As the academic year at SAIT comes to a close with all that is left being the grading of final exams and submitting of the grades, it is a time to reflect on my memories of yesteryear.

I attended the 2010 SEG convention for the first time during my career at SAIT and it was a very beneficial experience. I acquired new software packages for the EXPT program at SAIT and learned much about the skills I need to teach my students so they can have a successful career in the Oil and Gas industry. I was also able to finally meet many individuals with whom I had corresponded via e-mail over the last few years in the likes of Ted Bakamjian, and Judy Hall. I was indeed fortunate to meet others from the SEG such as Jenny Cole, Jill Abbot, and Tom Agnew to name a few. At conventions such as the CSEG and SEG, a walk down memory lane is always possible since one never knows who they will meet from the years gone by. For me meeting my managers (Keith Mathews and Mike Plumlee) and a vice president (Davey Einarsson) from the early days of my career at GSI brought back fond memories with a world class company. I also had the opportunity to meet “giants” in the world of Geophysics such as Sven Treitel and Enders Robinson. Thanks to the experience I had gained by being part of the CSEG Doddletrain committee, I joined the SEG Continuing Education committee under the leadership of Edith Miller.

Davey Einarsson and John Fernando
Davey Einarsson and John Fernando – Denver 2010 SEG Convention.

My year as the Director of Educational Services in the CSEG executive concluded with the AGM in March and it was very fitting that my last task as the outgoing director to be able to thank Satinder Chopra who was concluding his “tour of duty” as the CSEG distinguished lecturer for 2010. I have counted especially on Satinder to help me with my work at SAIT in various ways and his answer has always been “yes I can help you” or “by all means encourage your students to get more involved in the CSEG and industry events”. At times, it has also been, “John, just do it”. Perhaps in our previous life, Satinder was my school principal and I the incorrigible student that got away. As Harrison Ford said in Indiana Jones II, in Sinhalese, Satinder, Bohoma Istuthi (Thank you very much)!

Satinder Chopra receiving the speaker memento from John Fernando at the
Satinder Chopra receiving the speaker memento from John Fernando at the CSEG AGM.
Graham Carter (Hampson Russell) – STRATA presentation in the EXPT lab
Graham Carter (Hampson Russell) – STRATA presentation in the EXPT lab at SAIT.
Laurie Bellman (Oil Sands Imaging Inc.) – Heavy Oil presentation in
Laurie Bellman (Oil Sands Imaging Inc.) – Heavy Oil presentation in Penthouse at SAIT.

During my teaching career at SAIT I have counted heavily on Senior Geophysicists from the industry to help me in augmenting my curriculum in Geophysics. Graham Carter and recently Laurie Bellman were presenters at SAIT.

During the last year I had one of my second year students at SAIT, Debbie Borthwick, volunteer at the CSEG once a week to help with some of the many daily tasks that Jim and Sheryl perform, which take up so much of their valuable time. She did so with a smile and in addition to her help at the CSEG office also helped me hand out the technical luncheon speaker evaluations, a challenging task when it is not easy to find willing evaluators. I realized her genuine desire to volunteer when she came to the luncheon when she had a mid-term exam that very afternoon. Debbie, thank you for your volunteer spirit. It was very encouraging when I was able to recommend her for a job posting that came my way, and she succeeded in securing a permanent position at EOG resources.

Deborah Borthwick and John Fernando at the CSEG AGM.
Deborah Borthwick and John Fernando at the CSEG AGM.

I had the good fortune of having, to my knowledge, at least one of the first year students (Lee Anne Hall) nominate me for an Instructor Excellence award. I was totally taken by surprise because I expect my students to need at least two years to really get to know me and my style of teaching (and hopefully come to appreciate it). Needless to say, SAIT executives: President and CEO, Irene Lewis, VP Academic, Dr. Gord Nixon and Dean of ICT, Rand Ayers took time to treat all the nominees to a luncheon at the SAIT Highwood restaurant and present each instructor with a memento of their appreciation of our dedication to SAIT and the its students.

Instructor Excellence nominee luncheon at the SAIT Highwood
Instructor Excellence nominee luncheon at the SAIT Highwood: (right to left: Dr. Gordon Nixon – VP Academic, John Fernando, Irene Lewis President and CEO, Rand Ayres – Dean of ICT).

Lee Anne, for her part, has shown her maturity in realizing the great opportunity that she has towards achieving great things in terms of a career in the Oil and Gas industry. My efforts to teach her Geophysics and more importantly a desire to do the difficult has been an easy task. She is every instructor’s “dream student”. I am fortunate to have her in my class and I hope to see greater accomplishments from her in the year to come. I could not help but do may part in helping Lee Anne in securing a summer internship at Cenovus thanks to one of my former graduates from the EXPT program, Blair Halter. Thank you Blair for paying it forward.

Lee Anne Hall and John Fernando in the EXPT lab.
Lee Anne Hall and John Fernando in the EXPT lab.

