Leaders with a vested interest in the economic potential of maritime industries and marine technologies along the northern Gulf Coast gathered on Thursday, June 5 for the 2014 Marine Technologies Economic Forum hosted by The University of Southern Mississippi on its Gulf Park campus in Long Beach.
The forum, which featured an address by Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, included the establishment of a partnership between Southern Miss and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts, which is known as the world's largest private, non-profit oceanographic research institution.
According to Dr. Monty Graham, chair of the Southern Miss Department of Marine Science, the two institutions have agreed to work together in developing marine technology programs.
“Ultimately, we want to create programs which capitalize on exploration and the expertise of engineering, particularly (WHOI’s) expertise in underwater robotics, to help focus the marine technology development corridor,” said Graham. “By signing the memorandum of understanding, this is just the first step in agreeing that we are going to work together to develop these programs.”
The memorandum was signed by Dr. Gordon Cannon, vice president for research at Southern Miss, and Dr. Larry Madin, executive vice president and director of research at WHOI.
During the forum, Bryant expressed the importance of investing research toward marine technology, which can, in turn, provide an economic benefit to the State of Mississippi and beyond.
“The Mississippi Gulf Coast is uniquely positioned to make great strides in maritime technology development and the ‘blue economy,’” said Bryant. “We can build a strong economy together.”
Southern Miss President Rodney D. Bennett explained how university students are engaging in research resulting in real world solutions. He noted that these students understand the importance of the Gulf Coast to our state’s industry partnerships, energy, economy and potential for future growth and development.
“The university’s operations along the Coast, which include the Gulf Park campus in Long Beach, the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs, and the Department of Marine Science housed at John C. Stennis Space Center, provide us with unique opportunities to impact the coastal region, not only as an educational incubator for future scientists and business leaders, but also through our existing economic and industry partnerships that connect our faculty’s cutting edge research with real world needs,” said Bennett.
The forum included speakers, as well as panel discussions, with representatives from various organizations, government offices and businesses who offered their expertise in the economic potential of marine technologies along the gulf coast. Panel discussion topics ranged from “Local, State and Federal Needs in the Gulf Region” to “How Do We Get There? Developing a Pathway Forward.”
The forum concluded with a private tour of the WHOI’s research vessel Atlantis and deep submergence vehicle Alvin, which are both docked at the Port of Gulfport.
For more information about the Southern Miss Department of Marine Science, visit www.usm.edu/marine.