March 2023 Beacon

VPTA Column (March 2023)

Shyam Madhusudhana, VP for Technical Activities

Well, it is my first stint in an executive role in the OES, as the Vice President for Technical Activities (VPTA), and I am happy to have received the baton from the outgoing VPTA, Dr. Venugopalan Pallayil (Venu). When I had thrown my hat in the ring, I knew there were big shoes to fill. Thanks to Venu’s willingness to continue to assist, I have had a softer landing embarking on this role. As the community continues to trail out of the pandemic-related restrictions, we have seen mixed opinions about conducting our technical activities in virtual, hybrid or in-person formats. While there were no clear winners on addressing the trade-offs between cost-effectiveness, reach, opportunities for networking and connectedness, we definitely witnessed some lull in the overall responsiveness of Chairs (both Technology Committees as well as Chapters). Perhaps, the fatigue from increased online presence was starting to show. Regardless, moving forward, we shall continue to be opportunistic and stay agile. In addition, a variety of new tasks were identified during the year’s first Administrative Committee (AdCom) meeting in January. There is much work to do. Watch this space!

Technology Committees (TC)

Upon assuming the role of VPTA, I vacated my prior role as the Technology Committees Coordinator (TCC). The vacancy needed to be filled quickly. Following an e-vote by the AdCom late in 2022, Prof. Atmanand MA (Atma) was appointed as the new TCC for the term 2023–25. Atma’s appointment will be beneficial given his experience and considering that he has been engaged with the UN Ocean Decade activities for quite some time. Looking forward to working with Atma.

Following consultations with pertinent colleagues, we have now decided to disestablish the TC on Underwater Cables and Connectors. We are currently in the process of formalizing the same. The slate of Chairs and co-Chairs of the remaining 10 TCs were due to be renewed at the start of 2023. However, we have been set back due to several reasons, including difficulties finding successors. We are now back on track and hope to formalize appointments in the coming weeks.

Chapter Activities

Dr. Gerardo Acosta (Gerry) is serving the last year of his current 3-year term as the Chapters Coordinator. Efforts will be on later in the year to plan for succession. Ms. Amy Deeb has continued to generously volunteer to support Gerry. Together, they organized the past year’s Chapter Chairs (ChaCha) meetings and briefings. They are also putting together a welcome packet for Chapter executives to help streamline information; I presume the packets will have been sent out to the ChaChas by the time this edition of Beacon is out. We are also working on making the information on our website up-to-date. We would like to remind the ChaChas and Student Branch Chapter coordinators to take advantage of our DL programme and utilize the opportunity to hear the experts in different technical fields related to oceanic engineering.

Distinguished Lecturers (DL)

Starting this year, we have 10 DLs with expertise in varying topics. Welcome to our newest DLs, Drs. Ferdinando Nunziata and Junku Yuh, who were appointed for the term 2023–25. Our website has been updated with the details of our new DLs and their fields of interest. As of this year, the VPTA will help connect traveling DLs with regional Chapters so they may utilize the opportunity of regional proximity to organize talks. This is aimed to make it easier for the involved parties to organize lectures to plan early and engage with the local community.

The call for new DLs for the period 2024–26 has been announced and is available in this edition of Beacon. The involvement of TC Chairs in identifying, endorsing, and proposing new candidates is key to the success of this programme. I request their active participation in this process. The candidates for DLs should be able to deliver talks to a broader audience of our community and hence their lectures should be prepared to be not too technical. Areas of emerging technologies and techniques should be given preference when selecting the topics.