Louisiana Universities Awarded Grants for 3D Printing

Looking towards the future are five universities in Louisiana that have been awarded a collective $20 million federal grant to build a sustainable research and education program in Louisiana in addition to designing complex alloys and polymers for 3D printing, as detailed in an Associated Press release this summer.

The award establishes the Louisiana Material Design Alliance (LAMDA), a board of scientists and engineers at five Louisiana universities and will have a big focus on 3D printing – Louisiana Tech, University of Louisiana Lafayette, Southern University A&M, Tulane University and LSU. The Louisiana Board of Regents is administering this grant.

The project is aiming to introduce new technologies and materials to boost a range of manufacturing industries, with federal support from the National Science Foundation, or NSF, as 3D printing technology holds the potential to reinvent the manufacturing industry, but currently available materials do not meet the needs for structural safety and integrity.

To solve this, Louisiana University scientists, engineers, and other collaborators will be discovering and testing the composition, processing, microstructure, performance, and structural integrity of materials that can be used in advanced 3D printing.

“This game-changing work is at the frontiers of science, engineering and education. We are committed to connecting our research discoveries to industry, so they can have real-world impacts,” said Michael Khonsari, the Dow Chemical Endowed Chair in Rotating Machinery in the LSU Department of Mechanical Engineering, who is the project director for the newly established LAMDA and 3D printing initiative.

The overall project aims to forge new collaborations among LAMDA institutions and establish new partnerships with federal agencies and industries to build a sustainable research and education program in Louisiana as well as development of a skilled and diverse STEM workforce which includes 3D printing. It includes summer training programs for community college faculty to provide them with educational tools to incorporate in their own classrooms, a conference series and other outreach activities.

“This is a great win for Louisiana and the economy that will provide a much-needed boost to the manufacturing industry in our state and across the U.S. We are thankful for the National Science Foundation’s support of the research expertise at LSU and throughout Louisiana,” said LSU Interim President Tom Galligan.

“The manufacturing industry plays a critical role in both state and national economies, and 3D printing will help take it to the next level,” said Sen. John Kennedy, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said. “This funding will help educate university students and better equip Louisiana’s workforce.”

“We are delighted that NSF has recognized the immense value of the collaborative work of researchers across Louisiana institutions, public and private, around cutting-edge manufacturing,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed. “The project’s dual emphasis on research and education ensures the broadest possible reach of the work.”

The grant will pay 14 new faculty members to work in the 3D printing program at the five universities, LSU said in a news release.

In addition to their research, the faculty will develop new courses and student-led research projects to increase Louisiana’s STEM workforce.

For more education related information, click here.

Classic New Orleans Beignets to Make at Home

The Beignet is a classic Louisiana breakfast staple, but it’s not just for the patio of the norotirous Cafe du Monde, as a“What’s Cooking America” recipe details, homemade beignets are easy to prepare!

Beignets, the New Orleans specialty, are fried, raised pieces of yeast dough, usually around 2 inches in diameter, fried, and sprinkled with powdered sugar. They are most often enjoyed with cafe au lait, a strong dark roast coffee and chicory, served with equal part hot milk, with no other establishment serving better beignets and accompanying coffee than the original Cafe du Monde coffee stand, established in the New Orleans French Market in 1862 and still operating today.

Though, if you’re ready to enjoy fresh beignets in the comfort of your own home, no matter the location, than set aside approximately 45 minutes of preparation and cooking time, and grab the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup sugar (granulated)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg, room temperature and beaten
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 4 cups flour (bread flour or all-purpose)
  • 3 teaspoons instant active dry yeast
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying
  • Powdered sugar (confectioners’ sugar) for dusting

The Dough

If you’re using a stand-up mixer with a dough hook, place your water, sugar, salt, egg, butter, evaporated milk, flour, and yeast in the bowl.  Beat until smooth.  Remove the beignet dough from bowl and turn out onto a lightly-oiled surface.  Form dough into an oval, place in a lightly-greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until well chilled (3 to 4 hours) or overnight.

