Filippo Campagnaro & Francesco Maurelli, New YP-BOOST Laureates, Roberto Petroccia, OES Liaison for the YP-BOOST Program
Introduction by Roberto Petroccia, OES Liaison for the YP-BOOST Program
I am very happy to share with you that the IEEE OES Young Professional (YP) BOOST Program is getting up to speed with four YP BOOST laureates active each year. Two new laureates have recently been selected and will be active for 2023-2024. They will join Amy and Mehdi that were selected at the end of 2021 and active for 2022-2023. The YP-BOOST program aims at helping selected YPs in their career development and engagement with the leadership of the OES society and maritime scientific and technological community at large. The two new YP BOOST laureates active in 2023-2024 are Filippo and Francesco. We are very happy to have them on-board and, as you can read in what follows, they have strong ties with OES and will quickly start taking part in leadership meetings and actively contributing to society activities. Two new YP BOOST candidates will be selected at the end of 2023 to serve in 2024-2025 and the application process will open in October-November 2023. I would like to invite all of you to visit the OES YP webpage (https://ieeeoes.org/young-professionals/), learn more about this program and apply to engage more within the OES society and give a boost to your career development and networking.
New YP-BOOST Laureates 2023-2024
What does a countryman do in the Oceanic Engineering Society? My name is Filippo Campagnaro, and the literal translation of my family name is “countryman.” I grew up in a small town 15 miles from Venice, in countryside, where I now live with my wife. I eat the eggs picked up from my grandmother’s hens, my uncle’s homemade salami, the vegetables I grow in my own garden and drink the wine made by my parents. I practice traditional sports (palo della cuccagna, among the others) and enjoy local feasts. So, how did I fall into the IEEE OES community?
When I was a teenager, I did not have any Internet connections at home as the rural area I was living was not covered by any provider. Therefore, I decided to study computer engineering and telecommunications both at the high school and at the University, because I was very curious about this technology that I could not use due to “geographical issues.” During the University courses I attended a seminar on underwater network, where some PhD students and post doc fellows presented the challenges of the underwater environment and their experimental activities, that I found very interesting, so I decided to do both my bachelor Thesis in 2012 and my master Thesis in 2014 in underwater communications. During my thesis activities I was amazed by the work performed by these young researchers, that were often going to sea trials in all parts of the world, from Hawaii to Norway, coming back very tired and enthusiastic, with many stories to tell about their adventures. Their job was looking amazing, thus I decided I wanted to be part of the crew, joining scientific expeditions and sea experiments (that I did, counting more than 15 field tests in rivers, lakes, seas, and oceans). Moreover, the challenges imposed by the underwater acoustic, optical and electromagnetic channels, where there are still many unresolved problems, provide lots of new stimuli for research activities. Indeed, the fact that it is easier to establish a communication link from the Earth to the Moon, or even to Mars, than making reliable underwater communication links in the middle of the oceans, in my opinion, is something astonishing, don’t you think so?
Therefore, immediately after my Master Thesis, I have satisfied my desires by joining the SIGNET lab at the University of Padova, doing research and experimentation in underwater communications, and a few months later (May 2015) I had the opportunity to attend my first IEEE/OES OCEANS conference, in Genova, Italy, presenting my first proceeding in front of the IEEE/OES community. This allowed me to attend many nice presentations and visit the exhibition hall, where almost all the devices that I had previously studied in the brochures and manuals to perform my research were exhibited. This gave me the possibility to ask all curiosities I had about those sophisticated devices, often learning from those speeches details that are complementary with my literature surveys. Afterwards, I was so enthusiastic about this experience that I have kept attending the OCEANS conferences and other OES-supported events: in the last 8 years I attended 9 OCEANS and 4 UComms conferences, one Breaking the Surface workshop and one European Robotic League student competition.
