McNeese welcomes future engineers

By 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.