Program, Big Crowds Make Milan a Winner

A strong technical program plus an historically inspiring setting helped make the 2011 International Conference and Exhibition a world-class winner, attracting attendees from around the globe.

Attendance for the October event in Milan, Italy – the first ICE ever held in that country – totaled 1,989, making it the fifth largest ICE in AAPG history, trailing only the meetings in Perth (2,626), Calgary (2,281) and Rio de Janeiro (2,214 and 2,146).

The theme was “Following Da Vinci’s Footsteps to Future Energy Resources: Innovations From Outcrops to Assets,” and adding to the onsite excitement was not only an embrace of creative thought but also the element of diversity – attendees came from 70 countries, with the top 10 countries being:

  • United States (418)
  • Italy (406)
  • United Kingdom (298)
  • Norway (91)
  • France (65)
  • Netherlands (62)
  • Germany (60)
  • Brazil/Canada (53)
  • Australia (47)
  • Indonesia (40)

“Judging by the unsolicited feedback received from the delegates, the ICE was a tremendous success,” said ICE general chair Jonathan Craig. “The whole event ran remarkably smoothly – although the rain did cause a few problems with transport on one of the days. But I would claim that this was one of the few things that really was beyond our control!

For Craig, the meeting started with a roar and didn’t stop.

“Seeing the halls fill up for both the opening ceremony and the first plenary session on the Monday morning was a favorite memory for me,” he said, “because this was when I first realized that the 2011 ICE might just be a success!

“Actually, I don’t recall ever seeing so many people at an ICE opening ceremony – the hall was full,” he said, “and for the plenary session it was overflowing!

The conference featured 280 oral presentations and 200 poster sessions; short courses and field trips that took advantage of Milan’s location near geologic playgrounds like those found throughout the Dolomites; an International Pavilion that boasted representatives from 15 countries; and 76 exhibitors who showcased the latest in exploration technologies, services and opportunities.

Several of the technical sessions attracted standing-room-only crowds, confirming what organizers called a specific attempt to craft a technical program that covered “all the hot topics of petroleum geology.”

“For me personally, the highlights were the overall consistently high standard of the technical program and probably specifically the opening ‘Following in the Footsteps of Leonardo da Vinci’ plenary session on the Monday morning, which gave the conference just the right thought-provoking start it needed,” Craig said.

“That, and the special lecture by professor Emiliano Mutti at the close of the Monday technical program both were quite superb and truly memorable events,” Craig said.

“I think the quality of the insights provided by the executives in the two panel sessions – the technology and business forums – was also exceptional,” he continued, “and it was refreshing to see them really thinking about the issues rather than, as can sometimes happen in these events, giving standard corporate presentations.”

Craig, like others, noted the technical program’s diversity.

“What struck me particularly was the vast range of different topics that were covered in depth in the various technical sessions – from both industry and academia,” he said. “I would like to think that with his ‘constantly enquiring mind,’ Leonardo Da Vinci might have been quite impressed with the breadth of the scientific thought that was on show!

“I also was struck by the high level of integration between academia and industry in the papers presented at the ICE,” Craig observed. “Many of the papers were jointly authored by geoscientists from industry and from universities and academic institutes – it gives me real hope that we are beginning to develop true integration between the studies being carried out by both communities, to the undoubted benefit of both.”

A selection of comments received from those who attended the conference “really say it all,” Craig added.

Those comments include:

  • “I am writing to thank and congratulate you on a brilliant conference.”
  • “I thought the whole event was a tremendous success and very classy.”
  • “The technical sessions were packed full of good, interesting and superbly delivered content – of a standard that I have never experienced in a previous AAPG. I also thought the luncheons and other social events that I attended were excellent. All in all a great time was had.”
  • “I am sure you have already heard it from many people, but I just wanted to congratulate you on a very successful AAPG meeting. It’s the best one I’ve been to in years! Everything went very smoothly and the technical program was superb! Thank you!”
  • “It was a pleasure to participate. The meeting achieved a high technical level and it was a success in the great city of Milano. Both oral and poster sections were very well attended and the exchange of ideas was stimulating. The special plenary sessions were very good and a plus to the meeting.”
  • “It is clear we have established a very high standard for papers and presentations when in Milan. I believe I can speak for others too we have had a great time in Milan.”
  • “I very much enjoyed the meeting – it was good for both business and science. I can’t begin to imagine the organizational effort involved – so as a presenter, an attendee and as an exhibitor, sincere thanks.”

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... And The Travel Stories Were Exciting, Too

ICE attendees from the United States thought they had left the “ice” behind in Milan, but a freak early autumn storm that produced record snowfall in the eastern United States made for adventurous return travel from the ICE.

As an example, for Houston geologists Craig Dingler (with his wife Mary Kae) and Gretchen Gillis, it meant diversion from the Newark (N.J.) airport to hours on the tarmac in Syracuse, N.Y., until it was possible to land at Newark airport, clear customs and attempt to re-book missed connections to Houston. The Dinglers were able to secure the last airport hotel room and a flight the next day.

Gillis arrived at her hotel to discover it had no electricity, so she returned to the airport for a night on the floor with many stranded travelers before leaving early the next day.

Her advice? “No matter where you travel, you might find yourself somewhere rainy or snowy, so choose sensible footwear, bring plenty of cash and make sure you have whatever you need to survive on a hard floor for a night or two!”

Memories of an excellent conference and world-class networking outweighed the travel inconveniences, she said.

Even with the delays, the Houston group probably had a briefer journey than the 16 student chapter members from Bucharest, Romania, who drove to Milan in four cars – a total of 2,000 kilometers and two days each way.

All, no doubt, had memorable travels.

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