If you’re using a Food processor, place water, sugar, salt, egg, butter, evaporated milk, flour, and yeast in the bowl of the processor.  Pulse just until smooth. Remove the beignet dough from bowl and turn out onto a lightly-oiled surface.  Form dough into an oval, place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until well chilled (3 to 4 hours) or overnight.

The Beignets

Remove the prepared beignet dough from the refrigerator and roll out on a lightly-floured board to 1/2-inch thickness.  Using a sharp knife, cut dough into approximately 3-inch squares, triangles, or circles (your choice); set aside.

In a deep fryer or large pot, heat vegetable oil to 360 degrees F. Then, slide the beignet dough pieces into the hot oil (slowly!), and fry them for approximately 2 to 3 minutes or until they are puffed and golden brown on both sides. These beignets will rise to the surface of the oil as soon as they begin to puff.

While the beignets are still warm, sprinkle heavily with powdered sugar.  An easy way to coat the hot beignets in powdered sugar is to place the powdered sugar an a clean bag.  Add the beignets to the bag, hold bag close and shake to coat evenly.

Serve beignets while still warm.  Grab yourself a steaming cup of Cafe au Lait or your favorite hot coffee and enjoy!

For more delicious recipes, click here.

Fourth of July Celebrated in a Socially Distant Way

In lieu of a traditional Fourth of July celebration this year consisting of an official  fireworks display over the Mississippi River in downtown New Orleans, city officials planned an equally festive, socially-distanced, drive-in mini music festival, so reports a nola.com article.

Due to the recent coronavirus pandemic, New Orleans moved their Fourth of July celebration and fireworks to have them set off over Lake Pontchartrain near Bucktown as the culmination of the night’s festivities, “Festing on the Fourth.” The event took place at Bucktown Harbor Park, and featured performances by country/Cajun fiddler and singer Amanda Shaw, the brass/stage band hybrid the Brass-A-Holics, contemporary funk band Flow Tribe, and cover band D-Play, ending with a fireworks display choreographed to music.

Given the casual atmosphere of the Fourth of July event, attendees could bring their own food and beverages, but food and both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages were  available for purchase. Additionally, face masks were required when going to and from the concession area and restrooms. Otherwise, attendees were expected to remain inside or beside their vehicles as the show was broadcast via an FM transmitter.

Given that national and state-wide guidelines have altered previously scheduled music events and festivals, drive-in-style events have become the default model for live music, as nothing will deter a Louisiana city’s right to party. Earlier this summer, Kenner hosted a drive-in concert at the Pontchartrain Center on May 30, and soon a three-week drive-in concert series on the UNO Lakefront Arena will kick off on July 10 with Tank and the Bangas and continues with Galactic on July 17 and the Revivalists on July 24.

One group featured at the Fourth of July event was Flow Tribe, a group who would have entertained crowds at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, but instead played a similarly raucous outdoor show at the Abita Brew Pub in Abita Springs on June 20.

“It’s all up in the air,” singer/trumpeter K.C. O’Rorke said. “Everybody’s trying to figure out a formula that works. So many things go through your mind: ‘Should I be doing this? Is this the right time?’ You want to be responsible.” This ever-shifting landscape requires “constantly being on your toes and figuring out what will actually happen and what won’t. We’ll take what we can get, but we won’t push it. We’ll figure out something else to stay alive.”

During the band’s downtime, O’Rorke and his bandmates have finished a new album and live-streamed monthly performances from their New Orleans-based studio, though the reception could take some adjusting. “We’ve gotten used to no applause and playing to a screen, which is strange. So this will be cool. We’re grateful for the gig,” said O’Rorke in a an interview with nola.com prior to the Fourth of July event.

The Fourth of July event, “Fest-ing on the Fourth”, kicked off at 3pm with live music at Bucktown Harbor Park. For optimal visual and audio reception, attendees had the option to go just over the levee near the Coast Guard Station on the grassy field for a lively, celebratory evening.

For more Louisiana related articles, click here.

