Report of a joint meeting of the Geological Information and Earth Science Education Methods Groups of the Geological Society, held at the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge, on 22 May 1984. The meeting was organized by P. Hill.
The aim of the meeting was to examine the requirements of employers of geology graduates and the present provision for the education of undergraduates with respect to computing and computer-based skills and applications. It consisted of presentations on the viewpoints of academic,industrial,and government bodies, plus discussion.
G. Y. Craig opened the meeting with an account of the use of computing and statistical teaching in the Geology Department at the University of Edinburgh. All geology students take a course in statistics as part of the coursework.They are also encouraged to take an optional l-year course in Computer Science.
One major problem theDepartment has found is the rapidly increasing cost of acquiring and maintaining capital equipment. There is not enough money to provide sufficient student workstations at present, and this applies to all departments. The last 10 years have seen the computing costs rise from 10% to 37% of the equipment budget. Annual maintenance charges for computing have been found to be very much higher than that for other major equipment,and paying an hourly rate for maintenance can be cheaper.The problem of where to draw the balance between the costs of data analysis and that of acquisition of hardware with which to obtain original data is an increasing one.
A. D. M. Burwell (BP Research Centre, Sunbury) drew a contrast between the way computers are being used by geologists in the petroleum industry