LSU AgCenter Offers Home Restoration Resources Following Hurricane Ida

After devastating Hurricane Ida left countless homes and businesses in Southwest Louisiana in various states of disrepair, the LSU AgCenter LaHouse Home and Landscape Resource Center is serving those repairing their residences and facilities with valuable information/home restoration resources, according to this article from the University’s Agricultural Center.

The Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, which has been formally operating under the LSU umbrella since 1971 and has only grown to operate out of 15 total research stations, extension offices in all 64 parishes, and 14 academic and research departments at LSU A&M. Funded by a partnership with federal, state, and local governments, grants, and private funds, the LSU AGCenter is one of the LSU System’s nine total campuses, and since late august’s Hurricane Ida left many in the area beginning to repair their residential and commercial structures on their own, the AgCenter is distributing valuable information and guidance at no cost to residents.

Citizens are being advised to visit the “Flood Recovery and Resilience” page that is located on the LSU AgCenter website for a curated selection of articles and publications on storm recovery and strategies to avoid similar damage in the future.

Claudette Reichel is a housing specialist for the LSU AgCenter who told the University’s press that repairing one’s home following a terrible weather event can be a massively daunting and stressful ordeal due to the financial and health-related costs. She told the press, “the expense, time, and work that go into repairing your home can have a silver lining with clean-up and restoration methods that reward you with a more resilient, healthy, energy-efficient and comfortable home. Even when money is tight, there are opportunities to make choices for a better home.”

One of the more valuable resources located on the LSU AgCenter’s Storm Clean-Up page is the guidance of a publication entitled “Storm Damage Cleanup,” which offers its readers the following tips to adhere when completing repairs following this past storm or preparing for the next one.

  • Before you enter any home that has flooded, you should ensure that all electrical and gas supply lines have been disconnected and carefully assess all potential dangers such as structural damages and snakes prior to entry.
  • For peace of mind, have a professional assess and inspect all service appliances and fixtures prior to their use.
  • A building that has been flood-damaged will require special attention in order to avoid or correct a “mold population explosion.” Please follow the 10-steps listed in the AgCenter’s fact sheet for safe and effective DIY mold removal.
  • It’s suggested that moldy, porous items such as carpeting and gypsum wallboard be removed as soon as possible. Additionally, you should clean and disinfect all surfaces that came into contact with floodwaters and allow those materials to dry thoroughly.
  • You should throw out any food preparation and food storage items made out of wood or plastic that came in contact with floodwater and sanitize all metal and ceramic items that came into contact as well.
  • Test all well water following a storm and refrain from drinking it until it is deemed safe to do so.
  • Be advised that any homes built prior to 1978 will likely have lead-based paint and materials containing asbestos, so proper precautions should be taken when conducting repairs, renovations, or “gutting the walls.”
  • All wet carpet should be removed instead of salvaged while Solid hardwood and ceramic floor tiling can often be restored depending on the types of damage that occurred. When in doubt, it’s best to replace the flooring.
  • When assessing a home that has come into contact with significant amounts of floodwater, you should determine which pieces of damaged furniture can be salvageable. For instance, wooden pieces of furniture can often be restored if they are properly cleaned and allowed to sufficiently dry while upholstered furniture is often found to be incredibly difficult to restore, especially if the item was fully submerged.

Outside of the flood-damage tips, the LSU AgCenter offers an in-depth page of frequently asked questions that cover a wide range of topics that can be pertinent to the resident repairing a recently-flooded home such as replacing insulation and drying home materials.

In addition to offering the public an array of tips and suggested guidance for getting home restoration and getting things back in working order following a damaging storm, precautions should be taken to “wet floodproof” the home to reduce future damage. The term refers to making improvements such as elevating appliances, making repairs with water-resistant materials, and taking precautions to prevent wicking. If these “wet floodproofing” strategies are in place by the time the next tropical depression, heavy thunderstorm, or hurricane comes to town, then there will be a much easier cleanup once the bad weather has passed, thanks to the resources provided by the LSU AgCenter.

