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SUNY Maritime’s Katherine Mattikow Becomes First Ever “Back to Back” Winner in CMA’s Student Research Paper Competition – Artificial intelligence takes center stage two years in a row

The Connecticut Maritime Association Education Foundation (CMAEF) recently held its annual Student Research Paper Competition, with SUNY Maritime College Student Cadet Katherine Mattikow once again taking first place, along with a $2,500 scholarship. In addition to Cadet Mattikow, The United States Merchant Marine Academy’s Midshipman Joseph Jackson took second place, presenting an analysis of congestion in the Port of Los Angeles.

For several years now, the CMAEF has held this competition in conjunction with sponsors to encourage students to explore areas of the industry in more depth, along with encouraging discussion in the industry and presenting a fresh vision for its future.

Cadet Mattikow’s presentation once again focused on automation, but rather than focusing on docking, as she did the year prior, she chose to direct her attention to how artificial intelligence could be used to load and discharge liquid cargo. The focus of her paper was on how one could use artificial intelligence to effectively remove human error and help to prevent incidents that could result in losses of up to 1.8 million dollars. But Cadet Mattikow’s concept, which now has a patent pending, isn’t meant to put mariners out of a job. This concept is designed to become one of the many tools that a mariner can and should use to reduce any capacity for error.

“There is quite a bit of fear surrounding artificial intelligence and automation, but there doesn’t need to be,” Cadet Mattikow says. “The road to full automation is long-and that is a good thing. It gives the industry time to prepare, train, and innovate. Technological advancement is inevitable. Instead of pushing back against it, we must forge a path forward that maintains the livelihoods of our seafarers and support personnel, while simultaneously creating opportunities for the next generation to take advantage of new technologies.”

This is Cadet Mattikow’s second year in a row placing first in the competition, the first individual to ever do so. Her paper from the 2023 competition, “The Use of Light Detection and Ranging for Autonomous Docking,” was well received to the point where it was separately presented to the Society of Naval Architects and Engineers (SNAME).

When asked about how placing first two years in a row felt, Cadet Mattikow remarked: “Being the first repeat winner of the award is a wonderful honor and validation, but it is not the purpose of my research. I want to contribute to the industry in a meaningful way and will continue my research on this topic with my Master’s thesis. I want to thank Dr. Sam Yahalom and Professor Ira Breskin for their assistance in my research and their continuing support of my academic endeavors.”

In terms of presenting to a global maritime audience, Cadet Mattikow remarked “It was truly a transformative experience. It was genuinely surprising to see a full audience. I never thought so many industry professionals – people with so many accomplishments and who have created such a positive impact on the maritime industry – would be interested in hearing from me, a student. It was the highest form of flattery, but beyond that, it gave me hope for the future of shipping – hope that the industry is willing to accept positive change and innovation.”

The Student Paper Research Competition could not have taken place without the generous support of the Connecticut Maritime Association Education Foundation and its sponsors. Special thanks go to the D’Amico family, along with Beth Wilson-Jordan and the entire CMAEF Board of Directors, alongside the professors and industry professionals who acted as judges. To learn more about the CMAEF, go to

In addition to her works in the maritime industry, Cadet Mattikow is an accomplished figure skater, having placed second in the 2023 National Figure Skating Showcase alongside being presented The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award by His Royal Highness Prince Edward, Duke of Edinburgh. She also paints and sings opera.

Media contact: Malcolm Blackwell, Morgan Marketing and Communications,,  +1(203)979-1516

Featured Image:

First Prize Winner, SUNY Maritime Cadet Katherine Mattikow

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