The RECORDER asked me to write up some answers to the following questions: What is the role of Continuing Education in my organization (which I've taken to mean both CSEG and APEGGA). What does CE mean to me? How does one obtain CPD hours or continuing training? What is its value to the geophysical community?
Here are my own answers and thoughts in reply. They are not necessarily the official position of my employer or the organizations to which I belong.
Personal Experience: My formal academic training at the University of Illinois provided a broad background in math, sciences, with concentration in physics and some geophysics and geology courses. The specific technology and skills of geophysics were learned on the job - initially through field work (in EM, radiometric, electronics) or hands-on application of rule of thumb procedures for operations, processing and interpretation. In my case, the switch from the field (electronics/ airborne survey operator) to seismic processing started with a CGG training program for new hires (half day in-house course, half day on-the job processing). This 1979 program of instruction was organized and presented by Pierre Marechal, P.Geoph., who had planned and carried out the first reflection surveys in the Canadian Arctic in 1965 - and who also passed along the spirit of the adventure and challenges of exploration. As a service company CGG also encouraged participation in CSEG activities, and my enrolment in a well log analysis course by Dresser, and the in the SEG Seismic Acquisition course by Martin Hewitt.
Almost immediately after moving to Dome Petroleum I found myself in Paul Tucker's course on Seismic Pitfalls and Interpretation, along with a structural geology course. The opportunities to take the classic industry courses, often 3 - 5 days in length in association with others within the community continued at Amoco Canada, and later with Veritas Seismic.
Memorable courses included those of Mike Graul (Signal Processing, AVO), Rob Stewart (VSP and 3C), additional field geology courses, core analysis, advanced well log analysis and production testing procedures, and economic geology. My favourite geological field trips were to Devonian outcrops on the Hay River and the Liard River with Ross MacLean and Tim Marchant, to Drumheller with Ray Ramani, the foothills with Clint Tippet, and of course various seismic and VSP field trips. I worked in a three week tour of China's petroleum centres (through the Ministry of Petroleum Industry) with fifteen other SEG geophysicists in the late 80’s – which I financed myself.
Veritas Geoservices, like many other service organizations, had an annual requirement for a minimum number of training hours - ranging from soft skills to technical courses. On the field side, many government safety regulations required mandatory ongoing certification for WHMIS, First Aid, Blasting Certificates, H2S Alive and related training in HSE topics.
Optimal learning from the courses benefited from subsequent access to computers or software for hands-on experimenting with ideas covered in the courses. That could mean running computer models, tweaking analysis parameters, or coding alternate procedures, and then observing the implications for interpretation and planning of exploration programs. Learning was enhanced by researching the related papers in Geophysics, reading textbooks, and by taking related SEG/CSEG courses. One intensive in-house training example along those lines was a two-week combined theory and seismic processing course for newer explorationists given by Dome Petroleum. Brian Russell (and Dan Hampson) presented the theory in the mornings, followed by afternoons working in teams for hands-on processing of data from one of several types of exploration plays. Each team had participants from both processing and exploration backgrounds. At the end of two weeks, each team presented their final data and interpretation. The class observed the progression of analysis decisions through each play type, and the effects on the final data and interpretation.
Continual participation in training along those lines, through society luncheons, conventions, and courses is an essential building block in the development of the geophysical industry (for both service and exploration companies alike). On-the-job learning is leveraged by exposure to University programs, facilities, libraries, and research Consortia. The Geoscience Professional Development Centre at the University of Calgary (GPDC) may offer advanced courses for the industry geoscientists, along with the wide variety of courses offered by both local and international experts during the CSEG DoodleTraining week.
As CSEG's Director of Educational Services for 2003-2004, the fostering of CSEG's programs for Continuing Education and Professional Development became an obligation – with a primary responsibility to organize the Technical Luncheons. Interestingly, the CSEG was formed in 1950, in the exciting expansion of seismic exploration after the 1947 discoveries at Leduc. The CSEG Mandate and the Code of Ethics recognise the importance of advancing the science through exchange of general concepts and information within the industry, resulting in promotion of the science - while maintaining confidentiality as required by clients and employers. If you've not read those documents lately, the following quotes (especially number eight) may be worth reviewing in the light of continuing education:
The Mandate of the Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists is to promote the science of geophysics, especially as it applies to exploration, and to promote fellowship and co-operation among those persons interested in geophysical prospecting.
