Hands-on Geology Field Experience Set

Apr 04, 2022

Student drilling workshop planned for April 8-9 at Cal U’s SAI Farm.

geology field day

Hands-on, real-world experience is hard to beat. That’s why California University of Pennsylvania has again teamed up with the Pittsburgh Geological Society (PGS) to organize an on-campus Student Field Workshop, April 8-9.

During the annual training event held at Cal U’s 94-acre Student Association, Inc. (SAI) Farm, professional geologists and drillers work side by side with regional college students to demonstrate drilling techniques, take rock core samples, teach well construction and development and demonstrate environmental sampling and testing. Students also learn job-site etiquette and health and safety regulations.

“Experiential learning is the perfect complement to formal classroom instruction,” said Dr. Kyle Fredrick, professor of Geology at Cal U. “It’s a great, high-impact event. Students have an opportunity to develop their network, learn from working professionals and ask questions in a low-stakes, informal setting.”

After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, the two-day workshop will kick off at 5 p.m. Friday, April 8, with dinner and career-preparation programming in the Farmhouse Banquet Hall. A panel of geologists will share industry knowledge with 30 students from regional universities – including several from Cal U and Edinboro University – followed by one-on-one networking opportunities and environmental site assessment case studies.

An introduction to field safety and environmental protection protocols will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday, April 9, in the Banquet Hall. Depending on conditions, field work is expected to be underway by 9 a.m. in the well field.

Soil borings, water sampling, bedrock coring and well completion will occur throughout the day, and students will have several opportunities to interact with working field geologists, drillers and environmental managers.

Support from PGS, Cal U, Dorso LLP, KU Resources, Allprobe Drilling, American Geotechnical and Environmental Services and the Cal U Geology Club made this workshop possible.

“I really can’t oversell what a huge opportunity this is for students pursuing careers in geotechnical and environmental professions,” Fredrick said. “Many alumni have said they think their participation directly correlated to them getting their first jobs over other candidates.”

Established as a joint investment by SAI, the Cal U Geology Club, PGS and the Dominion Foundation, the well field at SAI Farm is part of Cal U’s 10-acre Environmental Studies Habitat. The property provides a diverse learning environment that includes a wooded area, wetlands, stream and open fields.

Throughout the academic year, geology students take water depth measurements, collect water chemistry samples and conduct aquifer tests in the outdoor groundwater classroom. Among other projects, data is used to construct a continuously updated groundwater model for the SAI Farm property.

Upcoming Geology activities at SAI Farm:

  • The Cal U Geology Club will take part in its bi-annual Adopt-A-Highway clean-up on East Malden Drive from 10 a.m. until noon, Sunday, April 3.
  • Over the next few weeks, Fredrick’s Watershed Evaluation class will be on site to conduct stream and landscape surveys.
  • Beginning at 1 p.m., Thursday, April 7, three geologists from the Department of Environmental Protection will conduct a downhole camera survey on the property’s seven 2-inch observation wells. Geology majors will have the opportunity to observe and interact with the DEP professionals.

For more information about experiential learning opportunities at California University, visit calu.edu.