Before I begin I would like to introduce myself. I am 22 years old and I have just started the first year of a two-year Exploration Information Technology diploma program at SAIT (Geoscience Technology). Although I have just started the program, I will do my best to discuss how I found myself at SAIT and my impressions so far.
As the son of two Geoscientists, you would think that my path to a career in geoscience would unfold naturally but there have been a few detours. I graduated from high school in 2008 and, facing the question that all 18 year olds must face – “What do I want to do with the rest of my life” – I did what any uncertain young adult would do. I took a year off. I volunteered at the TELUS World of Science Calgary and took Computer Drafting courses through SAIT Distance Education. This was my first exposure to SAIT.
In 2009, with an extra year of decision making under my belt, I began what would prove to be a short career of Electrical Engineering at the University of Alberta. Talk about culture shock. I was overwhelmed. Large class sizes, heavy course loads, and extremely theory-based classes took their toll and after a year and a half I decided that engineering wasn’t for me. “What do I do now?” I asked myself. “I’ve always had a passion for computers. Why not do computer programming?” I thought. After my brief venture into engineering, I decided to try a different approach to my education – computer programming courses online through Athabasca University. Being able to work at my own pace, with complete independence, what could go wrong? However, after another year and a half, I was again struck with the thought that “I can’t see myself doing this for the rest of my life; this isn’t what I want to do.”
This past March, I decided I needed another change. Fortunately for me it was also around this time that SAIT was holding an Open House. I was able to spend the day talking to representatives from different programs, exposing myself to many options. Everyone I met at SAIT that day was extremely helpful, but the ones from the Exploration Information Technology program were the most informative and supportive. They took the time to discuss the program with me, giving me an objective look into the opportunities that lay ahead, and I didn’t feel pressure to pick their program. Being a couple of years wiser than my 18 year old self, it only took me a day, not a year, to decide that the Exploration Information Technology program was right for me. So why did I choose the Exploration Information Technology program at SAIT? The instructors, the small class size, the handson practical learning, and most importantly, the material finally interested me.
Having only been in class for a couple of weeks, my experience so far has been extremely positive. A full course load in the first semester covers a broad range of topics: Calculus, technical communications, computer fundamentals, Geology, and Geophysics. Obviously the favourites so far are geology and geophysics! There are about 30 students in the program, making for a very comfortable and intimate learning environment. Already in just a few short weeks, I feel confident in saying that my peers are more than just peers – they’re friends. Just as my peers are more than just my peers, my instructors are more than instructors; they’re also mentors. They truly want us to succeed and have made it clear that they will help us any way they can. Such a strong support group fosters an extremely positive and encouraging learning environment.
Another positive aspect of the program is the flexibility to attend relevant field trips, such as Seismic in Motion. On Wednesday October 2nd, our class will head out to Waiparous to spend the day in the field at a showcase of a wide variety of activities encompassing seismic acquisition including some of the industries’ newest technologies. The opportunity to be exposed to different aspects of the industry is one that I expect will be extremely eye-opening as well as beneficial.
I would like to thank John Fernando, my Geophysics instructor at SAIT, for giving me the opportunity to write this article. I would also like to thank the CSEG Foundation. Two people from Outreach and Scholarships, Alexandria Shrake and Marc Boulet, have already come to speak to our class about the benefits of joining the CSEG. They have extended their support as well as informed us about student initiatives and scholarships.
I look forward to learning, meeting new people, and exploring everything that this exciting career path has to offer.