TMA BlueTech: Promoting BlueTech and Blue Jobs

By Chris Pennington - September 19, 2019

San Diego is arguably one of the most beautiful cities in the U.S. with a thriving Maritime industry that brings in more than $14 billion a year. The blue waters that roll across the city’s shorelines are more than just a scenic attraction, they are the lifeblood that helps support the area’s 46,000 related jobs that make up the city’s maritime industry with 40% of these jobs in the maritime technology industry.

At the heart of maintaining this vital component of the area’s business ecosystem, is the non-profit organization, TMA BlueTech. Formally known as The Maritime Alliance, TMA BlueTech actually represents one of the largest BlueTech clusters in the United States.

With the tagline of “Promoting BlueTech and Blue Jobs,” their focus is viewed entirely through the lens of water both fresh and saltwater… they exist to promote sustainable, science-based ocean and water industries, all of which they accomplish by bringing together academia, industry and policy makers into a supportive collaborative environment.

Growing the BlueTech Economy Through Education and Career Awareness

To effectively grow the BlueTech economy, Melissa Fischel, head of the association’s Education and Workforce Development initiatives, emphasizes the importance of focusing on the next generation of workers. “We know we must train young people for the Blue Jobs of tomorrow,” Fischel stated. “Through a series of structured programs, we introduce and educate students, throughout the area, on the myriad of opportunities that exists within the maritime world.” Included in the list of programs spearheaded by TMA BlueTech are:

  • BlueSTEM Academy & Career Pathway at San Diego Unified School District A continuum of courses related to the marine, ocean or water sectors. The program provides project and work-based learning experiences in coordination with industry partners.
  • Blue Economy Career Pathway Job Shadowing Videos In partnership with educational provider and with funding from the America’s Promise Grant in partnership with MiraCosta TCI, participants are able to virtually job shadow professional men and women whose work bolsters the Blue Economy. By showcasing some of the regional companies who are innovating sustainable products and technologies that impact the BlueTech industry, students are able to learn about exciting career opportunities right in their own backyard.

To experience the depth and breath of BlueTech careers spotlighted, visit this link:

  • Blue Economy Immersion Program A 3-day workshop that introduces high school students to the many facets of the Blue Economy. Included are maritime history sessions, BlueTech company on-site visits, multiple hands-on activities, harbor cruises, navigations skills and diving equipment overviews, field studies, and wet lab activities.
  • SeaPerch Through the San Diego chapter for the national SeaPerch program, this semester long program offers a fun, safe way for teaching students the basics of underwater robotics through underwater robotics competition.
  • BlueSTEM Internship Program Initially launched through a $70,000 grant from The San Diego Foundation, TMA BlueTech Internship program connects TMA member companies with high school and college students to offer bot paid and unpaid internships.
  • Blue Economy Education Collaborative (BEEC) TMA BlueTech works with more than 40 regional organizations focused on ocean/water education in order to leverage resources and provide meaningful experiences for local students. Working with local organizations,, the BEEC’s goals are; getting to know each other, cataloguing existing and proposed programs, exploring potential new funding sources, and promoting regional collaboration. The Executive Committee consists of leaders from TMA BlueTech, MiraCosta TCI, University of San Diego, and San Diego Unified High School District.

TMA BlueTech on the Global Stage

Melissa Fischel stated that in addition to the regional emphasis of TMA BlueTech’s work, they have an eye towards global impact. “As a recognized global leader in the BlueTech cluster, we strive to promote our mission beyond just our regional presence. We believe that BlueTech clusters, such as those in San Diego, are the building blocks of the new Blue Economy throughout the world. Therefore, we will continue to work diligently to increase those clusters as we support our BlueTech Cluster Alliance worldwide.”

BlueTech Week

At center stage of TMA BlueTech’s global initiative is its annual event, BlueTech Week. Over the course of five days, attendees representing the triple helix of academia/education, industry, and policy makers will come together in San Diego for this year’s event with the primary goal of driving a worldwide sustainable Blue Economy. Hundreds of senior international participants will highlight collaboration and innovation in sustainable ocean and water technologies and the entrepreneurs making it happen. This year’s event will be held November 18-22, 2019 and is expected to draw more than 600 attendees from over 16 countries. With 80 plus speakers and approximately 150 participating companies and 16 BlueTech clusters, the event is poised for success. For more information, visit: BlueTech Week.

Coming Together for a Successful Blue Future

“We have much to share but we also have much to learn from others” says Fischel. “Whether you represent academia, government or industry – local or further away – we ask you to join us to collaborate, share, and work together. We need to do more, collectively. We need to better understand, preserve and nurture ocean and water resources as we develop sustainable, science-based industries as solutions for the world. At TMA BlueTech, we are fond of quoting the well-known African proverb that says: If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

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