Isela Ibrahimovic, Coordination Chair, OCEANS Limerick 2023
This was the first time the OCEANS conference came to the “Emerald Isle” and the first entirely in-person conference after COVID-19.
The event was held at the University of Limerick Green Campus, a beautiful parkland with the River Shannon as its unifying focal point. The local hosting was led by the Centre for Robotics and Intelligent Systems (CRIS), the only research Centre in Ireland in underwater robotics, with the support of the key partner for the event, Marine Institute, a leading Irish marine research institution.
OCEANS’23 Limerick attracted close to 700 delegates across all the registration categories.
Delegates gathered from around the world for four days (5 to 8 June) to highlight relevant topics and current trends while creating a community of learners and influencers who consistently advance research, practices, and policies under the “Blue Ocean Planet Earth” theme. The conference theme was broader, enabling the committee to offer a diverse technical programme, but with a focus on the relevant local and geographical interest topics.
Behind the “scene,” there is always a great team of people making OCEANS events possible. We give special thanks to our local committee members who worked very hard to ensure a successful conference.
General Chair: Prof. Daniel Toal, CRIS, UL
Honorary Chair: Prof. Karen Wiltshire, Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI)
Peter Heffernan, Special Advisor of Board of Directors, Oceano Azul Foundation, Portugal.
Coordination Chair: Isela Ibrahimovic, CRIS, UL
Executive/UN Decade of Ocean Science Chair: Fiona Grant, Marine Institute.
Finance Chair: Gerard Dooly, CRIS, UL
Technical Chair: Edin Omerdic, CRIS, UL
Technical-Co Chairs: Phillipe Cardoso Santos, CRIS, UL
John Ringwood, Dept. of Electronic Engineering, Maynooth University.
Tutorial Chair: Cathal O’Donnell, CRIS, UL
Student poster Chair: Petar Trslic, CRIS, UL
Women in Engineering Chair: Aoife Hegarty, Atlantic Technological University.
Young Professionals Chair: Lubna Luxmi, CRIS, UL
Young Professionals Co-Chair: A’Qilah Ahmad Dahalan, University of Limerick,
Exhibits Chair: Ray O’Brien, University of Limerick, Bernal Institute, MaREI
Exhibits Co-Chairs: Anthony Weir, CRIS, UL
Jerry Hallissey, Shannon Foynes Port Company.
OCEANS 2023 programme
To reflect and underpin the conference theme, a set of local Limerick topics was chosen to be the conference’s centerpiece. A series of plenary and keynote talks were presented to highlight them. These local topics include Offshore wind energy, Ship decarbonisation, Drones in marine applications, Cultural heritage and underwater archaeology, Artificial Intelligence in Ocean Science & Technology, Analytics and Sensing: A new age of dynamic observations, Renewable Energy from the Sea (Wave, Tidal, OTEC, Salinity gradient…), Sustainable Blue Economy, Maritime Vehicle Navigation, Deep Sea Mining, deep sea exploration and parallels to outer space.
In addition, all the traditional OCEANS conference technical tracks ensured that the conference in Limerick retained and maintained its standard structure.
Plenaries and panels
The plenaries took place on the morning of each conference day. The plenary sessions included one keynote speaker and a panel discussion with several experts in the subject area. In total, we had 20 speakers, including the moderators.
PLENARY I: Offshore Wind, Carbon Neutral Energy by 2050, Keynote Una Brosnan, Head of Offshore Strategy & New Markets, Mainstream Renewable Power
Expert Panel: Philip Cole (WindEurope), Peter Lefroy (RWE), Noel Cunniffe (Wind Energy Ireland), Jeannine Dunne (GDG), Jerry Hallissey (SFPC).
Plenary I (from left to right): Noel Cunniffe (Wind Energy Ireland), Liam Lacey (moderator, Marine Institute), Philip Cole (WindEurope), Jeannine Dunne (GDG), Una Brosnan (Mainstream Renewable Power), Peter Lefroy (RWE), Jerry Hallissey (SFPC and Prof. Daniel Toal.
PLENARY II: Sustainable Commercial Use of Seas and Oceans,
Keynote Mary Crowley, President Ocean Voyages Institute. Expert Panel: Prof. Karen Wiltshire (AWI), Prof. Richard Neilson (National Decommissioning Centre UK), Kimberly Blakemore (Analog Devices), Gerard Dooly (CRIS/UL), George Kallimasiotis (Resolve Marine).
Plenary II. Kimberly Blakemore (ADI), Prof Karen Wiltshire (AWI), Prof Richard Neilson (National Decommissioning Centre UK), Gerard Dooly (CRIS/UL), George Kallimasiotis (Resolve Marine). Mary Crowley (Ocean Voyages Institute). Fausto Ferreira (moderator, OES/FER), Prof. Daniel Toal, (from left to right)
PLENARY III Ocean Health and Resilience,
Keynote: Peter Heffernan, Ocean Ambassador & Member of the Board of the Oceano Azul Foundation. Board Member EU Mission Board ‘Restore Our Ocean and Waters by 2030.’
Expert Panel: Craig N. McLean (Former Chief Scientist NOAA), Sigi Gruber (Senior Advisor EU), Carol Anne Clayson (WHOI), Paul Connolly (Marine Institute).
In addition to the regular technical programmes and plenaries, we had three special sessions/town hall covering relevant topics such as green shipping, fair and affordable access/use of ocean technology and industry accelerators (new partnerships and findings).
