For more than two decades, the bachelor’s program in oil and gas engineering at the University of Calgary was popular with students seeking a career in energy — and maybe a job in one of the office towers downtown.
But after a long downturn in the oilpatch, enrolment at historic lows and the energy landscape changing, the university’s engineering school is suspending admission of new students to the undergraduate program. Existing students will still be able to complete their degree.
“It’s really been a great program for us; it typically used to be a high-demand program,” said Prof. Arin Sen, head of the department of chemical and petroleum engineering. “It wasn’t a decision that we came to lightly.”
The university said it has no plans to abandon oil and gas studies. Sen said there are still various paths for engineering students to pursue careers in oil and gas, including a minor in petroleum engineering or graduate studies among any number of options.
“We’ve had partnerships with that sector for four decades … and we’re going to continue doing that.”
The news comes during a period of change in the broader energy sector, including the growth of renewable technologies, government commitments to slash greenhouse gas emissions and uncertainty about long-term demand for fossil fuels.
In Canada, the oil and gas sector is also trying to emerge from a long downturn that resulted in thousands of layoffs. Meanwhile, energy demand continues to increase worldwide.
The oil and gas engineering undergraduate program at the university’s Schulich School of Engineering was one of several routes students could follow to a career in the petroleum sector, including chemical, mechanical, civil engineering and others.
Typically, about 40 new students would enter the program annually, but it graduated fewer than 10 last year.
The university began a review of the program and — following consultations with students, alumni, faculty and industry — received provincial approval to suspend it.
Sen said oil and gas isn’t going away any time soon, but added it’s also clear people are looking at other forms of energy — not just in Alberta, but globally.
Sen said resources will be allocated to exploring ways to better support students who want to work in the province’s evolving energy industry, including oil and gas.
The energy engineering program, which has an oil and gas component but also exposes students to renewable energy and sustainability, has been an area of growth.
Engineering is not the only department feeling a shift in student interests.
The U of C has also seen a five-year decrease in the number of undergrads with a concentration in petroleum geology, which is offered by the department of geoscience.
But the faculty of science has seen growing interest and demand toward programs like energy science, said spokesperson Gloria Visser-Niven.
The faculty is responding with courses in energy transformation and distribution, mature energy fields like hydroelectricity and nuclear energy, and renewable energy, she said.
It’s also consulting with the engineering school on developing a new energy science minor program with a range of renewable energy courses and research opportunities.
“Energy education continues to evolve in response to global market forces and societal demand for lower carbon energy sources,” Visser-Niven said in an email.
WATCH | Why student interest in petroleum courses is waning:
At Memorial University in St. John’s, N.L., where many engineering graduates have found work in the petroleum industry over the years, there’s also greater interest in renewable energy like solar, wind and tidal power.
“We’re also looking at … focusing a bit more carefully on greener technologies and these sorts of things,” said Dennis Peters, Memorial University’s acting dean of the faculty of engineering and applied science.
“That’s where the world is going and … we’re recognizing the environment we’re in.”
According to PetroLMI, which studies labour force data across the oil and gas sector, the industry is expected to hire a net total of 19,800 people over the next three years.
It forecasts that engineers and geoscientists will make up about seven percent of that number. That includes petroleum, civil, mechanical, mining and chemical engineers.
David Langille, who received a master’s degree in petroleum engineering at the U of C, is the incoming chair of the Society of Petroleum Engineers Canadian Educational Foundation, a group promoting energy literacy that offers scholarships to engineering students.
He said young engineers today are thinking about the future and the energy transition.
“New engineers, aspiring engineers, aspiring geoscientists, are definitely trying to future-proof themselves a little bit more,” Langille said.
“They’re thinking, ‘OK, hey, I’m a petroleum engineer now, but where else am I going to be able to work this in [to] the energy system in the future?”
Amanda Quinn wants a career in energy and sees opportunities across the spectrum.
She’s entering her final year in the U of C’s energy engineering program and is now on an internship at a company working on desalination technology to help provide drinking water.
Quinn, who has two sisters in oil and gas, hopes the conversation about the energy transition becomes less polarized and focused on stereotypes, and more focused on solutions.
“There’s so much more technology that we can develop in the future in regards to harnessing energy,” she said.
Key COVID-19 numbers in the Ottawa area today – CBC.ca
- Ottawa reports three more COVID-19 cases Tuesday.
- No local health authority reports a COVID-19 hospital patient.
- A new outbreak makes up most new cases in the Belleville area.
