Grant Awarded to Nicholls for New Engineering Technology Program

In order to create a brand-new degree program in the field of engineering, Nicholls State University has been awarded a $1.8 million grant, according to this press release from the school. As an integral part of the South Louisiana H2theFuture Energy Transformation Coalition, Nicholls will offer students the Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Technology and thus provide career-ready training for students to join the emerging clean energy workforce in the state.

H2theFuture, a 25-organization large partnership of institutions and businesses across South Louisiana, of which Nicholls is a member, has been awarded a $50 million federal grant by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA).

Greater New Orleans Development Foundation and its affiliate, Greater New Orleans, Inc., are leading the H2theFuture project. This project will create jobs in Louisiana by implementing a clean hydrogen cluster strategy that is designed to lower carbon emissions in the South Louisiana industrial corridor.

Nicholls University is set to develop a new engineering technology curriculum that will be focused on serving the needs of the generation and delivery of new energy in South Louisiana. As a result, the school will be supporting incumbent, dislocated, and fresh workers that have emerged from Hurricane Ida, restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the oilfield downturn.

Dr. John Doucet is the Dean of the College of Sciences and Technology as well as the Director of Coastal Initiatives and Project Leader. Dr. Doucet spoke about the grant by saying, “t​he H2theFuture grant will fund a brand new engineering technology degree program at Nicholls focused on preparing students for the emerging renewable energy industry in Louisiana. With this funding, Nicholls will be providing high-quality engineering technologists to satisfy workforce needs as well as preparing our students for high-paying technical jobs and careers.”

Multiple of Nicholls’ advisors from the energy and engineering industry have indicated that this type of program’s produced graduates will be some of the most employable in the future. Nicholls’ collaborative degree program will supply its students not only with project-based electrical, mechanical, and industrial engineering skills, but they will also be able to coordinate construction projects, conduct building and equipment inspections, and use unmanned aerial vehicles for data collection.

Recently, other non-industry partners have supported Nicholls State University in the development of its Coastal Center, which is a research and education center that will be focused on science-based solutions to problems in coastal areas and estuaries.

Because Louisiana has the highest per-capita use of industrial H2 in the United States, as well as other factors, the state may be the best choice for a clean hydrogen cluster. Some of the state’s other advantages include it having the densest pipeline system in the country as well as the largest hydrogen system that stretches over 700-miles from Galveston Bay in Texas to New Orleans. Additionally, Louisiana is home to the second-largest port complex in the entire Western Hemisphere.

The state also has the fourth-largest offshore wind energy potential in America. Lastly, outside of Louisiana partnering with various universities that are skilled in energy training, the state is also home to major private sector industrial companies that are already on the frontlines of the hydrogen revolution, such as DOW, Shell, and CF Industries.

Nicholls President Dr. Jay Clune commented on the University’s new program made possible by their being a part of the South Louisiana H2theFuture Energy Transformation Coalition by saying, “we are proud to be a member of the H2theFuture initiative and so appreciative of this generous grant. Engineering Technology is a field in demand in our service region, and this will provide the opportunity to earn a degree at Nicholls for these ever-important jobs.”

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LDOE Partners with Crimestoppers School Safety Program

It was recently announced via a news release from the Louisiana Department of Education, that the LDOE will be partnering with Crimestoppers GNO in a school safety effort to make violent incidents easier to prevent and report. The goal is for the LDOE to encourage their school systems to adopt the free Crimestoppers GNO Safe Schools Louisiana Program and its accompanying Say It Here mobile app for middle and high schools. The Louisiana State Police, Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, and Crimestoppers GNO are offering the Safe Schools Louisiana Program to all middle and high schools around the state of Louisiana.

