UL Lafayette To Start Only Smart Oilfield Concentration in Nation

This upcoming fall semester, students enrolled in the College of Engineering at  The University of Louisiana at Lafayette will be able to pursue the only Smart Oilfield concentration in the nation. The announcement of this ground-breaking concentration is according to a news release from the school, where courses are set to begin this fall for the new concentration.

Specifically, the Smart Oilfield concentration is a pathway from ULL’s College of Engineering that is designed for petroleum engineering majors who are preparing for a career in the oil and gas industry, one that involves an increasing reliance on ever-evolving technology for efficient, safe, and environmentally-sound and stable exploration and production.

According to the Dean of the University’s College of Engineering, Dr. Ahmed Khattab, the new Smart Oilfield concentration is the only program of its kind in the entirety of the United States of America. Dr. Khattab commented on the necessity of establishing such a concentration by saying, “its addition is part of our comprehensive plan to address conventional and renewable energy by providing cutting-edge degree programs, minors, and concentrations that augment our traditional energy base and meet industry and community needs.”

According to Dr. Khattab, the new concentration will be able to integrate the College of Engineering’s current petroleum engineering degree program’s sub-surface expertise with data analytics, machine learning, and smart drilling. The concentration will also reportedly feature a combined blend of both traditional courses and interactive labs that will focus on automation, carbon capture, coding, computational fluid dynamics, machine learning, predictive capabilities, smart drilling, statistics, and the economic feasibility of exploration in specific locations.

According to Dr. Rafael Hernandez, the Interim Department Head of the Department of Petroleum Engineering, the curriculum for the Smart Oilfield concentration was developed based on extensive, data-driven research. The concentration was created in conjunction with input from professionals who work in the oil and gas industry, an entire field that has, according to Dr. Hernandez, “undergone a significant transformation in recent years.”

Dr. Hernandez continued to underline the necessity of evolving their program by continuing to outline the Oil and Gas industry by saying, “it now relies on a system of sensors, networks, and integrated operations that generate and communicate field and data analyses to ensure more environmentally friendly, safe and cost-efficient oil exploration, production and management.”

Outside of the new Smart Oilfield concentration, ULL’s College of Engineering has added eight other concentrations in the last two years in order to address recent trends in the industry and needs in fields that have been growing faster than the national average. For instance, employment opportunities for petroleum engineers are projected to increase by 8% through 2029, and employment opportunities for engineers are projected to increase 6% through 2029, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.
According to Dr. Khattab, the total 9 concentrations that have been added by the College of Engineering have been added for a variety of well-informed reasons. Dr. Khattab said, “These are strategic additions implemented to ensure we continually give our graduates the knowledge and skills they will need for the jobs they want, and that will position them to thrive and advance in their careers.

Besides the Smart Oilfield concentration, the other 8 new concentrations are: autonomous and robotic systems; bioengineering; computer engineering; engineering management; power and sustainable energy; secure smart systems; sustainable energy systems; and water resources and environmental engineering.

According to the Department of Petroleum Engineering, the above new concentrations are made all-the-more valuable as the “UL Lafayette Petroleum Engineering (PETE) program ranks among the top in the nation and is recognized across the globe. It is the only academic program in the U.S. providing education and training for students to demonstrate compliance with the International Association of Drilling Contractors’ Well Sharp Certification, an industry-standard credential that ensures knowledge of cost and efficiency optimization and risk minimization during drilling operations.”

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University of Louisiana at Lafayette Announces $500 Million Fundraising Campaign

Oftentimes the spirit of giving accompanies the end of the year, and at UL Lafayette, that spirit is abundant. According to this news release from the university, a $500 million comprehensive fundraising campaign was announced by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, making it the largest single fundraising initiative in the school’s long history.

The initiative, which was formally started on November 5th is titled Together: The Campaign for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and according to UL Lafayette President Dr. Joseph Savoie, the half-billion-dollar goal is not only about focusing on the school and its students, but the surrounding community, state, and world they find themselves in.

In his rousing speech announcing the historic milestone fundraising goal, Dr. Savoie stated that in reaching the $500 million goal, ULL will also “enhance the role the University plays in strengthening our community, deepening our wider understanding, and opening the door to a world-class education for those who come here to pursue their aspirations. This campaign is our moment to look upward and see that the only obstacle we face – the only limit we have – is our own capacity to dream. Together, we can – and will – shape the future.”

Four days following its announcement, the fundraising campaign was over halfway towards meeting its target, according to UL Lafayette vice president for University Advancement and CEO of the UL Foundation, John Blohm. Reportedly, alumni and friends of the university had already provided $303 million in pledges and gifts during its initial phase, which began in 2016.

