I have a good feeling about this upcoming year. My flight took off a few minutes ago from the Houston airport, barely escaping an impending snowstorm bearing down on the city and threatening to shut down the airport within the hour. So the phrase “knick of time” will carry a deep and pleasant personal connection for the next couple of days; equally good, my northward journey to Calgary promises an increase in temperature— this in early February, no less!
But I think my current giddy mood reflects more than just an emotive reaction to climatic quirks. All that post-recession dust seems to be slowly settling, an observation which is reflected in the theme of our upcoming joint CSEG/CSPG convention: Recovery. I can see our industry emerging from the downturn as somewhat leaner (a phenomenon which has unfortunately caused most of us some heightened personal anxiety over the last couple of years), and perhaps having shed a collective sense of entitlement that we could ride out our careers using good ol’ plains exploration savvy. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not dissing our historical prospecting practices: like many of you, I cut my teeth looking at seismic data from the plains, and my struggles to fully understand and improve on those traditional practices has accounted for the bulk of my own onthe- job learning. But the Canadian hydrocarbon exploration landscape seems irrevocably changed, and you can pretty much smell it in the offices of Calgary geophysicists. While our workstations still look out over the Bow River valley, lots of us now spend our time chasing international targets; and for the many of us still focused on local plays, geophysical parlance such as “reservoir modeling”, “fracture detection”, and “injection pad”, has supplanted “Holy geez, look at the gigantic reef on this 2D poststack migration!” (OK, I admit to never actually having heard that last one ever in my career, but you know what I mean).
Along with the acknowledgement of a forever-changed industry comes the realization that continuing education is going to become more important than ever. Learning new stuff is hardly a scenario for panic; after all, our conventional western Canadian exploration tradition gives us a sturdy knowledge platform for building new repertoires of expertise. Still, the prospect of augmenting one’s skill set can be daunting because the global geophysical technology scene is essentially an ongoing eruption of innovation. The “problem”, if you can call it a problem, is that there are so many brilliant people out there doing clever things and not one of us has the intellectual capacity to absorb it all. Continuing education is that sturdy hand that scootches us up and sets up atop the shoulders of the geophysical giants. Speaking more precisely, I would say that the main challenge for the young geophysicist is for him/her to quickly gain headway to the forefront of technology with a minimal experience set, while the challenge for the seasoned explorationist is to somehow wade through all that brilliant algorithmic lava and identify those key technologies and associated practical implementations which help him/her to do his/her job better. As Assistant Director of Educational Services, my main job is to take aim at both of these challenges by providing the continuing education framework to fast-track the learning process. This is done through several mechanisms, and although many of you are familiar with all of them, it probably doesn’t hurt to present a concise list of many of the key events: technical luncheons, lunchbox geophysics talks, SEG/CSEG Distinguished Lecture short courses and talks, CSEG convention courses, DoodleTrain courses, occasional ad hoc workshops on hot topics, and university geophysical field school poster presentations. Speaking of workshops, there is one coming up in June (I’m not able to divulge details yet), and we can never have enough of them. But to be successful, these things invariably need a champion., so if you have any good workshop ideas and are willing to put some time into leading the charge, please drop me a line.
Although you may have been well aware of all these continuing education mechanisms, I would wager that you’re probably unaware of the tireless efforts of some back-room heroes who make it all happen. The devil’s in the logistics for so many of these events, and every time you walk away from one of them, if you are not spending a great deal of time thinking about items like the room bookings or the choice of background on the rolling slides or the colour of the speaker thank-you gifts at the monthly technical luncheons or the refreshments at the lunchbox talks, etc., etc., it’s because these people are executing their jobs to perfection. I would name them all but for fear I’ll forget one of them. Still, you know who you are, and I’m deeply grateful for all your hard work.
Well, I promised myself that I wouldn’t let this stream-ofconsciousness babble flow beyond the half-way point of my flight. Let me close by saying that I love being a part of the CSEG, I will forever be both fascinated and humbled by the complexities of real data, and I will never stop learning. I note with interest that continuing education is somehow interwoven into the fabric of all three of those basic characteristics. If I have a reservation about my upcoming tenure as Director of Educational Services (to begin in April), it’s that I don’t think I’ll be able to hold a candle to John Fernando, the current Director. He’s done a fantastic job of preparing me for my role, and he’s also put a great amount of personal pride and dedication into his job this year. Keep those pencils sharp and those enquiring minds keen, and I hope to see you in “school” at some of these various events!