Crimestoppers Safe Schools Louisiana is what is known as a “turnkey program.” The usability of the program is described as being as easy to set up as it is powerful. The program’s mobile app, “Say It Here,” allows its users to report bullying, violence, criminal activity, and mental health issues with complete anonymity. Users can even upload videos and photos of incidents they feel are going unnoticed. Tips that are reported in the “Say it Here” app are processed by a 24-hour multidisciplinary team, 7 days a week. The tips, which are identified by schools, are monitored, vetted, and then sent to the appropriate representatives for proper engagement. If there’s an emergency at any of the safe schools, the safe schools team will be notified immediately for both response and intervention.

In explaining the state’s need for school safety and intercepting threats via the app, Louisiana Superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley said, “too often when violence happens on a school campus, someone knew about the attack before it happened. Safe Schools Louisiana is a fast, easy, and anonymous way for people who see something to say something.”

Currently, the Louisiana Department of Education has 40 school systems, and over 500 schools and middle and high-school students that are active participants in the Safe Schools Louisiana program. The program can be implemented in 15 days or less through the following steps. First, the school system signs the initial Memorandum of Understanding, then the school system tip administrative team is identified and trained, and lastly, students are trained to use the app.

In order to help with onboarding, Crimestoppers GNO provides virtual and online training, as well as posters and other items to promote the resource. They also work with schools to embrace the concept of using the anonymous reporting app during special prevention-themed months such as October’s Anti-Bullying Day, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and Red Ribbon Week.

In order to make effective use of the Crimestoppers Safe Schools Louisiana program, schools use multidisciplinary teams. Every school team is set to include someone from law enforcement and a lead from mental health or behavioral health in order to direct a student’s path to success. The multidisciplinary team can also request action if any issues are deemed criminal, mention threats of self-harm, or need another specialty’s orientation.

Crimestoppers GNO has operated anonymous criminal reporting resources for over 40 years, and they’ve provided resources and worked in area schools for over 18 years. Crimestoppers GNO serves to follow nationally-recognized best practices on the implementation, processing, and prevention programs. Partnering with the Safe School Louisiana Program provides Crimestoppers GNO with, according to the statement, “a unique opportunity to better understand and embrace the character and needs of our great state.”

As notified in the release, the following Louisiana schools are already implementing Safe Schools Louisiana or are beginning the school safety adoption process: Acadia Parish, Assumption Parish, Avoyelles Parish, Bogalusa City Schools, Bossier Parish, Caldwell Parish, Cameron Parish Central Community School, City of Baker School District, Claiborne Parish, Concordia Parish, East Feliciana Parish, Evangeline Parish, Franklin Parish, Iberia Parish, Jefferson Parish, Lafourche Parish, LaSalle Parish, Livingston Parish, Monroe City Schools, Natchitoches Parish, NOLA Public Schools, Pointe Coupee Parish, Rapides Parish, Sabine Parish, St. Bernard Parish, St. Charles Parish, St. Helena Parish, St. James Parish, St. John the Baptist Parish, St. Martin Parish, St. Tammany Parish, Terrebonne Parish, Vermilion Parish, Washington Parish, Webster Parish, West Baton Rouge Parish, Winn Parish, and Zachary Community Schools.

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Coastal Center at Nicholls Partners with BALANCED Media | Technology

Nicholls State University has made another monumental step towards putting their soon-to-be-constructed Coastal Center on the forefront of technology development, according to this news release from the university. The monumental step being Nicholls State University’s recently signed an agreement with the award-winning technology company, BALANCED Media | Technology. The company, BALANCED, specializes in advanced data infrastructure and using AI technology in order to enable both humans and machines to work together, complementing one another’s strengths and countering their weaknesses. The agreement that was signed between the award-winning technology company and Nicholls was reportedly made possible through the Nicholls Foundation’s support.

Nicholls President Dr. Jay Clune commented on the agreement by saying, “this is a unique opportunity to change the trajectory of our region and Nicholls State University. The partnership of Nicholls State University and the Coastal Center with BALANCED Media | Technology will allow Nicholls State University researchers to use an Advanced Data Infrastructure and the patented HEWMEN technology platform to solve some of our most pressing coastal problems and create a working coast.”

