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Engineering goes beyond campus borders, with Shell Canada funding

A decade later, over 1,200 students have gained hands-on experiences through Shell Experiential Energy Learning Program

Gillian Edwards
Mariya Shtil and Shaamir Haneef attended the Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference in Quebec City through the SEEL Program.

Learning can’t happen in a vacuum. Often, the best way to remember something or to understand a concept is to experience it first-hand, to participate or observe something in action. For nearly 1,200 students over the last decade, the Shell Experiential Energy Learning (SEEL) Program has provided opportunities for exactly that — learning that occurs outside the classroom and out in the community.

This year, more than 200 students benefited directly from the SEEL program for field trips, conferences, special projects, and other activities focused on sustainable energy, environment and economy. The program puts an emphasis on interdisciplinary and collaborative initiatives, where undergraduate students in the faculties of Arts, Environmental Design, Science, Law, the Haskayne School of Business and the Schulich School of Engineering can get hands-on experience outside the classroom.

On Dec. 7, representatives from Shell Canada were invited to a luncheon to recognize their support of the SEEL program and hear from students who participated in activities that were funded in part by grants from the SEEL Program Fund.

For Tiffany Wong, the SEEL Program Fund opened doors that she couldn’t have imagined at the start of her undergraduate life. “If you asked me where I see myself in five years, I would have once said sheepishly, ‘Working as an EIT in Calgary’. Today, I can confidently say the sky’s the limit and I have the potential to launch my career internationally,” says Wong.

She attended the Technische Universität Berlin Summer Research, a four-month research program, with a chemical engineering focus. The work involved the hands-on application of biomechanical engineering principles, dynamic simulations and laboratory practices.

The SEEL Program launched in 2007, with funding distributed in the fall, winter and spring of each year. The fund is managed by the Office of the Provost, with applications judged by a committee of students, professors, a Shell representative, and chaired by Deputy Provost Kevin McQuillan.

“This program is an excellent opportunity for students to broaden their experiences while at the University of Calgary and enhance their learning,” says McQuillan. “We are pleased to have such a strong, longstanding partnership with Shell and are grateful for its commitment to expanding our students’ learning beyond the classroom.”

The SEEL agreement also provides funding for the Geophysics Field School (GOPH 549) and the Shell Canada Advanced Field School on Unconventional Resources (Field Methods II), giving geoscience students a hands-on understanding of unconventional resource plays.

The support comes under Shell Canada’s Campus Ambassador Program (CAP), a recruitment and attraction initiative that involves Shell working directly with selected university campuses across Canada to support student-focused programs and projects.

“The SEEL Program expanded my horizons and opened my mind to see how global the engineering profession is. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to personally mature — and learn conversational German while I was there!” says Wong.

The next deadline for applications to the SEEL Program is Feb. 15, 2017. More information can be found on the provost’s SEEL Program website.