New Joint SUT-MTS Captain Don Walsh Award for Ocean Exploration awarded to Dr Edie Widder

Joint SUT/MTS Press release 1500hrs BST Tuesday 22nd September:

WASHINGTON, DC, US AND LONDON, UK — The Marine Technology Society and The Society for Underwater Technology are proud to announce that Dr. Edie Widder is the inaugural recipient of the Captain Don Walsh Award for Ocean Exploration. Dr. Widder is an MTS member, MacArthur Fellow, a deep-sea explorer, and conservationist who combines expertise in oceanographic research and technological innovation with a commitment to reversing the worldwide trend of marine ecosystem degradation. 

Awarded jointly by the Marine Technology Society and the Society for Underwater Technology, this esteemed award is named after American oceanographer, explorer, retired naval officer, and marine policy specialist Captain Don Walsh. Walsh and co-pilot Jacques Piccard were aboard the bathyscaph Trieste when it made its daunting record descent on January 23, 1960 into the deepest point of the world’s oceans – the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench. The award recognizes outstanding, sustained, international contribution to the development, application, and propagation of marine technology toward the advancement of ocean exploration.

“Don Walsh is one of my superheroes – right up there with Marie Curie, Jacques Cousteau, and my mother – so to be the recipient of this first ever Don Walsh Award for Ocean Exploration is a huge deal,” said Dr. Widder. “I’m incredibly grateful to MTS and SUT for this honor and for all that they do to promote the development of tools for exploring the least explored regions of our ocean planet.”

A specialist in bioluminescence (the light chemically produced by many ocean organisms), Dr. Widder has been a leader in helping to design and invent new submersible instrumentation, and equipment to enable unobtrusive deep-sea observations. Working with engineers, she has conceived of and built several unique devices that enable humans to see beneath the waves in new ways, including HIDEX, a bathyphotometer which is the U.S. Navy standard for measuring bioluminescence in the ocean; important information for keeping submarines hidden from above. Dr. Widder also built LoLAR, an ultrasensitive deep-sea light meter that measures light in the deep ocean, both dim down-welling sunlight and bioluminescence – both important determinants of animal distribution patterns. She helped found the Ocean Research & Conservation Association in 2005 – an organization dedicated to the study and protection of marine ecosystems, and the species they sustain through development of innovative technologies, science-based conservation action, and public education. In the summer of 2012 Dr. Widder, along with several other scientists, filmed the giant squid in its natural habitat for the first time ever. The historic footage aired on Curiosity on the Discovery Channel in January of 2013. Her innovative work earned her the 2018 Explorers Club Citation of Merit; she became one of just six women to earn this honor.

“MTS couldn’t be prouder to bestow the inaugural Captain Don Walsh Award For Ocean Exploration upon Dr. Edie Widder,” said Marine Technology President Zdenka Willis. “From helping to devise cutting-edge marine technologies to logging hundreds of hours exploring the depths aboard deep sea submersibles to sharing her discoveries with her peers and the global community alike, Dr. Widder is well deserving of an award named for one of the foremost pioneers in our field. We are honored to count her as a colleague and cannot wait to see where her expertise takes her next.”

“As well as recognizing outstanding individual achievement, a key objective of the Captain Don Walsh Award is to spotlight role models who will inspire early career marine technologists, scientists and engineers” said Society for Underwater Technology President Ralph Rayner.  “Edie Widder is a perfect exemplar of what young members of our community can aspire to.  She and Don Walsh provide an inspiration to us all.”

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The Marine Technology Society (MTS) promotes awareness, understanding, and the advancement and application of marine technology. Incorporated in 1963, the international society brings together businesses, institutions, professionals, academics, and students who are ocean engineers, technologists, policy makers, and educators. The Society publishes a peer-reviewed journal — The Marine Technology Society Journal. It has three technical divisions and 31 Professional Committees (technical interest groups). The society hosts several conferences yearly. And, it supports 13 Sections, which focus on events and programs unique to their geographic areas, enhancing networking among local colleagues, businesses, universities and government/military offices.