As of today, the campaign has enabled the University to create many opportunities for faculty and students. This is seen in the four endowed chairs, 34 endowed professorships, and 122 endowed student scholarship funds that have been created thanks to the campaign.

In their donation, ULL alumni and friends have chosen to support various construction projects and renovations of teaching and learning spaces found inside several academic colleges over the years. Included in these projects made possible by the generosity of alumni and friends are the Maraist Financial Services Lab, which is located inside of theB.I. Moody III College of Business Administration, the Northwestern Mutual Sales and Research Lab, and the Grant Gibson Interdisciplinary Research Laboratory in the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences.

Additionally, several labs such as the Franks CAD Student Education Laboratory, Nick Pugh Aerospace Electronics Research Lab, and the Solar Energy Program of Excellence were created in a similar manner, and all three of the aforementioned labs are located inside ULL’s College of Engineering. Not to mention, the fundraising campaign has also helped to renovate the Roy House, which turned it into the new home for the Center for Louisiana Studies and the creation of the Kathleen Babineaux Blanco Public Policy Center.

Included in the $303 million that has already been raised in the campaign are the two single largest gift committees in university history. These are the $20 million from LHC Group that was for the College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions and the $15 million from Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center for the renovation of Cajun Field. Both of these pledges were received by ULL in 2021.

According to UL Lafayette’s provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, Dr. Jaime Hebert, of the approximately 25,000 individuals who have made an effort to give to the campaign to date, 62% were identified as being ULL alumni, 30% friends, and 8% organizations.

Dr. Hebert reelected on the funds raised so far in the campaign by remarking, “this campaign has provided more opportunities for student success, world-class facilities for our student-athletes, a deeper connection to this community and its culture, and a stronger, better prepared and more agile workforce. None of this would have been possible without donors and friends working with the University to empower our students and change their destinies.”

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New Cajun Prairie Habitat and Outdoor Classroom Coming to UL Lafayette

Students at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette will soon be able to take their learning outside of the traditional classroom setting by building an innovative outdoor classroom to study Louisiana’s Cajun Prairie, according to a news release from the school.

The new classroom is just one of two new environmental changes happening at the University as part of their Sustainability Strategic Plan, an initiative that encourages the creation of urban prairie environments on ULL’s campus. The project to cultivate the planned Cajun Prairie Habitat aligns with the Office of Sustainability’s master plan for stormwater management. By installing more urban prairies instead of other types of landscaping systems and structures, ULL will reduce the need for mowing, help to reduce stormwater runoff, and provide a habitat for bees, birds, butterflies, and other pollinators.

Once the urban prairie is installed on the campus, it will also serve as an outdoor classroom from which students can conduct research and learn about stormwater runoff erosion management, native grasses and plants, bees and other pollinators, and soil quality. Also, in addition to being used by students directly involved in STEM courses and research studies, the outdoor environment will also serve as a type of gathering spot for all types of learning.

Gretchen LaCombe Vanicor, the director of the University’s Office of Sustainability said of the layout, “the idea is to have a plaza-like outdoor seating area with no walls or roofing – a true outdoor classroom where students, faculty members, and the public can meet while they are working on the project.”

This vision of a school-wide classroom isn’t just a concept that exists in the completion of the Cajun Prairie Habitat and Outdoor Classroom, but the interdisciplinary aspects of the project’s inception, planning, construction, and much more will provide learning opportunities for students from many colleges and disciplines.

The work to bring this project to life will begin this fall semester with an interdisciplinary effort to plant more native flowers and grasses along the 4 acres on either side of Coulee Mine, a stream that bisects University Common behind Blackham Coliseum. The planting of more native fauna along this section of the waterway will be led by UL Lafayette’s Ecology Center and its Office of Sustainability. This work will lay the foundation for what will become of the urban prairie environment, as it allows for students, community officials, faculty members, and researchers to gather and learn about the ecological value of native flowers and grasses in an environment where they actually exist.

Vanicor went on to highlight this stage as “one of the most important components of the project, because native plants’ expansive, fibrous root systems hold soil, reducing erosion caused by stormwater runoff. They slow water drainage, which reduces flooding, and also filters contaminants.”

Outside of the Ecology Center leading the installation and planting of the prairie, other ULL schools are collaborating to bring the project to life. For example, students who will help design and build the outdoor classroom will be from the School of Architecture and Design. Then, after it’s completed, students partaking in community service with the University’s AmeriCorps program and the Office of First-Year Experience’s ‘Big Event’ will coordinate the maintenance of the urban prairie along the coulee.

According to Vanicor, any findings and research gathered at the future site will be shared with public officials and water management professionals in an effort “to inform community dialogue and decisions, including about implementing flood mitigation methods.”

