April 2006 ISSUE

Marc Boulet


Another Year Passes and Our Eyes Turn to the Future


University of Calgary
Student Contributor (Geosciences)


“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts…”
— John Wooden

As the 2005-06 academic year winds down, with only final exams standing in the way of a summer of work and relaxation, we’ll take a look back at the some of the academic changes that took place this year. I’ll also give you a sneak peak at some of the exciting new programs that are coming next year.
I sat down with Dr. Ron Spencer, the assistant department head, to discuss educational trends taking place at the university. He said that until the 1970s, geology and geophysics graduates who sought employment in the private sector were expected to have a broad-based knowledge of their field. Their bachelor of science degree was then supplemented by an employer with an extensive training program.

Dr. Phil Currie

Exam time arrives at Alberta’s Universities.

However, in recent years that type of training has become increasingly difficult to find for a new graduate. Instead, students “must be able to hit the ground running,” Dr. Spencer points out.

Specific skills, such as mapping and well-log interpretation, have become highly prized resumé items that enable a graduate to stand out. The university is “adjusting its curriculum to respond to those needs” — and in response to student input.

New Courses
A number of new courses made their entrance into the curriculum last year. The most popular was Geophysics/ Geology 449/649: Introduction to Petro-physical Techniques, with an enrolment of 75 students. This marked the first time that the department has provided a full-fledged well-log interpretation course suited to the needs of industry.

This combination undergraduate/graduate course also dealt with topics such as vertical seismic profiles, synthetic seismograms, and amplitude-versus-offset techniques.

Another welcome addition was the institution of a number of three-week modules covering diverse aspects of petroleum geology. They allow a student the ability to pick and choose courses based on specific interests, and include

GLGY593.01 Stratigraphy and Sedimentation in Petroleum Reservoirs
GLGY589.01 Aqueous Fluids
GLGY589.02 Petroleum Fluids
GLGY593.02 Stratigraphy and Sedimentation of Clastic Rocks
GLGY593.03 Stratigraphy and Sedimentation of Carbonate Rocks
GLGY589.03 Subsurface Mapping
GLGY589.04 Hydrocarbon Play Assessment
GLGY589.05 Evaluation of Hydrocarbon Reserves
GLGY589.06 Professional Practice for Geoscientists
GLGY595.01 Core Examination.

These “decimalized” courses provide future growth potential within the program, enabling students to have greater flexibility to customize their education.

New Year With Character
The 2006-07 academic year has some very exciting developments in store for geoscience students. The university has instituted a new bachelor of science degree with a concentration in petroleum geology. This degree, ideally suited for those who wish to work in the energy industry, will focus on petroleum geology, geophysics and petroleum engineering.

Also, after seven years in the making, the Department of Geology and Geophysics has partnered with the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering to offer a course-based master’s degree in reservoir characterization, with an equal uptake of geology, geophysics and engineering students. The program integrates reservoir engineering, geology, geophysics and reservoir characterization.
Cross-trained graduates will have the expertise to work on multidisciplinary teams to address the diverse challenges involved in the exploration, development and production of petroleum resources. This two-year program is accepting applicants until May 31 for the 2006-07 academic year.

These new trends have made it an exciting time to be a geo-science student at the U of C. It’s never too late to learn something new!