Dr. Clune’s mentioning of the school’s utilization of BALANCED Media | Technology’s HEWMEN® platform, ensures that Nicholls’ state-of-the-art research being conducted at The Coastal Center at Nicholls will be able to create unique opportunities that will be able to benefit the Gulf Coast region both economically and environmentally. The research conducted at the Coastal Center will focus on studies pertaining to the Atchafalaya River and the Terrebonne and Atchafalaya Basins, so now the conducted research will be aided by BALANCED’s HEWMAN® platform and the brevy of innovative technology solutions that come along with it.

This is because the soon-to-be-built Coastal Center at Nicholls is thought to become a leading research facility as it supports a “working coast” in the Coastal Center’s right against coastal land loss. The Coastal Center’s inception was originally established in 2019 thanks to a memorandum between both the State of Louisiana, through the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, and Nicholls State University. Dr. Clune commented on the historic agreement by saying, “this opportunity will allow our researchers to collaborate globally on an unprecedented scale by leveraging the advanced tools in data refinement to access information that has been out of reach until now.”

In speaking on what the agreement signing means for their award-winning technology company, CEO of BALANCED Media | Technology Robert M. Atkins said, “Nicholls has a wealth of data, and BALANCED has the technology to unlock that data. Through our partnership, solutions to the problem of coastal restoration will move from possibility to reality. As commercial partners join us in this effort, we not only protect our coast and the industries that rely on it but also pave the way for new industry and the preservation of our heritage.”

As of now, the Coastal Center at Nicholls State University is projected to be completed and open its doors in early 2024. The Coastal Center will focus its aims and sights on research, education, and solutions to the southeasternLouisiana Gulf Coast’s coastal problems. This will include community resilience and the preservation of community culture and history.

Nicholls Foundation President Christopher Riviere said, “This is an extremely exciting time for Nicholls State University to partner with a technology company like BALANCED. The Nicholls Foundation is committed to supporting endeavors like this one that will not only benefit Nicholls, but also the entire bayou region.”

In establishing this innovative partnership between their new Coastal Center and BALANCED Media | Technology,Nicholls State University is ensuring that their absolute best efforts are being put forward towards solving the detrimental coastal problems in Southeastern Louisiana.

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Board of Certified Safety Professionals Recognizes Safety Management Program at Nicholls

It was recently announced via this news release from Nicholls State University that their Bachelor of Science in Safety Management has been recognized by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) as a Qualified Academic Program (QAP).

Because the Bachelor of Science in Safety Management has met the qualified credential requirement for the Certified Safety Professional (CSP) certification, Nicholls students who successfully complete the University’s Safety Management program will now be eligible to apply for the Graduate Safety Practitioner (GSP) designation with BCSP, thus engaging in an academic pathway that could lead to their becoming a Certified Safety Professional (CSP).

Nicholls’s Bachelor of Science in Safety Management is a program that is specifically designed to teach its students to be able to facilitate the delivery of effective safety education and training using analytical methods to determine and manage risk and also to evaluate and control hazards that exist in the workplace. The program prides itself on developing, evaluating, and implementing safety and health programs to all of its students; it accomplishes this by focusing on a curriculum that is centered around technical, people-oriented, and industrial application courses that will prepare students for middle-to-upper level management positions in safety.

Any student holding a Certified Safety Professional licensure that is accredited by the American National Standards Institute is considered to be in possession of the “gold standard” of safety certification. This is due to the fact that students who apply for the Graduate Safety Practitioner demonstrate a graduates’ level of commitment and preparation to the safety profession to any observing potential employers or established practitioners. The GSP distinguishes programs by satisfying a certain requirement for the CSP exam, with that requirement being that one must hold a BCSP-qualified credential to even sit for the exam.

Michael Gautreaux, the Nicholls Executive Director of Petroleum Engineering Technology & Safety Management, commented on the University’s Safety Management Program being recognized as a Qualified Academic Program by saying, “we are excited to offer the Graduate Safety Professional designation to Safety Management Bachelor of Science graduates. The GSP is an entry-level credential for educated graduates to move closer to the Certified Safety Professional (CSP) professional licensure.  The GSP designation will accelerate a career and open the door to many job opportunities.”

