STEM Students, Innovators, Community Leaders, and Maritime Partners Sail on In
PORT OF HUENEME, Wednesday, April 10, 2019 – Over 300 STEM students channeled through the buzzing innovation hub at the Port’s 6th Annual Maritime Advanced Systems & Technology Expo (MAST). The Expo introduced our inquisitive and pioneering young minds to the exciting world of technology and innovation. MAST, where technology meets the end user and, where the consumer meets the innovators, serves as a 365-day platform to incubate new technological solutions. Every spring, the Port hosts an Expo to celebrate achievements and launch new strategies.
To kick off the event, Oxnard Harbor District President Jess Herrera highlighted the important nexus of MAST to the large wave of students, community partners and industry stakeholders remarking, “New technologies will move our maritime industry forward. The Port of Hueneme’s MAST program hopes to play an important role in innovation both for experienced engineers and the young masterminds of the future.”
With over 400 participants consisting of local businesses, entrepreneurs, port customers, students, and community leaders, this year’s Expo served as the venue to launch the next iteration of MAST. The Port, Navy, Economic Development Collaborative and the well renowned Went brothers of the local start-up, Matter Labs, announced their new technology driven collaborative. Setting up shop on Port, the collaborative both institutionally and structurally builds the foundation to bolster public access to piloting, developing, and commercializing new technologies in data analytics, robotic systems, alternative environmental technology, cyber security, and much more.
CEO & Port Director Kristin Decas announced, “MAST is a year-round incubator for our local inventors, entrepreneurs, and students. If you have an idea, this is the place to develop it, refine it, and showcase how it can change the world. This new space will house an array of the most advanced and cutting-edge equipment and technology that will all be accessible to our community and students.”
The Economic Development Collaborative’s top executive Bruce Stenslie shared, “The MAST Expo is an excellent annual demonstration of what drives the Ventura County economy. It showcases our strengths in global trade, in advanced manufacturing, and in Research & Development opportunities at both the Port of Hueneme and Naval Base Ventura County. Adding the participation of our youth and educators involved in STEM learning closes the loop, helping to deliver a next generation of innovators.”
Alan Jaeger of the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division (NSWC PHD) filled the MAST space with a wealth of new machinery and equipment to get the collaborative underway. Mr. Jaeger, an enthusiastic partner, showcased many of these technologies throughout the day stating, “I’m really excited to see so many different companies, students, and schools coming together to build out this ecosystem of how we inspire a culture of innovation. The Navy has specific interests that we are looking for; and working with students and companies to help understand, collaborate, and work together is what I’m most excited about.”
Erick Went sat on the Opportunities for Innovation Panel captivating the audience with his ambitions to grow MAST and ignite a surge of entrepreneurial activity throughout Ventura County. The crowd really perked up as Went explained, “The collaborative will provide a unique intersection of a world of spaces that don’t often get to play together. The sweet spot here is that MAST is a collider. You’re putting together, in close proximity, things that are not always there and you’re hitting it with a bunch of energy, and all kinds of amazing things get created. Port, business, industry, students, innovators, all people out of the box are in one place, at one time with a ton of energy surrounding them. The cross over connections that are happening here are incredible.”
Ann Carpenter of Braid Theory moderated the Opportunities for Innovation Panel in the morning session. She emphasized, “The panel experience is great…the bringing together of the different resources from the macro level of economic development all the way to Matter Labs doing the programing support for the individual entrepreneurs is exactly what is needed to build out the ecosystem here,” Carpenter said. “The MAST Expo is critical to our business strategy, this environment where you have key players means you can actually do business.”
One compelling reason the Port makes the map as one of Ventura County’s epicenters for innovation resides in its designation as an Opportunity Zone. This new federal program taps into the entrepreneurial spirt by attracting venture capital through tax incentives. Fiona Ma, the State Treasurer, oversees this program for California and inspired the audience with her keynote address on innovation, Opportunities Zones, and the possibilities that lie ahead.
Ma explained, “This Port is in one of the 879 Opportunity Zones. This is a great program that our State will use to hopefully attract private investors to many of the projects that our State wants to finance, and many of them will likely come out of this program right here.” Treasurer Ma also emphasized the need to invest in our ports, a strategy she articulated will help California to continue to lead the nation in developing technologies that protect our environment, increase our competitiveness, and create jobs.
The day was flooded with exciting opportunities for students through contests and hands-on testing of the actual technologies. Local high schools from across Ventura County took part in the technology wave including: Channel Islands High School, Santa Paula High School, Oxnard High School, Hueneme High School, Santa Susana High School, Colina Middle School, and Pleasant Valley Christian School.
Channel Islands High School Junior Tania Salceda explained her experience at the event, “It was my first time at the Port, and I didn’t know we had a Port in our community. It was cool to see that the Port is actually doing amazing things for our environment, and that they are the Greenest Port of the Year. I am proud to have the Port here!” Salceda elaborated, “My favorite part of today was the presentation on the LED lasers and how they are starting to use them in the new BMW cars.”