The Society for Underwater Technology (SUT) is a multidisciplinary learned society that brings together organisations and individuals with a common interest in underwater technology, ocean science and offshore engineering. SUT was founded in 1966 and has members from more than 40 countries, & branches in 10, including engineers, scientists, other professionals, and students working in these areas. In recent decades many of our members have come from the offshore hydrocarbon sector, today we also see growing numbers of members from offshore renewables, marine autonomous systems, and the policy, law and insurance sectors who support offshore activities of many kinds.

For further information contact:

MTS Contact:
Joshua Speiser
, +1 (202) 827 7176, joshua.speiser@mtsociety.org

SUT Contact:

Steve Hall, +44 7947 911992, Stephen.Hall@sut.org

MSCC Revised UK Marine Science ‘Road Map’

SUT represents the interests of our members on the UK government’s Marine Science Coordination Committee ‘Marine Industries Group’.

The whole MSCC has been rather quiet of late, as government departments have been distracted by the requirements of dealing with COVID 19, Brexit, & a series of closely spaced general elections, but on Friday 3rd July they released a new ‘Road Map Overview’ about the broad future direction of UK Marine Science – which has direct implications for our industry members too.

You can download a copy here

The science priorities of the revised roadmap are :

Better understand the capacity of the marine ecosystem to supply ecosystem services, natural resources and societal and economic benefits now and into the future.

Better understand the structure, function, resilience and variability of marine ecosystems.

Better understand the impacts of climate change, including its multiple stressors and feedbacks, and the ocean’s resistance and resilience to a changing climate.

Promote and represent UK marine science at international fora, strengthening existing and building new relationships with international partners including research organisations and infrastructure.

Better enable the efficient capture, storage, use and security of marine scientific data.

Better understand society’s relationship with our oceans and seas.

Better understand cumulative and in-combination impacts on the capacity of marine systems to supply food, energy and mineral resources as well as mitigate against the risk and effects of natural hazards.

Support the long-term monitoring, observing and mapping of the marine environment and ocean systems.

Facilitate the communication of high quality, up-to- date marine science and evidence.

The new areas of focus will drive procurement of science services, data, sensors and robots in coming years. SUT will continue to act as a voice for our members on the MSCC Marine Industries Group – contact CEO Steve Hall if you need to know more.

Podcast double-bill coming up: AUVs under Ice

The next two Underwater Technology Podcasts will be back-to-back episodes looking at the use of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles in polar seas. In Podcast 15, due out on 30th June, we’ll feature an interview with Bruce Butler about the mission of the ISE ‘Theseus’ vehicle to lay fibre-optic cable underneath Arctic ice back in the 1990s, a truly pioneering programme that prepared the path for many of the research, military and industrial AUVs that have followed since.

In Podcast 16 two days later on 2nd July we follow up with an interview with Peter King of the University of Tasmania on their missions underneath Antarctic Ice using a more modern AUV from the same ISE stable as Theseus, benefitting from two decades of advances in technology.

You can upload our weekly podcasts from https://sut.buzzsprout.org or from your preferred podcast service, look up ‘Underwater Technology Podcast’ to download, stream or subscribe.

Photo above of Theseus vehicle courtesy of Bruce Butler.

SUT News 15th June

We’ve put out a flurry of podcasts in recent days with a feature length Podcast 10 last Monday 8th June for World Ocean Day featuring interviews with IOC-UNESCO Chair Ariel Troisi of Argentina, and Dr Francesca Santora talking on the ‘ocean literacy’ concept – we’ve also released Francesca’s interview as a stand alone podcast 12 for those who want to focus on the education aspects. Podcast 11 featured SUT member Charles Reith speaking on the value of continued professional development, lifelong learning and training courses. Podcast 13 out later this week will be an interview with Steffan Lindsø of Oceaneering speaking about their advanced ‘Freedom’ AUV. Download any of our podcasts from https://sut.buzzsprout.com or your favourite podcast provider by searching for ‘Underwater Technology Podcast’.

Our online training courses continue next week 23rd June with Tony Globe speaking on The fundamentals of Tribology and their application in Subsea Engineering – register to attend at https://www.sut.org/event/sut-online-training-session-4-tony-globe-on-tribology-lubrication-in-subsea-systems/ – places limited to first 99 to register with CPD certificates available if required.