The BCSP’s website lists a variety of benefits to becoming a GSP, including but not limited to: by becoming a Graduate Safety Practitioner you’re automatically meeting the CSP eligibility requirement for holding a BSCP-qualified credential and waiving the need to sit for and pass the Associate Safety Professional (ASP) examination, which is the pre-requisite exam to CSP. Being a GSP is also in and of itself a recognition of your sheer level of preparedness for professional safety practice that allows you the opportunity to use the BCSP Career Center to post your resume and view potential career opportunities and gives you an advantage when being compared against another graduate in Safety from a non-QAP program. Overall, becoming a GSP does much more than give graduates a GSP digital certificate, it sets them up for success in their future field.

Dr. John P. Doucet, the Nicholls College of Sciences and Technology Dean, spoke highly of his Nicholls colleagues by saying, “due to the hard work of Nicholls faculty in designing and teaching the safety curriculum, our graduates are now designated Graduate Safety Professionals, and they earn automatic opportunities to test for higher industry certifications.”

The news is of course beneficial for students currently working toward earning their Bachelor of Science in Safety Management at Nicholls, but those graduates who have graduated within the program’s applicable dates will be able to apply for the GSP for one year, just as all other graduates will have to apply for the GSP within a year of graduating going forward. The start date for the program’s QAP will begin once the program is officially published on the BCSP’s website, and as of the writing of this post, the next website post is scheduled to be published in October 2022.

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LEAP Achievement Increases in Louisiana School Districts

Just before the start of the 2022-2023 school year, the Louisiana Department of Education released the achievement data derived from 2021-22 LEAP scores, and according to this news release from the LADOE, the released scores showed immensely strong student growth across a wide array of both grade levels and school systems.

Quite a few highlights of success were obtained after interpreting the results of the LEAP assessments that were administered during the 2021-22 school year. Some of these highlights include the Mastery rates of achievement that were earned by students in grades 3-8 had improved by 3 solid points in both math and English Language Arts (ELA). Furthermore, 80% of Louisiana school systems improved their mastery rate when compared to their LEAP data from the previous school year, 2020-21.

This data was derived from the results of the LEAP 2025 annual assessment of ELA, math, science, and social studies that is administered to students in grades 3-12. The LEAP 2025 tests aim to measure the knowledge and skills as they are defined by the state’s content standard for each grade. Students have their scores of achievement reported across five levels: Unsatisfactory, Approaching Basic, Basic, Mastery, or Advanced. Those students who score Mastery or Advanced are considered to be proficient and ready for the next grade level.

Louisiana State Superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley commented on the successes shown in the data by saying, “after the impact of a global pandemic and two of the strongest hurricanes in our state’s history, Louisiana’s students are back on their feet. K-12 education is on the rise in Louisiana because we kept schools open, strategically allocated resources, and developed innovative solutions to recover and accelerate student learning. This progress is a true testament to the dedication of our educators to maintain high standards for students no matter the circumstance. We still have work to do before we’ve fully recovered from the impact of the last two years, but there’s excitement among our teachers and leaders to close that gap and continue moving our students forward.”

Outside of the two milestones of success highlighted above, the release testing date indicated that this past school year, fewer students scored Unsatisfactory, which included an impressive 3-point decrease in students who scored Unsatisfactory in math. Additionally, Mastery rates had improved across all individual subject areas for grades 3-12, and Mastery rates improved among numerous student subgroups. Some of these student subgroups that saw improvement were students with economic disadvantages, students with disabilities, and Asian, African American, and white students.

