LSU Virtual Geaux Engineering Program a Success
September 24, 2020
BATON ROUGE, LA – This year marked LSU’s first Geaux Engineering program, which was a hit despite participants attending virtually due to the ongoing pandemic. The student-run, three-day program is an opportunity for incoming freshmen to get a head start on their college experience by participating in various team-building and design activities, attending academic sessions, and meeting upperclassmen, faculty, and industry partners.
No fewer than 231 freshmen participated in GE this year.
GE participants were welcomed to the program during a GE Participant Orientation the first night. The next day, students attended four courses led by upperclassmen—Design Intro & Project Selection, Business Etiquette, Ethics in Engineering/Computer Science, and College of Engineering Crash Course for Success. As part of the Design Intro & Project Selection, the 231 students broke into groups of four to six in 53 teams to work on a design project. Each team was led by a member of the Society of Peer Mentors at LSU.
Each team chose a design project, which revolved around creating a cruise ship for Joe Burrow while keeping COVID-19 in mind. Their options for design projects included Plunder for Power—design an electric circuit to improve daily life for either the passengers or the crew using virtual Arduino software; Voyage of APPtitude—design an original mobile app that would improve life for passengers and crew; Rescue Releaser—design a system for storing, deploying, and retrieving lifeboats; Blueprint Buccaneers—design the layout of the ship, including attractions, bathrooms, restaurants, rooms, and a transportation system; and Lad Lagoon—design a safe water attraction for kids ages 2 to 8. The students worked on their projects with their team in the evenings and whenever there were breaks in between the other planned sessions.
The following day, students participated in Degree Exploration, where they learned about each LSU College of Engineering major and had the opportunity to ask questions to help them decide which field of engineering they would be interested in. A professor from each of the 10 majors gave a 20-minute presentation on their particular field of engineering via Zoom. Presenters included Environmental Engineering Undergraduate Program Coordinator John Pardue, Industrial Engineering Director Isabelina Nahmens, Civil Engineering Undergraduate Programs Advisor Suresh Moorthy, Construction Management Undergraduate Coordinator Stephanie Heumann, Computer Science Undergraduate Coordinator and Advisor Patti Aymond and CS Chair Bijaya Karki, Chemical Engineering Chair John Flake, Petroleum Engineering Undergraduate Coordinator Fred Thurber and PETE Chair Karsten Thompson, Biological Engineering Assistant Professor Philip Jung, Mechanical Engineering Capstone Design Coordinator and Instructor David Giurintano, and Electrical Engineering Instructor Mark Rabalais.
As part of GE, students were also introduced to an industry panel that consisted of LSU Engineering alumni who discussed their current jobs and gave students advice on how to prepare for their future careers. Industry panelists included alumni who work for Shell, Toyota, L’Oréal, John Deere, Nissan, Baylor College of Medicine, Qualtrics, Collins Aerospace, BASF, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, NV5, Samsung, Halliburton, CDM Smith and Water Resources, Tindall Corporation, Dow Chemical, Chevron, and Zachary Construction Corporation.
Students also had the opportunity to listen to a panel of upperclassmen speak about co-ops, internships, research, study abroad programs, scholarships, and ROTC, followed by a question and answer session.
LSU Chemical Engineering junior Ruby Roberg of St. Francisville served as a team leader during the camp.
“I participated in the camp as a freshman and had a really great time,” she said. “Shortly after, I joined SPM at LSU. This year, [Assistant Director of Programs and Outreach] Adrienne Steele sent out an email saying GE needed team leaders, so I applied.”
Doing everything virtually ended up having its benefits, according to Roberg.
“It allowed us to fit more in because there was less transition time,” she said. “The only downfall was not having everyone sitting together in a classroom, but I focused on making our group chats lively and getting the students excited to work on their projects and get to know one another.”
Roberg said many LSU Engineering freshmen enter GE undecided on what they want to major in, but the camp helps them get a better look at the different areas.
“Even if the students come in and say they want to do chemical engineering, it’s good for them to know what the other degrees do,” she said. “They may say, ‘Oh, that’s something I’m interested in.’ There are a lot of similarities in each discipline, so I’m glad they get to see that.”
Steele advises SPM at LSU and has led past camps in the college. This year, she pulled 73 peer mentors for GE.
“SPM at LSU has about 160 active members, so it’s not hard for me to round up leaders to work this program,” she said. “Working this program is actually one of the main draws for students to join SPM at LSU. They attend a program like GE and enjoy it so much that they want to work it the following year.”
Steele said SPM at LSU students interested in becoming a GE team leader must fill out an application, participate in a short interview led by current mentors, and attend two leadership workshops in the spring.
Overall, the GE program is beneficial to incoming freshmen in helping them learn more about the engineering field they wish to pursue, and they can one day come back to the program as a team leader to inspire future engineers.
Contact: Libby Haydel