Working with the Petroleum User Group (PUG) community over the years, we have been privileged to meet many talented individuals who realize that there is no end to learning. They are always open to embracing new ideas, technologies, workflows, and relationships. And it doesn’t seem to matter where or when they discovered the value of spatial technologies, how technical these people are, or how high they may rise within their organizations—they have simply decided to be lifelong learners.
In recent conversations with several of these individuals, we collectively commented that there are now many opportunities to get more involved with the community but recognized that some of them are not as well-known as we may like to believe, nor are they corralled under a single unifying program—hence this blog post. Here we describe several community outreach and education programs available to PUG members.
PUG Membership and Involvement
Twenty-six years ago, a few people gathered in a room at Exxon to discuss how best to leverage a fledgling new technology that the company had started to apply to petroleum-based workflows. Today, the PUG community is thousands strong and spread around the globe through regional PUG chapters. Membership is loosely managed, with an open-door policy to all who are interested. Members can simply observe online or ask questions and share knowledge through the PUG website, or they can take a more active role by attending the various PUG meetings, participating in a working group on a subject area of specific interest, or serving on a regional committee. Activities of the main PUG Steering Committee and regional chapters can be found at the PUG website. We encourage you to register online through LinkedIn, join appropriate regional chapters, and become involved as much as you would like.
Educational Connections and Opportunities
For Teachers—The Esri ConnectED Program helps schoolteachers leverage GIS technology to enhance their instruction in a variety of subjects. All activities are free and online. The instructional materials require no installation or logins and are device neutral.
For Volunteers—The goal of the American Association of Geographers (AAG)-Esri ConnectED GeoMentors Program is to enhance GIS and geographic learning in US K–12 schools through the introduction of ArcGIS Online and other learning tools into classrooms. The entire GIS community, across all disciplines and sectors, is encouraged to help us build a nationwide network of GeoMentors to assist schools and teachers with their educational goals in using GIS. Previous experience with ArcGIS Online is not required, and we have training resources available for a wide variety of topics ranging from US history to earth and environmental science. In addition, there are lots of cool story maps to help you quickly gain basic skills that will make you an asset to K-12 classrooms.
Higher Education—Over the past few years, GIS has become a catalyst for research and career advancement in many universities throughout the world. The PUG is endeavoring to deepen our connections with several of the leading geoscience-related schools including University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, Colorado School of Mines, Pennsylvania State University, and University of Wyoming. The PUG has appointed an educational connection chair to the main PUG Steering Committee.
Texas A&M University, in cooperation with IntegraShare, has surveyed oil and gas GIS professionals in the first-ever educational needs assessment of their industry. Through online and in-person surveys, information about geospatial products and practices, success factors that make graduates attractive hires, and issues affecting career success was collected. The online portion of the survey is still open, and we encourage people to provide their input. Our intent is to present the project’s findings in a future PUG Online blog post.
Young Professionals Network
Esri’s Young Professionals Network (YPN) is a community for those just starting in GIS, including experienced professionals who are beginning to use GIS. This program provides a variety of training and networking opportunities designed to help support GIS-related career development, from learning about the vision and power of GIS to connecting with like-minded peers and industry experts in order to learn from their experiences.
There are many ways to connect with YPN. Register to join the group, and you will receive notifications of YPN Meetups happening across the country. You will also get discounted rates on registration for Esri events, including the Esri User Conference (Esri UC). Learn more and register at esri.com/ypn. The PUG is currently discussing how to develop a group of its own that’s like the YPN. We are very interested to hear ideas from YPN members within the petroleum community on how you would like to see the PUG embrace YPN members. For instance, we are considering how we can leverage the deepening PUG university connections through volunteer efforts, internships, new ideas about a mentor program (read about the PUG Fellows Program below), GeoDev Meetups, and available e-training.
PUG Fellows Program
Just as there are young professionals joining the PUG community, so are there GIS professionals who’ve given many years of dedicated service to the PUG community. The PUG is currently discussing and designing a PUG Fellows Program, whereby these individuals may be recognized and enjoy some of the benefits of the programs discussed herein in return for their valued service to the community. Such members who have retired from full-time employment can thus continue to be involved in the PUG; perhaps become GeoMentors to YPN members; and continue in their learning for private, not-for-profit projects with an ArcGIS for Personal Use license.
For individuals who want to use the ArcGIS platform at home for personal projects, Esri has recently updated its Personal Use Program. ArcGIS for Personal Use comes with everything you need to map like a pro at home, with the full range of platform capabilities to create rich, dynamic maps and apps. Learn more about ArcGIS for Personal Use.
The Personal Use license provides access to the following platform components:
- ArcGIS for Desktop Advanced (ArcMap and ArcGIS Pro)
- The most popular ArcGIS for Desktop extensions
- ArcGIS for Desktop software updates
- ArcGIS Online named user account
- 100 service credits for data storage, premium data access, geocoding, and analysis
- A suite of ready-to-use apps for use anywhere, on many types of device
- The Living Atlas of the World, with maps and data included
- Installation support
Training and Certification
Esri offers many options for continuing your technical and professional GIS education whether you want to refine your skills with a specific tool or technique or earn a professional certification.
- Online and Instructor-Led Class Programs
- MOOC Program—Participate in a six-week massive open online course (MOOC). Subjects include intro to GIS, spatial analysis, geodesign, and even do-it-yourself geo apps.
- Esri Technical Certification—Use your ArcGIS for Personal Use license at home for training or to prepare for certification.
GeoNet Discussion Forum
The GeoNet space for petroleum has not received a lot of attention to date, since most online community interaction traditionally happens via either the PUG website or LinkedIn. However, with the recent decision to transfer the Technical Ideas site content to GeoNet, this is likely to change. So it is probably worth keeping your eye on the GeoNet Petroleum site in the coming months.
We hope you find these links to the many community-based educational opportunities useful. We welcome your feedback and ideas on how we can help support each other to be lifelong learners.