September President's Message

By Zdenka Willis -

Happy Fall! It’s hard to believe that summer has come and gone. 

First a reminder: VOTE! Voting is open through 5:00 pm (EST) on October 7, 2020 for our next President Elect; Vice President for Industry, Technology, and Research; and Vice President for Communications and Publications. 

Please join us next month as MTS/IEEE-OES will host the first ever virtual Global OCEANS conference, OCEANS 2020: Singapore – U.S. Gulf Coast. This OCEANS is the culmination of a lot of the hard work by the joint organizing community, MCI-USA (Professional Conferencing Organizer), and the MTS HQ team. Also, a big thanks to our sponsors and exhibitors. Without them we could not host OCEANS. 


While the venue is different the program remains robust. Along with over 500+ papers that are always insightful, we have a stellar line up of keynote speakers and panelists covering topics such as the Blue Economy, autonomous systems, biodiversity, and operational oceanography. I draw your attention of the town hall on the United Nations Decade. MTS and IEEE-OES are Ocean Science and Technology Partners with the UN Ocean Decade, and the OCEANS conference is uniquely positioned to serve as an independent forum for discussion and advancement of the goals of the UN Ocean Decade. To this end, MTS and IEEE-OES together will feature the UN Oceans Decade at each of our OCEANS conferences through 2030.  There are exciting programs for Young Professionals and Women Technologists, Scientists and Engineers.  Along with the papers, there will be posters and the always popular Student Poster Competition featuring entrants from both Singapore and the Gulf Coast.  Thank you to the MTS Gulf Coast section who is sponsoring an interactive challenge with our exhibitors with the top award a compensated registration to OCEANS 2021 San Diego.

Let me provide you my thoughts for why it’s invaluable to attend OCEANS by starting with a story. 

NOAA, as the lead national agency for the United States Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®), established the US IOOS Office in 2007. IOOS, for those not familiar, is a United States’ national program that coordinates ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes observing efforts across all the national agencies. It extends the reach to the local level through eleven Regional Associations (RAs). RAs are made up of representatives from academia; state, local, and tribal government; and industry. I was honored to be asked by the NOAA Administrator at the time, VADM (Ret) Conrad Lautenbacher, to be the Director and establish the office. By 2007 there had been significant planning, through national office Ocean.US, but it was time to shift to execution. 

After standing up the office and firmly establishing the RAs, we began looking for where we could talk about the progress of IOOS. In 2009, Dick Crout – Technical Chair for OCEANS 2009 Biloxi – and I decided to have an IOOS track. Ultimately, we had 45 papers - all presented using an IOOS template. By the end of OCEANS, people left the conference believing that IOOS was a real and viable entity! That started a long relationship between IOOS and OCEANS where we conducted town halls to solicit community input; highlighted IOOS’ progress; advanced observing networks such as buoys, high frequency radar and gliders; and discussed data management systems. At OCEANS 2012 Hampton Roads, we prepared the community for the IOOS summit that ushered in the second decade of IOOS. And at OCEANS 2015 Washington DC, IOOS rolled out its new logo.     

So, by attending OCEANS you’ll:

  • Learn about the importance of highlighting the Marine Technology Sector
  • Hear about new technologies, science, products and services
  • See the cool technologies our Exhibitors have to offer
  • Dialog about the important challenges and opportunities facing our oceans, coasts and Great Lakes
  • Be a partner to global programs such as the United Nations Decade of the Oceans, the Group on Earth Observations, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
  • Gain insight into where the national agencies, academia, and the private sector interact
  • Support a venue for students to publish and present and we get to hear about their exciting research
  • Network and interacting with colleagues
  • Meet the next generation of marine professionals
  • Meeting new colleagues
  • Forge closer ties between MTS and IEEE-OES
  • Recognize the great efforts of our MTS and IEEE-OES members through the society’s recognition programs
  • Have a “front row seat” to the premiere marine technology event where the national agencies and programs – such as IOOS – look to make announcements and talk to the community

You have my list on why attend OCEANS, what is your list! How can we improve your OCEANS experience? Statistics show that about 15% of the MTS members attend – so those of you in the 85% category – tell us how we can change OCEANS for you to consider attending.

There is no travel involved and the registration fee is low, so I encourage you to register for OCEANS 2020: Singapore – U.S. Gulf Coast. Join us for the MTS State of the society, election results and awards ceremony on Thursday, 8 October. 

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