STUDENT CHAPTER & IBA - coordinated by David Contreras
The 1st UK Student Chapter Leadership Meeting
Manchester, 18th - 20th March, 2010
Ben Kilhams - ER UK YP and SC Representative
After travelling to student chapter leadership meetings in Prague and Tulsa it struck me how informative, interesting and exciting these meetings can be. An excellent example of this is the establishment of the joint field programme between Aberdeen, Amsterdam and Lisbon student chapters which was developed through an idea at the 2009 Prague meeting. Two of the most important goals of AAPG are education and networking and these events do exactly that.
The number of student chapters in the UK has been steadily growing over the past ten years with six chapters existing within a few hundred miles of each other. Increased investment in research programmes by the oil and gas industry has also seen a rise in the number of universities where potential new chapters might form. Despite this, there had never been a UK student chapter leadership meeting. It was felt that the level of interest and potential benefits of such a venture would be high enough to submit an application to the European Region for financial support. This was forthcoming and the organisers are very grateful to the committee for backing this idea and to the Manchester chapter for their help with organisation.
The meeting itself was attended by representatives from five established chapters and three potential new chapters. The European Region President David Cook was able to join us for an icebreaker meal and drinks and, even at this early stage, it was clear that the participants were enthusiastic and open to new ideas. The next day a series of presentations were given on many aspects of the AAPG including the student chapter system, the benefits of student membership, the Imperial Barrel Award and how the organisation works at global and regional level. We are grateful to John Lorenz who agreed to film a personal message and to the YouTube project which enabled a full introduction to AAPG to be delivered. A number of chapters then gave presentations in order to share their ideas, experiences and problems which generated a long discussion on continuity, events and membership. The meeting was then rounded up with the agreement of action points for each chapter to complete over the next few months.
To re-iterate the main aim of the meeting was to educate people about the AAPG and allow the chapter leaders to network and create new links and events. So, was the meeting successful? A feedback questionnaire suggests it was, before the meeting 60% of the participants said they knew little or nothing about AAPG, afterwards 100% knew a lot about the organisation. All of the participants suggested that the meeting was useful for their chapter. In the next couple of months three new chapters (Durham, Leeds and Liverpool) should be created which has also enabled the development of intra-UK areas for multiple chapter events (for example Imperial College and Royal Holloway chapters are now planning a joint seminar). It was also possible to discuss ideas to integrate the aims of organisations such as YES (Young Earth Scientists Network) into the remit of the UK chapters. Most importantly, we now have a network of leaders in the UK that know each other and can ask each other for advice.
As with many organisations, the AAPG will no doubt feel the pinch in a global economic downturn. However, it is my hope that events like these (that we hope to be annual or bi-annual) continue to be supported because of the clear benefits for the Student Chapter network and the long term future of the organisation.
I would like to finish by thanking all those that made our first meeting a success and hope you will continue to support our future efforts.