So while it’s encouraging for UL Lafayette to have so many students from several of the University’s departments and schools coming together to bring the academic and ecological dream of the Cajun Prairie Habitat and Outdoor Classroom to life, the Louisiana community outside of the school will also be able to benefit from the research conducted in the urban prairie as well.

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UL Lafayette and SLCC Partner on New Engineering Transfer Agreement

It was recently announced that the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and South Louisiana Community College are collaborating on a new transfer pathway agreement that will allow students to earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering from both institutions.

This beneficial transfer agreement, which is set to begin with the Fall 2021 semester, will allow students beginning their post-secondary studies at SLCC to earn an associate’s degree in general studies with a pre-engineering concentration at SLCC. The student will then transfer to UL Lafayette’s College of Engineering to complete coursework, earning them a bachelor’s degree in engineering with no course credits lost in the process.

For decades high school graduates in the Acadiana region regularly attend their first two years of post-secondary education at SLCC before transferring’ over to ULL. Students choosing this pathway do so to save on tuition costswhile they earn generalized course credits that transfer over with them when they transfer to the four-year university. It should be noted that in transferring from a community college to a public university, many students notice that not all of their course credits transfer to their new degree program; luckily this won’t be the case with the announced transfer agreement.

SLCC’s chancellor Dr. Vincent G. June commented on the aim of the agreement, saying that it was designed to help a larger percentage of the student body achieve both their academic and career goals as well as give a boost to the development of the engineering workforce.  When speaking of the organization of the agreement, Dr. June was quoted as saying “to ease the transition for SLCC students who ultimately intend to pursue a bachelor’s degree in engineering from UL Lafayette.”

While at SLCC students will complete a curriculum consisting of 61-63 course credits that include classes in English, history, math, natural sciences, and social sciences. In addition to these courses that are applicable to a General Studies degree, students will also be required to take several engineering courses that are to be taught on UL Lafayette’s campus by professors from its College of Engineering. This cross-campus learning model is best suited for students entering the transfer pathways agreement as it will acclimate them to the learning environment, practices, and student body of the school in which they will ultimately finish their degree.

The press release confirmed that all credits taken in the pathway will successfully transfer to UL Lafayette, allowing students to pursue an engineering degree in a variety of disciplines and concentrations, including chemical, civil,electrical and computer, mechanical, and petroleum engineering. In order to earn an undergraduate engineering degree from ULL students must have completed at least 127 course credit hours of study.

Members of UL Lafayette’s administration who were present at the signing included Dr. Joseph Savoie, president, Dr. Jaimie Hebert, provost and vice president for academic affairs, and Dr. Ahmad Khattab, dean of the College of Engineering. Representing SLCC at the historic signing that occurred in late May were Dr. Vincent G. June,chancellor, and Dr. Darcee Bex, interim vice chancellor of Academic and Student Affairs.

Dr. Bex, who is also SLCC’s dean of STEM as well as Transportation and Energy, spoke to ULL Press on the beneficial aspects of the agreement, “upon enrolling, transferring students will already know some of our professors and their fellow students and be acclimated to campus. They will also have about four semesters of coursework completed. Aligning the community college with university partners like UL Lafayette just makes sense. This transfer pathway will increase educational attainment in Acadiana and is a commitment to those students seeking a career as an engineer. We’ve created a pathway to get these students to that career.”

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ULL Awards Jefferson Caffery Research Award

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette has recently awarded the 2021 Jefferson Caffery Research Award to a student examining how Cajun and Creole cultural identity is altered when assimilating into American society, according to a press release from the school.

René Champagne, a senior at UL Lafayette double majoring in French and Francophone Studies as well as Anthropology, wrote his award-winning research paper, “Cajuns, Creoles, and the Impact of Americanization on Ethnic Identity in Louisiana,” in an effort to pay tribute to his hometown of Galliano, Louisiana.

Champagne, who plans on graduating in Fall 2021 and pursuing masters and doctoral degrees in anthropology, attributes his award recognition to his lifelong tracking of the diminishing French culture of the small, unincorporated Lafourche Parish town. Located along Bayou Lafourche, Galliano still has a modestly-sized French-speaking community today, but over the past century, it has greatly diminished due to the region’s assimilation into American society.

According to the UL Lafayette Office of Communications and Marketing, Champagne wrote the award-winning paper as a means to “examine the “evolution of race and ethnicity as a result of factors such as assimilation, and the resulting impact on cultural identity.” Since childhood, the senior has had a fascination with “monitoring cultural changes that have been created by outside influences.” This passion for cultural studies is what had inspired the senior to investigate the many ways that culture is exhibited, celebrated, and suppressed, causing his paper to cover a wide range of topics including customs, traditions, languages, dialects, hurricanes, land loss, and even ways in which culturally-specific holidays were celebrated during the pandemic.

