Collaborative Summer Program Takes Top Honors

In late October, BIOS won first-place in the “Most Innovative Youth Project or Program” category at the Bermuda Economic Development Department’s Technology Innovation Award program. Claire Fox, BIOS science education officer (middle), was on hand to accept the honor, which was awarded for the Institute’s “Innovation for the Environment” education program. Co-designed by scientists at Arizona State University’s Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science and the National Deep Submergence Laboratory at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the weeklong summer program was supported by lead sponsor RenaissanceRe.

BIOS took the stage at the Bermuda Economic Development Department’s (EDD’s) Technology Innovation Award program, receiving the first-place award in the “Most Innovative Youth Project or Program” category for its “Innovation for the Environment” course offered during summer 2022.

The weeklong course was designed and taught in collaboration with Arizona State University’s Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science and the National Deep Submergence Facility at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. With the goal of highlighting the technologies that are used to understand ocean data, the team of educators, engineers, and scientists engaged participants in hands-on experiences building, deploying, and programming a variety of instruments, including drones, autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). Ten students between the ages of 14 and 16 participated free of charge courtesy of support from lead sponsor RenaissanceRe.

“The ‘Innovations for the Environment’ capstone focuses on placing community-nominated Bermudian students directly alongside engineers to utilize design skills and critical thinking to solve real-world ocean engineering problems,” said Kaitlin Noyes, BIOS director of education and community engagement. “We hope to continue co-designing and innovating these types of hands-on learning opportunities for talented teens in the future.”

“RenaissanceRe has proudly supported the BIOS MARINE Program for the past three years,” said Harriet James, Vice President of ESG strategy at RenaissanceRe. “We hope that the hands-on experience students gained from the ‘Innovation for the Environment’ capstone program inspires a life-long appreciation and interest in advancing global ocean studies and protection. This award is a testament to BIOS’s ability to combine leading marine research with innovative educational programming. Congratulations to the BIOS team on this achievement.”

The TechAwards were launched in 2007 to recognize the best technology solutions, practices, and education processes in the community, and are now held as part of the annual Bermuda Tech Week. As part of the award process, members of the public are invited to submit nominations in four categories: Innovation of the Year (International); Innovation of the Year (Local); Mobile Application of the Year; and Most Innovative Youth Project or Program. In 2022, the EDD announced the return of a fifth category, Innovative Trailblazer Award, presented by the Bermuda Business Development Agency to highlight an innovative Bermudian company leveraging new technologies to conduct international businesses.

This doesn’t mark the first time BIOS has received a TechAward. In 2014, BIOS took home first-place honors in the “Most Innovative Youth Project or Program” category for its HSBC Explorer Program, which trained M2 (U.S. grade 7) teachers to mentor their classes as they built underwater vehicles. In 2016, 14-year-old Jacari Renfroe, a BIOS Bermuda Program intern, won the first-place award in the same category for his summer research at the Institute. Renfroe, who was nominated by BIOS research specialist Matt Enright, built an ROV that allows scientists to assess bacterial development within water samples taken at depth.

“It was a privilege for BIOS to be nominated again at the TechAwards”, said Noyes. “We are grateful for the recognition by the EDD and look forward to sharing our future programming with the Bermuda community.”