UL Lafayette and Ramageddon Robotics: A Partnership for Engineering Success

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s College of Engineering is taking an active role in nurturing the talents of Lafayette Parish School System students who engage in high-level robotics competitions. The college, through its Engineering Center of Excellence, is spearheading an initiative to provide academic guidance, research expertise, and support to the Ramageddon Robotics team, a group of students representing various LPSS campuses, including Acadiana, Comeaux, Lafayette, Southside, and the David Thibodaux STEM Magnet Academy high schools. Additionally, as per this news release from UL Lafayette,  the team includes participants from neighboring parishes and homeschooled students.

This collaboration aims to empower students as they design, build, program, and test industrial-sized robots for theFor Inspiration and Recognition of Science & Technology (FIRST) robotics competitions. These competitions are pivotal in encouraging Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines and careers. Thousands of student teams, based on their performances in regional tournaments, compete for coveted spots in FIRST’s annual world championships.

The College of Engineering at UL Lafayette is set to play a pivotal role in mentoring the Ramageddon Robotics team.Starting this year, faculty members and researchers from various College of Engineering departments will lead weekend mentorship sessions, focusing on critical areas such as design and robotics. The hands-on instruction will extend to providing access to UL Lafayette’s cutting-edge laboratories and specialized equipment for processes like machining and 3-D printing.

Dr. Ahmed Khattab, the dean of the University’s College of Engineering, expressed the institution’s commitment to this endeavor, calling it “an investment that promises numerous returns for the future of the engineering field.” He emphasized the pride the college takes in contributing to the development of a new generation of technological leaders and problem solvers. The tools and skills acquired by these students, according to Dr. Khattab, are invaluable in building a foundation for the future.

To solidify this commitment, UL Lafayette officially launched the initiative during a check presentation ceremony atLPSS’ W.D. and Mary Baker Smith Career Center. The support includes a substantial $10,000 gift to the Ramageddon Robotics team. This financial backing is an extension of a generous gift by alum Georges Antoun to the College of Engineering’s Center of Excellence. Antoun, a graduate from the College of Engineering in 1988, serves as the chief commercial officer of First Solar, the Western Hemisphere’s largest solar energy manufacturer. He is also the chair of the college’s Dean’s Advisory Council, where he provides guidance and expertise in areas like strategic planning and student mentoring efforts.

Speaking on the importance of these initiatives, Philip Ryland, a teacher at the W.D. and Mary Baker Smith Career Center and the lead mentor for Ramageddon Robotics, highlighted the multifaceted skills students gain through their participation. Beyond the technical aspects of robotics, students develop time management skills, leadership qualities, and expertise in electrical programming, CAD/CAM, machining, engineering, graphic design, and marketing.

In the grand tapestry of educational initiatives, the collaboration between UL Lafayette’s College of Engineering and the Ramageddon Robotics team stands out as a beacon of innovation and commitment. By providing not just financial support but also hands-on mentorship, the university is fostering an environment where students can thrive and cultivate a deep passion for STEM fields. This partnership extends beyond the classroom, creating a bridge between theoretical knowledge and practical application. As these budding engineers design, build, and test industrial-sized robots, they are not merely engaging in a competition; they are navigating the complexities of real-world problem-solving and critical thinking, skills that will undoubtedly serve them well in their future endeavors.

In conclusion, the collaboration between UL Lafayette and the Ramageddon Robotics team exemplifies a holistic approach to education. It’s not just about passing exams or winning competitions; it’s about instilling a lifelong love for learning and a profound appreciation for the possibilities that STEM disciplines offer. As the university continues to nurture these young minds, it is sowing the seeds for a future where innovation knows no bounds, and the boundaries between education and application seamlessly blur.

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How UL Lafayette’s HERO Initiative Shapes the Energy Transition

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette (UL Lafayette) has embarked on a groundbreaking initiative that aims to bolster energy resiliency in the state. With an $87 million award, the university is set to play a pivotal role in the implementation of Community Resilience Hubs and workforce development as part of the state’s broader energy resilience initiative known as Hubs for Energy Resilience Operations (HERO), as per this news release from the school.

