For Angela Cring, the impact of the recent LAGCOE Education and Innovation Summit might have been reflected in one changed mind.
Cring, executive director of the Louisiana Gulf Coast Oil Exposition, said the programs offered in last week's off-year meeting — LAGCOE's signature, biennial event itself is scheduled for Oct. 24-26, 2017 — included a two-hour, multi-interactive learning station as well as LITE Center technology that attracted almost a hundred Lafayette Parish seventh- and eighth-graders in the GEAR UP program that prepares youngsters for college.
The stations were presented by the Mobile Oilfield Learning Unit and included information on such topics as drill bits and core samples.
One of the children said before the event that she thought the technology was "cool" — she had tried 3-D goggles — but she "didn't want to be an engineer."
By the time the middle-schooler exited the event, Cring said, she'd changed her mind.
"Being able to affect the future of a child like that had an impact both on the kids and on the volunteers," she said.
LAGCOE has worked with high-school Science, Technology, Engineering and Math students at the biennial show, but not with students as young as seventh and eighth grades.
But she said in terms of promoting oil and gas workforce development, it's important for the industry to "get in front of kids" as early as possible to encourage them toward an energy career path.
The two-day summit had targets beyond youngsters, though.
A lunchtime presentation by Smith Mason & Co. on "The Life of a Well" provided easy-to-digest information to a mostly non-technical audience of about 140.
Cring said Smith Mason, an energy industry training company, winnowed down its week-long program to little more than an hour of presentation, video and even some animation.
"They did a great job from start to finish" on presenting the story of a well, she said, to an audience that included engineers but also non-technical oil company employees such as accountants, and even high school students and members of the general public.
That basic instruction to a general audience, she said, was "exactly the point of why we put that on," she said.
Other sessions, too, were successful, she said, including a "Shark Tank"-style pitch for innovative energy ideas and preparation tips for job seekers.
Cring said the summit largely met its goals, providing education and service and value to the community. She said the summit may come back in some form in 2018 — perhaps a day or two, with its components spread over the year — although "exactly what that will look like, no one knows."
No one knows what the industry, which has suffered from price declines in 2015-16, will look like in two years.
But she said the summit's components were scheduled to permit attendance to individual events, so traffic was come and go. Indications that the components were successful were borne out not just by attendance, she said, but by the number of people who remained at the individual events to the end.