OCEANS 22 – An in-person technical treat in the post-Covid era

Earthzineclimate change, Ocean Decade, Oceans, Oceans 2022, Chennai

OCEANS 2022 was one of the first hybrid OES conferences organized post-Covid in Chennai, a beautiful beach city of India. This article is a brief coverage of this event.

25 Apr, 2022

Nidhi Varshney

Science conferences are important to advance the scientific dialogue, and foster collaboration and cooperation amongst scientists, government agencies, academics, students and solution-providers around the world. Most conferences during the Covid era had to convert to a virtual format to abide by safety norms. One of the first conferences held under the OES-MTS banner which was able to cater to a hybrid format in the post-Covid blues time, was the much-awaited OCEANS 2022 conference held in Chennai, a beautiful beach city of India. This article is a brief coverage of this event.

OCEANS 2022 was held during 21-24 February 2022 with the theme --  Inspire, Innovate, Sustain. The theme reflects the conference’s objective to inspire the new generation to strive and work in the field of Ocean Technology which needs innovations and a revamped thought process to find sustainable solutions to harvest the ocean resources. It was an amalgamation of technology-building through collaborative learning, technical sessions, workshops, panel discussions, student’s activities, and a wide range of exhibitors showcasing the latest innovations in products and services from across the globe.

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The Inaugural Function – Prof.  S. A. Sannasiraj, Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala, Prof. V. Kamakoti, Mr. Madhu Nair, Mr. Christopher Whitt, Dr. G. A. Ramadass, Prof. M. A. Atmanand, Dr. Tata Sudhakar

OCEANS 2022, an UN Ocean-Decade endorsed event, was held in hybrid mode keeping the spirit of both the virtual and physical events alive. It was formally inaugurated on 22nd Feb by Mr Madhu Nair, Chairman cum Managing Director, Cochin Shipyard Ltd., as the chief guest followed by plenary sessions delivered by eminent scientists and researchers from across the world.

The conference kick-started with a student hackathon on 20th Feb, held in two tracks in physical and online mode respectively, and aimed at exploring Hardware Interface and Data Analysis for Unified Earth System Observation.

Students Hackathon

As part of the pre-conference activity, two full-day and six half-day tutorial sessions were conducted on Feb 21, 2022. The sessions were held online on a virtual conference platform created exclusively for OCEANS 2022 considering the different time-zones of the attendees.

Students outing at the beach

Apart from the technical side, OCEANS 2022 was a welcome getaway from the monotonicity of the restricted COVID-era lifestyle. As outdoor activities were opening up, the student mixer was held in physical mode. A student luncheon and a fun-frolic outing to an aquarium and then to the beach were organized providing an opportunity for attendees to chill and relax, followed by icebreaker dinner.

OCEANS 2022 had 33 hybrid and 51 virtual technical presentations. It attracted about 210 physical participants and over 130 virtual participants from India, the host country and around 30 physical participants and close to 140 virtual participants from other countries across the globe.

Snapshots from technical presentations -- physical and virtual

Panel discussion

Parallel events like the Global-Observation-Systems-MTS Ocean Dialogue and a panel discussion on Global Climate Change were organized on 22nd Feb. A ‘women in engineering’ session inspiring women to advance their careers, and a Young Professionals’ Program on the 23rd February were organized in hybrid mode. The Student Poster Competition was organized as a virtual event, with 19 students posters being presented from different countries.

As at all OCEANS, the conference had a wide range of exhibitors showcasing the latest innovations in products and services from across the globe. Dr. Shailesh Nayak, Director of the National Institute of Advanced Studies and an eminent scientist in the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India, inaugurated the exhibition. An exhibitors’ dinner was held at the venue itself with live counters, serving authentic south Indian cuisine. The sponsors and the exhibitors were also felicitated during the dinner.

Dr. Shailesh Nayak inaugurating the exhibition

A fun-filled gala dinner was organized on the 23rd Feb with a cultural program showcasing various art forms of southern part of India. Young girls performed an Indian classical dance called Bharatnatyam, and other traditional arts like ‘nadaswaram’ (wind instrument), ‘thavil melam’ (drums) and ‘mayilattam’ (peacock dance) were performed. The mood was celebratory, with fun games for kids and youngsters. The prizes for the student poster competition, sponsored by ONRG, were announced during the function.

Prize distribution for Students Hackathon

The patrons for the event were IIT Madras, National Institute of Ocean Technology, India, IIT Madras Research Park, Naval Research Board – Defense Research and Development Organization. The Ocean Society of India, SOCERS, SUT and Ocean Energy Systems were the Technical Sponsors.

The OES President Christopher Whitt shakes a leg with the local dancers

Overall, it was an exciting event bringing the OES community and others from all over the world together to share their knowledge and experiences, be it online or physically.