What To Consider For a 2020 Summer Road Trip

More and more families are emerging from their homes this summer in favor of the classic American Road-trip, in lieu of a jet plane excursion. So, if planning a cross-country traversal this summer, check out these expert tips provided by Travel and Leisure.

For many vacationers who usually hop on a jet plane to travel to faraway destinations this summer, road trips are looking more appealing. According to a recent survey conducted by the U.S. Travel Association in partnership with MMGY Travel Intelligence, 68 percent of travelers admit that they “feel safest when traveling by personal vehicle and when visiting outdoor destinations.” Nearly half (45 percent) of the respondents said they are likely to travel more by car. And due to recent national health events, that trip in the car is looking much more appealing, as traveling with family and friends limits unnecessary contact with others as it’s wise to avoid public transportation, crowded waiting areas, and strangers for the time being. Thus, the American road trip is looking ever-more appealing.

Record Low Gas Prices

Often cited as a top deterrent for cross-country travelers, abundant gas station receipts can make or break a vacation, though this summer, that concern is a concern of the past. As of June 2020, per gallon averages are just under $2, the lowest it’s been in the past five years. Road trippers are even more benefited by accompanying their driving with an app like GasBuddy that offers fuel prices, destination routing, and budget planning. Additionally, indoor gas station prices will seem much less appealing once your backseat is stocked with a cooler, limiting the frequent, non-frugal purchases of soft drinks, snacks, and meals from the convenience store counter.

Travel in Style

When planning a road-trip, it’s often found that traveling in your own vehicle might not be the best option, whether due to its size or general reliability So, why not rent a vessel that bigger and more fun to drive? Be it a picturesque convertible or sturdy, safe SUV might be the way to go, as many modern models offer Wi-Fi, satellite radio, navigation, wireless phone charging, and safety features like lane assistance, emergency braking, and blind-spot warnings. In fact, renting a new model vehicle is like borrowing the top road trip machine. No matter your vehicle preference or chosen rental company, be sure to review their policies, especially cleanliness, pickup, return, and pricing. For budget planners, be sure to check with Offers.com for current deals, and look for specials, discounts, and low daily rates.

Plan Twice; Panic Never

No matter the destination or vehicle, you should prepare a list of items you’ll need and want along the way, a decent medical kit (Global Rescue compiles great suggestions), an extra phone charger, as well as many other oddities oft-forgot. Thankfully, the Auto Club published a very helpful checklist as a reminder to make sure your vehicle is as ready for your road trip as you are.

For more travel related news and information, click here.

Apple Recognizes UL Lafayette Student

A press release by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette outlines that 2020 student Joesph Kokenge has caught the eye of tech giant, Apple.  Kokenge noted that he continually gave his high school computer science assignments considerably more attention than other subjects, by his own admission. In the article, Kokenge remarks, ““I found myself wanting to do more computer science homework, and trying to find ways to get around doing social studies, science and math homework. So, I told myself, ‘You know what, I enjoy doing this so much I should probably pursue this in college.”

The UL Lafayette senior is 21 years old and majoring in computer science, with a specific concentration in big data and cloud computing, and according to acclaimed technology titan Apple, Inc, he evidently made the right choice. The technology company has named Kokenge alongside 350 students from 41 countries as winners of its “Swift Student Challenge,” which is held in conjunction with the Apple 2020 Worldwide Developers conference.

The program requires its tens of thousands of student participants who enter to develop a virtual environment on Apple’s Swift Playground App, which teaches its users how to code, the process of creating instructions for computers using programming languages.

Kokenge created the “Secure Hashing Algorithm Crash Course,” which is a virtual playground that is focused on cybersecurity. The concept of Hashing involves using algorithms to convert passwords into a “hash,” or a string of characters helping to keep passwords secure.

Apple’s playground app offers another feature for an additional security measure, says Kokenge, “it basically walks someone through how to go from just having a password that’s hashed, to what’s called ‘salting the password.’”

He explained, “You basically add few random letters at the end, and that makes the password a lot harder to crack.”