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LSU Students Create an Automated Robotic Arm for Crawfish Harvesting

For every pound of delicious Louisiana crawfish, there is a talented and exhausted crawfish farmer whose strenuous, intensive crawfish harvesting labor might soon be aided by a robotic arm designed by students at Louisiana State University, as reported by The Advocate.

When crawfish farmers are harvesting the crop of crustaceans in the summer months, they are oftentimes operating their boat with one foot while leaning over the side, grabbing traps from the waters. Then in an efficiently choreographed, rheumatic motion, they flip the trap at an angle, toss in more bait, and set it back in the water with tactical precision. This method yields 100 million pounds of crawfish every spring, but it is incredibly labor-intensive.

Advocate reporter Caroline Savoie spoke to David Vercher, one of the six LSU biological engineering students who helped to bring an automated crawfish trap-retrieving arm to life. Vercher worked many, many seasons on his family’s farm where they harvested 300,000 pounds of crawfish a day, and he reported that “experienced crawfish farmers get the job done pretty quickly, but it’s hard on their bodies. If they have a device that will make their jobs easier and more sustainable“that makes all the difference.”

Vercher designed, coded, and manufactured the device, which can lift, empty, and re-bait crawfish traps just with a tap of a Playstation 4 controller. The engineering team at the helm of this project are all natives of the state of Louisiana, and they believe that this harvesting arm could save time, money, and potentially prevent back injuries. Funding for the device came from the United States Department of Agriculture.

Tests conducted using the prototype, which is about ⅓ of the size of a commercial crawfish trap, show that it can complete the harvesting task of crawfishing in an average of about 18.3 seconds, which is comparable to a person’s speed.

After she became aware of high costs and labor shortages in the crawfish industry, senior project advisor Professor Chandra Theegala suggested the idea to create the robotic harvester as one of several options for her students’ final assignments. She said of the prototype, “it’s a high-tech project. I originally planned to have a graduate student working on this, but COVID restrictions prohibited that. So I decided to put a team of undergraduates together, and I was extremely impressed with their dedication and interest.” Professor Theegala hopes that the completed project will provide proof of concept to eventually build a harvesting arm to scale.

The project team had worked mostly through Zoom meetings and group messages to delegate the project’s responsibilities according to their enterprises. Vercher has designed the bait reloading device, Ben Thomas programmed and coded the arm’s motion, Damien Glaser constructed the budget and ordered parts, Bryan Tassin conducted background research and managed the team so that everyone was on task, and Sarah Mitchell brought the project to life.

Mitchell accomplished this through the use of her personal 3D printer, which allowed her to produce the harvesting arm’s trap tops, grips, “crawfish,” and “bait” out of PETG plastic, a material that is used in single-use water bottles.

After its completion, the only component of the design that isn’t automatic is aligning the hand with a crawfish trap. This slight incompatibility fuels Thomas’s goal to make the arm entirely automatic so that it can align itself on an actively moving boat. He said that to make his goal a reality, the device would have to also be waterproof, adding, “it would be much quicker. Ideally, the boat would keep moving, and the arm would be able to sense and grab traps at the front of the boat.”

Upon the project’s completion, team member Sarah Mitchell expressed her satisfaction, saying, “I never expected to work on a school project that could make a real difference. It was just our little robot.”

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LSU and LA Tech Partnership Creates Structural Integrity Center

In a game-changing decision for the future of engineering, both Louisiana State University and Louisiana Tech University have teamed up to establish a new Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC), according to an LSU press release made by.   The Center for Innovations in Structural Integrity Assurance, also known as CISIA, will serve the industrial and academic community as the epicenter of knowledge and innovations made across many broad industrial sectors in the United States. This commitment to focus on assuring the structural integrity of components for both small and large structures is seen by the involved Universities as a way to instill a sense of industry duty and responsibility in their Engineering students.

