Campus & Community

Coast Guard Commandant Gives Keynote at Maritime Risk Symposium

The Stevens Institute of Technology hosted the sixth annual Maritime Risk Symposium Nov. 16-17, with the theme Risk in the Western Hemisphere and Southern Border Approaches. Over 150 participants from academia, military, government, and industry attended the two-day conference. Panels of experts addressed transnational threats and maritime challenges to marine transportation and national security, with specific focus on combating networks, securing borders and safeguarding commerce.

In opening remarks, President Nariman Farvardin evoked Stevens' rich and impressive history in maritime and naval engineering dating back 150 years — the founding family of the university started the nation’s first commercial steam ferry. Michael Bruno, dean of the School of Engineering & Science, introduced the keynote speaker, Admiral Paul F. Zukunft, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. Zunkunft leads more than 88,000 personnel, the largest component of the Department of Homeland Security.

In his keynote, Zukunft provided an overview of the many aspects of operational, fiscal, and political risk considered by the Coast Guard.  A major area of risk is cybersecurity, which Zukunft described as “ a constantly evolving threat.” By developing stronger firewalls for the maritime sector, protecting devices on vessels that can be accessed remotely, and building human resource capital with technological expertise, the Coast Guard hopes to use cyber strategy not only defensively but also offensively.

Moreover, as climate change melts the polar ice caps and ocean levels rise in the coming decades, the Coast Guard must prepare for risks associated with coastal flooding and more destructive tropical storms. “We need to be thinking 50, 60 years out so we can continue to be a nation that drives to the coast, where most of our development is happening today,” said Zukunft.

“One of the new features of this year's symposium is a focus on surfacing areas where academia could help contribute solutions to the maritime risk arena. This attention to real-world research opportunities will help guide Center projects in the future,” said Julie Pullen, an associate professor of ocean engineering at Stevens and one of the chairs of the symposium.

The Maritime Risk Symposium is held each year at a Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Center of Excellence; Stevens has co-led the Maritime Security National Center of Excellence since 2008. This year’s symposium is the largest one to date and the first attended by a Commandant.


PHOTO: Admiral Paul F. Zukunft, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, courtesy of DHS Office of University Programs