SIFT 2024 Wrap-Up

CEGA’s 47th annual Student Industry Field Trip (SIFT) was a success, thanks to an incredibly supportive Canadian Energy Industry and a wonderful team of lecturers and volunteers. We are proud to be a part of the SIFT legacy; since its inception in 1977, SIFT has brought over 1,600 Canadian undergraduate geoscientists to Calgary for a two-week intensive course on the energy industry. From its humble beginnings in the late 1970s to its status as a cornerstone program in bridging academia and industry, SIFT continues to evolve, adapt, and inspire.

Evolution of SIFT:

In the wake of the 1973 energy price spike, there was a growing realization that while academic fundamentals were strong, few students understood the geology of the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin or how petroleum systems worked. Through a visionary idea by Bill Ayrton of Amoco, SIFT emerged as a response to bridge the national gap between the petroleum industry and academia while bringing top talent to Calgary. Thus, the concept of an immersive geoscience student field trip to Calgary, coupled with educational sessions and industry exposure, took shape.

Over the decades, SIFT has undergone significant transformations. What began as a modest four-day excursion has transformed into a comprehensive two-week program. The itinerary includes a diverse array of geologic experiences, including technical presentations, workshops at the AER Core Research Centre, a four-day Rocky Mountain transect, Dinosaur Provincial Park, Geothermal Morning, a job program, and hands-on activities including the Petroleum Exploration Game. Throughout SIFT, the Exploration Game allows students to use their newly acquired petroleum geoscience skills to work as a team to buy land, drill wells, and use the wireline log data to create cross-sections and maps to develop and test play concepts which culminate with a presentation to a panel of industry judges.

SIFT 2024 Highlights:

This year, SIFT ran from April 28th to May 11th. We welcomed 24 3rd year undergraduate geoscience students from 19 universities across Canada. To keep the program competitive, six students were selected from Western, Central, and Eastern Canada in addition to six wild cards. Candidates were selected based on academic merit, involvement in geoscience activities, and interest in learning about and/or a career in the Canadian Energy Industry. These participants brought a rich diversity of perspectives and experiences to the table.

While many students arrive in Calgary with minimal knowledge of the Canadian Energy Industry, they leave the program with new perspectives and pride in our nation’s abundant hydrocarbon resources and world-class environmental stewardship.

As the students worked through the exploration game, they refined their newly acquired prospecting skills. The final winner of the Bill Aryton Technical Award and the Larry Strong Business Award was the Rock Soft Solutions team. Comprising Benjamin Allard-Robitaille from Laval University, Neven Hewitt from Dalhousie University, Holly McNeill from McMaster University, and Kayla Sanderson from the University of Victoria; this team demonstrated exemplary teamwork, innovation, and problem-solving skills throughout the program.

This year we had 6 students (25%) remain in Calgary to work at energy companies for the summer. Additionally, the program’s yearly success is increasing as 6 students from SIFT 2023 have returned to Calgary for full-time or second summer internships. The energy industry is searching for young talent and SIFT continues to provide keen students with opportunities to build a career in the industry.

We thank the CSPG Foundation and 24 generous corporate sponsors who invested in the next generation of Canadian geoscientists. Thank you to over 40 professionals who donated their time to lead seminars, give talks, and take the students in the field. None of this would have been possible without the help of the nearly 30 volunteers on the SIFT committee who helped to organize and plan this event. A special thanks to all the staff at the CEGA office, who help coordinate and ensure the program’s success.

Looking Ahead:

With the 50th anniversary of SIFT on the horizon in 2027, there’s no doubt that SIFT will continue to serve as a flagship activity within the CEGA organization. While the industry landscape may evolve and technologies may advance, the core ethos of SIFT—education, collaboration, and passion for exploration—still is unwavering.

Thank you,

Zach Toews and Samantha Mackie

SIFT 2024 Co-Chairs

“SIFT was an amazing experience for me. I was able to learn more about the Canadian Energy Industry than I ever would have in my university’s geology program, and I really appreciated the opportunity to learn from industry professionals. All of the lectures were very informative, and the workshops and exploration game were great ways to put the knowledge learned in the lectures to use in a practical setting. Learning about geological processes in the Rocky Mountains and the Alberta Badlands, and then actually going to see what they looked like in the field was a unique experience, and I’m very grateful to have had this opportunity.”- Wednesday Gillespie SIFT2024 Participant

“SIFT opened my eyes and completely changed my perspective on the Canadian energy industry. Before this trip, I couldn’t have ever imagined working in the industry. I am now excited to pursue a career in the energy sector!” – Calix Webber SIFT2024 Participant

 

“CEGA SIFT was an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. I came into the field trip knowing very little to nothing about Canada’s energy contributions, especially because hard rock is more favorable in some areas of Canada. Being able to simulate working in the oil and gas industry by the exploration game allowed me to gain insight on what it would be like to be a petroleum geologist and work with a team of geologists. The field trips that we went on (Dino day, 4-day, geothermal, erratic’s) allowed me to apply my knowledge from seminars into the field and create interpretations and descriptions about the stratigraphy with the help of professional geologists. The core workshops were very valuable, as we learned about what the rock would look like in certain Formations we learned about interpreting depositional environments. A career in energy geoscience is not far off for me and now with all of the new information I have learned on this trip, I can cater the rest of my undergraduate degree to furthering my knowledge about sedimentology, sequence stratigraphy, and structural geology so that I could become a knowledgeable geoscientist that can contribute to energy production in Canada.” – SIFT2024 Participant

“I came to SIFT as a student from Nova Scotia, where the views on the oil and gas industry are less popular than in Alberta. SIFT made me realize that this is an industry that is lacking education in Eastern Canada, and it gave me a better overall understanding that Canadian oil and gas is important in our country’s economy. Finally, I have gained knowledge in oil and gas and plan on staying in this industry in the future.” – Gracie Avery SIFT2023 Participant

“When I began the SIFT program, I had no prior exposure to the oil and gas industry, but after just two weeks in I felt familiar with a wide range of topics including siliciclastic and carbonate sedimentology, production techniques and operations, and the geology of the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin. SIFT was an excellent way to begin my summer working on an oil sands project where I was able to apply my learnings almost immediately. Beyond the technical development, I was also able to make lasting friendships and develop a network of like-minded geoscientists in a new city. This program is a great way to familiarize yourself with an exciting industry, or to begin your journey as a petroleum geologist.”  – Dylan Sawatzky SIFT2023 Participant