St. F.X. undergraduate and graduate students, in earth sciences and environmental studies, are benefitting greatly from the Create Program.
The program, funded through a large grant by the National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), included work last week that participant Carrie-Ellen Gabriel described as “really hands-on and great because we received training from the pros.”
The “hands-on” skills Gabriel referred to included, with the assistance of representatives from Campbell Scientific, setting up sensory equipment that records items such “wind, humidity, solar radiation.”
“In our line and even down the line, this is something we would absolutely end up doing ourselves,” Gabriel, a Masters graduate from St. F.X. who is now doing her PhD, said.
“And this was unique because we were trained by the people who put this [the equipment] together in the first place. This gear is used in Environment Canada’s weather stations and we went to Tracadie to visit that one and see how they did it there.”
Gabriel said students formed four groups with each given the assembly assignment. Locations were chosen, two on campus and two secured areas generously offered by businesses in Antigonish, to set up.
“We were trying to see with these different ones over the last couple of days, what were the pros and cons of setting them up in different locations,” Gabriel said. “We’re all students in climate and environment studies and these are the real kind of skills we need.”
The program brings together students from different institutions.
“It’s a collaborative training opportunity for graduate students, so there are a number of masters and PhD students here,” Gabriel said.
“All together there are about 17 students who are under this giant program and we’re all at St. F.X., Acadia, Memorial University and University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM). So this is a really neat opportunity for us to partner our graduate training, the real academic stuff, with real industry level training.”
She added formal sessions and seminars looked at items such as environmental law and policy.
“At some of the more social aspects of science and climate issues,” she said. “And in another session we worked with a carbon budget model. These are real things that prepare us for the workforce. Not all of us will follow a purely academic route, many people will work in government or industry so it’s exposure as well to the types of skills we’ll need.”
Gabriel also talked about the benefit of being able to experience the program at St. F.X.
“We’re just really lucky here at St. F.X. to have such great researchers in the first place, but then to be able to partner it with researchers at these other institutions, it really builds on the strengths of smaller institutions to be able to deliver the kind of graduate training that is here,” she said. “It’s just amazing.”