» Go to news main

Students chart a path to success in Halifax’s booming ocean‑tech sector

Posted by Alysa Czenze on January 10, 2024 in Students
Students check in at the PIER on the Halifax waterfront as part of the Ocean Industry Crawl last month. (Emma Ross photo)
Students check in at the PIER on the Halifax waterfront as part of the Ocean Industry Crawl last month. (Emma Ross photo)

Students from Dalhousie and other local post-secondary institutions embarked on a voyage around Halifax's thriving ocean-tech sector last month as part of a new industry networking event.

The first-ever Ocean Industry Crawl, organized by the Dal-based group DeepSense with various community partners, offered students an introduction to the blue economy in Atlantic Canada with visits to Dalhousie’s Aquatron LaboratoryOcean Tracking Network (OTN), COVE, and NSCC Ivany campus.

The crawl brought students from Marine Biology, Applied Computer Science, Ocean Sciences, Digital Innovation, Marine Management, Mechanical Engineering Technology, and many more programs together for the day-long event.

“There is so much innovative work happening in the ocean sector in Atlantic Canada and so many opportunities for students right here in Halifax,” says Lucija Prelovec, acting executive director of DeepSense. “We specifically wanted students from other fields to join our crawl and see that there is opportunity for them to grow their careers in the ocean sector in Halifax.”

Up close with top tech

Students began their journey at Dalhousie with a visit to the Aquatron (shown below), Canada's largest university aquatic research facility. They toured some of the facilities many tanks and wet labs where some of Canada's top marine experts and students carry out projects on everything from marine conservation to aquaculture.

Students then moved on to the Ocean Tracking Network (OTN) nearby where they were given a live demonstration of some of the equipment used in the field, including the prized Seaeye Falcon remotely operated vehicle (ROV). 

“The cutting-edge technologies driving ocean exploration forward left me genuinely inspired for the industry's exciting future,” said participant Kamal Kumar, a Dal Master of Computer Science student, after testing out some of OTN’s technologies.   

Kamal says his standout moment was operating a Falcon, which can go to depths of 1,000 metres.

“Experiencing its thrusters and cameras and witnessing its potential in recovering lost tracking equipment in deep-water habitats was incredibly impactful,” he explains.

Behind the scenes

Students continued their crawl in Dartmouth, where they visited Centre of Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE) — an innovation hub that connects resources, people, and ideas to drive solutions and growth in Canada’s blue economy. 

Students had the opportunity to learn about COVE’s internship program, tour its facility, and meet some of the partner firms in residence.

“Having students see the ocean differently starts with meeting the people who work behind the scenes on various technologies,” says Melanie Nadeau, COVE CEO.

Students pose for a photo outside of COVE in Dartmouth. (Lucija Prelovec photo)

Next up, participants floated over to Nova Scotia’s Community College (NSCC) Ivany campus for a tour of a workshop used by Ocean Technology students. The program was created in response to industry expressing a need for technically skilled professionals with experience on the ocean.

The students also toured NSCC’s Design and Innovation Centre, one of many research facilities within NSCC where industry and entrepreneurs work with researchers, engineers, and students to design and build tailored prototypes and automated processes.

Tackling ocean problems

The day ended at the PIER on the Halifax Waterfront, where more students joined for an evening of connecting with companies in the ocean industry, including OMC, PSA Halifax, Graphite Innovation & Technologies, Oceansync, Ocean Allies, Net Zero Atlantic, Halifax Port Authority, and Datifex.

Samantha Best, a Nova Scotia Community College student studying database administration, says the day-long experience taught her about the importance of sustaining our ocean environment and opportunities available to make a difference.

"The crawl provided first-hand expertise from a variety of organizations that are passionate about solving unanswered questions and tackling problems in our oceans using research, data, and developing new technologies," she says.

Thank you to the organizing partners: DeepSense, SURGE Innovation, COVE, Seatac, and NSCC.