Meet the co-organizers of the Young Professionals Breakfast event: “Gaining an Edge in the New Blue Economy”

Conference season is about to kick off again, and we’re pleased to see a concerted effort to cater towards ECOPs in many upcoming events.  Oceans 2022 is taking place in Hampton Roads, Virginia, US (17 – 20 October 2022) and on Wednesday 19 October Marine Technology Society (MTS) Early Career Ocean Professionals and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers – Oceanic Engineering Society (IEEE OES) Young Professionals are hosting a Networking Breakfast called “Gaining an Edge in the New Blue Economy.”  

We spoke to Laura Meyer at IEEE OES, and Joshua Baghdady at MTS, to learn more.

Hi Laura and Joshua, you’re both co-organizers of the upcoming Young Professionals Breakfast event at Oceans 2022, can you tell us a bit about yourselves?

Laura: I’m a german lawstudent specializing in international law of the sea, based in Hamburg. I am currently working for the Oceanic Engineering Society (OES) and the German Ocean Foundation. For OES, I am engaged with our Ocean Decade Initiative, helping out with the organisation of the OCEANS conference and other Ocean Decade related activities. Coming from a law backround, the science and engineering world is quite new to me, so I am learing more and more every day. However, this is what motivates me most, because for me working in an interdisciplinary team is one of the most important parts to be able achieve the goals in the UN Ocean Decade. 

Joshua: I am a researcher at the Applied Research Laboratory at the University of Hawai‘i. My background is in electrical engineering and my research focuses on novel methods for sensing and communicating ocean data through the use of uncrewed systems. In addition to my day job, I volunteer with the Marine Technology Society (MTS) and am the inaugural chair of the society’s Early Career Ocean Professionals (ECOP) section. In this capacity I facilitate communications and programming, such as the ECOP/YP breakfast at OCEANS, in service of the society’s ECOP members.

What are the details we need to know about the event you’re co-organizing?

What: OCEANS 2022 Hampton Roads ECOP/YP Breakfast

Where: Virginia Beach Convention Center (room TBD)

When: Wednesday, 19 October 2022, 07:00 – 07:50 (EDT)

Laura: Joining this breakfast will give ECOPS an opportunity to ask questions about career opportunities, professional development, and how to best navigate your early career stage in a casual, informal setting. Leadership of MTS and IEEE OES as well as senior career industry, academia, government, military, and non-profit partners will be there for networking.

Joshua: The ECOP/YP breakfast series at OCEANS is the conference agenda item designed specifically to support early career networking and professional development. The structure is informal, and ECOPs are encouraged to converse with one another and the senior career attendees over a catered breakfast to build their professional network and gain insight into hiring opportunities, sector trends, and career advancement. This year’s breakfast will take place on Wednesday morning, 19 October, from 07:00 – 07:50 EDT at the conference venue. For more information and to RSVP, please visit https://forms.gle/eFpwWhgG18agbf6HA.

Laura, you are currently interning at IEEE/OES, what exactly is the YP-BOOST Program and what are some of the UN Ocean Decade activities OES is working on this year?

Laura: The IEEE/OES Young Professionals Boost Program is an opportunity to participate in the leadership of the Oceanic Engineering Society by attending the meetings, by being involved in the diverse committees, and by helping with different aspects of the OCEANS conferences.  The program consists of recruiting 2 new Young Professionals (YPs) every year, for a total of 4 YPs for a given year when in permanent regime. A YP is a member of OES who graduated with his/her first professional degree within the last 15 years.  The duration of this program for each selected candidate is 2 years, corresponding to 4 OCEANS conferences, completely covered financially by OES.  The selected candidates to this program will then develop their relationship with the other professional and student attendees, representing a positive point for your professional career.

Some of our activities in relation with the UN Ocean Decade are:

  • Young Professional activities: Our YPs have long been involved with activities that contribute to ocean awareness and education including student outreach activities around the world, such as the Singapore AUV Challenge and the European Robotics League. YPs are also working with Ocean Decade ECOPs to bring the voice of the youth to the movement. One such event was the recently held Virtual ECOPs Day on 1st-2nd June. We highlighted our YPs involvement with Earthzine, SAUVC, ERL, and in helping organize workshops and symposia. Watch the video we presented here. 
  • Expert plenary talks: we are organizing a penalty discussion with Ocean Visions on Ocean Based Carbon Dioxide Removal at OCEANS in Hampton Roads.
  • Ocean Decade Ambassador program: Ambassadors will be expected to propose, and be responsible for, one or more activities within the scope of the Decade. The ODI will fund the activity and support the Ambassador through travel, equipment, resources, and/or expertise funding as relevant. The call will be sent soon, and more details will be available soon.
  • Earthzine/Beacon coverage of Ocean Decade event : Funding will be provided to Student Branch chapters whose members report on Ocean Decade-themed events and activities via Earthzine and Beacon articles. Deadline: 15 November. More details here.

Joshua, you coordinate the MTS members ECOP community, can you tell us what role that plays within the MT Society, and in the wider Marine Technology sector?  What have you noticed with ECOPs that join and engage?

Joshua: The MTS ECOP section is the home for ECOPs within the society. As one of the co-founders of the society’s ECOP program, I can tell you that the initiative was born out of the recognition of the increasingly important roles ECOPs play in the marine technology space and the need for professional societies to directly engage with them to stay relevant in the 21st century and in the Ocean Decade. MTS has long been known for its strong student engagement programs such as scholarships, summer camps, and student sections at leading maritime universities, but it has historically struggled to maintain engagement with these students once they graduate and begin their professional careers. The ECOP program seeks to change that. In addition to the section, the program also includes a new ECOP membership category and associated member rate to ease the cost of annual society dues, a new competitive travelship program to support ECOPs wishing to attend OCEANS, and a unique opportunity to serve on the society’s Board of Directors in a new position called Vice President of ECOPs.

 

Why do you think it is so important to strive towards inter-generational diversity within Ocean Science?

Joshua: Simply put, we must emphasize inter-generational diversity to stay relevant. ECOPs certainly have a lot to learn from our senior career colleagues, but they similarly must engage with us to ensure that our sector continues to grow and flourish as we take the reins. The New Blue Economy is ours to inherit or ours to lose, and it will take all of us, junior, mid-career, and senior, to ensure a strong, vibrant, and sustainable future for our oceans and the immeasurable benefits they provide us all.

 

What part of OCEANS 2022 are you most looking forward to?

Laura: I am most looking forward to seeing new technology developments and possibilities that are getting better and better in discovering and unfolding more about our beautiful ocean. Most of all, I look forward to meeting other people who are also committed to protecting the ocean.

Joshua: I am most looking forward to the ECOP/YP breakfast and connecting with ECOPs from around the country and around the world!

How can people get involved with your networks?

Laura: Feel free to check out our website: www.ieeeoes.org or contact me via laura.meyer@ieee.org and I will connect you to the right person.

Joshua: I would encourage ECOPs, defined as individuals working in the marine sector who are within 10 years of completing their last professional degree, to join MTS, the ECOP section, and, if applicable, a nearby geographic section. Please visit https://www.mtsociety.org/ecops to sign up. Of course, we would also love to see you at OCEANS!

Visit the Oceans 2022 event page and register here.

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