The primary objective of the HERO initiative is to provide communities with access to electricity and essential services during natural disasters, a critical need underscored by the increasing frequency and intensity of such events. In a significant announcement made on Wednesday, UL Lafayette disclosed that it secured a monumental $250 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, complemented by a matching contribution of $250 million from state partners. This funding constitutes the largest single award in the university’s history, signaling a substantial commitment to the project’s success.

To achieve the ambitious goals set forth by HERO, the state will kickstart a comprehensive integrated community energy planning process. The cornerstone of this effort involves deploying a modernized network of Community Resilience Hubs, powered by distributed solar and battery microgrids. These hubs are strategically designed to enhance emergency response operations by integrating seamlessly with existing utility-owned electric grid infrastructure and backup generation assets.

Dr. Terry Chambers, the director of UL Lafayette’s EDA-funded Green Hydrogen Center of Excellence, emphasized the university’s commitment to community resilience. He outlined plans to implement Community Resilience Hubs by establishing solar and battery microgrids at three key university research centers: the Louisiana Solar Energy Lab in University Research Park, the New Iberia Research Center, and the Cleco Alternative Energy Center in Crowley. Additionally, portable solar and Wi-Fi pods will be deployed to further extend the reach of these hubs.

In collaboration with Power Strategies, a Louisiana-based clean energy design, engineering, and planning company, UL Lafayette will undertake four additional projects. These involve the construction of solar and battery microgrids at Louisiana National Guard bases in Baton Rouge, Hammond, and Sulphur. The microgrids will serve communities in the aftermath of disasters, providing essential support to first responders and creating safe spaces with power, food, water, and communication facilities.

Crucially, the university is not only focusing on infrastructure development but also on building the necessary expertise. Earlier this year, the Louisiana Solar Corps was established to train workers for the installation of microgrids. This initiative aims to connect workers with internships in solar companies, ultimately leading to permanent employment. UL Lafayette is partnering with Xavier University, Louisiana Green Corps, and the Louisiana State Building and Trades Council to expand the Louisiana Solar Corps program. The expansion will cover microgrids as well as solar energy training across various pathways, including pre-apprentice to apprentice programs and two- and four-year educational routes.

Furthermore, the University is establishing a Center of Excellence for Crisis Events within its National Incident Management Systems and Advanced Technologies Institute (NIMSAT). This institute focuses on strengthening public-private partnerships and leveraging advanced information technologies to enhance national resilience in the face of potential disasters.

UL Lafayette’s robust background in both sustainable and traditional energy technologies uniquely positions it as a leader in this project. With assets such as the Louisiana Solar Energy Lab and Antoun Hall, a state-of-the-art indoor solar laboratory, the university has long been a hub for solar research, technology development, instruction, training, outreach, and workforce development.

In conclusion, the HERO initiative spearheaded by UL Lafayette is a multifaceted and ambitious project that addresses not only immediate needs for energy resilience during disasters but also focuses on long-term sustainability and workforce development. By integrating cutting-edge technology, education, and community engagement, the university aims to set a national model for effective disaster response and energy resiliency.

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UL Lafayette’s School of Geosciences: Pioneering Geology Education with New Concentrations

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is forging ahead in the realm of geosciences education with exciting additions to its undergraduate geology program. As the world’s energy needs evolve, so does the demand for specialized knowledge in the field of geosciences. To address this evolving landscape, the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences at UL Lafayette has introduced two new concentrations for students pursuing bachelor’s degrees in geology: Energy Resources and Paleontology. As per this news release from the school, these new concentrations complement the existing offerings in Earth Sciences and Environmental Geology, ensuring students receive a well-rounded education tailored to meet industry demands.

Dr. Brian Schubert, a respected professor and the interim director of the School of Geosciences, emphasized the strategic nature of these additions, stating they are designed to “maximize opportunities for our students.” This sentiment is echoed by Dr. Azmy S. Ackleh, Dean of the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences, who highlights the diverse career paths available to graduates of these concentrations. From federal and state agencies, surveys, and laboratories to museums, energy industry roles, mining, and geospatial consulting firms, these concentrations open doors to an array of exciting opportunities.