The CSEG Code of Ethics: Membership of any class shall be contingent upon conformance with the established principles of business ethics. As an elaboration of these established principles of business ethics, the following Code of Ethics is enunciated. In order to maintain the dignity of your chosen discipline, it shall be every member's duty to:
- Conduct your activity in the spirit of fidelity to clients and employers, fairness to employees and contractors within the context of personal honour.
- Treat as confidential your knowledge of the business affairs, geophysical or geological information, or technical processes of clients or employers when their interests require secrecy.
- Inform a client or employer of any business connections, interests, or affiliations, which might influence your judgement or impair the disinterested quality of your services.
- Accept financial or other compensation for a particular service from one source only, except with the full knowledge and consent of all interested parties.
- Refrain from associating yourself with, or knowingly to allow the use of your name by, an enterprise of questionable character.
- Advertise only in a manner consistent with the dignity of the Society, to refrain from using any improper or questionable methods of soliciting work and to decline to pay or to accept compensation for work secured by such improper or questionable methods.
- Refrain from using unfair means to win advancement and to avoid injuring unfairly or maliciously, directly or indirectly, another member's reputation, business, or chances of employment.
- Co-operate in encouraging and sustaining the geophysical community network by the interchange of general information and experience with your fellow members and with students and also with contributions to the work of technical societies, schools of applied science and the technical press.
- Interest yourself in the public welfare and to be ready to apply your special knowledge, skill, experience and training on the public's behalf for the benefit of humankind.
For almost fifty-four years, a long train of CSEG volunteers on the Executive and other Committees have organized events that enabled the society to share the insights, discoveries, and stories behind the advancements of geophysics. These teachers were innovators from the industry, professors, visitors, and the rare but ever-popular interpreters and explorationists who were able to share their case histories with the rest of us. They were speakers at the CSEG Technical Luncheons and Conventions, authors in the Journal and the Recorder, and instructors at CSEG hosted courses (epitomized by the DoodleTrain). They both enabled and encouraged the technological advances and innovation within Canadian geophysics - in many cases leading to additional discoveries. The participants, and their employers alike, valued these educational opportunities.
Within the CSEG opportunities for Continuing Education are provided through:
- CSEG Technical Luncheons. These are organized by the Director of Educational Services – previously called the Second VP, and currently attended by about 350-600 each month, including 22 sponsored tickets for students. Web casts of many recent talks are available on-line for those outside Calgary thanks to the support of the Website Editor, Satinder Chopra, and the financial sponsors for many of the webcasts. These run in Windows applications environment on my PC in the office, and at home - though they may not run in a strictly UNIX environment. The Lunchbox Geophysics talks, organized by volunteers since 2003, have attracted 30-50 people per talk.
- The CSEG RECORDER – The RECORDER articles from 1998- 2004, and the CSEG Journal from 1965-1998 are also available in PDF's from the CSEG website. Many of these articles are searchable and cross-listed with SEG searches.
- The CSEG Annual Convention – composed of both technical talks and exhibits. Abstracts from 2000 onwards can be downloaded from the CSEG website.
- The CSEG DoodleTrain (with over 440 students in 23 courses in 2004). This program was initiated in 2002 and organized by the dedicated volunteers of CSEG Continuing Education Committee, Chaired by Bill Nickerson. University students participate as volunteers for the courses, instructors are from universities and the industry, and venues and course participation are primarily sponsored by the industry. This has proved to be a very popular model for planning these courses, and for evaluating courses to bring inhouse.
- Participation with other societies (including AAPG, APEGGA, CAGC, CSPG, and SEG) – programs include Distinguished Lectures and Short Courses, interchange of articles, and participations on Committees. CSEG supported the start-up of the GPDC at the University of Calgary.
- Honorary Address – promotes interest in science and education for the general public, family, and school students. In 2004 “Volcanoes of the Deep Sea” attracted almost 1900 for the evening presentation, and 2300 students in the afternoon.
