THUWAL — King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and the Marine Technology Society (MTS) announced the Red Sea Section, the first MTS Section in the Middle East. Founded on January 9, 2023, and located at KAUST, the Red Sea Section connects stakeholders in marine science and technology from overseas and in the Kingdom.
The world is shifting toward a blue economy, which describes efforts to use the ocean sustainably for economic growth and higher quality of life. Along those lines, this decade is the United Nations’ Decade of Ocean Science, which aims to develop new technologies for sustainable ocean discovery and environmental monitoring. Answering this global call to action, Saudi Arabia has pledged an unprecedented commitment to ocean science research, seeking to preserve the Kingdom’s biodiversity and developing new ocean-related economies. In this context, KAUST and MTS recognized the extraordinary opportunity gained by establishing a section right on the shores of the Red Sea that combines the strengths of both organizations.
“Marine technology in the Kingdom is comparable with anywhere in the world and growing. And investments in marine research are attracting more global partners. By forming the Red Sea Section, we now gain access to all of MTS’ programs for professional development, which will help KAUST train people in the Kingdom to meet the increasing demand for this niche,” said Dr. Lloyd Smith, director of the KAUST Coastal and Marine Resources Core Lab.
MTS has existed since 1963 to advance the application and awareness of marine technology as solutions to global challenges. MTS supports many initiatives for professional development and serves as a hub for the international network of marine technology organizations. It works not only with ocean researchers and engineers like those at KAUST, but also with policymakers, educators, businesses and other stakeholders.
Justin Manley, president of the Marine Technology Society, said, “The MTS quickly recognized the importance of KAUST for marine technology in the Middle East. The Section will act as a gateway for the top academic and industry organizations to work with Saudi Arabia for better use of marine resources, testing and developing new marine technologies, and growing local talent.”
KAUST, through its Coastal and Marine Resources Core Lab (CMR), is already recognized as the regional leader of marine technology. It also has created a wide network with regional players as well as with partners from overseas. By establishing itself as an MTS partner, KAUST will strengthen its reputation internationally, building upon its many relationships.
For example, last month MTS partnered with KAUST to host RobotoKAUST, the third annual KAUST conference on robotics and autonomy hosted on May 8-10. On May 13, KAUST hosted the first Red Sea Regional MATE ROV Competition, a contest that invites students from across Saudi Arabia to solve underwater challenges by designing, building and funding their own ROVs (remotely operated vehicles). The winning team has been invited to the United States to compete for an international prize.
Students have been competing in the MATE ROV Competition since 2001. MATE Inspiration for Innovation, which is responsible for MATE ROV competitions, represents a global partnership of organizations that seek to elevate marine technical education and develop the workforce for the Blue Economy. MATE Inspiration has become part of MTS, allowing both organizations to grow their missions and partnerships and further synergistic activities.
“MATE has had a great effect on growing future talent in marine technology. In our experience, we have seen regions flourish and excel in innovation and creativity as student participants, inspired by the competition, graduate, enter the workforce, and contribute to the development of this field. Working with KAUST, we expect the same to happen in Saudi Arabia,” said Ms. Jill Zande, president/executive director of MATE Inspiration for Innovation.
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