During my PhD, I was selected for the OCEANS 2019 Marseille student poster competition, where I could present my research work to a large audience and exchange ideas with other students and fellows. Since then, many things changed: I got married, finished my PhD, and became a staff member (research assistant professor) at the University of Padova. But something has not changed: my curiosity and my willing of doing experimentation and sea trials. My research focuses on underwater multimodal acoustic optical and electromagnetic communications, with specific interest on underwater sensor networks. Given the big problems caused by sea pollutants and climate change, I am also very involved in low-cost dense sensor deployments to monitor aquatic biodiversity, water quality, and predict floods in coastal areas, such as the Venice lagoon.
I am very glad that I have been selected for the OES YP BOOST program 2023-2024, that I see as an entry point to this community, and I hope to provide OES with my contribute giving, hopefully, helpful suggestions and guidance to young fellas. I recommend young researchers to be curious and satisfy your wishes, doing something more than just follow your advisor’s suggestions (that you need to pursue, by the way). I leave you with a final (perhaps foregone) citation, considered by many people a sort of hymn to research: “Consider your origin: you were not made to live like brutes, but to follow virtue and knowledge.” Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy – Inferno Canto XXVI:85-142
Since I was a kid, the sea fascinated me: so majestic, yet mysterious with its wide range of ecosystems. We know more about the Moon surface than about the depths of the Oceans. And they are so important for human life: every second breadth comes from the Oceans! Joining my passion for innovation and technology, I was so excited to start a PhD in marine robotics quite a few years ago. I was working on autonomous driving for my Master thesis when I received an offer to start a PhD in Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, focusing on intelligent localization. Just before starting, I traveled to Japan for the World Esperanto Congress, and I had the possibility to visit JAMSTEC. The visit confirmed I made the right choice: I felt so excited to start exploring the oceans, using and developing advanced technologies in AI and robotics, to make pieces of plastic and metal to actually do something useful on their own.
Looking at the various aspects related to oceans, science and technology are inevitably entangled. From ocean measurements and sensing to field intervention, energy harvesting, marine waste reduction, the progress in marine systems has made significant advancements. Globally, we are in the process of the fourth industrial revolution. Robotics and autonomous systems have become a key component for so many industry sectors and significant progress has been made in marine systems as well. During my research activities, I focus on making marine robots smarter, equipping them with high level autonomy: from sensor data processing to intelligent planning in challenging environments. I had the opportunity and the pleasure to perform field activities in many different environments, including Scottish lochs, North Sea, Atlantic Ocean, and Mediterranean Sea.
I strongly believe that smart autonomous marine robotic systems represent a key enabler to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations. I am very keen in supporting the OES to play a central role in the UN Ocean Decade activities.
As a professor at Constructor University (Bremen, Germany – formerly Jacobs University), I also put a great emphasis on student activities and involve both undergraduate and postgraduate students in marine robotics.
The team Black Pearl I supervised at the RAMI Competition 2022, winning the Best Rookie Award and scoring third place.
When I am not working with robots or with students, I like to play the piano. Bach, Mozart, Chopin and many other great composers are incredible life coaches. I am very much an international person, feeling that the EU first and then the overall world is my Motherland. For this reason, I speak the international language Esperanto, which was created some 125 years ago with the goal of having a neutral tool to overcome language barriers. “Today, within the welcoming walls of Boulogne-sur-Mer, there meet not Frenchmen with Englishmen, not Russians with Poles, but people with people” were deeply touching words at the first World Esperanto Congress in 1905, before two world wars teared Europe and the world in pieces. I feel that the Oceanic Engineering Society does work towards the same direction as well: joining people via common technical interests, fostering international collaboration in mutual respect. As an Italian living abroad, I have developed a very essential survival skill: the ability to cook some fine vegetarian and vegan dishes. Let me know if you pass by Bremen!
I am very honored to have been selected for the OES YP BOOST Program 2023-2024 and I am looking forward to contribute, to network and to inspire young scientists in a field which is as demanding as rewarding. We’ll be in touch! 😊