William & Mary

Marine Technology Society honors VIMS professor

The Marine Technology Society has bestowed its Lockheed Martin Award for Ocean Science and Engineering on Mark Patterson, associate professor at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

Patterson is a marine biologist and world expert on underwater robotics with patents in autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) technology and neural-network recognition of targets from side-scan sonar. He has developed and deployed underwater instrumentation from the Hydrolab and Aquarius underwater habitats, and his work on how flow modulates the metabolism of corals is cited in many textbooks in marine science.

Patterson co-founded Sias Patterson Incorporated, the first company devoted to the design and manufacture of small AUVs. The company’s flagship product, Fetch, racked up a long list of firsts, including qualifying as the first swimming supercomputer.

Fetch became commercially available in 1996, well before other technologies developed in Navy-sponsored labs went commercial. Patterson was intimately involved in all aspects of Fetch’s development, including the LabVIEW code that controls it, which evolved into a cross-platform “AUV toolkit” used on Northrop Grumman’s NNEMO1 AUV. He has been honored with the Antarctic Service Medal and the Phi Beta Kappa Award for Scholarship.

The Marine Technology Society is an international organization of marine scientists, technicians, educators and policy makers. Patterson has been a member since 1998.   i