Students explore the ConocoPhillips Chocolate Reservoir,
searching for whipped cream (gas) and raspberry filling
BY HEATHER FRANTZ
Public Relations Coordinator
What do you want to be when you grow up? It's a question students
heardaily. Thanks to the enthusiasm of a group of dedicated
female professionals, some female students in Calgary may
now have an answer.
On May 8, 80 Grade 8 girls from various Calgary schools participated
in the 13th annual Operation Minerva job shadowing day. Operation
Minerva, a project of the Alberta Women's Science Network,
encourages young women to follow career paths in science and
technology by showing the wide range of opportunities available
to them. Through meeting with positive female role models,
the students are encouraged about what they can accomplish
when they enter the workplace.
Host organizations for the day included the University of
Calgary's Faculty of Engineering, Science Alberta Foundation,
the Calgary Health Region and various oil and gas companies.
At each location, visiting students were given a unique look
at some of the careers women are excelling in.
At Landmark Graphics, 12 students played The Oil Game. This
game has each student taking on the role of a geologist, a
geophysicist, a land negotiator, an economist or a drilling
engineer. They work together to discover how oil and gas is
found and produced, while ensuring success for their company.
Teams receive feedback from mentors playing the role of exploration
Darcy Cuthill, The Oil Game's inventor, says about 40 schools
across Canada currently use the game. Taking part in the game
gives students "a holistic view of the oil and gas exploration
process," says Ms. Cuthill.
At ConocoPhillips, 12 girls visited different professionals
to see the variety of positions that are part of the daily
operations of an oil and gas company. At lunch, they took
part drilling in the Chocolate Ridge Reservoir.
Gina Wozney, P.Eng., provided the girls with a chocolate cake
to "explore." The chocolate represented water, whipped
cream represented gas, and raspberry filling was the oil.
The students even had to dodge moose and trees to simulate
the environmental factors, which must be considered during
a real exploration.
The mentors involved in Operation Minerva take part because
they realize how important positive influences are on young
girls as they make the important decisions of what areas of
study to pursue in university. Many of the professionals made
their choices because of valuable guidance they received during
Helen Chang, P.Eng., chairman of the Canadian Section of the
Society of Petroleum Engineers and one of the mentors taking
part at Landmark Graphics, says: "I probably wouldn't
be here if I didn't have a mentor back then."
One of the mentors at ConocoPhillips, facilities engineer
Christine Wielezynski, E.I.T., was involved in Operation Minerva
as a Grade 8 student. She is currently a committee member
with the program and truly believes it can make a difference
for young girls. "Often young people have ambitions and
goals, but not the resources or people available to help achieve
them," says Ms. Wielezynski.
Joyce Luethy, one of the founders of Operation Minerva, says
the project involves girls aged 13-15 because it's a critical
point for ensuring they remain interested in math and science.
"We were always delighted with the enthusiasm of grade
7 female students for science and to a lesser extent mathematics.
In Grade 8 we remarked a distancing from science and mathematics
in the same female students," explains Ms. Luethy.
"Another of our concerns was that at age 14-15, adolescents
have to make decisions about their courses for the next three
years. In many cases they were advised in choosing these courses
by counselors who, for the most part, had little knowledge
of what kinds of jobs are available in science and technology."
It is obvious that both the students and the mentors enjoyed
their time together on this special day. The mentors realize
the important role they play in providing a positive female
influence on the potential scientists of the future. The students
are excited to see the incredible accomplishments women are
presently making in the workforce and the wide range of opportunities
that will be available to them in the future.
"It's an opportunity to get excited about what I do and
hopefully get other people excited about what I do,"
says Gina Wozney, P.Eng., production engineer with ConocoPhillips.
Duri Lee is a student from AE Cross Junior High School who
took part in activities at ConocoPhillips. She says she would
definitely recommend Operation Minerva to other students.
"It's a great experience. You get to meet great people
and they teach you a lot of things you wouldn't learn if you
didn't take this program."
Alberta Women's Science Network