In 1962, the Atlantic Provinces Inter-University Committee on the Sciences (APICS) was founded to encourage collaboration across Maritime universities and the government sector. Over the past six decades, the organization has evolved and grown, now representing 18 post-secondary institutions from all four Atlantic provinces. While the name has changed, Science Atlantic’s core mandate remains the same: to make connections and provide opportunities for students, educators, and researchers.
Science Atlantic’s activities include workshops and networking opportunities for students and faculty, annual student conferences in ten disciplinary and interdisciplinary fields, awards recognizing students’ research and communication skills, and speaker tours by notable scientists. As well, members of Science Atlantic have worked collaboratively to address issues such as ensuring equitable distribution of national research funding to the Atlantic region, providing input on high school curricula, and investigating new educational developments – such as the use of multi-media resources in the classroom in the 1970s.
We are best known for our student conferences which are attended by approximately 900 undergrads, graduates, and faculty annually. These events offer students a variety of opportunities that help propel them closer to achieving their academic and professional goals. Students are able to practice their presentation skills, learn about future academic opportunities, and meet potential future employers and graduate studies advisors. Over the years, some students who have attended conferences have completed their advanced studies and taken on professorial roles in the region, educating and mentoring new generations of students.
Science Atlantic also supports student development through experiential learning. Conference organizers gain skills in planning, budgeting, and executing multi-day events for up to 200 people. Field trips and competitions are important activities at several of the annual conferences. As well, we have been providing employment opportunities for the past 20 years for up to 10 students each year, ranging from science communication to marketing to software development. In 2014, the organization was nominated for Dalhousie’s top co-op employer award, and in 2018 was a finalist for Halifax Partnership’s Youth Employer of the Year.
Sixty years attests to the strong support of the post-secondary STEM community. The advancements Science Atlantic has made over the years would not have been possible without our member institution leaders and faculty who have provided meaningful insight and offered countless hours of volunteer work.
Most recently, we completed in depth interviews of members of the post-secondary community to better understand their interests, challenges and needs. In the Fall of 2021, the results of this research are being shared, through the release of the report “Broadening Horizons”. Findings will inform our future endeavors and will allow the organization to offer stronger support to the community as we move through our next 60 years of service. We look forward to another successful sixty years of opportunity, inspiration, and community and hope to see you along our journey!