September 20, 2010

Several pre-college events are hosted by the LSU College of Engineering Office for Diversity Programs to engage students from underrepresented gender and race/ethnicity demographics in college engineering programs to the profession. The 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 (REHAMS), the longest running minority pre-college program in the College of Engineering, is designed to introduce and strengthen engineering knowledge and provide an insight to college life for an engineering student. The Office for Diversity Programs partnered with two major industry leaders, Fluor and Shell, to present an intensive one-week, residential engineering experience for multi-cultural students entering the tenth or eleventh grades. A total of 24 students from Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama participated in the 2010 program.

REHAMS participants resided on campus and learned about various LSU engineering disciplines through industry lectures, hands-on engineering activities and laboratory projects.

Dr. Mike Benton, assistant professor in the Cain Department of Chemical Engineering, directed a demonstration on the "Wonderful World of Polymers," where students created and tested the strength of different types of polymers. Charlaya Washington, electrical engineering senior, gave a demonstration on light and optics, where students built and tested an everyday household item-the flashlight.

In addition to hands-on activities and lab experiments, 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 improve the participants' soft-skills needed toward obtaining internships and jobs to succeed in college and throughout life. The "Professionalism 101" seminars were led by LSU alumni, staff and students.

Alicia Butler-Pierre, chemical engineering alumna and founder/owner of Equilibria Systems, Inc. in Atlanta, GA, addressed 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."

Del Dugas, chemical engineering alumna and capital investment planner with ExxonMobil, gave the students great insight on how to properly interview for the job of their dreams.

Jeremy Jenkins, mechanical engineering alumnus and maintenance engineer for Oxides and Specialties Maintenance with Dow Chemical, spoke on the importance of building an effective resume. Jenkins, an active participant in the College's diversity programs as a student 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 students 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 guided a design challenge with the students titled "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.

The success of REHAMS 2010 was evident as all students expressed an interest in attending LSU to study engineering. Daniel Miles (Baton Rouge, LA, Baton Rouge Magnet 11th grader), William Jones (New Orleans, LA, Ben Franklin 11thth grader) offered an enthusiastic assessment, stating, "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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Article by Vaneshette Henderson, College of Engineering Office for Diversity Programs, 225-578-6004, vhende1@lsu.edu

 

 



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