April 26, 2011

The “BRCC to LSU Engineering Pathway to Success” Program, a partnership between the LSU College of Engineering, or CoE, and the Baton Rouge Community College, or BRCC, has recently received a $600,000 award from the National Science Foundation, or NSF, to provide financial support for approximately 35 academically talented, financially eligible students, who have completed the Associate of Science in Engineering degree at BRCC and will transfer into an engineering degree program within the LSU CoE.

Additionally, about half of the students approaching graduation from BRCC with an associate’s degree in engineering in the partnership program, affectionately referred to as the “Bears to Tigers” program, are military veterans actively seeking a pathway to becoming successful engineers.

“I spent five years active duty Army and did two tours overseas, one to Afghanistan and one to Iraq,” said Brad Jacobs, BRCC engineering student. “I have always wanted to go to LSU to get my degree, but my grades were not very good from when I was in college before the Army. I decided to go to BRCC for a year to get my grades up. I have always found engineering interesting and usually wonder how things work. I found out about the AS to BS program after meeting Kerry Reed [faculty member at BRCC] and found it very interesting. I will be the fourth generation in my family to attend LSU.”

The project is administered by the Office for Diversity Programs within LSU’s College of Engineering, with collaboration from BRCC and oversight by an advisory panel.

“The focus of the project is to provide a model for blending recruitment, retention and placement into an integrated and comprehensive program that promotes student success in transitioning from the community college to LSU,” said Kelly A. Rusch, associate dean of the College of Engineering and the grant’s principal investigator. “This program will provide increased opportunities for a larger, more diverse population of students, including non-traditional, underrepresented and first generation, to obtain an engineering degree.”

LSU and the Baton Rouge Community College, or BRCC, joined forces the fall of 2010 to offer this unique engineering program that allowed students to enter into a proposed engineering program at BRCC to gain an Associate of Science in engineering degree. Upon successful completion of the associate degree requirements, students would then transfer seamlessly to LSU to complete a Bachelor of Science degree in a CoE discipline.

This progression program makes engineering more affordable and more practical to many students across the state who might have difficulty entering LSU, whether due to financial issues or entry requirements. The partnership allows participating BRCC students to become involved at LSU and experience additional opportunities specific to their major, and also facilitates faculty collaboration between the two schools, particularly where curricular activities and engineering education pedagogy are concerned.

“The benefit to the students here is significant,” said Rick Koubek, dean of the College of Engineering. “This program was designed to make an engineering education – and career – an achievable dream for all students. The AS to BS in Engineering Progression Program underscores LSU’s and BRCC’s commitment to Louisiana by working across academic institutions to educate more engineers and meet the needs of our state.”

Though the agreement is specifically targeted toward benefitting students and providing service to the state of Louisiana, it will also benefit engineering professionals at both campuses in the following ways:

  • BRCC faculty will be invited to participate in LSU’s National Science Foundation-sponsored Faculty Development Workshop, which is held annually.
  • LSU and BRCC faculty will collaborate on external grants to improve engineering education.
  • BRCC faculty will be invited to attend the monthly Engineering Faculty Professional Series that covers topics from active learning strategies to collaborative efforts.

“I’d like to personally thank Kerry Reed from BRCC’s College of Math, Science and Technology, as well as Kelly Rusch and Warren Waggenspack from the LSU College of Engineering, for making this program become a reality,” said Koubek. “These dedicated faculty have created a detailed curriculum and transfer model in six months, and then successfully competed for federal funding, which supports Louisiana students. Their hard work has resulted in an engineering partnership that will directly benefit the future of Louisiana.”


For more information, contact Mimi LaValle at 225-578-5706 or mlavall@lsu.edu

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