The new Paleontology concentration, for instance, offers courses in Micropaleontology, Invertebrate and Vertebrate Paleontology, and Museum Techniques. With UL Lafayette overseeing the UL Lafayette Science Museum, graduates will be well-prepared for careers in museum staff positions, paleontology laboratory roles, and more. Additionally, the program’s multidisciplinary approach ensures that students without prior backgrounds in geology or earth sciences can thrive in this field.

Meanwhile, the Energy Resources concentration leverages Louisiana’s central role in the energy sector, making it an ideal choice for students aspiring to work in the ever-expanding and diversifying energy industry. Graduates of this concentration will also find opportunities in federal and state agencies, surveys, the mining and mineral industry, and geospatial consulting companies.

One fascinating aspect of these new concentrations is the unexpected overlap between Paleontology and the Energy sector. Dr. Schubert points out that paleontologists are often hired in the energy sector for their expertise in correlating and dating economically viable deposits using fossils preserved in sedimentary rocks. As a result, the Energy Resources concentration even requires students to take courses in Paleontology or Micropaleontology, illustrating how UL Lafayette is equipping students with highly marketable skills. Underlying these specialized concentrations are core courses in geology, such as structural geology, field methods, stratigraphy, geophysics, and geochemistry. These foundational courses ensure that graduates possess a broad knowledge of geology while having in-depth expertise in their chosen area.

The School of Geosciences at UL Lafayette is committed to staying responsive to the dynamic and ever-changing field of geology. By doing so, they ensure that their students are prepared for the evolving workforce needs of the future. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 5% increase in employment opportunities for geoscientists through 2031, underscoring the relevance and demand for geology professionals.

Geology, as Dr. Schubert emphasizes, is not limited to a single niche but finds applications in various sectors, including Engineering Geology, Environmental Geology, Geohydrology, Oceanography, Climatology, and more. As technology evolves, new career opportunities in geology continue to emerge, reinforcing the adaptability and relevance of this field.

In conclusion, UL Lafayette’s School of Geosciences is taking bold steps to ensure that its geology graduates are well-prepared for the demands of a rapidly changing world. The new concentrations in Energy Resources and Paleontology, alongside the existing offerings, create a diverse and adaptable geology program that equips students with the skills they need to succeed in a wide range of exciting careers.

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UL Lafayette’s Recently Released Their Newest Strategic Plan

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette has embarked on a transformative journey with the launch of its 2023-2028 Strategic Plan – aptly named “Vision. Louisiana.” This comprehensive plan, unveiled by Dr. Joseph Savoie, UL Lafayette’s esteemed president, serves as a guiding light, directing the institution’s path, aligning its efforts, and instilling a commitment to excellence in all endeavors, according to this news release.

In his announcement to the campus community, President Savoie emphasized the plan’s significance, stating that it builds upon the university’s existing strengths in teaching, learning, research, and service. It harnesses the momentum of several fruitful years and identifies opportunities for further accomplishments. Notably, the plan is a testament to collaboration, incorporating the valuable input of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community members who actively participated in its creation. Like a well-constructed roadmap, it urges the entire university communitytoward a promising destination.

“Vision. Louisiana.” is not merely a collection of aspirations; it represents a tangible commitment to five strategic priorities that will steer the university’s course in the years to come. These priorities include a focus on Academic Excellence, ensuring an Exceptional Student Experience, practicing Intentional Stewardship, conducting impactful Public Impact Research, and engaging in Transformational Community Engagement.

These priorities are not isolated but intricately woven into the university’s core values. Collaboration, collegiality, honesty, integrity, respect, and transparency are the guiding principles that will underpin every action taken under the plan. Furthermore, the plan upholds enduring commitments to access, opportunity, success, innovation, organizational culture, service, and sustainability, ensuring that UL Lafayette continues to be an institution that fosters growth, inclusion, and progress.

“Vision. Louisiana.” is the result of a meticulous, multi-year process that sought the input of a vast array of stakeholders. With over 5,500 unique responses received and analyzed, it stands as a testament to the collective aspirations and dreams for the university’s future. Now that the plan is in motion, every major academic and administrative unit within the university will develop and implement their own strategic plans, aligning with the overarching vision. President Savoie emphasizes that this plan is not static but a living document, with its effects rippling throughout the campus and reaching far into the wider community.

