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Lake Area Industries/McNeese Engineering Partnership - History

Lake Area Industries/McNeese Engineering Partnership - History


In the early 1970s and 1980s, Southwest Louisiana process industries would call upon faculty in the College of Engineering and Technology at McNeese State University to conduct training classes for technicians. McNeese welcomed the opportunity to provide these services to the industries.

Dr. O.C. Karkalits, past dean of the MSU College of Engineering and Engineering Technology, saw a chance for McNeese to offer area industries a broader range of technology classes that would both educate and train technical and managerial personnel. Between March and July, 1989, Dean Karkalits visited each of the area plant managers and suggested that a formal partnership with McNeese's College of Engineering and Technology would benefit each plant.

At this time, each industry was sending key personnel to larger cities to learn about advances in technology. Knowing this, Dean Karkalits proposed that McNeese could provide these seminars and workshops here in Lake Charles on the MSU campus. Area industries could send four to six persons to a seminar here in Lake Charles for the same cost as one person at a seminar in another city. This concept was readily accepted by the managers and the rest is history.

McNeese, the managers and technical staff worked out an acceptable set of bylaws for the partnership by October 1, 1989, and the Lake Area Industries/ McNeese Engineering Partnership formally began operations on January 1, 1990.

The first three-day workshop on Industrial Wastewater Treatment for the 1990s was conducted in May 1990 with Dean Karkalits as coordinator. The Aware Engineering Corporation of Houston, a leading industrial wastewater consulting firm, organized and directed the workshop. Robert C. Lancaster, president of Aware, is a 1961 engineering graduate of MSU, the first class of engineering graduates. Forty persons attended the workshop and gave it a good performance rating. The LAI/MEP was off to a good start.

During the 1990s, the LAI/MEP has conducted 38 workshops and seminars for 1,300 participants. In addition, the PSM Study Group in LAI/MEP held eight meetings per year with an average of 22 participants. More than 60 persons attended each of the three Equipment Reliability workshops conducted. Three seminars on Professional Engineering Ethics were conducted with 35 persons in each.

Approximately 3,500 participants have attended the seminars and workshops conducted from 1990-1999 through the LAI/MEP. The partnership has achieved its organizational objective of providing training and continuing education for Southwest Louisiana industries.