Rock Star Professor Brian Cox says to engage future and new generations of oil and gas leaders with fact-based stories

Day one of Offshore Europe 2015 kicked off with a riveting talk about inspiring the next generation of oil and gas professionals.

It’s a cloudy, gray, chilly day in Aberdeen, not unlike many days in Scotland. The UK North Sea oil and gas city is bustling, as the morning traffic is thicker than usual. People are making their ways to the Aberdeen Convention and Conference Center for SPE Offshore Europe. Tens of thousands of convention goers will roam the exhibit halls and attend the technical sessions and briefings throughout the week. Close to 1,600 exhibitors from around the world will try to lure decision makers into their stands to promote new products, services and innovative thoughts and ideas. This is the place to be if you are connected to the offshore oil and gas world.

The air at this week’s conference is thick with uncertainty and questions involving the current pricing climate and industry woes, but positivity and forward-thinking abound. The theme of the week is “How to Inspire the Next Generation.” Thought leaders and industry pros are on-hand to talk about what we can do to engage, inspire and woo the future generations.

This week in Aberdeen attendees will be inspired to rise to the challenges placed on the oil and gas industry’s shoulders. The oil and gas industry is counting on everyone to band together to overcome the many obstacles in order to meet the world’s energy needs for generations to come.

Michael Engell-Jensen, executive director of the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (IOGP) and this year’s Keynote Chair claims that oil and gas will remain indispensable to the world for securing heat, light, mobility and prosperity for many decades to come. He goes on to say, “Sourcing skilled, innovative and motivated people – and enough of them – is essential for the industry to be successful in meeting this demand now and into the future.”

At this morning’s Opening Plenary Session, Charles Woodburn, Expro CEO and this year’s Technical Chair spoke about the challenges the industry downturn has created. “Inspiring the future generation is even more relevant now. We need to learn how to shape others for the future, and not be shaped by the future,” Woodburn explained. He went on to say, “We will only thrive in this industry if we have the very best minds now, and in the future.”

After Woodburn spoke, the packed house (dozens who were standing for the two hour session) became star-struck when the man of the hour, Professor Brian Cox, OBE, rose to his feet to talk about inspiring future generations, and how his own inspirations have shaped his career.

Arguably the UK's best known physicist, Cox's books and TV programmes have been read and watched around the world and credited with making science engaging and accessible to millions. With his down-to-earth, likeable enthusiasm, Cox is frequently labelled a 'rock star scientist’.

For you serious sci-fi geeks, Professor Cox was also in an episode of Doctor Who in 2013.

From speaking at TED in the U.S. to World Economic Forums in Davos and China, Cox's presentations engage, inform and entertain featuring awe-inspiring images from the depths of the universe as well as his trademark infectious enthusiasm for his subject.

Needless to say, Professor Cox had the entire audience enamored after just a handful of words.

Astronomy is what initially inspired Cox to become a scientist. His personal inspiration as a child, and still, was Carl Sagan. “The story you tell around the facts is the key to inspiring people,” the professor proclaimed. “Carl Sagan’s stories are what did it for me.”

The Professor went on to say, “The problem that is outlined when we have young people, particularly young women going into engineering, is still a problem in the physical sciences.

“Slightly less of a problem than it used to be, but still something the science industry faces.”

The energy industry most certainly faces these same challenges.

“One of the ways we’ve found very powerful is to make strong links with the school. I’m the patron of a school in London which is an area that has many problems,” Professor Cox explained. “There is a school I work with that has been extremely successful in getting students into STEM subject in university and in fact half of the students that applied to do STEM subjects in universities were young women.”

Professor Cox concluded by talking about how energy is a good thing, something we should increase – and he stressed that we can definitely inspire the next generation to become strong energy leaders.

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