Special session titles:
- Green Shipping, moderated by: Peter Lefroy, RWE Ireland
- Accelerating Technology Development to Address Climate Change: New Types of Partnerships and Funding, moderated by Kathryn Hautanen, Analog Devices/Ocean & Climate Innovation Accelerator
- Fair solutions in engineering for sustainable oceans, moderated by Niall McDonough, Marine Institute
Ten parallel trucks were run during each conference day, covering a total of 428 presentations, including the general poster session and student poster competition. There were ten special sessions. Traditionally the highest number of papers were presented under the “Autonomous underwater vehicle” topic. The programme was exciting, comprehensive and well-balanced.
As an add-on to the general programme, the first day of the conference was dedicated to the tutorials. Ten tutorials and one workshop were held on 5 June, with an attendance of over 220 delegates across all sessions. The tutorial fee was included in all full registrations, which we believe significantly increased the number of tutorial attendees.
The covered topics were the following:
- Detection of Underwater Acoustic Signals – theory and techniques
- SAR Remote Sensing of the Ocean Surface
- Building Marine Cyber Resilience using Cybersecurity Standards,
- Governance, Risk and Control
- Transceiver Design for Underwater Acoustic communications
- Introduction to LSTS Toolchain: Bridging interoperability challenges
- Data Management: A Short Hands-On How-To
- MARUS – Unity Based Simulator for Marine Robotic
- Underwater Optical Sensing and Real-time Data Transmission: in-situ measurement of marine particles and other organisms
- Navigating Estuary and Port Applications of Small Autonomous Surface Vessels: Tips, Pitfalls, and Rules of the Road
Women in Engineering
The WIE activities during the conference were run by the OES and MTS societies’ WIE chairs with the support of our local team. The sessions were scheduled as a working breakfast and lunch on the last conference day, 8 June.
IEEE OES Women in Engineering (WIE) hosted a special session breakfast with a panel that featured three women (Lubna Luxmi, Donna Kocak, Sarah Jane Pell) communicating how their experiences have helped shape their careers and how challenges & support have influenced where they are today.
The WIE lunch was a collaboration between the Empowering Women for the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development Programme and the Women Leadership in Marine Technology and Science initiative. It was hosted by Liesl Hotaling, Marine Technology Society and moderated by Ronan Long, WMU-Sasakawa Global Institute.’
The panelists were:
- Fiona Grant, Women in Blue Economy Intelligence Gathering and Capacity Boosting
- Mariamalia Rodriguez Chaves, Gender Mainstreaming in Ocean Governance Bodies
- Ellen Johansen, Understanding the Role of Gender in the Practice of International Marine Science
- Renis Auma Ojwala, Gender Equality in Ocean Science for Sustainable Development: Analysis of Ocean Science Institutions in Kenya
- Cathy Hogan, Scaling Up Actions to Empower Women for the Ocean Decade
The young professional breakfast was held on Wednesday, 6 June, and offered an opportunity to hear from veterans in the ocean engineering sector about professional development and career exits. The panelists were:
- Mandar Chitre, Head of the Acoustic Research Laboratory (ARL) at the Tropical Marine Science Institute (TMSI)
- Christoph Waldmann, Senior Scientist. MARUM
- Asma Khatoon Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering, UL
- Nuno Cruz, Centre for Robotics and Autonomous Systems at INESC TEC
Student Poster Competition
One hundred and fifty-six abstracts were submitted for the student poster competition, and based on the threshold score, around 121 were selected for 2nd stage of review (SPC). Following this 2nd review stage, 14 posters were selected for the SPC final.
The SPC jury selected the following winners:
- First Prize: Amelia Ritger, University of California,
- Second Prize: Jared McFadden, Florida Atlantic University
- Third Prize: Patrick McGuire, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
The prize winners’ details were announced during lunchtime at the Innovation Hub theatre on the closing day.
You can read the SPC report, winning article and articles from top two winners in this Beacon issue, too.
The exhibition was held in two connected marquees near the conference hall. This made it still possible to bring the technical sessions and the exhibits close together and to have an increased footfall in the exhibition space. The existing crisis inevitably led to reduced exhibitors registering for OCEANS Limerick, and we eventually had 46 booths available. Hard work by the LOC resulted in 42 Institutions (Companies, Research Institutes, Professional Bodies, Societies, and Media Organizations) represented across 46 booths (triple, single, shared or small booths). The exhibitor track was run in the Innovation Theater, and the slots were given to all exhibitors to address the audience and present their products, research or institutions.
As in all OCEANS conferences, the social program is essential in enabling delegates to relax and interact in an informal atmosphere. The OCEANS ’23 Limerick team organised a schedule of events designed to give delegates the full flavour of Irish culture.
- Student mixer
The Student Mixer was organised for registered students and student poster competitors in a casual setting for networking. Young Professionals and leaders from the Oceanic Engineering Society and Marine Technology Society attended to orient the students to the OCEANS conference and guide how to get the most out of the event. Stables Club, University of Limerick, has a great atmosphere with DJ and BBQ.
- Icebreaking event
Another successful networking event was held on Monday afternoon (5 June), the Icebreaking Reception in the University Concert Hall Atrium—a great way to end the first day with relaxing music, good food and drinks.
- Exhibition reception
Tuesday afternoon was reserved for networking with exhibitors, starting with the Canadian National Pavilion event, followed by the exhibitors’ reception. Drinks and nibbles were offered to enable exhibitors and attendees to relax in an informal environment.
- Gala dinner
The conference banquet was held at the Strand Hotel and was followed by a visit to King John’s Castle for an exciting medieval experience. The gala program included traditional Irish music and dance, and 480 delegates could also enjoy the performances of Prof. Daniel Toal, whose fiddle melodies give the atmosphere an extra spark of Irish hospitality.