(Trinidad and Tobago News Day, Melanie Waithe, 11.Apr.2019) — Ever took a walk on the bottom of the sea, to see how natural gas is extracted from beneath the earth’s surface and brought on land to be processed at a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility?
More than 900 students got this opportunity through a virtual tour and were exposed to a lot more when they attended the first Shell STEM technology fair in TT on March 28, at Centre of Excellence, Macoya. The students, from more than 40 secondary schools as well as the UWI and UTT, were exposed to some of the latest technologies used in the energy industry by more than 24 companies. Education institutions including NIHERST, NESC, UWI and UTT (as well as other professional associations like the Society for Petroleum Engineers of TT) also participated in the exhibition.
Shell, a leader in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education and training in TT, worked with the Ministry of Education and implementing partner Sacoda Serv Limited, a research and project management company, and invited some of its industry contractors and suppliers including Schlumberger, Halliburton, Tucker, and Massy Energy, to host the one-day expo, with the theme Let’s Make the Future Together.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Eugene Okpere, chief operating officer of Shell TT Ltd, encouraged students to take full advantage of the technology fair to understand the diversity of career opportunities that are available, not only in the energy industry, but across other industries.
“Our STEM technology fair seeks to connect the dots, by taking you through an experience where you interact with some of the leading-edge technologies that are utilised in our business today. We want you to see yourself in this world, and we hope today stimulates an excitement in you that can be applied to improving our lives through the development and application of technology,” Okpere said.
Okpere, a geologist by training who has spent more than 20 years in the energy industry, said TT should count itself among the luckiest nations in the world given its access to energy and energy resources.
“A significant proportion of the world does not have access to energy, this is particularly acute in my home continent Africa where 50 per cent of the population does not have access to electricity – a basic human requirement,” he said.
While technology delivers value to business, he added, it commands an even higher purpose, helping to address some of the important issues such as food and energy security and access to the world’s natural resources.
“How will we harness the world’s resources to feed, clothe and house the world’s growing population? How do we ensure that the world’s finite natural resources are utilised in a responsible manner, to not just sustain our societies but to help them thrive? How do we provide more energy without harming our planet? We need to answer these questions if we are to create the future that we all want. And more importantly, we must engage the minds of those who will lead in that future – you. This is where Shell hopes to continue to play its part through our STEM programme and today’s Technology Fair,” Okpere said.
Keynote speaker, Gregory Sloane-Seale, programme co-Ordinator of the Citizens’ Security Programme challenged students to “open their minds” to the possibilities STEM education offered and advocated the inclusion of the Arts to make it “STEAM.”
STEM or STEAM learning, he said, could be found in just about every aspect of life and he challenged students to go beyond thinking about the narrow subjects and “open their minds” to understand what society needed for a more sustainable future and how we could satisfy those needs.
“When you think about the challenges we face today, we need you to help us answer those tough questions; to help find the solutions so that you inherit a world that is worth living in,” Sloane-Seale said.