Notably, UL Lafayette’s unveiling of this new Strategic Plan coincides with the celebration of its 125th anniversary, marking a monumental moment in the university’s history. President Savoie expressed his strong belief that the institution’s most remarkable days are still ahead. This Strategic Plan is more than a roadmap; it’s a declaration of commitment to addressing the evolving needs of the local community, the state, the nation, and the world.

As UL Lafayette embarks on this exciting journey outlined in the Strategic Plan, it remains unapologetically bold in its vision and steadfast in its commitment to the flourishing of its students and the broader community. The past 25 years have witnessed remarkable growth, and “Vision. Louisiana.” ensures that this momentum not only continues but accelerates, propelling the university to new heights of achievement and influence.

In conclusion, UL Lafayette’s “Vision. Louisiana.” Strategic Plan is not just a mere document; it’s a visionary blueprint that will shape the university’s trajectory for years to come. Rooted in the institution’s core values and fueled by the collective aspirations of its diverse stakeholders, this plan embodies a commitment to excellence in education, research, and community engagement. In the coming years, as UL Lafayette executes the strategies outlined in “Vision. Louisiana.,” it will be a testament to the university’s unwavering commitment to its students, its community, and its enduring pursuit of excellence. It is a roadmap, a compass, and a pledge to ensure that UL Lafayette’s brightest days lie ahead, illuminating the path to a brighter future for all it serves.

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Exploring Your Science Passion: Science Day 2023 at UL at Lafayette

Are you a high school student curious about the fascinating world of science and its myriad possibilities? Well, you’re in luck! The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is gearing up to host Science Day 2023, an enlightening event that will give you a sneak peek into the life of a science major at their esteemed Ray P. Authement College of Sciences. Sponsored by Halliburton, this event promises to be an incredible journey into the realm of science, offering a plethora of enriching experiences for high school seniors and juniors, parents, teachers, and guidance counselors, according to this news release from the school.

Science Day 2023 is designed to provide an immersive experience in the world of science. Attendees will have the opportunity to witness captivating laboratory experiments and cutting-edge research and technology demonstrations. Moreover, they will be treated to enlightening presentations in various scientific disciplines, including biology, chemistry, computer science, informatics, geology, environmental science, mathematics, and physics.

But that’s not all; Science Day goes beyond just theoretical knowledge. It’s about fostering a genuine connection between aspiring scientists and the academic and professional world. Participants will have the chance to interact withUL Lafayette’s esteemed faculty and staff members, engage with passionate students, and network with industry professionals. This unique blend of experiences will provide invaluable insights into courses, degree programs, research opportunities, student organizations, and potential career paths associated with different scientific disciplines.

One of the highlights of Science Day is the exclusive tour of the College of Sciences‘ state-of-the-art facilities. These tours will offer a glimpse into the world of academia and research, allowing you to envision yourself as a part of this dynamic community. Additionally, there will be a thought-provoking question and answer session with UL Lafayette alumni who have successfully forged careers in various science-related fields. Their stories and advice will inspire and guide you on your own journey.

Dr. Michael Totaro, an associate professor in the School of Computing and Informatics and the graduate coordinator for the school’s Informatics Master’s Degree program, emphasized the significance of Science Day. He stated that the event is meticulously structured to instill “a sense of excitement about science, its possibilities, and its capacity for exploration and discovery.” Dr. Totaro also highlighted that Science Day plays a crucial role in assisting students in understanding the processes and programs that facilitate a seamless transition from high school to university life.These encompass essential aspects like admissions, housing, financial aid, and scholarships.

To give a more detailed understanding of what awaits you at Science Day 2023, let’s break down some of the key activities and features:

  • “A Day in the Life”: Students will get to experience a typical day in the life of a science major. This will involve up-close and personal laboratory demonstrations and engaging presentations in various scientific fields, such as Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science and Informatics, Geology and Environmental Science, Mathematics, and Physics.
  • Connecting with the Community: Science Day offers the opportunity to connect with students’ future College of Sciences peers, faculty members, and staff. This is a chance to gain insights into classes, student organizations, research opportunities, and more.
  • Navigating the University World: Wondering about admissions, dual enrollment, financial aid, housing, or scholarships? Science Day provides a platform to interact with university personnel who can provide answers to all questions and help students plan their academic journey.
  • Building Your Future: The event also brings you face-to-face with potential employers and representatives from UL Lafayette Career Services. This will be invaluable in helping students start planning their future career path.