Speaking of Galliano’s declining evidence of South Louisiana culture, Champagne told ULL press, that the town’s “culture is still very present, but south Louisiana, in general, is decreasing rapidly in terms of both culture and land – which is so strongly tied to culture – and that’s a huge interest to me.” The research paper utilizes nearly two dozen sources such as The New York Times, U.S. Census Bureau, the Journal of Anthropological Research, and the Louisiana Office of Cultural Development.

In order to be considered for this annual award, students must either cite or directly investigate primary source documents found in UL Lafayette’s Edith Garland Dupré Library. Specifically, these documents must be found in the Special Collections department of the library, which includes the Louisiana Room, Rare Book Collection, Ernest J. Gaines Center, Cajun and Creole Music Collection, U.S. Government Information, and the University Archives & Acadiana Manuscripts Collection.

Created in 1967, the Jefferson Caffery Research Award was established by Ambassador Jefferson Caffery and his wife, Mrs. Gertrude Jefferson Caffery, to recognize outstanding scholarly research conducted through materials offered by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The award is accompanied by a $500 prize and is bestowedannually by both the Edith Garland Dupré Library and the University Library Committee.

The award’s namesake, Ambassador Caffery was born in Lafayette, Louisiana, and he was an integral part of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s early days as an educational institution. Specifically, he was a part of the school’s first graduating class when it was initially established as the Southwestern Louisiana Industrial Institute. Caffery kept his ties with the school over his historic career as an American Diplomat, serving as a United States Ambassador to Egypt, France, Brazil, Cuba, Colombia, and El Salvador from 1926-1955. ULL has since honored Caffery not only by annually awarding out the Research Award but by keeping an archival catalog of library holdings in the Jefferson Caffery Reading Room, which is located on the 3rd Floor of Dupré Library.

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ULL’s Roy House hits Fundraising Goal

The Roy House on ULL’s campus will soon be home to a new Center of Louisiana Studies, all thanks to a global philanthropist helping the “Restore the Roy” campaign reach its fundraising goal, The Advocate reports.

If you’ve traveled in the downtown area of Lafayette, Louisiana, and you’ve passed by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, chances are you’ve seen the famed Roy House, along with signage of the school’s efforts to “Restore the Roy” as well. Located on the corner of University Avenue and Johnston Street, the 120 year-old is now due for its first modern renovation, having been in ULL’s possession since the 1990s.

Enthusiasts for the historic former home of J. Arthur Roy, an early Lafayette business leader and stalwart of the community, had reached and surpassed their goal of raising $800,000 in funds to restore the two-story, 5,000 square foot building. The restoration effort had only raised the much-needed $400,000 in the last few weeks, which included a donation from a foundation based in Washington State.

It’s estimated that the restoration will be completed by 2022, and once complete, “The Roy” will house the Center for Louisiana Studies. The University Center was founded in 1973, and it is dedicated to researching, promoting, publicizing, and overall preserving the culture and storied history of Louisiana.

For any Lafayette visitors traveling to the city from Interstate 10, the Roy House provides a substantial first glimpse at the campus, and director of the center, Joshua C. Caffery believes that the newly renovated building will provide an attractive welcome to such visitors, saying, “The renovation of the Roy House and its lot will transform one of Lafayette’s busiest intersections and contribute to the citywide effort to beautify the University corridor.”

Simply put, that “busiest intersection” isn’t hyperbole; it’s pure fact, as the state Department of Transportation and Development reports that the estimated average daily traffic count for the specific intersection that the Roy House has stood on since 1901, the same year that ULL’s campus first opened to students, is 43,730 vehicles.

The Center for Louisiana Studies is made up of three divisions: The University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press, theResearch Division and the Programming and Special Projects Division, including the Archive of Cajun and Creole Folklore, heralded by the campus as being the “largest collection of audiovisual materials related to the traditional cultures of southwestern Louisiana.”

Caffery said that most of the restoration money was raised throughout the year through grants and private donation, conclusion with the $400,000 amount from the Sage Foundation, and its President and Treasurer, E.W. Littlefield Jr, a philanthropist who is long-involved in the music industry as both a musician and supporter of marts and music efforts.

Caffery noted, “The interest we received from out of state is a testament to the fact that Acadiana culture continues to be of significant national and even international interest. Our goal is to launch a major interior restoration by spring, hopefully by mid-April or early May,”

The next steps, according to Caffery, are to assemble a restoration team, including architects and contractors and to secure the appropriate permits and approvals. The Roy is the only building on ULL’s campus that’s on the National Register of Historic Places, so it must meet specific guidelines for its restoration.

Caffery stated, “despite the turmoil of 2020, we’ve received an outpouring of support this year, both from people who love the Roy House and value its architectural and historical significance, as well as from people who support the mission of the Center for Louisiana Studies.

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