New Irving Shipbuilding Research Chair at Dalhousie creates foundation for leadership in marine engineering

- May 29, 2018

Research chair Mae Seto (right) with students Elijah Vautour and Edward Gregson. (Irving Shipbuilding photo)
Research chair Mae Seto (right) with students Elijah Vautour and Edward Gregson. (Irving Shipbuilding photo)

A new Irving Shipbuilding research chair at Dalhousie University will help further enhance Canada’s reputation as a global leader in marine research.

Mae Seto, an associate professor in Dalhousie’s Faculty of Engineering, has been appointed the Irving Shipbuilding Chair in Marine Engineering and Autonomous Systems. This research chair will create a foundation for sustainable Canadian talent and leadership in marine engineering and provide leadership in ocean engineering at Dal.

"I am honoured to occupy the Irving Shipbuilding Research Chair in Marine Engineering and Autonomous Systems,” says Dr. Seto. “My collaboration with OFI [the Dal-led Ocean Frontier Institute] provides me with an opportunity to conduct timely research in the field of marine robotics and develop state-of-the-art ocean observation systems that will give us an unprecedented view of the marine environment."

Prior to coming to Dalhousie, Dr. Seto worked for 16 years as a defence scientist with Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC). Her research focuses on intelligent autonomous systems, unmanned ships, shipboard intelligent launch and recovery systems, and marine robotics.  Her experience positions her well to not only undertake this highly specialized research, but also support students in her lab to follow in her footsteps.

“Dr. Seto is pushing the field of marine robotics forward, and her research is addressing many of the fundamental gaps in this critically important area,” says Alice Aiken, vice-president research at Dal. “Her work is truly world-class, and we’re incredibly proud that it is happening at Dalhousie.”

Gathering ocean intelligence

Dr. Seto’s work, done in conjunction with the Ocean Frontier Institute (OFI), will support many aspects of the marine industry including, search and rescue, underwater communications and navigation, and oceanographic modeling with the aim to use that information to create economic and social value.

This research area is a key to the success of OFI, which relies on the development of new and innovative technologies to measure and observe the ocean. Atlantic Canada has a rich history in ocean sensing which has long been supported through DRDC, the Canadian Navy and the Bedford Institute of Oceanography.

“Dr. Seto’s work will improve the intelligence we gather from the ocean,” says Wendy Watson-Wright, chief executive officer of the Ocean Frontier Institute. “This is especially important for the North Atlantic where rough seas and weather create significant challenges for scientists to safely and accurately conduct their work.”

Irving Shipbuilding is contributing $500,000 to establish and support the research chair position. They are funding the chair position as part of the Value Proposition commitment under Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy. Through this commitment, Irving Shipbuilding will invest 0.5% of contract revenues in projects that will help create a sustainable marine industry. The Value Proposition commitments on the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships, currently under construction at the Halifax Shipyard, will provide approximately $12.5 million in funding to projects across Canada.

For more information about the Irving Shipbuilding Chair in Marine and Engineering Autonomous Systems, visit or


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