Science Day 2023, sponsored by Halliburton, is an extraordinary opportunity for high school juniors and seniors to explore their passion for science. It’s a day filled with discovery, learning, and inspiration. Best of all, there is no admission charge, and the event is open to the public.

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UL Lafayette and First Solar: Partners in Progress for a Sustainable Future

In a groundbreaking announcement, First Solar, the largest solar energy manufacturer in the Western Hemisphere, unveiled plans to build its fifth U.S. manufacturing facility at Acadiana Regional Airport in New Iberia, Louisiana, and they plan to rely on research from UL Lafayette, according to this news release.

This exciting development represents a monumental investment, with First Solar allocating a staggering $1.1 billion into this project—a sum believed to be the largest single capital investment in the region’s history. Notably, this strategic location places the facility within close proximity to UL Lafayette, fostering a symbiotic relationship that will undoubtedly shape the future of solar energy in the area.

First Solar has ambitious goals for this new venture, aiming to create over 700 direct jobs with an annual payroll exceeding $40 million. A significant portion of the workforce will be sourced from UL Lafayette, underlining the close collaboration between the university and the solar energy giant. The facility’s primary objective is to produce high-performance photovoltaic (PV) solar modules, with construction anticipated to conclude by 2026.

Beyond job creation and economic development, First Solar envisions a deep partnership with UL Lafayette researchers across various domains, including technology development. The company also plans to offer internship opportunities for students and utilize university facilities for testing and training. Central to this collaboration is Antoun Hall, home to the Louisiana Solar Energy Lab—a sprawling 4,200-panel solar field spread across 6 acres. Adjacent to this field is a 4,500-square-foot building at University Research Park. This combined solar field and lab position UL Lafayette as a hub for solar research, technology development, instruction, training, outreach, and workforce development.

Dr. Ramesh Kolluru, the University’s Vice President for Research, Innovation, and Economic Development, echoed this sentiment, highlighting the importance of collaborations between research universities like UL Lafayette, industry partners, and local entities like Acadiana Planning Commission, One Acadiana, Lafayette Economic Development Authority, and Iberia Parish leaders. These collaborations have been instrumental in achieving economic development milestones, facilitated by the impactful work of researchers like Dr. Chambers.

The Louisiana Economic Development (LED) estimates that in addition to the direct jobs created by First Solar, the presence of the company will result in at least 694 new indirect jobs. When combined with the 700 new direct jobs, this equates to a total of approximately 1,400 new jobs in the Acadiana region. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwardscelebrated this achievement, asserting that the selection of Iberia Parish for First Solar’s new solar panel production facility signifies Louisiana’s leadership in the global energy transition and the creation of well-paying jobs.

First Solar stands out among the world’s top 10 solar manufacturers as the only U.S.-headquartered company not manufacturing in China. Their tellurium-based semiconductor technology allows them to bypass dependence on Chinese crystalline silicon supply chains, making them a unique player in the industry. Mark Widmar, Chief Executive Officer of First Solar, emphasized their commitment to creating enduring value for America by expanding solar manufacturing and domestic value chains. The new Louisiana facility will be tasked with producing First Solar’s Series 7 modules, which are expected to be manufactured with 100% U.S.-made components. This aligns with current domestic content guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Treasury. Once the factory is operational, Series 7 modules will account for over two-thirds of First Solar’s annual domestic nameplate capacity.

In closing, First Solar’s monumental investment in Louisiana signifies a turning point in the renewable energy landscape. It showcases the power of collaboration between industry leaders like First Solar and esteemed educational institutions like UL Lafayette in propelling the nation toward a sustainable energy future. As we witness the convergence of cutting-edge technology and academia, the benefits will not only be economic but also environmental, reinforcing the significance of investing in renewable energy sources.

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