- Within APEGGA there are both requirements and opportunities for Continuing Education. A professional geophysicist is required to maintain a running total of 240 Professional Development Hours (PDHs) over 3 years and is encouraged to achieve at least 80 hours per year
Continued development of management and interpersonal skills (in conjunction with technical competence) are essential components of the profession and are counted toward those hours. As an important benefit to members within all the disciplines, the Association organizes several cost-effective soft-skill or management courses as Professional Development Days, Conferences, or PD Evenings, in Calgary, Edmonton, and at several other Branches across the province. These soft skill courses are especially handy for individuals or employees of smaller companies without other access to similar training. The interaction with colleagues from a wide range of disciplines during the courses, with discussion of common challenges and changes in regulatory requirements, are quite beneficial.
To maintain their appropriate technical training, APEGGA members are encouraged to join and participate in a technical society (like the CSEG) that is dedicated to their field of practice. Members can claim APEGGA PDH credits by taking CSEG or other society technical courses, attending Luncheons and Conventions, self study of technical articles, writing or reviewing papers or patents, and by participating on Committees within CSEG, APEGGA or other societies.
Categories of Professional Development Hours for APEGGA credit include the following classifications:
- Professional Practice (One PDH is earned for each 15 hours of the practice of geophysics) - to a maximum of 50 hours.
Note: The definition of “practice of geophysics” as per the Engineering, Geological, and Geophysical Professions Act means:
(i) reporting on, advising on, acquiring, processing, evaluating or interpreting geophysical data, or geophysical surveying that relates to any activity
(a) that is aimed at the discovery or development of oil, natural gas, coal, metallic or non-metallic minerals or precious stones or other natural resources or water or that is aimed at the investigation of sub-surface conditions in the earth, and
(b) that requires in that reporting, advising, evaluating, interpreting, or geophysical surveying, the professional application of the principles of the geophysical sciences, or
(ii) teaching geophysics at a university;
- Formal Activity (University or industry courses and seminars – of over a half day in length): maximum 30 hours.
- Informal Activity (Luncheons, Seminars and Courses under a half day in length, and self directed study): maximum 30 hours.
- Participation (Serving on Committees, Boards, Meetings, or similar service to the technical or public community): maximum 20 hours.
- Presentations – (outside normal job functions, at technical conferences and the like): maximum 20 hours
- Advancement of Knowledge – (Publication or reviewing of articles, programs, codes, and patents): maximum 30 hours.
Holders of APEGGA Permits to Practice Geophysics (which includes most employers of geophysicists) have an obligation to ensure their employees maintain and improve their skills, generally resulting in employer sponsorship for participation in these events or courses. Starting in 2003 the responsible member(s) for each Permit Holder was obligated by the Alberta government to attend a seminar every five years, which outlines their responsibilities, including updates on regulations. A CD is under development for delivery of the seminar material to those outside the major centres. Regulations now also require Responsible Members, in conjunction with the approval of the COO, to prepare a mandatory Professional Practice Management Plan – to ensure the practice of geophysics is handled according to obligations under the Act.
The Annual APEGGA Conference is also an opportunity to attend seminars involving several disciplines and overviews or background in developing technologies. The April 2004 APEGGA Conference in Edmonton contained sessions on Coal Bed Methane, Climate Change, Nanotechnology, Geomatics, and the Oil Sands. (See write-up in the November 2004 RECORDER by Tom Sneddon, P.Geol., who reported on the Conference from a geoscientist's perspective). For the 2005 APEGGA Conference in Calgary (April 21-22), several geophysicists are organizing a symposium on permafrost geophysics related to the exploration for hydrocarbons in the Arctic. They expect CSEG members will be interested in this forum – which is open to members and non-members alike.
For the future, each society strives to mentor and provide training for students and those entering the industry. Societies and companies provide Scholarships and Outreach programs for elementary, high school, and university students and for the general public. There are opportunities for career mentoring within the APEGGA Mentoring program, which started in April 2004 – and a second phase, in fall 2004, to provide guidance to those looking for employment opportunities within the profession.
There is a lot left to learn and discover. The future will be fun.