Today’s Ottawa update
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) reported three more COVID-19 cases Tuesday and no new deaths. It removed two cases from its total, as it’s been doing from time to time as it double-checks its database (often due to residents living in other regions).
There are 42 known active cases in the capital.
Its medical officer of health said last week getting vaccinated and following familiar rules such as masking and distancing can stop COVID-19 from taking hold again.
Numbers to watch
4: The weekly incidence rate, a rolling seven-day total of new COVID-19 cases expressed per 100,000 residents.
0: The number of Ottawa residents being treated for COVID-19 in an Ottawa hospital.
0: The number of COVID-19 patients reported by each of the Ottawa-Gatineau area’s seven health authorities as of noon ET Tuesday. Two of them have yet to report their long weekend numbers.
1.16: The number of people infected by a single COVID-19 case, or R(t). A number under one is a sign the spread is slowing.
0: The number of active COVID-19 outbreaks in Ottawa.
Across the region
There are currently fewer than 100 known active cases in eastern Ontario and western Quebec.
Most local health units are generally reporting an average of a new case or two per day and, in eastern Ontario, have met the province’s fully vaccinated threshold for the next reopening step.
Hastings Prince Edward Public Health reported eight more cases Tuesday in its first update since Friday, six of them linked to an outbreak in Frankford, north of Trenton.
The health unit for the Renfrew County area reported six more cases over the long weekend and in the Kingston area, four more cases.
Ontario is currently under Step 3 of the province’s pandemic reopening plan. All of Quebec is under green zone rules.
Blizzard's President Brack Steps Down – Dark Horizons
J. Allen Brack, president of “Warcraft” and “Overwatch” creator Blizzard Entertainment, is leaving the company “to pursue new opportunities”.
Brack’s exit comes less than two weeks after Activision Blizzard was sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing over the company’s alleged “pervasive frat boy workplace culture.”
In recent days, multiple horrific stories have emerged in the press of explosive allegations by employees who claimed to have been continuously subjected to sexual harassment, psychological harassment and discrimination within the company. A large crowd of more than a thousand employees rallied outside the company’s campus this past week, the incident making headline news around the world.
Brack was named in the lawsuit as being among the company executives who were allegedly aware of the systemic misconduct.
EVP of development Jen Oneal and EVP of platform and technology Mike Ybarra have now been appointed co-leaders of Blizzard. Oneal joined Blizzard in January, Ybarra came onboard from XBOX in 2019. Both have more than three decades of gaming industry experience between them.
A short statement released by the company’s COO Daniel Alegre says: “Both leaders are deeply committed to all of our employees; to the work ahead to ensure Blizzard is the safest, most welcoming workplace possible for women, and people of any gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or background; to upholding and reinforcing our values; and to rebuilding your trust.”
Ontario reports single new COVID-19 case in Ottawa Tuesday – CTV Edmonton
Public Health Ontario is reporting a single new case of COVID-19 in Ottawa Tuesday.
A full, local snapshot from Ottawa Public Health is due this afternoon. Daily case counts from OPH often differ from those provided by Public Health Ontario because the two health agencies pull data for their respective daily snapshot reports at different times of the day.
Across the province, Public Health Ontario added 164 new infections on Tuesday and said one more Ontarian had died due to COVID-19. Another 151 cases are now considered resolved.
There was no formal update on the holiday Monday, but the province released the figures Tuesday, reporting an additional 168 new cases and another new death.
Across eastern Ontario, provincial health officials added five additional cases in the last two days.
COVID-19 VACCINES IN OTTAWA
Ottawa Public Health updates vaccine numbers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. As of Monday:
- Ottawa residents with 1 dose (12+): 767,352
- Ottawa residents with 2 doses (12+): 661,965
- Share of population 12 and older with at least one dose: 83 per cent
- Share of population 12 and older fully vaccinated: 72 per cent
- Total doses received in Ottawa*: 1,333,790
**Total doses received does not include doses shipped to pharmacies and primary care clinics, but statistics on Ottawa residents with one or two doses includes anyone with an Ottawa postal code who was vaccinated anywhere in Ontario.
CASES OF COVID-19 AROUND THE REGION
- Eastern Ontario Health Unit: One new case Monday, zero new cases Tuesday
- Hastings Prince Edward Public Health: Zero new cases Monday, two new cases Tuesday
- Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington Public Health: One new case Monday, zero new cases Tuesday
- Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit: Zero new cases Monday, one new case Tuesday
- Renfrew County and District Health Unit: Zero new cases Monday and Tuesday
This story will be updated. CTV News Ottawa will have the latest as it becomes available.
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