November MTS President’s Message

Zdenka WillisFor the United States, November has our Thanksgiving and I would like to start by thanking all of you have volunteered on MTS efforts.  Thank you to the Section and Committee leaders, the 2020 Awards Committee, 2020 Board Nominating Committee, academic advisors for our Student Sections, the Captain Don Walsh joint (with SUT) selection panel, Local Organizing Committees for OCEANS 2020-2024, Editorial board, Woman Leaders in Technology and Science organizing committee, the many presenters on our webinars, and board members.

Congratulations to our new board members.  Our next President-Elect is Justin Manley. Justin is no stranger to MTS having served as the Vice President of Government and Public Affairs.  Mr. Manley founded Just Innovation Inc. in 2015. He supports clients from startups to multi-national corporations with core technical specializations in unmanned vehicles, robotics, sensors, and undersea systems.  The Vice President of Communications is Liesl Hotaling. Liesl served for 6 years as the VP of Education and Interim Director in the summer of 2017, and for the last year the VP of Communications.  She is the founder and president of Eidos Education, and specializes in real time data education projects and hands-on STEM educational projects supporting environmental observing networks and serves as the Manager of the Student Enabled Network of Sensors for the Environment using Innovative Technology (SENSE IT). The Vice President of Research, Industry, and Technology is Jim Hanlon. Jim is a 40-year veteran of the ocean technology industry, having worked in engineering, marketing, and management for companies in Atlantic Canada, Ontario and New England. Jim just retired as the CEO of COVE – The Centre for Ocean Ventures & Entrepreneurship. COVE is a 70+ tenant ocean technology hub in Halifax, Nova Scotia. COVE was the 2019 MTS and COMPASS Industrial Award winner.

As I write this column, I remind you that your comments on the proposed By-Laws changes are requested by 4 December.  While a number of changes are administrative, I draw your attention to the section on the Early Career Ocean Professionals (ECOP).  Over this past year the board has asked three of our ECOP members to provide a proposal on how we can better serve this part of our society.  They recommended a number of great ideas and during the October 2020 MTS Board meeting, the MTS Board voted to establish a new Board position – VP for Early Career Ocean Professionals, to establish an ECOP section.  Further we agreed to support and ECOP representative to the UN Decade of the Oceans.

Two other highlights from our meeting:

  • Donna Kocak was named as the MTS representative to the UN Decade.  MTS is a partner organization of the UN Decade.
  • We accepted the exploratory committee recommendation to move our exploratory effort with the Society for Underwater Technology (SUT) from Phase 1 to Phase 2.

Over the last month, I have had the chance to represent MTS at several events.  The first was providing a keynote at the 6th High-Level Industry-Science-Government Dialogue on Atlantic Interactions

AIR Centre Theme Sessions: Innovation for Sustainable Marine Development and the Blue Economy.  I was honored to be part of the session that featured ministers of science, technology and economy from Nigeria, Cabo Verde, Spain, Norway, São Tomé and Príncipe, Angola, United Kingdom, South Africa, European Commission, Brazil, Azores, and Portugal.  You can listen to my talk and the statement from the minsters here.

I moderated the TMA Blue Tech – Blue Tech Week panel – “Batteries, Cables, Connectors, & Housings, Oh My.”  The panelist, Rusty Jehangir is the founder and CEO of Blue Robotics; Matt Moldavan, is the Co-Founder, Suburban Marine and Sean Newsome is the Founder of Shorebreak Tech. While the panel focused on the importance of these components, it also represents a new business model for these components to address pain points such as price and availability.

I also presented on the Blue Economy for the panel – The Next Wave of BlueTech Innovation.  The webinar was hosted by The Hive.  Marta Bulaich, VP Enterprise Strategy moderated the panel. I joined Yi Chao, CEO and Founder of Seatrec who has designed a thermal energy harvesting system that used the ocean’s thermal gradient to generate power.  His system can be used in conjunction with Argo floats and glides to significantly extent their life and Stephan Greenword, CEO Ballast Technologies Inc who brings Virtual Reality systems to pools and waterslides which brings the Ocean and all is amazing life to those that may not be able to get to the ocean and a way that is really engaging.  You can view that panel here

Best Regards,


Zdenka Willis
President, MTS

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