Just some of the Louisiana school districts that have ranked among the top 10 public school districts in Louisiana for the percentage of students in grades 3-12 who scored Mastery or Advanced on the state’s accountability exams are Calcasieu Parish, Jefferson Parish, Lafourche Parish, Plaquemines Parish, St. Charles Parish, and St. Tammany Parish. The immense amount of improvement was felt across the state; for instance, Livingston Parish Public Schools saw that 41% of their students had scored at the highest two achievement levels on the LEAP 2025 assessments.

Livingston Parish Superintendent Joe Murphy commented on the achievement by saying, “Our district has held strong through the continuing pandemic and recent hurricane disruptions. It is our goal as a district to grow from these strong positions and continue to improve performance at all levels.” Furthermore, Lafourche Parish Superintendent Jarod Martin commented on his district’s success by saying, “I couldn’t be prouder. I thought we would take a step back given the challenges we faced. I can honestly say that we expected that. But these numbers reflect a step forward and they far exceeded our expectations. We are just so tremendously proud of the accomplishments given the challenges we’ve faced.”

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Nicholls Student Remembered with New Scholarship

To honor the memory of Kennedi Foret, a former Nicholls State University student who was the victim of a fatal car crash in December 2021, the Nicholls State University Foundation is establishing a new endowed scholarship, according to a press release issued by the university.

The Kennedi Foret Marine Biology Undergraduate Memorial Scholarship will be awarded to female graduates of Lafourche Parish high schools majoring in Biology with a concentration in Marine Biology. Recipients can be sophomores, juniors or seniors with a 3.0 GPA and will receive a $500 scholarship broken down into two $250 per semester awards.

Foret’s mother Amber Pitre said, “This scholarship is just one way that we can let Kennedi’s light continue to shine and her love for Nicholls continue to show. To give young ladies a similar opportunity to learn about marine biology like Kennedi had at Nicholls means the world to us.”

Foret passed away on in December of 2021 following a fatal car accident. Foret’s accident followed shortly after three Nicholls State University students were killed on the way to a birthday dinner in late November of 2021. Police reported that a driver hit a car with three Nicholls State students inside, all of whom had graduated from the same high school in the spring of 2021.

Louisiana set a new record in 2021 with 914 highway crashes and 997 deaths. According to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission’s recent Louisiana Highway Safety Plan there was a 10% increase in car crashes within the last five years and 40.6% of all fatal car crashes that occurred in 2019 were related to alcohol impairment. Governor John Bel Edwards said that these statistics were “alarming” and lamented, “The fact that there are an average of three deaths per day on Louisiana highways is unacceptable.” Impaired and distracted driving are other notable causes of highway deaths.

Across the United States, car accidents are the number one leading cause of death among 13- to 19-year-old females, and one of the leading causes of deaths for both male and female college students. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration cites several reasons for these startling statistics including distracted driving, speeding, drunk driving, driving with peers, and general inexperience. No matter the reason, when a teen is involved in a serious automobile accident, the outcome can be devastating for the families of everyone involved, particularly if injuries in teen car accidents are fatal.

Foret’s family and friends wish to make a difference for others, raise awareness and preserve Kennedi’s memory by starting the endowed scholarship. Nicholls State University also honored Kennedi’s legacy by inscribing her name into a brick near the eternal flame in the quadrangle of campus.

Nicholls Foundation Executive Director Jeremy Becker said the university has started strong in raising money for the endowment scholarship in honor of the Nicholls student, however, they have not yet met their goal. Becker hopes that the scholarship will encourage women in Louisiana to pursue a career in marine biology to help with preservation and restoration efforts along the state’s coast line.

“To have Kennedi’s name associated with recruiting future students to come to Nicholls and possibly do marine biology research in the Coastal Center that will live on our campus is something special,” Becker said. “I’d love to see solutions to some of our coastal restoration problems come from a recipient of this scholarship in her name.”

Contributions are welcome and encouraged to help meet and surpass the scholarship’s goals, to enrich the lives of women in Louisiana, and to honor the legacy of Nicholls student, Kennedi Foret. To support this scholarship, visit or contact Jeremy Becker at 985-448-4006.

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