Team MakEAGE from Makerere University in Uganda realised two different dreams when they successfully applied for funding to attend the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (EAGE) annual conference. Not only did the team of five achieve their ambition of attending the 79th EAGE conference, but as the 2017 event was sponsored by Total in Paris, France, they also had the opportunity to visit the ‘City of Light’ – another dream fulfilled.
Aijuka, Mustaqim, Josephat, Rhona and Ajuna make up Team MakEAGE and are all passionate about geosciences and the environment. Rhona said that “Uganda has various natural resources, including some that have yet to be discovered.” The team also told us that the petroleum industry is really a growth area in Uganda, and Mustaqim mentioned that he got interested in this sector when oil resources were discovered in his region.
So how did they find out about Team Total and the opportunities it offers for student funding? The answer is through their own networks, including friends who completed the IFP MOOC or who were selected for the Total Energy Summer School. Team Leader Mustaqim also subscribed to the Total Campus newsletter. “After, I started to follow the Total Campus website and I realised that I could apply. I missed the deadline in 2015 and in 2016 I wanted to make sure that I apply on time!”
Rhona said that, “Total is one of the key energy players, and as we are looking forward to entering the job market, we are always on the Total Campus website to discover new opportunities. We discussed Team Total within our EAGE Student Chapter, as we wanted to spread the news. It was not easy but now we are really happy and proud to be here.”
Having the right team was key. Mustaqim said that, “From the beginning, we knew that we wanted our team to be diverse, not only people doing geosciences but also people studying environmental sciences and engineering. We also thought about the importance of representing both genders, as we wanted to motivate women to be in the team and to be more involved in the geosciences field in general. We think that the most important aspect for our team was the passion for this topic, as we know that this is what drives things.”
Rhona emphasises the importance of diversity: “We encouraged girls to get involved – the oil and gas industry is not only for men, it needs women. If a man can climb a mountain, I can climb a mountain! We have a platform where we talk to the young girls about the possibility of getting involved in this field and they get excited.”
The team took care to submit the best possible application. “The project was not easy. For a start, we needed fast internet which is not guaranteed where we are. We had moments with no electricity, no communications at all! We made sacrifices and put in hard work – the experience taught us to work hard, to chase what we want. At the same time, it was fun and we certainly learnt about the importance of team work and trust!”
So was all the work worth it? Definitely! “The event is very interesting, we are networking with a lot of people, professionals and students from different universities.” Rhona says that, “We can’t wait to go back home and share all the things that we learnt here. For me, the most interesting part was the Exploration Drones presentation at the Total stand. I can’t wait to present this to women at geosciences conferences.” As part of the experience, the students presented some of their own research and felt confident about this challenge: “We worked on this a lot - we have results, we have data and we felt comfortable sharing our research work with the EAGE audience.”
As well as the experience of attending the stimulating and educational EAGE event, for these first-time Paris visitors, they also made time to see the city. After all, “People won’t believe you were in Paris until they see a picture of you at the Eiffel Tower!”
Finally, what is their advice for anyone else interested in applying for the next edition of Team Total? “Team work is key, as is being focused! You will be competing against other great teams so you need to give it your all.”
Thanks for sharing your experience with us Team MakEAGE!