Making sense and synergy

Student Expos See Exponential Growth

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

Martha Lou Broussard
Martha Lou Broussard
It made sense.

You bring together members of the industry, academia, students and, of course, AAPG, in hopes of ensuring a brighter, more secure future for the profession.

That was the plan and the philosophy behind the AAPG-SEG Student Expo.

And it worked.

AAPG Honorary member Martha Lou Broussard, presently the alumni coordinator at Rice University, saw that vision back in 1998, when she was on AAPG’s Executive Committee. Along with others, she had an idea of an exposition specifically designed for students, where they could gather on an annual basis and meet others in the industry – especially recruiters.

The synergy was one of the goals, but mostly, she said, “We felt like we needed to get to the geology majors early.”

This was important to let them know there was life after graduation. And that meant jobs.

“When we started the first expo, we had 69 students and nine companies,” she said.

And now?

This year’s expos are expected to attract at least 700 students and 33 companies.

“It has grown,” she said, “exponentially.

“Even during slowdowns in the industry, recruiters keep coming, because they like being able to not have to pay to send people all over the country to find good students,” Broussard said.

“They want a backlog of people to hire when things go well,” she added. “We’ve never had a year when we had fewer people or fewer members of the industry.”

Broussard, who has been honored for her work by both AAPG and SEG, said that when you think of the benefits for industry, students and AAPG, “It’s a win-win-win.

“It’s important what we’re doing for the next generation,” she said. “We certainly find jobs for the kids.”

Something of Value

Clearly, AAPG student expos have become valuable benefits for all who participate because, first, students benefit by networking with recruiters, sharing résumés, presenting research papers and interviewing with multiple employers.

Companies, meanwhile, enjoy cost-efficient and timely recruiting from a diverse and talented student population.

Student expos bring students to the companies and companies to the students.

And this last point, Broussard said, is key.

“That was the whole point of the expo,” she said, “to find students at out-of-the-way smaller schools – not in petroleum centers, but places that would never see recruiters, including from New England.”

The size of the events and even a bit of the expo character varies from location to location. The upcoming AAPG/SEG Student Expo in Houston has grown to such large proponents that it is now held at the mammoth George R. Brown Convention Center.

Some of the other expos, especially those out west (see sidebar), are smaller affairs, attracting more local flavor, government bodies and environmental concerns – that, too, is by design.

But all expos have a lot in common: Receptions, field trips, poster sessions (intended to let students showcase their skills and talents) and plenty of networking opportunities – with their peers and with industry representatives.

The students who attend these expos come largely from the AAPG student chapters of the various schools – and that, too, is no accident.

What follows, then, are some thoughts from those attending this year’s student expos – those who have benefitted, those who helped make them work, those who put them on.

University of Oklahoma

“Our AAPG student chapter is incredibly active at OU. They have a mixture of both geologists and geophysicists working together through networking events, community outreach and combined research initiatives.

The chapter also works very closely with our other two student groups – SEG and Pick and Hammer. They are a tremendous asset to the department when it comes to departmental events and recruitment activities.

The officers of the club are the prime example of how we would like the department to be showcased. They often bring in speakers who are in the professional business, and many of them connect with those company representatives for internships while still in school, or for full-time positions once graduated.

Our AAPG/SEG Spring Break Expo will be in its 12th year in 2015, and it’s a unique opportunity for the University of Oklahoma to bring such an important event to our campus. This year, we had 380 student participants from 88 universities attend. With 21 company sponsors, we also had the largest number of abstracts submitted and judged to date – 100. It’s a great event to network with students from around the world and connect with companies that are hiring and want to get their information out to students.

Another note, on the plus side for our university, is that we are able to showcase our campus resources and grounds for potential graduate students, thus bringing in the brightest students.

Devon Harr

Special Events and Donor Relations
ConocoPhillips School of Geology & Geophysics

West Virginia University

Last year was the first year that the ES-AAPG undertook a standalone expo. We coupled that with a student chapter summit – and the turnout was great. I had to cut it off at 90 students because I just did not have the space or companies to interview.

For the Eastern Section the expo is extremely important because of the large number of schools in the ES that are not on the standard schedule for company interviews. School such as Vermont and Georgia, Bowling Green, Smith, Indiana, the University of Pennsylvania and Brooklyn College have geology departments, but do not receive interviewers.