Online seminars come out every two weeks on Monday lunchtimes – Monday 15th June is Mick Cook speaking on advances on offshore site investigation techniques, register at https://www.sut.org/event/sut-lunchtime-seminar-monday-15th-june-2020-mick-cook-on-geophysics-for-offshore-site-investigation/ before 1300hrs.

Lots more material being prepared as we adapt to life without face to face meetings. If you’ve any ideas or proposals for online activities please contact us at info@sut.org

Steve Hall, CEO

Weekly News Update from Steve Hall CEO SUT

Dear SUT Members – we’re still in lockdown to various extents across our global network but work continues to ensure that SUT is active and providing content and value to our members. 

On a fortnightly basis we’re alternating lunchtime seminars on Mondays at 1330hrs BST, and online training seminars at 1300hrs BST on Tuesdays. Meanwhile the weekly podcast series is proving popular with over 1200 downloads and a growing global audience – download from https://sut.buzzsprout.com or your favourite podcast provider, search for ‘Underwater Technology Podcast’.

Next week Tuesday 9th June 1300-1400hrs BST, Christopher Curran of SUT USA in Houston will be presenting free to SUT members online training on High Integrity Pressure Protection Systems (HIPPS) – see https://www.sut.org/event/sut-online-training-seminar-no3-hipps-christopher-curran/ to register. Numbers are limited to the first 99 so register as soon as you can. 

The next public seminar is Monday 15th June 1330hrs with Mick Cook giving a talk on Offshore Site Investigation – how far have we travelled in half a century? To register for that one go to https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZIpdu2ppjgjHtFgNcMZR_S_nY6WWNyEs38m – it will be recorded and uploaded afterwards to our YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/SUTMedia/ – I’m also looking for additional video footage to put on YouTube so anything you’ve got that will be of interest to our members please get in touch. 

On Monday 8th June it’s World Oceans Day so to mark that I’ve recorded a feature length podcast with interviews with my friend Captain Ariel Troisi of the Argentinian Navy, in his capacity as Chair of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and with Dr Francesca Santoro of the IOC Venice Office. 

We talk about sustained ocean observing, data sharing and acquisition, the forthcoming UN Decade of Ocean Science, the concept of ‘ocean literacy’ for the public, policy makers and industry and much more – if you’re interested in how SUT fits-in with global ocean science, education and policy development it’s going to be a good episode – we are official observer members of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and it’s one of the ways where our members can feed their knowledge and viewpoints straight into the core of policy development, which will be of increasing important as human offshore activity enters waters beyond national jurisdiction as a consequence of emerging industries such as deep sea mining, searching for marine genetic resources and deepwater aquaculture. 

I could do with some volunteers from the oil and gas sector for future podcasts – got plenty coming in from our members in universities, research organisations and the autonomous underwater vehicle user community but less coming through from our traditional membership. It only takes about half an hour to be interviewed and you get to review the finished version before it goes online to veto anything you (or your employer!) would prefer not to be shared. 

Other news – we’re developing new training for the floating wind sector, and in the early stages of new training for people in industries related to offshore work such as insurers, lawyers and financial specialists – if you’re interested in being a trainer or being trained please get in touch.

A reminder that we have launched a hardship scheme so that members made redundant in the present situation can be offered a year’s individual membership to end of June 2021, contact me or Jane Hinton if you would like to apply – see the news release at https://www.sut.org/hardship-scheme-for-members-impacted-by-covid19-downturn-job-losses/ for more. 

Gadgets & Widgets – our Aberdeen Branch have a well-established ‘gadgets and widgets’ event usually held fave to face but while current restrictions are in place we’re seeing if we can create an online version – if you have short video presentations that you’d like to share with members please speak to me or Jim Mann in Aberdeen and we’ll edit then into short online presentations for members to enjoy. 

