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Friday, August 29, 2014
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Collin Castille, a senior mechanical engineering major at McNeese, explains cavitation to Zac Miller and his mother, Fran, with a strobe and an acrylic pump. (Frank DiCesare / American Press)

Collin Castille, a senior mechanical engineering major at McNeese, explains cavitation to Zac Miller and his mother, Fran, with a strobe and an acrylic pump. (Frank DiCesare / American Press)

McNeese welcomes future engineers

Last Modified: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 12:42 PM

By Frank DiCesare / American Press

McNeese State University’s engineering school held the first of two open houses last night in an effort to inspire young people to consider a career in engineering.

“The general purpose of the open house is to invite the community to come out and look at our facilities in the hopes that some of the students will decide to pursue careers in engineering and technology,” said Nikos Kiritsis, dean of the McNeese College of Engineering.

Students as young as 13 and their parents listened as McNeese students explained to them engineering’s practical applications in the real world through projects they have developed, which were judged last night by local engineers.

Many of the students who attended the open house were high school juniors and seniors who are looking to attend McNeese and major in engineering.

“I have an interest in mechanical things and physics,” said Zac Miller, a junior at Bell City High School. “I also have a lot of cousins who went through the program here at McNeese.”

Zac’s mother, Fran, said she always knew her son was mechanically inclined. She added that McNeese’s open house is a way to explain to students why engineering is important.

“It was very interesting,” she said. “I like the way it was totally student-led. We didn’t come with a lot of questions but we’ll leave with a lot of them.”

Vince Castille, a plant operator at Axiall, brought his daughter, Carley, to the open house. Through his job at Axiall, he said, his children learned that to get ahead and have a great career in the Lake Charles area, they need to major in engineering or plant technology.

“That’s what Lake Charles is made up of – a lot of industry,” he said. “So why not go into it.”

Zhuang Li, associate professor of mechanical engineering at McNeese, said engineers serve the community. But to serve the community better, he added, McNeese needs good students.

“One thing I don’t like about college students is that they don’t want to be nerds,” Li said. “Being a nerd is a good thing. To quote the (television program) ‘The Big Bang Theory,’ smart is the new sexy.”

Kiritsis said McNeese’s engineering department has been holding open houses for the community for more than 20 years. During that time, he added, he has seen the department grow from 380 students in 2006 to nearly 600 students last fall.

“I want (young students) to see what engineering students do in college,” Kiritsis said. “I want them to look at the machines we use. Talk to some of our students and ask them why they decided to go into engineering.”

McNeese will hold an open house today from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. for high school juniors and seniors throughout Louisiana and Texas. More than 450 students are expected to attend.

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