When Tyler MacCormack first arrived at the University of Alberta, he was initially torn between computer engineering and mining engineering but saw the application of augmented and virtual reality in the mining industry to be a more open-ended option. By his second year he knew he had made the right choice.
This year, however, COVID-19 almost scuttled his summer plans. MacCormack had intended to get hands-on experience in the field as part of his Mining Engineering program. Luckily, the Mining Innovation Advisory Council at the Alberta Chamber of Resources, which partners with the university to help students find work terms and career positions, came up with a viable alternative.
MacCormack spent his summer at COSIA instead, gaining experience in an altogether different aspect of his discipline. He joined the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) priority area team and rolled up his sleeves (remotely) to dive into innovation that’s promising to significantly reduce GHG emissions in the oil sands.
MacCormack worked on an initiative to reduce emissions from giant haul trucks, a significant source of greenhouse gases in mining operations, and was involved in discussions with haul truck manufacturers regarding potential applications of new technologies and alternate fuels. “We never talked about these topics at school, so to join a team which is looking at actually implementing some of these things is incredible. I learned a ton,” MacCormack said.
The GHG team is focused on initiatives to produce oil with lower greenhouse gas emissions than other sources of oil and COSIA members are progressing a variety of technologies for both mining and in situ (in place) extraction.
“Being exposed firsthand to new haul truck and ore handling technologies has opened Tyler’s eyes to what the future holds, as well as what can be achieved through collaboration,” says Matt McCulloch, COSIA’s GHG Director. “He and his generation will play a critical role helping to advance the deployment of these types of technologies.“
MacCormack has always been interested in software engineering and with the mining sector rapidly beginning to embrace digitization and artificial intelligence, he says its an exciting time to enter the industry.
In one of his student positions at the Alberta Energy Regulator he produced a series of Minecraft video games that explained geoscience in a fun and educational way to public audiences. “I love taking complex information and writing a program that will allow people to understand it better,” he explains.
Now, he’s incorporated more work terms than usual to get extra practical experience, pushing out his graduation date a year to 2022. COSIA has been an important step in that learning, MacCormack says.
Innovators, check out COSIA’s Greenhouse Gases Innovation Opportunity in Natural Gas Decarbonization.