OES: A Founding Member of OTC Celebrating 50+ Years
There are infinitely many ways to measure the success of a collective effort. It can be gauged by distance, revenue, environmental impact, or the welfare of its members. These were all considered in an informative video for the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC), posing the most important question: “Can we create a current, weaving waves of revolution?”. One can confidently say they did exactly that. With a consistent global presence and continued attendance success, OTC has carried out its objective of going the distance.
From its inception to now, OTC has remained a notable contender in the production of offshore energy resources. Founded by twelve engineering and scientific organizations in 1969, its achievements in meeting necessary demands has kept it thriving for decades. This article will delve into the pillar that the Offshore Technology Conference is to modern day advances in green technology. Furthermore, this excerpt discusses the background, impact, and significant figures that continue to uphold the core values of OTC.
Offshore Technology Conference is a series of conferences and exhibitions that focuses on exchanging technical knowledge of offshore energy resource development, primarily oil and natural gas. In 1969 there was a demand for technological applications in the global ocean extraction and environmental protection industries. As a result, the Offshore Technology Conference was founded by 12 engineering and scientific organizations. OTC gained more and more prominence during the continued growth of the offshore industry, having a peak attendance of 108,300 attendees in 2014. One of OTC’s founding organizations includes the IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society.
The Oceanic Engineering Society (OES) is a society out of the 45 other societies in IEEE that seeks to advance the science and technology of oceanic engineering and the related arts and sciences. OES cooperates with its membership through conferences, meetings, workshops and publications to exchange technical information, research, development, and operations regarding all bodies of water.
A noteworthy individual in the OES family is Brandy Armstrong. As a student at the University of South Carolina, Armstrong took initiative in undergraduate research outside of her extracurricular activities. These opportunities took her to many places including Siberia and the Mesoamerican Reef. As a graduate student she paid it forward by mentoring undergraduate research students. Once she graduated, she went on to become a member of the USGS Coastal Marine Geology program. It was at this stage when she came in contact with the IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society.
Brandy Armstrong is now OES Vice President of Professional Activities. She was previously an elected OES Administrative Committee member, serving as Student Activities Chair, and leading the Social Media Initiative. Her current objective is acting as a mentor and supporter for women, students, and Young Professionals.
GreenTech member James Epkins Jr. had the opportunity to interview Armstrong about her opinions on OTC’s impact, green technology on her radar, and what research she thinks will make the fastest difference.
When asked about the impact of OTC highlighting new technological and research innovations, Armstrong said:
“I think OTC provides a platform for those developing new technology to network with industry professionals and find potential customers as well as understand the needs of industry.”
Epkins then inquired about the growing concern and desire for green technology in the industry and academia, to which she replied:
“It was my first year attending OTC and this year there were several speakers who directly addressed the need to find more efficient and carbon neutral ways to provide offshore services. I think having those discussions at OTC with a large audience will definitely influence those developing and using green technology.”
In regards to green technology related to Armstrong’s research and interests she said:
“My current research is in modeling freshwater fluxes into estuarine and coastal waters. So technology that could monitor and remove or prevent pollutants and nutrients (such as from industrial agriculture) from entering freshwater systems is something I hope to see happening on a global scale.”
When looking at efforts to create a more environmentally conscious society, here are the research topics that Armstrong believes will have the most immediate impact:
“I think the research topics that will have the most immediate impact are those working on developing disruptive technology that will transform existing systems and industries that contribute to global problems such as climate change and plastic pollution. Technology that will meet these needs in a way that is environmentally sustainable will offer the end consumers the choices they need and can afford to contribute to the solution.”
Another OES figure worth mentioning is Professional Engineer, Christopher Whitt. The driving force behind his engineering career would begin with music. Throughout high school and college, Whitt played bass guitar in different bands and church groups. This would spark his interest in acoustics. Later, he completed a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering at Memorial University, St. Johns, NL, Canada. During undergraduate studies he joined IEEE where he would work his way from Vice-Chair to Chair of the Student Branch. Several years later he would become IEEE Canadian Atlantic Section Chair, and Area East Chair for Region 7. In 2020 Whitt served as the IEEE Canadian Region 7 Secretary and Program Chair for Sections Congress. Whitt was elected to the OES Administrative Committee in 2019, and became Society President in 2021. Among other duties he regularly participates in meetings for the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.
Due to his interest with acoustics early on, he joined JASCO Applied Sciences in 2007 to participate in ocean technology development. His career has consisted of several large-scale projects concerning ocean acoustic monitoring. In particular, arctic programs for equipment design and mooring preparation. Whitt is now project manager and the lead of field support for JASCO worldwide. In this position he is also responsible for training field staff and mentoring engineering students. His current focus is soundscape studies and ambient noise statistics.
When asked about what OTC will look like as it transitions out of the pandemic, Whitt said:
“ We will still have the virtual/hybrid sessions because it has let a lot of people participate who could not travel here. Even if conditions improve here, there may be other parts of the world that may still have restrictions on travel, so having that virtual component will mean that people can still participate remotely you can still have those technical sessions, and you can still have Q&A sessions the exhibit floor may still be in person though.”
Christopher’s thoughts on the impact of OTC highlighting new technological and research innovations are:
“Professionals look to OTC for [the] latest energy industry trends and technologies. So when innovation gets highlighted at OTC, it gets very wide exposure.”
In regard to OTC’s role in growing concern and desire for green technology in the industry and academia, he says:
“OTC has in the past focused on traditional energy sectors, so when we see the focus of the show shift to “Energy Transformation” we know that there is a potential for large changes in the industry. This should signal to those concerned about green technology that there is a potential increase in market demand. We should expect more industry players to pay attention to the green technology area.”
When asked which research topics have the most immediate impact on sparking efforts to create a more environmentally conscious society, Whitt responded:
“This is quite a difficult question. If we knew where the biggest impacts would be it would be much easier to focus effort. Honestly, I think the largest impacts may come from economics and government policy – we need things like carbon taxes to internalize the costs of existing industry activities, which will have the largest impacts in changing behaviors across society and industry. In a purely technological sense, one of the largest impacts is going to be increasing electrification in all areas of society – that might require doubling our generation and distribution capacity over the next couple decades. So OTC is well-positioned to stay relevant, since offshore will still be a major player in energy generation, even if the mix of fossil fuels and renewables evolves over the years.”
At the Offshore Technology Conference, energy professionals of different specialties and cultures meet with one common goal. That being the advancement of scientific and technical knowledge of offshore resources to benefit the environment. The conference’s quality technical programs add value to today’s most discussed topics in science and engineering. Furthermore, its convenience in being hosted in energy hubs around the world is noteworthy. OTC has cemented itself as a hotbed for innovation, and has never failed to keep up with the latest energy trends for over 50 years. Even during these tough times, they show no signs of stopping. Stay tuned for this upcoming year and see how OTC is creating the waves to revolutionize the energy industry.
For more information, you can visit the OTC website at https://www.otcnet.org/welcome and keep up with the lasets updates through their social media.
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