Dr. Robert Ballard, known for discovering the Titanic among other scientific breakthroughs, attended a news conference at the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University today to officially open the institute’s new Immersion Presents Theatre. Also on hand to mark the occasion were Trevor Taylor, provincial minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development, Dr. Eddy Campbell, president, Memorial University, and Glenn Blackwood, executive director for the Marine Institute.
Immersion Presents, a cutting-edge, interactive educational program led by Dr. Ballard and a team of scientists from University of Rhode Island, the Institute for Exploration and other institutions, uses telepresence technology – a combination of satellite and Internet connections – to transport young people live from the Marine Institute to scientific expeditions.
“We are thrilled to develop this partnership between the Marine Institute of Memorial University and the University of Rhode Island to foster ocean exploration,” said Dr. Ballard. “Immersion Presents offers students the opportunity to explore the advanced technologies being used in ocean activities and showcase the career opportunities that these technologies afford them. It also shows kids that science is not only far from boring or nerdy, it is absolutely essential to preserve one of our most threatened resources, the oceans.”
"Our province’s ocean-related industries are fast earning a reputation for having world-class capabilities," Mr. Taylor said. "It is positive to know that the new Immersion Presents theatre will encourage more young people in Newfoundland and Labrador to consider careers in this exciting sector." Minister Taylor added that this initiative also strengthens ties between the province and Rhode Island that were established with the signing of memoranda of understanding in 2006.
With an investment of $89,500 from the Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development, the Marine Institute will become a permanent site of the Immersion Presents network and will allow students, educators and researchers to participate in Dr. Ballard and the University of Rhode Island’s future ocean expeditions live and to be a part of the broader community participating in these ventures. The new theatre, the first of its kind in Canada, will also be used in the School of Ocean Technology’s ROV training programs.
“The Immersion Presents project represents one of the many joint initiatives that have resulted from our thriving relationship with the School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island,” said Mr. Blackwood. “The work of the faculty and staff involved in this partnership is a testament to our strong linkages to the University of Rhode Island and researchers like Dr. Ballard who will contribute to the future development of the ocean. Together we are building on our respective capabilities and furthering our opportunities.”
In March, the Marine Institute, in partnership with the Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development and the Newfoundland and Labrador Science Centre, hosted over 400 local elementary and junior high students as they took part in Immersion Presents Monterey Bay. They experienced, in real time, an expedition off the coast of Monterey, California, where they studied endangered sea mammals like the California sea otter and the blue whale.