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From fascination to inspiration

Aera’s Cole Heap uses his passion for Earth’s physical phenomena to teach and mentor students

Cole Heap didn’t become a geologist simply because of his last name or his background. At the age of three, he was sure he wanted to become a paleontologist – specifically the real-life version of Alan Grant in Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park.

Aera Geologist Cole Heap is passionate about educating and inspiring students.

“I wanted to understand how the Earth works, how it has changed through time, and what it may look like in the future,” said Heap, an Aera geologist. “How might an ever-changing, dynamic planet impact me? How might I impact it?”

He started off at Aera as a geoscience technician and has since obtained his California Professional Geologist License. He’s part of Aera’s underground injection control (UIC) permitting team where he applies his geology expertise to enhanced oil recovery and carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects through 3D/2D mapping and reservoir characterization, all while ensuring Aera meets or exceeds California’s strict rules and regulations in all of its operations.

He worked and went to school full-time while working towards getting his bachelor’s and then a master’s degree in geology. He set off down the teaching path.

“I found that the professors who had the greatest impact on my understanding and interest were those who have and are still gaining real-world work experience,” Heap said. “I noticed that petroleum geoscience is largely unrepresented throughout most of the valley. So, I married my experience and technical knowledge acquired by day, with teaching such understanding for students by night.”

Heap serves as adjunct geoscience faculty member at several city colleges throughout the Central Valley, including Clovis Community College and College of the Sequoias – teaching a variety of geoscience courses. He has made it his goal to make sure students are aware of what the geosciences are and why majoring in them is something to be excited about.

“It’s an incredible time to be in the energy industry. For me, it all started with wanting to understand how our planet works, how it has changed through time, and what it may look like in the future. I have found that many students think along the same lines. A career in STEM is a great way to find the answers to these questions, not to mention a way to make a powerful and positive impact in the world,” he said.

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