Several students also participated in a semester long program spearheaded by VC Innovates to build SeaGlide robots in their classrooms. Ten teams of students entered their robots into a tough competition, maneuvering their inventions through the Port’s underwater dive tank. The event culminated with an awards ceremony where Santa Paula High School took home the top prize.
Carmen Ramirez, Oxnard Mayor Pro Tem said, “What is really exciting to me is seeing all these young people excited to be here to learn all about the possibilities, and we have a tremendous amount of excitement in the room. You know, if you can’t see it, you can’t think it, you can’t work for it, and I’m hoping they’re catching that message with all the advice from the adults today.”
Various government agencies, companies and non-profits exhibited technologies and materials at the Expo including:
- Matter Labs
- Global Trade & Technology (GT2)
- Braid Theory
- VC Office of Education
- Naval Base Ventura County
- Naval Surface Warfare Center Port Hueneme
- Naval Facilities Engineering Command
- Port of Hueneme
- Coastal Trident Regional Port & Maritime Security Program
- CSUCI – Educational Partnerships
- Economic Development Collaborative
- Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Bomb Squad
- Port Hueneme Police Department
- SWARM Engineering
- Oxnard Fire Department
- Oxnard Office of Emergency Management
- Constant Bearing
- Startups Ventura County
- BMW North America
- SLD Laser
- Aerial Alchemy
- iCode Mobile Solutions
- Navicom Dynamics
- US Small Business Administration
- SacTec Solar
Two incredible community leaders were honored with awards at the closing of the Expo, Mike Villegas of the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District (VCAPCD) and Cónsul Roberto Rodríguez Hernández of the Consulate of Mexico in Oxnard.
Mr. Villegas received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Environmental Innovation for his 30+ years of public service and implementing new technologies throughout the County to improve air quality. Notably, his most recent endeavors include the joint clean air plan with the Port titled, PHRESH (Port of Hueneme Reducing Emissions and Supporting Health), which will include air quality monitoring meters for real time data collection.
Harbor Commissioner Mary Anne Rooney presented the awards stating, “It is an honor to have a great friend of the Port, Mike Villegas, with us today. His contributions to our community and to improve our air quality will be felt for generations. Today, our communities have the cleanest air on record, and it is because of Mike’s willingness to partner with industries like ours to implement new technologies and innovative approaches to providing cleaner air for us all.”
Villegas was heartfelt in his acceptance of the Lifetime Achievement Award stating, “Thank you to the Port for this recognition. The Port has been a great project partner on everything from the Shorepower project to the new PHRESH plan for improving air quality. I look forward to working with the Port on locomotive emission reduction projects, yard tractors, and even electric cranes. And with the Port being such a large component of the local economy, it’s critical that we have a green Port to keep these jobs in our County.”
Consul Hernández was presented with the “Leadership in Community Based Technology Award” for the Consulate’s efforts to implement new technology that will enable their office to improve access through a first-of-its-kind 211 information kiosk that will provide language specific-information on social and health services for Mexican nationals.
In his acceptance of the award, the Consul stated, “We always appreciate that the Port is here to strengthen our community, and the Port has been an essential partner to support stronger ties with our community and to increase trade with Mexico. We support the Port of Hueneme and all the projects of the Port as it is the future of Oxnard and the City of Port Hueneme.”
Supervisor John Zaragoza helped close the day with some remarks, “The Port’s MAST Program is very beneficial to not only the harbor and the community, but also to our students. We have students from all over Ventura County here today to learn the newest technologies working with the Port, which is really important as they are, in fact, our future.”
Chief of Staff Brian Miller represented Supervisor Kelly Long in closing remarks stating, “The Port of Hueneme is a little-known Gem in some parts of our County. It is a job creator that also generates tax dollars from tax revenues, and over $1.5 Billion in economic activity for the whole County. It was great to see all the participation of the students this year, learning a lot with their underwater SeaGlide robots. It’s that STEM education that will carry us into the future, and this type of event is what creates that drive for those students to want to study STEM as they move forward.”
Elected officials in attendance included: State Treasurer Fiona Ma, Supervisor John Zaragoza, Oxnard Harbor District President Jess Herrera, Oxnard Harbor District Commissioners Mary Anne Rooney and Jason Hodge; Port Hueneme Mayor Will Berg, Oxnard Mayor Pro Tem Carmen Ramirez, Supervisor Kelly Long’s Chief of Staff Brian Miller; and Karie Portillo Guerra and Jeannette Sanchez-Palacios representing Asm. Jacqui Irwin.
The Port of Hueneme is one of the most productive and efficient commercial trade gateways for niche cargo on the West Coast. The Port is governed by five locally elected Port Commissioners. The Port moves $9 billion in goods each year and consistently ranks among the top ten U.S. ports for automobiles and fresh produce. Port operations support the community by bringing $1.5 billion in economic activity and creating 13,633 trade-related jobs. Trade through the Port of Hueneme generates more than $93 million in direct and related state and local taxes, which fund vital community services. In 2017, the Port of Hueneme became the first port in California to become Green Marine certified. www.portofh.org