The CSEG is like an onion. Each time I peel away at the layers of committees and subcommittees, I find more layers of dedicated, enthusiastic volunteers. I still do not have a full grasp of the various activities that fall under Educational Services, but I do know that the volunteers that manage and execute these diverse activities do it with style and grace. I will leave it up to the reader to decide if the motivation for my hands-off approach to this position is from a desire to not damage systems that work or from elementary lazyness. I do wish to make some contribution during my tenure, so I have been looking into changes the CSEG could make to further adapt to our changing industry.
Lately I have been thinking about how our industry does training, specifically, how that has changed over the last ten years. Research and technology development has moved from Big Oil to the service companies and research consortia, and the integrated training programs have followed suit: increasingly practical university programs and industry training like our own Doodletrain are replacing the training centres once resident at Big Oil. The Doodletrain is well run by competent and enthusiastic volunteers and has a diverse range of course offerings. I think that our industry also has need for longer, more indepth study into professional disciplines for both new graduates and for experienced professionals that need cross-training into other disciplines or upgrading into newer methodologies. This is a need that the University of Alberta sees as an opportunity; much like the University of Calgary has worked to fill the need for practical industry research using a consortium model, the U of A plans to step into a practical training role.
Earth science professors at U of A are working on a new course-based graduate program in integrated geosciences that will provide practical industry training to geologists and geophysicists. From my understanding of the program, which is still in early planning stages, each course will be three weeks of full-time study with a team project. The interdisciplinary nature of the program should mean that your course on sequence stratigraphy should have you teaming up with a variety of geologists, geophysicists, and reservoir engineers, both new graduates looking for practical industry-oriented training and experienced professionals looking for an in-depth cross-disciplinary course. I will be looking for ways for our society to contribute to this program and others like it in Canada. If you want more information– or a more accurate description of what those U of Alberta guys are doing up there–then call Brian Jones, CR Stelck Chair in Petroleum Geology, at 1-780-492-5249 or Doug Schmitt, Canada Research Chair in Rock Physics and Time-lapse Geophysics, at 1-780-492-3985.
I was talking with Catherine Swindlehurst over a latte at the Good Earth the other day. She is a Senior Development Officer with the U of A’s Faculty of Science. She was looking for information on how to make their students more employable. Thinking again of the changes in research and training over the last ten years as mentioned above, I realized that recruiting practices have evolved. An excellent side benefit of the U of C’s research consortia is the networking opportunity afforded the graduate students.
Now that recruiting has become less formalized and recruiters can get to know students over the course of years as they interact at sponsors’ meetings, conventions, and during summer jobs. Over time, a relationship of trust develops until the recruiter finds the hiring decision easy and the student finds the job-search process relatively stress free. But what about those students from U of A, UBC, Queen’s, and so on? How do they plug in to this social network?
Perhaps the CSEG could set up a free facility that could be used as a venue for student groups to come and present an all-day workshop on their various researches. If they follow up with a beer-and-pizza social event in the evening, then we have a good networking and technology-sharing opportunity for CSEG members and students alike. What do you think? Would you attend such a workshop? Would you envision technical and recruiting value?
Another thing I would like to draw to your attention and solicit feedback on is Outreach. I have attended a few meetings of Helen Isaac’s CSEG Outreach Committee. One thing that we discussed at a recent meeting is: how do we raise public awareness of geophysics? (Or do we want to?) I am sure you all have seen the billboards coming into downtown that promote the profession of IT managers or accountants or whatever. Following the lead of these other professional societies, we could have a field geophysicist holding a string of geophones in front of a pristine wilderness bearing a slogan that states, “Geophysicists: Finding oil and gas with minimal environmental impact”. An outreach campaign might bring benefits to the members in professional pride and improved understanding from landowners, oil company executives, shareholders, and so on. Maybe a billboard is a silly idea, but I like the idea of public outreach. How do we do it and what should be our message?
Please drop me a note (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your opinions and suggestions on these topics or any other ideas you have about geophysical education.