August 16, 2010

The LSU College of Engineering's Office for Diversity Programs hosts several pre-college programs to help expose students from gender and race/ethnicity demographics that are underrepresented in college engineering programs to this profession. The effect of lack of exposure to engineering is evident by the low percentage of underrepresented students enrolled in engineering degree programs, seeking graduate degrees, pursuing academic careers and working in the field of engineering at LSU and nationwide. Recruitment into Engineering of High Ability Multi-cultural Students, widely known as REHAMS and longest running minority pre-college program in the College of Engineering, was held during the week of June 13th, 2010.

REHAMS, a pre-college summer program for underrepresented students, is designed to introduce and further strengthen engineering knowledge and also provide an example of college life for an engineering student. The Office for Diversity Programs partnered with two major industry leaders, Shell and Fluor, to provide an intensive one-week, residential engineering experience for multi-cultural students entering the 10th or 11th grades. A total of 24 students from Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama participated in the 2010 program.

The participants resided on campus and learned about various engineering disciplines offered by LSU through industry lectures, hands-on engineering activities and labs.

Dr. Mike Benton, Chemical Engineering Assistant Professor, led a demonstration on the "Wonderful World of Polymers". Students created and tested the strength of different types of polymers.

Ms. Charlaya Washington, Electrical Engineering Senior, led a demonstration on light and optics. Students built and tested an everyday household item, the flashlight.

In addition to the hands-on activities and labs, the program administrators implemented Professionalism 101 seminars. The courses were introduced to help students develop and/or enhance networking, communication, etiquette, resume writing and interviewing skills. The focus was to enhance the participants' soft-skills needed to obtain internships and jobs and flourish in college and throughout life. The Professionalism 101 seminars were led by LSU Alumni, staff and students.

Alicia Butler-Pierre, LSU Chemical Engineering Alumnus and Founder and Owner of Equilibria Systems, Inc. in Atlanta, GA, lectured on the importance of networking and standing-out in the crowd. Alicia expressed, "I had a good time and I am honored to be able to give back by helping the students gain a better understanding of the importance of networking.'

Mrs. Del Dugas, LSU Chemical Engineering Alumnus and ExxonMobil employee, gave the students great insight on how to properly interview for the job of their dreams.

Jeremy Jenkins, LSU Mechanical Engineering Alumnus and Dow Chemical employee, lectured on the importance of building a great and effective resume. Jeremy was an active participant in the College's diversity programs while a student and stated, "I enjoy giving back to a program that helped me to be a great student and person. It was my pleasure to help the next generation of engineers by stressing how a great resume can be the start of getting the job you want."

REHAMS participants also participated in an industry luncheon with Shell. Shell employees and LSU alumni, Delwyn Mitchell and Sean Odom, spoke about Shell's role in the oil industry and consumer products. They also led a design challenge with the students, "The Egg Drop Experiment," in which the students had to design and build an egg carrier that would keep an egg from breaking if dropped at particular heights. The students also created mini-commercials to present their final egg carrier design.

REHAMS 2010 was a successful program. All of the students expressed interest in attending LSU and majoring in engineering. Daniel Miles (Baton Rouge, LA, Baton Rouge Magnet 11th grader), William Jones (New Orleans, LA, Ben Franklin 11th grader) and Allerick Tezeno (Dallas, TX, Christian High School 11th grader) said it best, "REHAMS isn't just another program. Here you meet new people that will help you in the future and, in a way, you find a home away from home." Zari Davis (Mobile, AL, Davidson High 10th grader) further added, "It is refreshing to see so many young people who look like me and have the same interests as me. REHAMS is cool!"



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