April 23, 2019

Capstone geoscience course encourages student creativity

Science 507 explores emerging technology, entrepreneurial thinking, and disruptive innovation in a changing industry.
Keegan Valerio (BSc student in Geophysics)  demonstrating the two different types of synthetic modeling for P-SV synthetic modeling using sock puppets.
Student Keegan Valerio (geophysics) presents to the "Dragons" panel in capstone course Science 507 Contributed

In 2018, Geoscience alumni Rick Warters and Brian Schulte approached the University of Calgary about a course that would see students work on technical problems currently facing industry. In response, the Faculty of Science created a capstone course with the working name “Emerging Technologies, Entrepreneurial Thinking & Disruptive Innovation in Geoscience” (Science 507). Drs. David Eaton and Mario Costa Sousa created a course that focused on creative, innovative techniques and entrepreneurship. As part of the course, students were asked to identify a technical gap or improvement that industry needed, develop a solution, a proposal, and share their results to a panel of experts.

On April 8, the students presented their work in an afternoon modelled after the popular business pitching show, Dragon’s Den. The students presented their ideas to a panel of industry professionals; their presentations needed to be creative, concise, and include a request for financial support. The Dragons picked by Dr. Eaton and Dr. Sousa were:

  1. Brian Schulte (Geophysical Advisor – Schiefer Reservoir);
  2. Rick Warters (retired Geoscience VP Repsol);
  3. Melanie Popp (Director Engineering Geologic);
  4. Ron Jackson (District Geophysicist Montney CNRL);
  5. Frank Maurer (Associate Dean, Innovation & Strategic Partnerships at University of Calgary).

In each presentation, the students identified areas for opportunity in issues facing industry. Each student's goal was to come up with an idea, outline how they could develop this idea, and finally present their work to a panel of “investors” (Dragons). The Dragons provided feedback and gave recommendations on how the students might continue developing their project.

The hope is that the students continue to develop their project beyond the class, working on their own, or that they continue working on their idea as they continue their education.

"It was great to see what the students had come up with, the ideas that were expressed and the level of the presentations. There were interesting discussions after each presentation," says Brian Schulte, Geophysical Advisor at Schiefer Reservoir Consulting

With the changes in local industry, a course that teaches entrepreneurship, and encourages students to proactively work on real-world issues, can give them a better opportunity to become employed in their field of their study.

Down the road, the team hopes that other companies (service and E&P companies along the entire value chain) will continue to work with this course, and that it will be integrated into a proposed new Geoanalytics stream for students.

Summary of projects

  1. Dynamic Visualization of Pressure Drawdown and Depletion in the Upper Montney Tight Gas Reservoir
    Zahra Esmaeilzadeh (MSc, geophysics) identified the need to be able to analyze the data to generate dynamic maps of drainage, pressure, and gas in place for the Upper Montney. The methodology can be applied to any tight reservoir. The services that were presented was like what could be achieved with working with RS energy, RPS, or Canadian Discovery in reviewing an area for a company to determine if they wish to enter a play or step out from their current operations.
  2. P-Sv synthetic seismograms for a layered medium
    Keegan Valerio (BSc, geophysics) identified the need for software to create P-Sv synthetic seismograms since, to his knowledge, the only software available to do this was Hampson-Russell’s ProMC. Discussions centered on how he could move forward, and it was recommended that he attend the Hackathon in May to meet potential resources to further develop this idea.
  3. Tool for determination of factors controlling geological susceptibility to induced seismicity in the Montney formation (MLseis)
    Paulina Wozniakowska (PhD, geophysics) identified the opportunity to use supervised machine learning to look at the susceptibility of induced seismicity in the Montney formation. It could be done as a service where multiple companies in an area could license the results from this machine learning analysis. This licensed data could be included into an E&P geomodel. In areas identified as being susceptible to induced seismicity further analysis could be done by the E&P company and proactive measures like the use of Distributed Fibre Optic Sensing to measure strain and microseismic and induced seismic arrays could be utilized. It was suggested to work with a company, such as GeoLogic, that has this data available that can be used to run the analysis.
  4. Removal of methane and other fugitive gases from groundwater (RenewE)
    Ben Blondal (BSc, Geology) decided to work on something the industry is trying to address in its quest to lower greenhouse gas emissions. The idea was to capture and remove methane from ground water. Most of the methane going into ground water comes from abandoned wells that are leaking due to deterioration of the cement around the casing. Unfortunately, a lot of these abandoned wells are not close to the electric grid or infrastructure, so the question was left what to do with the captured methane. It was also recommended to work with E&P companies, make the prototype small and modular and to determine a use for the captured methane.