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SPE's success can be monitored not only by its growth in membership but by its growth in the number of local sections. SPE sections have been the backbone of the society, providing meetings, conferences, dinners, training classes, and other professional and social programs and activities for members. The primary mission of local sections is to distribute information through regular meetings and educational programs. Through the years, sections have provided members in a geographic area an opportunity to exchange technical information, network with peers, support student chapters, and engage in activities that benefit their communities. Sections encourage the next generation of engineers through paper contests and scholarships. Many sections have provided career guidance programs, science fairs, and career days, as well as supplied secondary schools with movies and guest speakers to increase awareness about the oil and gas industry and career opportunities. The First Sections SPE has more than 160 sections in 65 countries across the globe with members in 114 countries, but some of those sections actually predate SPE. Before SPE split from the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers (AIME), some members involved in the petroleum profession had formed local sections to discuss common interests. SPE carried this practice forward after it left AIME, realizing that sections could enhance networking and local programming in a way that a large organization by itself could not. Sections allowed SPE to take the society along with its programs and services to members wherever they lived. That philosophy later helped SPE to expand internationally. While SPE is turning 50 years old this year, the Mid-Continent Section celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1967. SPE's oldest section, which is based in Tulsa, was founded on 28 December 1917 and was the 15th local section formed under AIME, and, until 1935, was the only section with a predominantly petroleum membership. When the section was established, AIME had a total membership of 6,500, of which approximately 800 were interested primarily in petroleum production. Today, the Mid-Continent Section alone has more than 800 members. The section membership is a mix of employees who work for major oil and gas companies, independent producers, drilling contractors, well service and gas transmission firms, equipment suppliers, universities, government agencies, and consultancies. The Gulf Coast Section, founded in 1935, is now SPE's largest, with 12,597 members. The section is extremely active in the Houston area, offering members opportunities to attend conferences, study groups, dinners, forums, luncheons, seminars, and workshops. Members participate in community services that educate students about the oil and gas industry, and the section provides numerous scholarships, internships, science fairs, recruiting fairs, Offshore Technology Conference tours, and National Engineers Week activities. In response to the outstanding effort performed by Gulf Coast members, the section has won the SPE President's Award for Section Excellence 9 years in a row. The section has made great contributions to SPE International; at least six SPE Presidents have been Gulf Coast Section members.
5. France. Summer was eventful for the SPE French Young Professionals (YPs) Section. A new-initiative group was created and is currently working on the new program for the coming year. A New French YP Section was launched in Pau, in southern France. Gerald Latchimy-Parassouramin, 2005–06 SPE Student Chapter president, leads this section. He and four other former members of the student chapter organized a first meeting with YPs in Pau during May. The first meeting was a real success. The main goal was to invite YPs working for service companies and academia in the oil and gas industry to join the Pau YP Section.
It is hoped that this section of the magazine will go some way toward answering the question: "What else besides my technical development can help me advance my career, and how can SPE help?" Included will be short articles and photos volunteered by ELP/YEPP sections from around the world. The articles will describe seminars, workshops, and other events that other ELP/YEPP sections may be interested in hosting. These articles may assist in the development of new ELP sections or could trigger new ideas within existing sections.