March 2020 OES Beacon

From the President (March 2020)

Christian de Moustier, OES President

Calendar year 2020 is a leap year.  In our epoch, this means an extra day at the end of February and Summer Olympic Games [1].  Among other distinctions, 2020 has also been designated as the International Year of Sound by the International Commission for Acoustics [2], and the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife by the World Heath Organization (WHO).  However, on December 31, 2019, the WHO reported a novel coronavirus disease outbreak (COVID-19, [3]) that has since established worldwide preponderance.

The COVID-19 outbreak has had an immediate impact on our colleagues in China, Singapore, and Malaysia, forcing the postponement of events sponsored or co-sponsored by OES: China Ocean Acoustics 2020 [4] in Harbin, China, to July 27-30, OCEANS 2020 Singapore to August 11-14 and the associated Singapore AUV Challenge to August 14-17 [5], and OTC Asia 2020 [6] in Kuala Lumpur to August 17-19.   We are all immensely indebted to the OES volunteers who serve on the local organizing committees of these conferences and who had to renegotiate and reschedule all aspects of a conference.  For further updates, check the websites of these conferences and other events listed on the OES website (

While we strive to reschedule and/or relocate OES conferences, workshops, and symposia, we may question our motivations for attending these events in person instead of participating in teleconferences or using social media services for interactive exchanges of information and ideas with others who share our scientific and technical interests.  For most of us, in person attendance is an opportunity to get out of the office and open ourselves to different cultures while expanding our professional network and interests.

Our professional network starts at the local level.  Although we may identify primarily as members of OES, our IEEE membership automatically ties us to the IEEE Section closest to our home and to the associated OES Chapter or joint Chapter, if it exists.  In fact, the location of an OCEANS conference is usually predicated on the existence of a local Chapter or Section.  One of the newest OES Chapters was created in Porto, Portugal, in support of OCEANS 2021 Porto.

Speaking of Sections, 2020 is also the year of the IEEE Section Congress (SC2020, [7]), an event held every 3 years that brings together all IEEE Sections (339 at last count [8]).  SC2020 will be held in Ottawa, Canada, August 21-23. More importantly, OES will be represented by elected AdCom Member Christopher Whitt who serves on the SC2020 Steering Committee as Program Chair.

COVID-19 has already forced us to replace many in person meetings by teleconferences.  This might be a positive step in   today’s yearning for a greener world, which makes air travel less desirable and provides an incentive to foster the creation of events comprising local gatherings linked via enhanced remote access and communications methods.