IAH Belgium National Chapter commits itself to organising at least one series of evening classes per year, in Dutch as well as in French, to address the demand for continuing professional development within its community. These classes are open to all members and non-members, in hope of attracting more people towards IAH’s activities. The courses are presented by IAH members, Belgium committee members and external people, according to topic and available expertise. The topics are chosen based on consultation with local members and from a periodic survey.
As they are mostly targeting professionals, the courses are taught in the evening, and generally three or four sessions (one per week) are required to discuss all aspects of the selected topic. Recent classes were entitled “Practical introduction to groundwater modelling”. They consisted of three sessions, presented by IAH Belgium’s president, Prof. Dr. Ir. Marijke Huysmans, followed by hands-on exercises provided by Dr. Bart Rogiers, member of the committee, which took around 1.5 hours. During the first session we discussed the basics of groundwater flow modelling and the importance of boundary conditions. The second session dealt with calibration of groundwater flow models, while the third session looked at particle tracking and solute transport modelling. The exercises were performed with several open source USGS tools, which allowed the participants to use these tools at work, without additional costs, share their experiences with colleagues etc.
As you might expect, the courses were fully booked in no time. The audience represented a mix of hydrogeologists, soil scientists, geologists, and ecohydrologists, both from the private and the public sector. The funds obtained by these successful events are being invested now in new initiatives such as a “Young Hydrogeologists Day”, where Masters students and recent graduates can win a cash prize and network with companies to discuss opportunities for starting their professional life.