This partnership between LSU and La Tech University will, for the first time in the history of either institution, create a single center of structural integrity assurance that aims to focus on innovative solutions, predictive capabilities, and transformative insights for mechanical structures. The center director and professor in the LSU Department of Mechanical Engineering, Michael Khonsari, commented on LSU’s perspective, saying, “our faculty are excited about the establishment of this I/UCRC. It has been one of our long-term strategic goals to form strong and sustainable partnerships with industry, and we are grateful to NSF for making this possible.”

Candidly stated, the potential economic, social, and environmental consequences of infrastructure and component failure can be absolutely catastrophic to the nation on an immensely massive scale. As it stands right now, the predicted failure of aging civil infrastructure is set to result in a United States GDP loss of $4 trillion and 2.5 million jobs over the next ten years. Additionally, there is no I/UCRC that is currently active that is able to match the capabilities of the research and development of CISIA, further proving the importance of its installation.

Dr. Leslie Guice, the president of Louisiana Tech, commented saying, “this Industry-University Cooperative Research Center is a distinct recognition of the excellent research conducted by Louisiana Tech faculty in collaboration with LSU. Our industry partners will greatly benefit from these stronger partnerships with the researchers and talented students, and that will be great for Louisiana.”

According to LSU’s statement, CISIA will be in an optimal position to translate the links between new materials, innovative manufacturing processes, and their “collective impact on reliability across all U.S. industrial sectors.” This advantageous position is a result of CISIA’s integration of validated diagnostics, material testing and characterization occurring on multiple scales, data-driven machine learning, and manufacturing parameter optimization and process characterization.

Unlike the academic and industrial members that make up CISIA, most industrial research and development organizations currently operating in the United States today do not research establishing links among structural integrity, infrastructure performance, and material properties. Because of the depth and scope of their research, CISIA will collaborate closely with industry professionals, LSU, and La Tech to produce a crop of engineers who are expertly trained to utilize modern, innovative methods of structural health monitoring and analysis.

The training of both school’s engineering students will include the studying of state-of-the-art evaluation and testing facilities so that upon graduation, these students will be some of the most highly-qualified, productive workforces in the nation, thus further contributing to the global competitiveness of many US industries.

LSU Interim Executive Vice President & Provost Matt Lee stated, “this is a watershed moment enhancing our efforts to produce eminent engineers of the future, groundbreaking research, and innovative solutions that will significantly further the critical work to address failing and aging infrastructure around the country. We are proud to partner with Louisiana Tech on this cooperative research center, and to better serve our students, the industrial sector, and our nation through the research, training, and collaboration that will be done at the Center for Innovations in Structural Integrity Assurance.”

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LSU Coaching Legend, Skip Bertman, Honored in SEC Documentary Special

LSU Baseball coaching legend, Skip Bertman, has recently been featured in an hour-long documentary as a part of the SEC Storied Film series, according to a Daily Advertiser Article.

The documentary titled, Hold the Rope premiered on the SEC Network on Monday, May 24th, and for many long-time LSU baseball fans it was a long-time coming. Skip Bertman served as the athletics director of LSU from 2001 to 2008 and before that he had led the Louisiana State University Baseball team to national titles in 1991, 1993, 1996, 1997, and 2000. Again, for many Tigers sports fans it wasn’t a question of “why” when it came to a Skip Bertman documentary, it was a question of “what took them so long?”

The documentary, which premiered to great acclaim by both die-hard LSU sports fans and casual viewers alike, gave an hour-long look at how coach Skip Bertman revolutionized the school’s baseball program and turned the Alex Box Stadium into the near-religious landmark it is today. This was made possible by the cooperation of SEC associate commissioner Herb Vincent, who was not only LSU’s sports information director from 1988-2000 but he was also responsible for selling the idea of a documentary to ESPN and the SEC Network three years ago.

For the documentary, a total of 89 people were interviewed by Marc Kinderman, the executive producer of Orange Lion Productions, among those were former athletes who played under Bertman, fellow coaches, friends, family members, and members of the media who covered his historic career over the years. One player who has a special tie to Bertman during his time at LSU was the all-time great Ben McDonald, who spoke to ESPN’s Front Row ahead of the documentary’s premiere to attribute his professional success to Coach Bertman’s immense vision.

