Connecting ECOPs with Academia, Industry and Best Practices – Townhall at OSM 2022

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IEEE OES organized a Town Hall at Ocean Sciences meeting 2022. This is a brief summary of the event.

22 Mar, 2022

Hari Vishnu and Venugopalan Pallayil

The IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society (OES) organized a Town Hall at the Ocean Sciences meeting 2022. The event, “TH04: Connecting Early Career Ocean Professionals with Academia, Industry, Philanthropy and Technical societies” was held on 25 Feb 2022, from 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM U.S. Eastern Standard Time.

The aim of this forum was to enable interaction between early career ocean professionals (ECOPs) and leading researchers, academics, engineers and industry experts who are solution-providers. This Town Hall stemmed from the idea that one of the key things we want to achieve in the ongoing UN Decade of Ocean Sciences is more coordination and communication between ECOPs and the experienced practitioners of Ocean knowledge. ECOPs are going to take over and continue this movement beyond the span of this 10 years, and to keep the momentum going, more ECOPs need to be inspired to join this movement and take up or continue careers in Ocean science and related fields (read more on Decade objectives and planning).


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Results from pre-event survey at the Townhall

Results from pre-event survey at the Townhall

The event started off with a pre-event survey, followed by an introduction by the moderators Dr. Hari Vishnu, Chief Editor of IEEE OES Earthzine magazine and an ECOP with OES, and Dr. Venugopalan Pallayil, the vice-president of technical activities at OES. The moderators introduced IEEE OES, and its involvement in the Decade and with ECOPs. The 6 panelists were

  • Justin Manley, Founder of Just Innovation, Co-founder of Seahawk Robotics.
  • Eric Delory, Head, Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands.
  • Rich Patterson, Director of Sales at Kongsberg Maritime.
  • Evgeniia Kostiania, Ocean Decade Global ECOP program coordinator & Consultant at IOC-UNESCO.
  • Jochen Klinke, Director of Science at Seabird Scientific.
  • Virginie Van Dongen-Vogels and Cora Horstmann, ECOPs representative from Ocean Best-practices system

The event was attended by around 67 participants. A pre-event poll survey showed that about 80% of them were ECOPs. The survey also asked the question of “what are the important areas the community needs to tackle to encourage ECOPs to advance their career in Ocean sciences”, and the most overwhelming need highlighted by the audience was that of career opportunities, followed by Funding and Access to Networks/Contacts. The need for training was also highlighted. In line with this, many of the panelists spoke about related topics.

The 6 panelists along with moderators included two representatives each from academia, industry, technical societies and ECOP group representatives, and Justin also brought expertise from the side of philanthropic organizations. The panelists all spoke for 5 minutes each, many of them highlighting existing opportunities are resources for ECOPs to use to further their expertise, to apply for funding or ship time, to participate in competitions, and to get more awareness on Ocean sciences in general, or on the ECOP program for spreading word on the Decade (read more on scicomm/outreach during the Decade). There were also representatives from the Ocean Best Practices group, who highlighted the importance of creating and observing best practices in Ocean science.

During the talks, many questions were asked of the panelists via the chat box which were answered immediately. After the talks, the moderators also posed a few questions to the panelists, such as what the requirements of industry would be that ECOP training programs could focus on boosting in the coming Decade. Most of the feedback from the industry was that networking skills are important, and that applying for industry jobs requires very different skillsets than that for an academic job. For example, it requires an applicant to showcase how he/she can practically demonstrate the learned skills in the field. Some audience members asked how they could get involved in the Decade or specific regional nodes, which Evgeniia promptly answered with relevant links to the ECOP program. Panelists listed out internship and research opportunities for ECOPS and graduate students in their organizations and asked interested ECOPS and students to get in touch with them.

The event wrapped up in 75 minutes, and received good feedback from the audience. The video of the event will be uploaded and made available at the OSM event page for upto 6 months, for those who registered for the conference. Overall, this is one step forward in furthering the dialogue between ECOPs and Ocean professionals, and we hope more such events may be organized with specific focus points in the future.