Total Energy Summer School: At the energy school of the future

The Total Energy Summer School, or TESS, was held in Fontainebleau near Paris from July 10 to 13, 2016. Its novel format brought together professors and students in a creativity and brainstorming fest that tackled the future of energy.

Learn more about TESS from its developer, Andrew Hogg.

Some 84 students from 33 countries, selected from nearly 6,800 applicants, met with 40 renowned university professors and Total partner chairs, plus over 75 Total and industry experts — the International Energy Agency (IEA), UNESCO, MIT, the IFP School and many others — for four days of plenary sessions and hands-on exercises.

Andrew Hogg is one of those citizens of the world who work, travel and reside in many countries, wherever their international careers take them. For the last year and a half, this Irish-Argentine, who speaks impeccable French, has served as Total's Director of Education. His primary mission is to plan and develop Total's education policy. It's a subject he knows well, not least because he earned a PhD in geology and petroleum geology at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland with the help of a Total sponsorship.

Dr. Hogg revisits TESS's highlights.

This year you introduced a new TESS format. How and why?

Andrew Hogg: Yes, it's a first in this format. For around 10 years now, an annual Total Summer School has been dedicated solely to students and a Total Energy Education Seminar to professors. After skipping a year in 2015, we decided to merge the two to create a single event, the Total Energy Summer School.

It was more enriching and more authentic to bring both groups together. Just like in the real world! We thought that the generational connection was important. And we were right. This year's TESS stressed participation and collaboration. A real knowledge community was created, through discussions at every level: cultural, international, generational and field-specific.

The format proved a winner and we plan to strengthen the concept.

See the clip of TESS on the Facebook Total Campus page.

What are TESS's goals?

A.H.: I see at least three. The first is to consider the future of energy together. We're sharing Total's ambition for the future, articulated by our corporate signature "Committed to Better Energy." It's an ambition with a long-term horizon, just like our industry. So it makes sense to involve the young leaders of the future. The second is to create an international and intergenerational community to be the ambassadors for the energy of the future. The third and last is to provide a platform to support our affiliates, who have very strong links to education all around the world, for example through chairs, partnerships and grants.

I also have a personal dream, which is that an innovative start-up will come out of the challenge projects led by the students. Some may already have teamed up to create something tangible.

What surprised you at this year's summer school?

A.H.: One thing struck me especially. It was the first time we'd brought together the two groups, professors and students, and I was pleased to see first-hand how much the teachers wanted to work even more closely with the students. They asked for more contact and more time with them. I must say that the professors' passionate interest in educating and working with young people is impressive. We'll have to stress that aspect even more next time.

The other thing that stood out was the role of social media. Although 200 people attended, more than 650,000 viewed events online on CNBC's Facebook Live and 2,000 watched the live-streamed plenary session on the education and skills needed for the future of energy. All told, Total Campus's online media, specifically the Facebook page and Instagram and Twitter accounts under the hashtag #TESS16, engaged 4.3 million people on the Web! We'll be looking to build on this for the next TESS.

What makes education so important at Total?

A.H.: It's an essential vehicle for Total for several reasons. The first is to build capacity – helping to develop the skills and the young leaders needed by our host countries. The second is to identify and develop the local talent needed for the future of the Group. It is also, and that's the third reason, an opportunity to share technologies and know-how with the universities wherever we operate.

For all those reasons we want to forge lasting relationships with committed young people with whom we share values and a vision, while investing locally and sustainably in places where we already do business.

How does TESS fit into Total's commitment to better energy?

A.H.: We're going to assess and study what comes out of this year's Summer School, so that we can present an even more comprehensive, rewarding plan for the next. And I'd like to highlight the importance of the quality of the students picked: this year 84 were selected out of 6,800 applications received. Hopefully, we can do this again. They were all fantastic about participating and were a huge reason for the success of this first TESS!So unsurprisingly, our real challenge isn't the next TESS; it's about using the time well until the next one rolls around again. The students voiced a desire to be ambassadors for the energy of the future. A 2016 TESS Facebook page has already been created, students and professors have formed ties and projects are being considered. Now it's up to us to nurture and encourage the TESS class of 2016. A.H.: It fits in for several reasons. First, it's an excellent vehicle for presenting and sharing Total's goals and our commitment to better energy. By involving young people and pooling know-how, skills and dreams, we'll all change our relationship to energy. Enlisting and working with students and their professors on innovations is a great way to do that.

We must harness the creativity!

Total considers promoting education a corporate social responsibility commitment. Through listening, dialogue and commitment, we want to be better integrated in our host regions, by helping to spur human, economic and social development. In light of that goal, education is a key driver to create shared value, by helping host countries develop the skills of their young people and training the future employees the industry will need.

Total's efforts on behalf of education are incorporated into existing local programs, adapted to each host country's specific requirements and always conducted via partnerships. Besides support for well-documented primary and secondary school needs, our education initiatives are implemented through four major international programs:

-Grant awards.

-Partnerships with universities.

-Support for professorial and research chairs.

-Occupational training.

TESS aligns directly with that goal. The summer school is designed to allow students, professors and experts the world over to come together and brainstorm about the energy sector's new challenges.

This year's TESS, the first to gather students and professors, aimed to pinpoint how the worlds of energy and education could work in tandem to provide students with the skills they'll need to meet the challenges of the energy future. It included three plenary sessions, workshops for professors and students, 18 short-format lectures, breakout sessions and even a choir!

The Sustainable Energy show also reports on educational challenges for better energy.

Click here for the episode.

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