Everything was set for AAPG, EAGE and the Society of Exploration Geophysicists to hold the 14th Middle East Geosciences Conference and Exhibition in March 2020 in Manama, Bahrain.
Like other organizers, the Young Professional and Student Committee worked hard to implement a rich and interactive week-long program for students and young professionals of various international institutions and organizations. The Committee, composed of YPs representing the three technical geoscience societies and from several companies and sponsors in the region, detailed an entire program under the financial sponsorship of Saudi Aramco’s Exploration Organization.
What Was To Be
While working for the better part of 2019, the Committee focused on delivering a uniquely versatile program ranging in technical sessions, core workshops, resume writing courses, student competitions (AAPG IBA/EAGE Geo Quiz/SEG challenge bowl), a treasure hunt, and a geologic field trip. Alongside the program’s technical richness, another key aspect was development of networking skills.
“One of the core elements of any successful conference is networking and the exchange of ideas” said Committee member Othman Matar. “Many long-lasting relationships are forged during these conferences and the Young Professional and Student Committee ensured that each of our events did just that.” This was especially highlighted in the Meet-and-Greet event dedicated to network, discuss, and establish mentorship opportunities.
The program was set to receive 200 middle and high school students and 90 university students from prominent institutions in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Oman. Additionally, as a collaborative initiative with King Abdulaziz University, the program planned to inaugurate the first-ever pop-up museum of minerals and rocks from Saudi Arabia. The last day of the program planned to host a day-long Energy Education session for more than 100 teachers from the Kingdom of Bahrain. Facilitated by YPs, the session would have focused on utilizing everyday materials available in any household to understand and teach scientific oil and gas concepts via experiments.
A Setback Becomes an Opportunity
Well, it would have been, had it happened. What I am about to report is all too familiar to everyone.
Two weeks before the conference date, the pandemic was emerging as a serious concern, consequently postponing the conference to October 2021.
In a world of cancelled everything and seemingly long postponements, the Committee faced many challenges, yet capitalized on rare opportunities to reach out much farther than they had originally planned. As the dust was settling into a new and safer virtual existence, the Committee launched more learning outlets for students and YPs, including the flavor-of-the-day technical webinars.
In addition, they are eager for the soon-to-be-launched Wiki Challenge Write-Off: a student and YP write-off competition promoting research in oil and gas-related technical content for further incorporation in the AAPG Wiki page.
“The AAPG Wiki Challenge is one of the very special efforts done by the Committee. Not only does it help develop the participants’ technical knowledge, but it has immediate substantial results that would go on to serve the entire petroleum geoscience community for years on end,” explained Committee member Dana AlJishi
For details on the Wiki Challenge, stay posted on AAPG Middle East and GEO’s social media accounts.
Even within uncertain times, it was certain the Committee would make the most for students and YPs. Committee member Julian Chenin commended the team’s ongoing momentum.
“At the beginning, I was shocked and frustrated when I heard about the postponement of GEO, but with the team’s spirit I realized we just started an unstoppable rocket” he said. “Pushing the limits and experiencing new challenges is what makes us stand strong.”
With tremendous effort and outstanding volunteerism, the Committee further pushed the advancement of knowledge during these unprecedented times. While managing many virtual events and competitions, they look forward to and are still committed to drive the main event to success in October 2021.