[In the picture: Haroun Muhammed Inuwa (left) with fellow attendee at the NAICE 2017 Conference.]
I was in Year 3 of my university program in 2016 when I secured a chance to attend NAICE 2016 for the first time. NAICE is the acronym for the SPE Nigeria Annual International Conference and Exhibition.
I was sponsored by Total E&P which awarded outstanding students full sponsorship to attend 2016 NAICE at Lagos with transport allowance. When I first got the message that I was sponsored, I was overwhelmed with joy. As a poor boy who loved to travel to other parts of the country, it was a dream come true. All because of my outstanding performance in school. I also consider SPE important for my sponsorship, for if SPE did not organize NAICE, there would likely have been no conference sponsorship.
The experience of attending NAICE for the first time was very memorable. Even before I set my foot down in my accommodation, I had a good experience connecting with fellow students who were attending.
On the first day I met Hafeez Babalola from Obafemi Awolawo University (OAU). His first words were, "My name is Hafeez. I’m from OAU, studying chemical engineering. If I’m not mistaken, you are here for NAICE?" He carried my luggage and helped me to check in.
We spent the whole night discussing SPE affairs in our respective schools and SPE International in general. SPE helped reorient my mindset and jettison my phobia for connecting with new people. Now Hafeez and I are more than just friends; we are like brothers and help each other academically.
The next morning was the Student Chapters Contest where each student chapter from different schools in Nigeria presents how it runs SPE activities by sharing details such as membership status and fiscal responsibilities. It was really an excellent session. It encouraged me to go for the post of the president of my school chapter. And with focus and confidence, I made it.
On the second day, we attended the conference and exhibition. It gave me an opportunity to meet oil and gas professionals and young professionals from different companies. Many international and indigenous oil and gas companies and service companies had booths. Some booths had breathtaking decorations. NAICE is one of the biggest gatherings that I ever visited in my life. People talk about ATCE, but I haven't had a chance to attend it yet.
I walked around all the companies’ booths, and the experience I had then is unmatched. To industry professionals, NAICE is a reunion and a chance to unbox ideas. To oil and gas companies, it is a gathering to unlock potential and market their products to others. To students, it is indescribable. It depends on what you plan to achieve in that short period of time. For me, it was a place for networking with professionals, industry leaders, and fellow students—an environment where you get to meet different types of people from the industry. A spot where you will be spoonfed with what SPE is all about. I found my mentors and life coaches there; we have been engaged since then. I met students from different schools who have been in touch continually.
It may interest you that I fully sponsored myself for 2017 NAICE. Since there was no sponsorship from oil and gas companies, I saved some cash to sponsor myself this year as I knew its importance and how it significantly improves my experience intellectually as a student. This conference doubled the benefits and got me connected to more people, both professionals and students.
Haroun Muhammed Inuwa is a student at Igbinedion University Okada, Nigeria, and its SPE Student Chapter president. He recently completed his research project on “An Investigation of the Suitability of Using Locally Sourced Rice Husk Ash as Supplementary Cementitious Pozzolanic Materials for Oil Wells.”