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Oceans Advance Pilot Project: Young Women in Ocean Technology

April 6, 2020

Source: OceansAdvance

Source: OceansAdvance

The Ocean Technology Sector has been identified as a growth area for Atlantic Canada.  The 2017 Atlantic Canada OT Sector Export and FDI Strategy clearly identified potential growth opportunities for this sector.

OceansAdvance is committed to fulfilling the vision of the Atlantic Growth Strategy by helping firms in the Region increase their export value into international markets as well as to help build a talent pipeline for the future with supporting the development and retention of HQP. As well we are anxious to support the research and academic community and to help grow the sector by supporting future entrepreneurs.

In addition to the traditional trade show support for IEEE MTS OCEANS shows this year we added two additional components to the program. Women in Ocean Technology and Start-Ups in the Ocean Sector.

The Government of Canada, in particular the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) recognizes the fact that we need to increase the number of women in the ocean technology sector and OCEANS’19 was identified as a means to engage and entice young women currently involved in oceans studies to stay in the sector.

With this commitment by the Canadian Government in mind OceansAdvance applied for funding to bring a contingent of 13 young female ocean tech students from Memorial University’s Marine Institute (M.I.) in St. John’s Newfoundland as well as the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) of Halifax, Nova Scotia. ACOA’s mandate is to support Pan Atlantic projects in the Region.

The student’s areas of study included a one year Ocean Technology program at NSCC and both ocean mapping and underwater technology programs from M.I.

For this pilot project and in partnership with MUN-MI-NSCC and supported by ACOA Halifax, OA worked  with the Technical Chair from OCEANS’19 Liz Crout, to develop a program which would allow these young females an opportunity to fully experience what an international technical conference and exhibit has to offer.

We believed that the combination of technical paper presentations, and plenaries coupled with the vast array of international firms exhibiting would give these students a better understanding of the exciting opportunities this sector has to offer.

Attached is a copy of their schedule which gives a detailed overview of just how busy these students were during their 5 days on the ground in Seattle.

Source: OceansAdvance

In addition to the busy schedule while at OCEANS’19 it was recognized that the students had little or no prior experience in attending such a large, multi-faceted event and we felt they would likely feel overwhelmed and at a loss in such a setting. The array of international exhibitors, as well as, the caliber of researchers and academics could leave our students feeling beleaguered and besieged.

Therefore, an online training course was held for them, tailored specifically to tradeshow and conference “newbies” to prepare them for this event.

A consultant trainer was hired to deliver a two hour online tutorial online program which gave these students and start-ups a solid background on how best to “work” a tradeshow and conference.

Feedback from participants at the Conference on the students and their presence at the conference included:

• Amazing opportunity to meet these young women and to learn how they see the future and what opportunities they feel are available.

• The “strength” of seeing these 13 young women walk through the exhibit hall and attending the Women in Engineering breakfast, multiple technical sessions and various networking events gives hope that there will be a future “talent pipeline” for this sector and it will include women in a sector currently dominated by men. The future is changing!

Feedback from the students on this pilot project was positive and constructive

• Women in Engineering Breakfast was amazing and such an eye opener, where I start doesn’t mean this is where I’ll land but the sector is exciting and there are tremendous opportunities

• Grateful for opportunity to attend a renowned international conference

• Great networking opportunities with an international audience

• Potential for work terms or job opportunities

• Opened a whole new world – products and services I didn’t know existed

• Connections which will last a lifetime

Due to the positive feedback of students and their institutions we are confident that the project will continue for 2020 and beyond.

Atlantic Canada Opportunities AgencyCanadaCanadian Government

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