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Engineering a Generation

In a recent talk on campus as part of the Chancellor’s Distinguished Lectureship Series, Charles Vest, president of the National Academy of Engineering and president emeritus of MIT, stressed to an LSU audience that the number of science and engineering graduates in the United States must increase in order for the country to remain competitive in a global economy.

LSU’s College of Engineering recently took steps to address this situation by hosting two pre-engineering camps for high-school students: REHAMS, or Recruiting into Engineering High Achieving Multi-Cultural Students, sponsored by Shell Oil, and Xcite!, the eXploration Camp Inspiring Tomorrow’s Engineers, for girls, sponsored by Fluor Corporation.

Both camps were meant to give groups of students typically underrepresented in engineering the opportunity to gain exposure to the field. Activities included industry field trips to the Shell Oil Company refineries in Convent and Geismar and a “Rebuilding the City” New Orleans tour hosted by the Army Corps of Engineers. But, perhaps even more valuable were the daily presentations that gave students the opportunities to rub shoulders with professional engineers, develop mentoring relationships and gain a first-person perspective on this potential career path.

Delicia Landry, a REHAMS participant, said, “Before I came to REHAMS, I was not sure that I wanted to be an engineer, as most of my family is in the medical field. The camp definitely helped me decide to pursue engineering, especially biological engineering.”

Parents of participating students were equally impressed with the programs’ impact on their children. Sarah Bell, mother of an XCITE participant, said, “Jessica came home everyday talking about all the things she learned each day. I thank you [LSU] for offering her the opportunity to learn more about engineering and getting her more focused on her academic career. She is also planning on keeping in touch with some of the peer mentors, they had such a huge positive influence on her.”

For more information on these and other outreach programs hosted by the LSU College of Engineering, contact Mimi LaValle at 225-578-5706 or mlavall@lsu.edu.

Ashley Berthelot | LSU Office of Public Affairs
Summer 2008

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