SUT Forum – Coming very soon (i.e. as soon as I’ve figured out how to finish setting it up correctly!) we’re launching an online forum for members. I’ve registered the domain sutforum.org so just like you might already do with your favourite hobbies and interests there’ll be a space for discussion, debate and sharing of knowledge online available in the next week or so. 

Decommissioning North Sea – I had a productive telecom today with the DNS team to explore how our organisations can keep one another informed of activities and jointly develop some new seminars and online activities. 

Finally I’m sorry to report that as a result of the loss of income following the COVID downturn in business, our Perth, Australia Branch have had to take the difficult decision to lay off staff member Jennifer Bennett. She has been a very hard-working, competent and effective administrator for the Perth Branch bringing the highest professional standards to her work, liaising effectively with the UK-based staff and bringing a smile and positive attitude to her dealings with members in Australia. I’ll miss working with her and wish Jennifer the very best for the future. 

That’s it from me for this week, more soon.

Stay healthy, stay safe. 

Steve 

PS The photo at the top is taken from a small boat off the Pembrokeshire, Wales, coast pre-lockdown.

World Oceans Day 8th June 2020

A special longer edition of the SUT Underwater Technology Podcast will go live on World Oceans Day, 8th June 2020. CEO Steve Hall has interviewed the Chair of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, Ariel Troisi of Argentina, and also Dr Francesca Santoro of UNESCO IOC’s Venice Office. They talk about sustained ocean observing systems, the forthcoming UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030, the ‘ocean literacy’ concept and how industry, SUT and our sister Learned Societies can contribute to better ocean science and stewardship.

Download from 0100hrs BST Monday 8th June 2020 from https://sut.buzzsprout.com or you favourite podcast provider.

Coming Soon – SUT Forum

We’ve just registered the domain sutforum.org and will soon be launching it as a place to chat, discuss and share your underwater technology interests and news – watch this space for updates.

Also don’t forget to tune into our weekly podcasts, now with over 1000 downloads at https://sut.buzzsprout.com or your favourite podcast provider. Latest one is Pod8, interviewing Mark Burnett, CEO of Seiche Water Technology group discussing the Autonaut autonomous vehicle and marine acoustics – Thank You!

Hardship scheme for members impacted by COVID-19 downturn job losses

We know times are tough for our members, in many of the sectors where they work. For those in the offshore oil & gas industry the current low and volatile oil prices places some of our longstanding members at risk of redundancy, or if they’re working as contractors there’s a higher than usual risk of not being able to find paid work.

To help our members through this time we’ve taken the decision to set up new schemes that will cover the cost of retaining individual membership of SUT through to June 2021 for technical and engineering staff who meet the following criteria:

  • Engineering and technical staff made redundant from existing corporate members can apply for a free individual membership running through to June 2021. Members in this category will get all the normal individual membership benefits with the exception of being able to stand for SUT Council positions.
  • The SUT will also setup a ‘hardship scheme’ to cover membership costs of existing active individual SUT members made redundant or unable to find paid work this year (2020). Again, this will cover their membership through to June 2021. Access to this scheme will be limited to people who have been active individual members for at least 12 months, prior to February 2020. 
  • Awards of membership will be decided on an individual basis by the SUT CEO and be dependent on the applicant being able to demonstrate active membership of the SUT, examples of this could be work supporting a regional branch, committee or special interest group.

This offer is effective immediately – please contact jane.hinton@sut.org or steve.hall@sut.org to apply.

So please, stay healthy and safe, stay engaged with SUT through our increasing number of online events and the weekly Podcasts, & get in touch if there’s anything we can do for you.

Podcast 6, & Climate Change Seminar

Episode 6 of the SUT Underwater Technology Podcast will be released on 20th May – see https://SUT.buzzsprout.com and the recording of 18th May’s online seminar by SUT President Professor Ralph Rayner on ‘Climate Change and the Ocean’ can be viewed on YouTube at https://youtu.be/WKGmxTV40_A

Note that we had our first instance of people trying to hijack one of our live seminars yesterday during Ralph’s broadcast, so in future sadly we’ll need to pre-register viewers or switch to a different means of broadcasting. Apologies for anyone who wasn’t able to view the presentation live after we had to close it down and relaunch invitation-only.