Student Poster Competition

The OCEANS Student Poster Competition offers students the opportunity to travel to the OCEANS conference and present your research…all expenses paid. There are two OCEANS conferences held each year and each conference hosts a Student Poster Competition. During each competition 20 – 22 students (depending on available funding) are selected for the prestigious program. Students from colleges and universities around the world are eligible to compete.

Please take some time to read the information provided on the site, and also feel free to contact us with further questions. We hope you will consider submitting an abstract as this is a valuable opportunity to share your research, present during a professional conference, network with industry professionals, and meet like-minded students from all over the world!

Sponsoring Societies

Beginning in 1989, Colonel Norman Miller created and implemented the first Student Poster Competition (SPC) during the OCEANS conference in Seattle, Washington. The competition continued ever since on an annual basis during the OCEANS conference, and then on a bi-annual basis as the OCEANS conference grew to an annual North American conference and an annual Europe/Asia conference.

Students from colleges and universities from around the world are eligible to compete. As the abstract window for a conference opens, students can chose to submit an abstract to the SPC. All abstracts are reviewed by a panel of volunteers to determine if the abstract is of high enough quality to be admitted to the pool of accepted abstracts for the conference. Those abstracts connected to the SPC are reviewed a second time by a specific set of reviewers dedicated to the SPC. Of those hundred or so abstracts received each cycle, a select few are invited to participate in the SPC. Those abstracts not selected for the SPC are invited to submit a paper to one of the Technical Session in the conference tracks.

Acceptance to the SPC is an honor for the students. Their work is highlighted during the conference, they compete for prizes, and a very important perk for the SPC participants, and their travel, lodging and conference registration are covered by the conference. Makes you wish you were a student again. In addition the technical paper submitted by the first place winner is published in The Beacon, the IEEE OES newsletter.

The Student Poster Competition Judges and reviewers dedicate countless hours to the program. Reviewers sort through hundreds of abstracts to create a short list of a select few students and offer invitations to compete. Once at the conference, the Judges volunteer their time to visit all posters and speak with the students to understand the research presented. The Judges meet and discuss all posters and determine the winners, which can be a very difficult decision. These actions occupy several hours of conference time and we are appreciative of their sense of volunteerism.

If you are selected for the Student Poster Competition (SPC), to satisfy the requirements of the Student Poster Competition, you will be expected to:

  • Submit an abstract to the Technical Program (using the Author’s Guidelines) by the due date and select the option for consideration in the SPC program
  • Submit a full paper to the Technical Program by the due date
  • Communicate with the Student Poster Chair – he or she will send emails with all the information needed; PLEASE maintain communication
  • Book travel by the requested date sent by the Student Poster Chair
  • Arrange for any needed travel visas in a timely manner
  • Submit your poster electronically by the due date (usually two weeks before the conference)
  • Attend an SPC Meetin – the Student Poster Chair will provide details
  • Prepare a 5 minute oral presentation of your research – Practice, practice, practice
  • Attend the Student Mixer during the conference
  • Place your poster on Display by the time given by the Student Poster Chair
  • Staff your poster during conference breaks and events; a specific schedule will be provided by the Student Poster
  • Chair; however, be prepared to spend the majority of your conference days staffing your poster
  • Attend the Student Poster Competition Ceremony
  • Dismount your poster by the deadline provided by the Student Poster Chair. Any posters left behind will be thrown away; conference staff is not responsible for your poster

When will I hear if I am accepted to the Student Poster Competition?

Abstracts for the Student Poster Competition undergo two reviews. All efforts are made to send notifications about selection to the SPC at the same time as the Technical Program Abstract notification (typically April/May). However with the second review process, the SPC notification can sometimes be delayed by a week or so. Please consult the conference web site for the Notification dates.

What if I am not selected?

If you are not selected for the Student Poster Competition but your abstract is selected for the Technical Program, we encourage you to attend the conference to present your research. In this case, registration is discounted but travel and accommodation will not be subsidized. The OCEANS conferences do not offer general travel grants, etc.

What if I have applied in the past – may I apply again?

Yes, you may apply again and that is encouraged! Keep in mind that competition is tough for the 20 – 22 places available for each conference. If you were not selected, please make significant effort to improve your future abstracts by working with a professor or colleague.

The only people prohibited from applying again are those who have previously won first prize in the competition.

I’ve been selected for the Student Poster Competition; what do I do now?

Conference Registration

A full conference registration is included as part of your Student Poster Competition (SPC) award package. This registration includes access to all technical sessions, social events and the Exhibition. Please login to your author dashboard to register as soon as possible. At the end of the registration procedure the system will automatically provide you with complimentary registration. Note that you will need to pay for any tutorials or guest tickets that you select.


You must provide receipts and paper boarding passes in order to receive reimbursement.

The Student Poster Chair will be in touch with you directly with specific travel information.

Travel Documentation

Please immediately begin to apply for any travel related visas or documentation. Application for these documents often takes longer than you think. There have been students not able to travel to the conference due to lack of or late paperwork. Obtaining required documents is your responsibility, not the responsibility of the conference organizers.


The OCEANS Conference team will set aside a block of rooms at a conference hotel. We ask that participants share their accommodations, 2 per room.

Hotel room costs will be covered directly by the conference – you will not need to pay in advance and be reimbursed. If you do not participate in the provided SPC housing, you will be responsible for the costs of your alternative hotel room choice – no exceptions.

The conference will only cover the costs of the room – no charges to the room like room service, movies, etc. If you make the choice to order anything and charge it to the room, you will be responsible for paying those charges – not the conference.

The Student Poster Chair will be in touch with you directly with specific accommodations information.