December 2023

OCEANS Gulf Coast 2023 Report

Brandy Armstrong, Deputy Co-chair OCEANS Gulf Coast, Executive VP,

Co-chair Laurie Jugan (center) moderates the opening plenary, Blue Economy: Global Perspectives, with speakers Nicoe Leboeuf (left) and HON Meredith Berger (right).

The long-awaited, in-person OCEANS Gulf Coast finally took place in Biloxi, Mississippi, this September of 2023 and was a great success. The well attended opening plenary was a foreshadowing of the week to come with excellent speakers and an engaged audience.

Thank You OES Volunteers

I want to thank the volunteers working with our Women in Engineering PROPEL Initiative, Ocean Decade Initiative, Young Professionals program and Career Networking Exhibit Tours Initiative. They were ever-present and fast to engage with all volunteer opportunities. We couldn’t do these events without our volunteers who we hope will stay engaged and involved at the Society leadership level. Our volunteers included:

Jackie Veatch joined us at OCEANS on a student poster competition winner travel grant.

Arvind Bahrdwaj attended as a guide for the Career Networking Exhibit Tour (CNET) initiative.

Dr. Farheen Fauziya our Women in Engineering Liaison attended as the organizer and moderator of the Women in Engineering Breakfast Panel and as a guide for the CNET initiative.

Sara Falleni attended as one of the 2023-2024 Women in Engineering (WIE) PROPEL laureates.

Dr. Mehdi Rahmati attended as one of the 2022-2023 Young Professional (YP) BOOST laureates.

Dr. Francesco Maurelli attended as one of this year’s Young Professional (YP) BOOST laureates.

Jhon Bermudez attended as a social media reporter for the Ocean Decade (OD) Initiative and as an official photographer for the Society.

Career networking exhibition tour organizers and guides for OCEANS Gulf Coast. Tracy Yanez (top, right), Jackie Veatch (top left), Arvind Bahrdwaj (middle right), Dr. Farheen Fauziya (bottom left) and Dr. Francesco Maurelli (bottom right).

Career Networking Exhibit Tours

I recruited Student Poster Competition winner Jackie Veatch to be the point contact for the Career Networking Initiative at OCEANS Gulf Coast. Working with our local Career Networking event organizer from Accelerate Mississippi, Traci Yanez, Jackie organized with tour guides Farheen, Arvind, Sara and Francesco to prepare students ahead of the big event. A special thanks to Farheen and Arvind who volunteered at Offshore Technology Conference in Houston for the career networking exhibit tours and brought their experience and enthusiasm to the event.

There were two student tour groups scheduled to move through the hall and network with exhibitors. Exhibitors had a full schedule Wednesday afternoon meeting with both our student tour groups and individual job seekers. The event also attracted additional foot traffic from students and young professionals who did not have the luck of signing up for a scheduled slot.

Women in Engineering Breakfast Panel

Women in Engineering panelists (from left to right) Ms. Becky Oh, Dr. Ananya Sen Gupta, Ms. Deborah Smith, and Ms. Sarah Groves speak on work life balance.

Dr. Farheen Fauziya organized and moderated the Women in Engineering Breakfast panel with a focus on work-life balance.

The panel resulted in a thoughtful and enlightening discussion that encouraged individuals to harmonize the diverse aspects of their lives, fostering well-being, growth, and fulfillment. Panelists included:

Ms. Becky Oh
President & CEO | PNI Sensor

Dr. Ananya Sen Gupta
Associate Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering, | University of Iowa

Ms. Deborah Smith
Data Governance Manager | Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute, University of Rhode Island

Ms. Sarah Groves
Data Analyst | NOAA Ocean Exploration

We are always especially appreciative of the supporters of women who come to our breakfast panels. Ian, from Jaia Robotics, attended his first Women in Engineering Panel at Gulf Coast.

“I was excited to go the Women in Engineering Breakfast Panel at Oceans 2023, focusing on achieving work-life balance in the realm of engineering, even though it was at 0700. Understanding the unique challenges faced by women in engineering is crucial as we gear up to expand our tech startup. Witnessing the raw and personal reflections from the panelists about their journeys was both empowering and eye-opening. Their stories shed light on the resilience and determination needed to conquer the obstacles they face.

“For me, it was a profound source of inspiration, reaffirming the positive influence and diverse perspectives that women bring to the tech industry. At Jaia, we’re committed to embodying our core value of innovation, which centers on embracing a wide range of experiences, backgrounds, and genders. We strive to create a team that mirrors this ethos, acknowledging that women engineers contribute a unique and invaluable outlook that helps counterbalance the often-prevalent male dominance in the tech world.” ~ Ian Estaphan Owen, CEO, Jaia Robotics LLC”

Women in Engineering panelists (from left to right) Ms. Becky Oh, Dr. Ananya Sen Gupta, Ms. Deborah Smith, and Ms. Sarah Groves speak on work life balance.

Ocean Decade Initiative

John Bermudez took photographs throughout the conference, with a special focus on Ocean Decade Initiative activities. Ocean Decade focused events included:

  • Young Professionals and Early Career Ocean Professionals Listening Session
  • A panel organized by the IEEE OES and Technology Innovation Working Group on cost efficient, scalable, practical and innovative ocean observing technologies for ‘the science we need for the oceans we want’
Dr. Francesco Maurelli (left) and Joshua Baghdady (right) lead a listening session aimed at understanding how the Societies can better support Young Professionals.

Young Professionals Listening Session

IEEE Young Professionals Mehdi Rahmati, Francesco Maurelli, Sara Falleni and Jackie Veatch worked with Marine Technology Society Early Career Ocean Professionals Katharine Weathers and Joshua Baghdady to organize a listening session Wednesday morning.

The session gave voice to the views, opinions, and perspectives of current and future MTS Early Career Ocean Professionals, or ECOPs (i.e., those within 10 years of completing their last professional degree) and IEEE OES Young Professionals (YPs) about their unique experiences through large and small group discussions. Society leadership came to facilitate and understand the perspectives of the emerging workforce that is critical to both MTS and IEEE OES in order to provide relevant content and support to ECOPs and YPs. The event provided a safe and inclusive space for ECOPs and YPs to network with one another and brainstorm future professional opportunities in MTS and IEEE OES. Given space constraints, please RSVP via this survey.  Each table’s discussion was facilitated by Society leadership with a designated YP note taker to ensure that all ideas made it into the shared documentation of the event. These ideas will be used by Society leadership to better meet the support needs of our YP and ECOPS.

Student Poster Competition

Many of our volunteers also helped to judge the student poster competition. We congratulate all the students who participated in the Student Poster Competition this year at OCEANS Gulf Coast. First place went to Shihab Hossain Saran, a local graduate student from the University of Southern Mississippi. Second place went to Andrew Bergey and Third place went to Chenyang Zhang. All 3 winners receive a cash prize. Shihab, the first prize winner, will be funded to attend a future OCEANS conference or other OES event of their choice. Each winning student is pictured below with Student Poster chair Stephan Howden, IEEE OES President Christopher Whitt and MTS President Justin Manley.

You can read more details in the SPC article in this issue.

First Place: Shihab Hossain Saran
Second Place: Andrew Bergey
Third Place: Chenyang Zhang