I have to also thank all the other professionals in the industry, people like Graham Carter who have been there year after year, ever willing to attend my student presentations and provide me with software so that I can do my best for my students and prepare them for their careers in the industry. This year the guests at my student presentations were Graham Carter (Hampson Russell), Satinder Chopra (ARCIS), Jon Gittins and Victor Dolgov (Trust Belt Imaging) and David Willett (Total). It was after one of these student presentations a few years ago that Graham hired an EXPT student by the name of Borys Data who for me has been the “Model-student” I speak highly of whenever I try to instil good work ethics in my students. Also, the fact that Borys is now based in Perth, Australia, and travels all over SE Asia, in itself is an exciting prospect for the new “grasshoppers”.

EXPT student Geophysics presentations at the SAIT Penthouse
EXPT student Geophysics presentations at the SAIT Penthouse: (Guests from right to left: Victor Dolgov (TBI), Jon Gittins (TBI), David Willett (Total E&P Canada Ltd.), Graham Carter (Hampson Russell) and Satinder Chopra (Arcis).

I cannot help but think of my students as “Grasshoppers” after seeing the movie, Kung Fu with David Carradine, during my teenage years. The best part of teaching at SAIT has been the camaraderie I feel when I am with my students. They are young and easy-going, and easier to mould because they are not set in their ways. Knowing that my teaching and mentoring can have a lasting effect on their futures is an exciting, but, at the same time, sobering, thought that was best said in the movie “Gladiator”: “What we do in life, echoes in eternity” and it is very relevant to the teaching profession.

My Two-year Journey in the Exploration Information Technology (EXPT) program at SAIT – Deborah Borthwick

Before my classes commenced in September 2009, I had doubts whether enrolling in the EXPT program at SAIT was the correct choice in my desire to pursue a career in the Oil and Gas industry as a technologist. I met with my soon-to-be Geophysics instructor, John Fernando and asked for his advice with regards to my choice of the program. He assured me that I had registered in a diploma program that is without a doubt the best program in my pursuit of a career in the Oil and Gas industry. I am very happy I took his advice because, after two years of studying, I have been successful in securing a full-time position with EOG Resources.

It was two years of hard work and I learned a lot during that time. At times it seemed like too much work was expected of us, but two years is not a long time to acquire a lot of knowledge when most of us in my class, just as any other group before us, had very little knowledge in Geophysics or computer languages such as UNIX and LINUX. Homework seemed endless with each instructor giving us homework, all except John F. The lab work that we did with John F. was meant to be finished during the lab time so that he would be there to help us in case we had difficulties with the work. However, he made up for not giving homework by giving us long and challenging lab and lecture exams. The data loading lab exam he gave in analyzing SEGY headers, in the third semester, left everyone in the class certain that they had failed the exam. Neil Praught, a grad from 2010, who works for Oil Sands Imaging Inc. told us that John F.’s grilling of us in the skills related to SEGYs was well worth it, as that was the first thing he had to master in his new job.

The EXPT program also benefited from John F.’s networking efforts through his involvement in the CSEG executive. Not only did we have the opportunity to attend the CSEG luncheons, I myself had the opportunity to help Sheryl Megeson and Jim Racette at the CSEG office once a week as a volunteer. I very much enjoyed the opportunity to volunteer at the CSEG and gain valuable experience. Thank you Sheryl and Jim for welcoming me and making me part of the CSEG. I also had the good fortune of participating in many CSEG technical luncheons, thanks to John F., and meeting many great senior geophysicists when requesting them to complete speaker evaluations.

I am eagerly waiting to start my work at EOG resources. I am indebted to SAIT and especially all the instructors who have done their part to impart valuable knowledge to me during my two-year stint at SAIT.

My first year at the SAIT polytechnic – Lee Anne Hall

My first year at SAIT as an Exploration Information Technology student has been an incredible learning experience. I have been to university and wasn’t sure what to expect from a polytechnic such as SAIT. The first thing that stood out for me was how much knowledge I was able to gain in such a short period of time. Courses such as geophysics, and geology were explained so well, they have not only helped me understand the subjects but also facilitated my appreciation of how much work goes into locating and recovering our natural resources. Other courses, such as communications and statistics have provided me with useful skills applicable in a work environment, and will help me become a valuable member of an exploration team.

Also it was clear to me how important our success is to our instructors. I am so impressed with our geophysics instructor, John Fernando, (a.k.a “Young Fella”) that I nominated him for an Instructor Excellence Award. I have never encountered anyone with such passion for teaching as John has. He not only gives us the knowledge we need to move into our careers, he gives us the confidence. I am excited about my future career and I owe that to John. Needless to say John was totally taken by surprise to receive a nomination from a first year “grasshopper”. I am happy to say that thanks to John’s encouragement and support and also his former grad, Blair Halter, I was successful in obtaining a summer position at Cenovus. I am so excited about this opportunity, and I hope I will do my best at Cenovus. I would love to prove John correct in his trust in my abilities.



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