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An Introduction to Industry

Oceanology International 2022 saw me attend my first industry event since joining IMCA in 2021. As well as being my first ever, it was also many other’s first or second live event since before the pandemic, and Oceanology’s first live event since 2018! Oceanology International brings together 500+ exhibitors whilst linking the three key players in the industry: businesses, academics, and government. There was a clear excitement and buzz upon arriving at ExCel London in Victoria Docks which only intensified as I received my pass and gained access inside, where I was immediately greeted by car-sized ROVs and AUVs and other autonomous equipment, most of which I had only ever seen on TV and online through programmes like Blue Planet and from the coverage of the more recent discovery of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance.

IMCA Contact

Matthew Hawley
Marketing & Communications Assistant

I soon met up with my colleague Nick Hough, Technical Adviser – HSSE & Offshore Survey,  who proved to be an invaluable counsel at such an event, with a seemingly endless tap of knowledge, experience and stories which gave great context to many of the things I encountered. Nick also introduced me to many industry experts and leaders from his own network, allowing me to better understand the various parts of the industry they were involved in.

As well as this, I had the pleasure of interacting with many stands and even got to demo some of the technology. Upon discovering a huge tank of water, I was given the controls to a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV), which I managed to manoeuvre through the water. I was told the practical applications of such machines could be to obtain real-time video footage in aid of underwater inspections – be it for ship hulls or subsea infrastructure. The next demo I got to experience saw me in a virtual reality (VR) headset where I was suddenly transported onto a vessel’s deck and managed to successfully operate an onboard rigging system to launch an AUV (autonomous underwater vehicle) to sea. I was told the purpose of such software was for training purposes for those wishing to embark on oceangoing careers. The experience was very immersive and I can see how the training applications could be near limitless.

On the last day, the Society for Underwater Technology (SUT) ran an Ocean Careers Panel. Participants included Andre Rose, Technical Adviser ­– Competence & Training, Remote Systems and ROV,  as well as other representatives from industry, academia, professional and learned societies as they shared insights on career opportunities and challenges throughout their journeys into the underwater, subsea, and wider marine sectors. Few can boast a more exciting path through to their current roles in the industry as Andre and hearing these anecdotes and seeing the pictures was amazing. I then managed to stick around at the end of this panel to talk with many of the panellists about their Ocean careers.

What did I learn? The most important thing that I took away from Oceanology International 2022 was fully understanding the importance of networking and to talk to as many people as possible when given the chance. Whilst walking around this event with IMCA Technical Advisers like Nick and Andre, it is very apparent how often they connect with old friends/associates, seemingly at every corner we turned. It is through these fundamental personal networks that is often the best way to spread the good work of IMCA, not only through technical excellence alone, but through collaboration.

Read more about Matthew in “Inside the Secretariat”

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