries which eventually will help me to achieve my future career goals.

A visit to the Mississippi Aquarium

Becoming one of the finalists in SPC was a surprise for me and I was very excited to attend there. But the most surprising moment, which I never imagined, was yet waiting for me on the last day of the conference during the SPC award ceremony. I will never forget the moment when my name was announced as a winner of the poster competition. This award is special to me as for the first time I secured an award in recognition of my research work. This award will inspire me to go a long way in the research field. I want to dedicate this award to my newborn baby boy Saifan Hossain Suhrid, whose age was 25 days when I attended the conference.

Aside from presenting research and collaborating with different professionals at the conference, we all the students built our network, enjoyed every moment, and had lunch and dinner together. These valuable moments will remain fresh in my mind for the rest of my life. I became sad when I said goodbye to the other students at the end of the conference. I realized OCEANS 2023 Gulf Coast was more than a conference: a memory of a lifetime for me. I would like to encourage other students to give it a try to participate in the future OCEANS conference to make their own memories.