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McNeese gears courses toward industry needs

Last Modified: Sunday, August 17, 2014 12:44 PM

By Kara Carrier / American Press

With an industry-fueled economic boom expected in Southwest Louisiana, McNeese State University has added two degree concentrations in chemistry.

Starting this fall, students can study for a bachelor’s in chemistry with a concentration in chemistry and management or an associate degree in general studies with a concentration in chemistry.

Ron Darbeau, McNeese chemistry and physics department head, said the university began looking into offering the new concentrations about two years ago. Darbeau said his department collaborated with the basic studies and business departments to create the concentrations for students interested in working in Lake Area industries

“It’s about providing a workforce to service the rapidly growing industries in the area, which is worth billions,” Darbeau said. “If you can get a workforce that is capable and willing to stay in the area, here where they grew up, then it’s a win-win situation. We are arming students to compete for high-paying jobs to provide for their families and also providing a workforce for the companies.”

According to a university news release, students in the associate degree program will get a “solid foundation in general chemistry and significant knowledge of chemical and instrumental analyses.”

Alison Blevins, McNeese director of basic studies, said in the release that the two-year program is for students wanting a quick path to academic chemistry credentials.

Darbeau said the four-year degree caters to students who want to “straddle the fence” between chemistry and business. He said those students will be able to run a “bench operation” like a typical chemist would and also be capable of moving into administration. Students in that program will also have an internship requirement where they will work for a semester in an industrial setting, he said.

Furthermore, Darbeau said the degree is a good platform for students who want to go on to graduate or professional schools because it widens their options. The degree plan has students taking about 30 hours each of chemistry and business courses, he said.

“McNeese has the advantage of being ... embedded in the Lake Area where there is this wealth of industry in which we already have a great working relationship,” Darbeau said. “This is a wonderful scenario for anybody who is seriously interested in studying both chemistry and business. We are just tickled pink to be able to offer it.”

Posted By: michelle bourque On: 8/18/2014


My son graduated with a chemistry degree back in December at mcneese and has been trying to get on at the plants since and has had no luck. When a lab job becomes open the operators have first option so he feels like it has become a wasted degree and for the operators they are taking the students who went to sowela ,

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