A group of coastal high school students and teachers were provided with a unique opportunity this week to participate in a professional marine technology conference. The NW Marine Technology Summit brought together industry leaders, researchers, higher education professionals and others who study the ocean with cutting-edge technology, and gave them the opportunity to network and learn from one another.
Organized by the Marine Technology Society (MTS), the theme for this year’s event was “Empowering Innovation in the Pacific Northwest”, and general subject areas included:
- ROVs and Submersibles
- Innovations in Data Collection, Usability, and Analysis
- The State of the NW Marine Science Economy
- Innovations in Ocean Observation
- Promoting BlueTech in the Northwest
- Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
- Marine Operations
- New Sensors
- Innovations in Underwater Communications
- Marine Renewable Energy
- Underwater Optics and Vision Systems
Twenty-five high school students enrolled in Oceanography and Ocean Engineering classes at Waldport High School attended the summit, along with their teachers Melissa Steinman and Daniel Wirick, and two other educators from Toledo Jr/Sr High School. The students and teachers attended session presentations, asked questions, and networked with professionals throughout the two-day event. Students presented their underwater robot and poster at the Oregon Coast STEM Hub table, handed out business cards, and interacted with new technology in the Exhibit Hall. They learned about careers they hadn’t known about before, and met many people living on the coast today who make their living working with marine technology.
One highlight of the summit designed especially for students was the “Speed Networking” sessions held on both days. During each session, five professionals sat down with small groups of students to talk about marine STEM careers and opportunities, share their experiences and advice, and respond to student questions. After just a few minutes, each group rotated to a new professional, so that by the end of the session the students had interacted with all the adult participants. The fast-paced session was well received by all involved.
The Oregon Coast STEM Hub would like to thank those who shared their time with students in the Speed Networking session: Kevin Buch, OSU Diving Safety Officer; Wil Black, Jenny Walsh and Stacy Fogel from Point 97; Kristen Kolden from Alaska Seismic & Environmental; Markus Horning from OSU Marine Mammal Institute; Michael Vardaro from OSU College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences; Debbie Kelley from the University of Washington; Stewart Lamerdin, OSU Marine Superintendent; and Pete Zerr from Schmidt Ocean Institute.
Thanks also to the two Waldport High School teachers who prepared their students for attending the MTS event, and who helped them navigate once they were there. The students themselves are to be commended for infiltrating seamlessly into the summit and asking thoughtful questions. They will surely be discussing their impressions back in the classroom!
Student and teacher participation in the NW Marine Technology Summit resulted in meaningful interactions among current and future generations of ocean STEM professionals. Thanks to all the partners who made this experience possible.