McDonald, the legendary LSU Baseball player who is one of only four LSU Tigers to have had his baseball jersey retired by the school, laid a lot of the groundwork for what would eventually become a hallmark of the University. McDonald said of his old coach, “when I think about Skip, I just think of a visionary. Playing for him at the time, nobody knew what was eventually going to happen, that he would become one of the greatest coaches of all time. He changed college baseball forever. I’ve said this before, but I really feel like Skip is probably the most important sports figure to ever be acquainted with LSU. Because you look at what he did as a baseball coach, and then as an athletic director, and I truly feel he’s the most important person in the history of LSU Athletics.”

After his time as coach, Bertman made monumental decisions as athletic director; for instance, he hired four coaches who went on to win LSU five national championships. Those hires were Les Miles winning a national championship in football in 2007, Paul Mainieri in baseball in 2009, Dennis Shaver in women’s track in 2008 and 2012, and Chuck Winstead in men’s golf in 2015. When it comes to selecting players for both the field and sidelines, it cannot be overstated how good Coach Bertman’s eye is. LSU third baseman Wally McMakin said it best when he spoke of Bertmen’s key for finding and cochin talent, saying, “Skip is the most valuable athletic department employee in LSU history.”

The film premiered on the evening ahead of the 2021 SEC Baseball Tournament, and before an event that featured Coach Skip Bertman and his fellow players, the coach hadn’t seen any footage outside of a fifteen-minute reel that premiered at his 83rd birthday party at the L’Auberge Casino in Baton Rouge the previous Sunday.

When interviewed about his decision to not see the film ahead of the public though he was offered the chance, Bertmed said, “I did that intentionally. I wanted to see it for the first time at the party. I hear Marc did a great job. Can’t wait to see it and all the boys.”

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LSU and Nexus LA to Offer Support for Louisiana Entrepreneurs

This summer, aspiring Louisiana entrepreneurs will be able to consult industry experts and business mentors thanks to a partnership between Nexus Louisiana and LSU’s Office of Innovation and Technology Commercialization according to a press release from the school.

The program is called Ignition, and it’s been designed as an accelerated entrepreneurial program in which aspiring businessmen and women can assess the practicality, viability, and overall effectiveness of their ideas. The Ignition initiative, which is set to last eight weeks throughout the end of spring, will also offer to its participants a panel of local business leaders and innovators who will guide aspiring entrepreneurs through the building, maintaining, and satisfying of a reliable client base.

In addition to the wealth of knowledge that can only be gained from experiences, Louisiana entrepreneurs and participants will also have reimbursable capital available to them through a grant from Louisiana State University. Candidates will have access to up to $3,000 in reimbursable funds, which they can apply toward what Ignition is calling “customer discovery efforts.” Such efforts may include, but won’t be limited to social media marketing campaigns, registration and attendance costs for a conference or expo, or even admission into product competitions.

The experts offering their two-cents to Ignition participants want to help connect customers with a great idea because often those aspiring inventors and innovators are expertly crafty in the creation of their product or service, but they might lack the business acumen or networking savvy to get their idea in the hands of customers. Thankfully, that’s literally the types of aspiring Louisiana entrepreneurs that Nexus Louisiana had in mind in creating the Ignition program.

Stephen Loy, the Executive Director of Nexus Louisiana Technology Park said of the initiative, “Ignition is ideal for entrepreneurs, dreamers, risk-takers, and anyone who has a business idea seeking to prove or disprove their product or service viability. Our goal is to help entrepreneurs keep from investing significant resources into an idea that might not be viable. We would rather someone decide whether their business idea will work early in the process than find out after they have mortgaged their home.”

The program commences on Wednesday, April 28th with an official program orientation and is set to last until Wednesday, June 30th with participants taking part in weekly innovation sessions. Towards the end of the program, Ignition will host a virtual “Demo Day,” sponsored by the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge as well as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana. On the “Demo Day,” participants will be able to properly showcase and present their business ideas to a larger community.

