Director's Corner

IBA a Microcosm of Values of AAPG

The AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition in Long Beach is all wrapped up. And what a great meeting it was!

Special thanks and congratulations to all of the volunteers and the entire AAPG staff who worked so hard to organize the conference – from the quality technical program, short courses and field trips, to the many committee meetings. A lot of work got done thanks to your efforts.

One particular highlight for me was the IBA competition, and particularly the awards ceremony. Congratulations to the 2012 IBA team winners from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette! related story And to the second and third place finishers: Khon Kaen University of Thailand and the Colorado School of Mines, respectively.


Much has been written and said about the IBA program and its tremendous growth over the past years under the guidance of outgoing chair Steve Veal and the IBA Committee. It is now one of AAPG’s biggest and most prominent programs with a global profile and global impact. But I’ll confess that I didn’t really get it until this past March when I had a chance to attend the European Region IBA finals in Prague.

Twenty student teams from across Europe arrived in Prague to compete. Each team had received a dataset from somewhere in the world, and over the course of six weeks were charged with developing their best prospects, and then presenting them to a panel of judges.

The students took this competition seriously. They were representing themselves, their schools and their countries. And the stories confirmed it: nights and weekends at the office, cots set up for a quick nap between interpretation sessions, and hours of practice on their presentation since many teams were not presenting in their mother tongue.

I witnessed their determination first hand: College students in Prague – Prague! – ordering tea after dinner and heading back to their rooms to practice their talks one more time. And you could see the focus in their eyes as they stood outside the presentation room, awaiting their appointed time in front of the judges. This was a big deal.

It occurred to me during the competition that what the students were experiencing in the IBA program was a microcosm of what drives the entire Association:

♦ Science – The focus of the IBA program is science and creativity. Developing plays and prospects and then presenting and defending those ideas to a group of decision-makers is what our profession is all about.

It’s no wonder we’re receiving anecdotal evidence that student job applicants with IBA program experience are attracting the attention of prospective employers.

♦ Volunteerism – Twenty teams competed in Prague, and the judges listened to and evaluated each and every presentation. They then ranked each team to determine the final three teams from Europe. This was a group of talented, seasoned professionals who gave several days of their lives to this endeavor.

I urged the students to think about that. These professionals flew in from across Europe, forgoing time with family and friends, to listen to them present. It’s pretty remarkable when you think about it, and they were glad to do it. The judges were modeling for these students what it means to be part of a profession – and the importance of giving back.

♦ Learning and networking – Winning is fun, but it isn’t the most important factor in the IBA program. Each one of the teams had a significant educational experience. And some of the teams recognized it, telling me that they knew they didn’t have the experience of some of the other teams but they were there to learn. And they fully intended to take what they learned back to their schools to better equip next year’s team.

And each student began the process of forming the business and personal friendships that characterize our profession and span the globe. I fully expect these students will enter our Young Professionals program as they begin their careers and to see them at AAPG events around the world.


During my remarks at the awards ceremony in Prague, I looked out at a crowd of bright, talented and energetic young people – like their counterparts in other Regions and Sections – eager to make their way in the world, to make their mark.

I was looking at the future of AAPG. A future that looks very promising.End of Story