School pupils went below the waves as they tested their technical skills as virtual ROV pilots during SPE Offshore Europe at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Center.

Energize Your Future (EYF), a program led by global safety, standards and workforce development organization OPITO, provides one of the biggest opportunities that school pupils have to get closer to the technologies and people working in the industry.

The mission is to inspire the next generation of oil and gas professionals through interactive activities and information sessions, which this year included a technology treasure hunt, virtual reality engineering and hands-on marine experiments, all supported by industry experts.

This year more than 200 secondary school pupils from across Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray attended SPE International’s largest conference and exhibition in Europe, which is expected to attract more than 40,000 visitors and 1,300 exhibitors.

Young people engaged in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects at National Qualification, Higher and Advanced Higher level will gain an insight into the variety of roles available in energy related industries, shaping their curriculum choices and career options.

Companies taking part include major operators and contractors including Aker Solutions, GE Oil and Gas, Shell, Total and Wood Group; engineers and manufacturers EC-OG, JDR Cable Systems and TSG Marine; and technical advisor to the oil and gas industry DNV GL.

On the Robert Gordon University (RGU) stand, teams of pupils will go head-to-head using miniature ROVs, battling it out to collect as many tokens as possible using their underwater robots. The groups will have to work together to find the coloured tokens as they navigate through a tank in a set time.

John McDonald, chief executive of OPITO, said: “Energize Your Future is a chance for the industry to invest a portion of its time and effort in young people. We enjoy the support of a strong line-up of exhibitors willing to engage with the pupils, including well-known industry players and newer, tech-savvy start-ups.

“With everything to see and do at Offshore Europe, we hope the next generation will be inspired by the excellent technologies, meet the people that make our industry great and soak up the sights and sounds of the exhibition.”

Students found out from energy industry leaders about career opportunities and the many positives of choosing to work in the oil and gas industry in the North Sea and around the world. They also made the crucial links between education and the working world.

OPITO is the oil and gas industry’s focal point for skills, learning and workforce development. Headquartered in Aberdeen, the organisation develops targeted initiatives and programmes to ensure a sustainable supply of skilled individuals into the oil and gas industry both now and in the future. It does this by raising awareness of, and promoting the oil and gas industry as a career, providing coherent, informed guidance on careers paths, training opportunities and employment information. OPITO also gathers and analyses intelligence and research to inform the development of national skills solutions – building strategic partnerships, connecting industry stakeholders and facilitating effective collaborations.

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