Opportunities in the ocean science/technology field are hard to come by for young professionals. A degree (even a Master’s degree or Ph.D.) doesn’t guarantee you a job. In fact, it doesn’t even guarantee that your résumé will move to the top of the pile that employers review for each job posting. So, it is essential for young professionals to find opportunities to stand out. I found this opportunity through the Marine Technology Society and the OCEANS conference. It was an opportunity that ultimately led to my successful career.

In 2008, I came across a “Call for Student Poster Abstracts” for OCEANS ’08 MTS/IEEE Quebec City. I submitted and was pleasantly surprised that abstract was accepted. I attended OCEANS’ 08 and it was one of the best professional experiences I had as a student. Top name researchers were not only present at the conference, but they also took the time to visit with the student poster presenters.

What stood out most to me about OCEANS was that it was a major international conference. A majority of the students in the competition were from outside North America. The exhibit hall was much the same. It became clear to me that the OCEANS conference was a great place to build a diverse network. This was my introduction into the OCEANS conferences.  (Sobin, 2015)

I have attended fourteen OCEANS conference since 2008.  During this time, I have seen the conference expand the networking potential for students; greatly. The addition of the EMERGE program the last couple of years has provided networking opportunities to foster professional skill development for students and early-career ocean professionals and help build professional networks.  It’s been an honor to be a mentor the last two years via Kongsberg.  The ocean technology industry is in great need of building the next generation workforce.  Having the opportunity to share my expertise and introduce my mentees to leaders in the industry, I believe could have significant impact to the industry.

There are many stories I could share.  One of my best recent memories of the OCEANS’ conference was MTS/IEEE San Diego 2021.  This was my first conference following the pandemic and was a much-needed relief from virtual conferences.  For many of us it was an opportunity to see colleagues, friends, again that didn’t involve a computer screen.  It was also a conference with high-level special panels and townhalls.  The OCEANS conferences in the last few years have embraced more special sessions.  I had the opportunity to lead the session titled: Autonomous Solutions for a Sustainable Blue Economy. The panel focused on marine robotics and how they have evolved over time in the industry.  The OCEANS conference opens opportunities for professional growth.

The OCEANS conference series has a rich history.  It’s a been a fun ride and I thank MTS and IEEE for the opportunity to be a leader in the conference series.

 

Source: Jacob Sobin (2015). The Investment: Active Involvement in a Professional Society. Blue Futures: Educating the Next Generation. July/August 2015 MTS Journal, Volume 49, Number 4.

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