The Swift Student Challenge isn’t the first time Kokenge’s prowess and technological acumen has earned national attention, as at just the age of 18, he was featured in a Wall Street Journal article about entrepreneurial teenagers making big bucks by repairing iPhones. Kokenge, who watched YouTube videos in order to learn the process, charged anywhere from $50 to $200 to repair cracked phone screens.

Additionally, he developed several applications that have since been published by Apple’s official App Store, their digital distribution platform. One app enables people to submit prayer requests and get matched with another person with whom they will pray for 24 hours.

His latest app, which was only published this summer, is called “Dinner Decider;” it enables a group of people to generate a data-driven, anonymous consensus as to where the majority wants to dine, solving the frequent supper-time stresser.

“People are often reluctant to share their preferences verbally, so the app is designed to provide a way around that,” he explained.

Kokenge, who anticipates graduating in Spring 2021, plans to work for a small computer company to “get experience and learn,” then would like to move on to a larger one such as “Apple, Google, or Microsoft.”

For more education related information, click here.

Bread and Pastries to Start Your Day

For those who often only indulge in bread and pastries on the weekends or in front of the tantalizing coffee store counter, these irresistible morning wake-up call recipes, provided by Martha Stewart, are sure to have you hopping out of bed and into a great mood.

Blueberry Toaster Pastries

Beyond the familiar, airy crust and fruity interior, these sweet treats have very little in common with their grocery story siblings, though they can be just as convenient by preparing and freezing a batch in advance. These toaster pastries are packed with a blueberry filling that’s zesty, and they are drizzled and coated with a basic confectioners’ sugar glaze that will impress by its intense violet coloring alone. The glaze is made possible by ground freeze-dried blueberries and a smattering of sprinkles.

Herb-Cheddar Scones

Adding savory delicacies to your morning routine is always advised with these cheesy scallion-and-dill-flecked beauties, making this a new must-have vehicle for egg sandwiches that elevated a simple scramble into an unforgettable feasting. The buttery dough (that comes together without a mixer) is interfolded with herbs and sharp cheddar and showered before baking to create its crisp tops. For maximum enjoyment, serve with a swirl of butter and slice the dough into squares or wedges.

Biscuit Jelly Roll Pastry with Rhubarb and Raspberries

With this recipe, biscuits get a bold, golden, sweet makeover. Starting with a classic buttermilk-infused dough, rolled into a rectangle that’s blanketed with gorgeous pink filling and folded into thirds. Rather than bubbling in a pan on the stovetop, this jammy rhubarb-raspberry mixture is caramelized on a sheet pan in the oven and finished off with a dusting of sanding sugar to add a sparkly, sweet crunch.

Monkey Bread with Hazelnut-Chocolate Swirl

Monkey Bread is just what a lazy, leisure-filed morning necessitates. In this recipe, yeasted dough is rolled into tiny orbs, assembled in a bundt pan, and rising alongside your self once sipping your morning coffee. This treat’s deep chocolate-hazelnut notes come from generous drizzles of Nutella on the bottom of the pan and layered throughout. Do you prefer to sleep in? Work ahead of time, as this recipe actually benefits from an overnight ferment in the fridge, taking on a more robust flavor. The next day, bring it to room temperature and set it in the oven.

Apricot and Cream Cheese Squares 

This classic brunch favorite is inspired by the cheese-and-fruit danish, but this cheerful tray bake skips the often fussy pastry in favor of the focaccia dough, which requires far less maintenance. As for the plump apricots lining the tops of these savory, sweet squares, it’s preferred that you utilize jarred or canned fruit that have been poached in syrup, allowing their mellow flavor and silky texture to truly takeover.

Streusel Banana Bread

This is a beautiful union of two breakfast loves, coffee cake and banana bread. The nutty cinnamon and brown sugar topping perfects this moist loaf, providing a salty-sweet beat with every bite. This pastry treat is a perfect accompaniment for your pot of morning coffee.

For more delicious recipes and pastries, click here.