I do not think any section has as many geology departments as the ES. This year we will undertake the student expo at Ohio State University and couple that with a student chapter summit.

Tim Carr

Professor of geology
West Virginia University

University of Wyoming

I started the Rocky Mountain Rendezvous of Geoscience Students and Employers (RMR) in conjunction with the RMS-AAPG section meeting that was held in Laramie in September 2002.

I wanted to return the Job Fair to the Rockies where it started, but the fact that it was doing well in Houston led AAPG to want to keep it there, at the center of the oil patch.

While there are a lot of companies based in Houston – and so a Houston venue is easy for them – it’s the students that have the shallow pockets, and I felt a regional job fair would benefit a lot of students as well as Rockies-based independents, so I went ahead with a job fair.

The early “Rocky Mountain Rendezvous” were annual gatherings organized by a fur trading company at which mountain men could come and sell or trade their goods, replenish their supplies and mingle with one another. Rendezvous were known to be lively, joyous places, where all were allowed.

So, referring to our job fair as the Rocky Mountain Rendezvous (of Geoscience Students and Employers) seemed the perfect title.

The RMS-AAPG Foundation provided financial support. Also at the time about 10 companies (majors and large independents) came to the University of Wyoming to recruit.

I asked each of the recruiters: If we did this job fair, would they support it? And they all said yes.

Since then, support and attendance for the event has grown both in terms of companies and students. We now get students from across the Unites States (and sometimes from Canada). Our goal is to make it the most satisfying experience for both students and recruiters and to have lots of “outside the interview box” face-to-face time so that the stress of the interview experience is minimized (at least for the students).

The idea for the RMR was mine and I’m the official chair, but it could never have been done without the support of the University of Wyoming Department of Geology & Geophysics staff and students. The G&G staff for years gave up nights and weekends to handle the logistics of the RMR.

These are not geoscientists – they are secretaries, IT people, editors, accountants.

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Student Expos

AAPG Student Expos have expanded from a single, small program in the United States to an annual event held in numerous areas around the world.

Student Expo Calendar

The annual Student Expo calendar – including the four upcoming events set in locales across the United States – includes:


University of Oklahoma in Norman, Okla.

Late Spring

In Europe at varying locations.


AAPG/SEG Student Expo, Sept. 8-9 at the George R. Brown Convention Center, Houston.

The last day to register for the event is Aug. 29.

The Rocky Mountain Rendezvous, Sept. 26-29 at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyo.

The AAPG-SEG West Coast Student Expo, Oct. 2-4 at California State University in Northridge, Calif.

The Eastern Section AAPG Student Expo, Nov. 2-4 at the Erickson Alumni Center in Morgantown, W.Va.

Learn more about registration.

West Coast Student Expo Set For October

As one of the newer locations for the AAPG-SEG Student Expo, California State University, Northridge, embodies the new feel, the new energy of such annual events.

“I knew that the expos were important for job-seeking graduate students at CSUN, and so we made an effort to encourage students to go to the ones in Houston and Oklahoma,” said AAPG member Kathleen Marsaglia, professor in the school’s Department of Geological Sciences.

“It just seemed that there was a real need to provide more job opportunities for California students,” she said, “especially those from graduate programs in the California State University System (like CSUN) where companies did not traditionally recruit.”

CSUN is one of 23 general campuses of the California State University system, and its expo was meant to serve not only its students, but students from smaller and larger institutions in the area.

“It provides an introduction to the industry for undergraduate students and taps local graduate talent at UCLA, Cal Tech, USC, UC Santa Barbara, UC Riverside and UC San Diego (Scripps).”

It began with help and encouragement from AAPG and SEG – and training from those who had organized and run the Oklahoma and Houston events.

“It is small and personal,” Marsaglia said of the West Coast event, “and offers a more relaxed expo style that recruiters and students seem to appreciate.”

And this is important, she said, for it mirrors the synchronicity between expositions and student chapters going on throughout the country.

“Our chapter developed along with the expo,” she said. “Its main event is the expo, as the students volunteer and help with every aspect of the event.”

This year’s AAPG-SEG West Coast Student Expo will be held Oct. 2-4.


Emphasis: Geoscience Education