The total Ignition initiative expects its participants to commit to actively shaping their overall business idea, strategy, and viability outside of class, with approximately five hours a week devoted to this effort. The program is limited to fifteen total Ignition participants with preferences being given to those candidates who submit an application and subsequent business proposal that shows the entrepreneurial promise, aptitude, and mindset required to not only complete the program but successfully launch a scalable, technology-enabled business of their own. While the program doesn’t guarantee success, the moment of the culminating launching of the business at the end of June requires a little bit of risk, just like any promising business venture.

All in-person sessions for the program will be held at the Louisiana Technology Park located in the Mid City area of Baton Rouge. Andrew Maas, the director for the LSU Office of Innovation and Technology Commercialization, said of the venture, “We are excited to be part of Ignition. We know from our experience that you really need to ask some tough questions before you even start a business. You need customers to be successful and customer discovery is the most logical place to start. We hope to give participants the tools and resources to be successful.”

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LSBDC Office Opens at LSU to Aid Small Businesses

Louisiana small business owners will soon have a new resource in their arsenal thanks to the federal CARES ACT and a collaboration between LSBDC and LSU, according to a press release from the school.

The collaboration is being referred to as the LSBDC at LSU, and it will essentially be a business satellite service center on LSU’s campus that will be focused on providing technology and innovation services to existing business owners and entrepreneurs across the state. The project comes from the Louisiana Small Business Development Center and Louisiana State University, and with it comes three professional business consultants that will be housed at the LSBDC at LSU.

Technology consultants will offer high-quality technical assistance to any start-up or existing businesses in Louisiana, and the assistance will come at no cost to clients impacted by COVID-19. Similarly, the business consultants will assist in developing and reviewing strategic plans, gaining access to capital, and connecting clients to any and all resources that could help their start-up or existing business.

The interim executive director of the LSU Innovation Park, David Winwood, said of the importance, “small businesses and technology-based entrepreneurs can play a key role in revitalizing our economy. Our collaboration with the LSBDC will help catalyze that revitalization.”

The LSBDC at LSU will specifically specialize in the transfer, commercialization, and utilization of technology as well as the development of new products to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of businesses. The mission of the Louisiana Small Business Development Center at Louisiana State University will be to work with businesses and entrepreneurs to commercialize inventions that benefit the public and enhance the economy.

Beyond LSU’s campus, the Louisiana Small Business Development Center continually offers high-quality technical assistance to existing and start-up businesses as well as entrepreneurs at no cost to the client. The LSBDC is a part of the larger network, the Small Business Development Center, which is the single-largest provider of management and technical assistance for businesses in the United States.

The LSBDC is funded partially through a cooperative agreement with the United States Small Business Administration, Louisiana Economic Development, and other participating institutions of higher education, such as Louisiana State University. LSBDC was established in 1983 and is strategically located to service all of Louisiana’s 64 parishes and their businesses.

LSBDC State Director Carla Holland remarked on the necessity of such a service in times such as these by saying, “the opening of this SBDC satellite office is extremely important for business owners, especially during the pandemic. I look forward to working with LSU and this collaboration becoming the spark of a great economic development push-in technology. When the CARES ACT funding was available, we knew we would need to bring in partners who specialized in technology as we saw less in-person business taking place and more virtual interaction.”

The LSBDC at LSU office is located at LSU Innovation Park, 8000 Innovation Park Dr., Baton Rouge, LA, 70508. LSU Innovation Park is a substantial, 200-acre resource that stimulates the economic growth in Louisiana through the various incubators it operates. The Park offers specialized business assistance to help companies formulate their ideas and further them to the best of their ability. Outside of the LSBDC at LSU, the LSU Innovation Park also houses the Louisiana Business & Technology Center, Protostripes Prototyping Center, the Louisiana Technology Transfer Office, and additional available office and lab space for other companies.

The LSBDC and LSU announced their partnership via a Facebook Live event as a part of the LSU Innovation Pak Facebook Page in early March. The office is welcoming the public business owners of Louisiana to call and schedule a consultation.

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