Blake Mowbray Recalls his SIFT Experience

Thursday, October 8, 2015

By Blake Mowbray


Friends for life

The Student-Industry Field Trip (SIFT) is put on by the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists every year ever since it began in 1977. 

SIFT was an incredible, hands-on learning experience. One student was selected from each university earth sciences department in Canada to represent his or her school. We all quickly became acquainted. Some students had arrived earlier for the opportunity to interview with various companies (e.g. Nexen). Over the following two weeks, we all became very good friends as we learned about the energy industry and the role geologists play in it.

The volunteers were an integral part of our experience. They consisted of mostly SIFTies from past trips, as well industry professionals. Every single one of them had a wealth of experience and were incredibly enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge.

Each day, we attended lectures at facilities across Calgary, including: the University of Calgary, the Mineral Core Research Facility and the Bow Tower. These lectures were then followed by a nightly game session. It made for long, yet incredibly rewarding days.

A large part of the trip was focused around the "Exploration Game", an oil and gas game which brought everything we learned in the lectures and hands-on sessions together. The idea of the game was to drill plots of land to create producing wells and make "money" doing so. The game culminated in the second week, when each team of four students was judged by a panel of prominent geologists. We were judged on two things: 

1)      Who made the most money, and

2)      Who had the best idea of the regions geology (and best able to present this information).

The winners received awards at the Wine and Cheese Party on the final night.

This is my classroom

SIFT included a four day field trip through the Rocky Mountains, which was guided by amazing industry professionals. A highlight of this portion was not only the geology of the Rockies, but the cutest geologist ever - a golden retriever named Hawaii, who belonged to one of the trip leaders. Over the four days, we spent one night in each of the following locations: Lake Louise, Fernie and Waterton, Alberta. We made stops in between each one to look at stratigraphic units found throughout the western Canadian foreland basin. 

SIFT panorama

Another highlight of the trip was the tour of Dinosaur Provincial Park. We were let in to the park because we were guided by an industry professional who was doing research within its boundaries, a common occurrence in this industry. 

To wrap up, I have to say that this trip was not only worthwhile, it was inspiring. For such a huge topic, the instruction needed to be fast paced, yet it was presented skillfully. Volunteers were always available to clear up any misunderstandings. It was the volunteers and their enthusiasm who made the trip so worthwhile - that and all the good friends I'm sure I'll have for the rest of my life.



The SIFT Trip is a great opportunity for students who are intersted in a career in the petroleum industry.

Preference is given to earth sciences students in their 3rd year of study. The trip is free of charge. Last year, it took place from 3-16 May. The application deadline was January 30th, 2015.