Seeing pipeline monitoring through a new lens
New approach to course content connects industry to the Indigenous perspective
After three weeks of intensive hands-on learning, a group of Indigenous students are heading home with the training required to become pipeline monitors through the new Pipeline Monitor Certificate program at SAIT.
Delivered by the MacPhail School of Energy, the program gives students an overview of the pipeline industry and regulations, security and safety hazards, and pipeline inspection processes. They apply these skills with SAIT's state-of-the-art Flow and Wellsite labs - utilizing real world equipment used by industry to sharpen their monitoring expertise.
In addition to teaching the technical specifications and industry requirements, the courses now include an emphasis on providing more context through examples and case studies.
"It's about ensuring the course content actively reaches out to students and connects to them in a way that they can seem themselves and their communities in the material," says Uwe Brandt, Instructor, MacPhail School of Energy. "It's important to include examples showing how regulatory changes and the environmental aspects are relevant to indigenous communities."
This new model is a shift from the "stand and deliver" instructional method - where knowledge is dictated - to a collaborative model that includes more opportunities for discussion and understanding.
Pipelines in the backyard
For many students in the program, pipelines operate near their communities. The program provides a path for students to work as pipeline monitors in an industry close to home.
"It was a very intense, very good learning experience," says recent graduate Kelsey Jacko. "I wish I had this opportunity 20 years ago - it is hard to get into the industry and this gets my foot in the door."
Jacko is one of 20 students from the first of three cohorts completing the program. For him, a key takeaway is the importance of pipelines operations adhering to proper safety protocols.
"It's about safety - doing it right," he says. "You have to make sure pipelines operate in a safe, efficient manner."
Fellow grad Terri Kutt currently works as a pipeline monitor and sees how this role is beneficial in the community.
"In my community, Cold Lake, we're surrounded by industry," says Kutt. "It will be great to have monitors on the land to keep regulations in place - I encourage companies to take on more monitors."
Fellow student John Snow Jr. - who is also a Petroleum Advisor and Negotiator - sees the importance of knowing the government regulations to which pipelines must adhere. It is an opportunity to build a mutual understanding between industry and the Indigenous community about how these regulations protect the environment in these areas.
"The legislation governing pipeline activities is important to understand," he says. "When you become educated, you have a better appreciation for how things work and you can either support, teach or learn more."
After completing the program, Kutt is looking forward to heading home and bringing her knowledge back to her community.
"I am going to go back to my community and really talk about the regulations and where we fall into the Alberta Energy Regulator and National Energy Board systems."
Connecting community and course content
The program is being delivered in partnership with Innotech - an applied research organization - with funding from the Western Diversification Program and C-FER - a not-for-profit laboratory focusing on oil and gas technology.
In addition, funding for the development of the course content was provided by Plains Midstream and JPMorgan.
With JPMorgan's funding, six courses from the Pipeline Operations Certificate program were reviewed and revised by SAIT instructors to incorporate the Indigenous experience for the Pipeline Monitoring Certificate.
"We wanted to make sure we created a curriculum Indigenous students saw themselves in," says Sarah Imran, Associate Dean, MacPhail School of Energy.
By ensuring the material was cognizant of Indigenous rights and viewpoints, the team developing the curriculum found the content became more relevant and effective for all students - which is why the process of Indigenizing content is being incorporated in the Pipeline Operations Certificate program.
"Through this process, you end up with better course material that is more engaging," says Brandt. "It is important to build understanding between the social viewpoints of the learner and the technical requirements of the industry."