College of Engineering Alumni Making More Than Just Good Grades


During the year of 1980, petroleum engineering sophomore, Dennis Thomas met computer science freshman, Denise Danna, at a dormitory hurricane party in Power Hall. The following day, Dennis asked a friend to set up a date with Denise. That date has lasted thirty-four years (married twenty-nine and counting) for these two LSU engineering alumni.

Since Dennis and Denise were studying different majors, they did not have any interferences with class work.

“We didn’t have any classes together, but I don’t feel that it would have had an impact on my grades if we did,” Dennis explained. “Denise kept both of us in line when it came to our studies though. We both worked our way through school and I would occasionally try to get Denise to skip class to go do something, but she would always refuse. She said she worked too hard to earn the money to pay for her classes and she wasn’t going to throw that away.”

Denise disagreed. “I thought we were bad. We stayed up talking until 6 a.m. the morning of my final exam! Thinking back, I must have lost my mind!”

Denise’s career goal was to program for National Security or NASA and Dennis wanted to become a petroleum engineer in Houston. Once Dennis graduated from LSU, the couple found themselves between a rock and a hard place.

“Denise knew that she wanted to start a family in a few years and hoped that she would not have to work while the children were at home. As a result, we chose to prioritize my career, which unfortunately limited hers.” Dennis explained.

“Some may view this as a negative, but we had tremendous opportunities and experiences over the years and I don’t think we would change anything related to careers if we could go back.”

Currently, Dennis works at Freeport McMoRan Oil & Gas as a Maintenance Supervisor and Denise is a retired homemaker. They have two children together, Brandi and Sean. Brandi Thomas Taylor and her husband are LSU graduates. Brandi currently owns her own business. Sean is currently studying mechanical engineering at LSU and also attends Air Force ROTC.

Along with Dennis and Denise Thomas, more than 60 couples who met at LSU’s College of Engineering have gotten married after graduation. Below are a few of the College’s married alumni graduates:

Bryan (’99) and Julianne (’02) Audiffred: Bryan received his bachelor’s in electrical engineering while Julianne received her bachelor’s in biological engineering. Julianne continued to study and received her master’s in biological and agricultural engineering. Four short years after receiving her master’s, Julianne earned her doctorate’s in engineering science.

Jared (’02) and Rhesa Austin (’04) Babin: Jared majored in construction management and Rhesa majored in chemical engineering. Jared and Rhesa have been married for seven years and have two children.

Robert (’76) and Helen LeBlanc (’76) Causey: Robert majored in engineering technology and is self-employed. Helen became a chemical engineer and currently works for Dow Chemical. They have three children, Andrew, Carrie and Scott. Andrew and Carrie are both LSU alumni while the youngest, Scott, is currently working on his bachelors at LSU.

Anthony (’82) and Patricia Frederick (’83) Maurin, III: Both studied engineering technology while at LSU. Patricia continued her education and received her master’s in industrial engineering in 1985. Anthony currently works for ConocoPhillips while Patricia is self-employed. The couple married in 1987 and have two children who graduated college and now work for Microsoft and General Electric.

Mark (’85) and Alena Gilin McDuff: Both majored in electrical engineering. Mark currently works for Amedisys and Alena works for LSU’s Division of Computer Science and Engineering. Mark and Alena have three daughters together. Of their three daughters, the oldest will become an LSU graduate in May 2015.

Frank (’77) and Beth Forster (‘85) O’Quinn: Frank and Beth both graduated in computer science. Frank currently works for LSU Administrative Units as an Information Technology Consultant. Beth is employed by IBM as an information professional. Frank and Beth have two children, their son is studying computer science at LSU and their daughter is attending University Laboratory High School.

Dipakkumar (’83) and Abha Kothari (’84) Oza: Dipakkumar and Abha both received their master’s degree from LSU in system sciences. Dipak (’83) received his PhD in Physics from LSU in 1983.

Article by Erica Pater, External Relations Coordinator, LSU College of Engineering, 225-578-8408,