McNeese State University is bringing the Louisiana STEM (LaSTEM) Pathways Pre-Engineering Certification program to local high schools as the result of a partnership with Louisiana State University and the University of Louisiana Monroe.
The LaSTEM Pathways Certification program provides high school students across Louisiana the chance to enroll in up to eight STEM courses. These courses, which are project-based and implement STEM-approved curricula developed by LSU faculty, allow college-bound and jump-start students to attain industry-recognized credentials, dual enrollment credit and university-issued certificates of course completion.
Through a collaboration between McNeese and the Calcasieu Parish School Board, teachers at Barbe and Washington Marion high schools are being trained at McNeese to begin teaching the pathway, which starts with the Introduction to Engineering course this fall.
Incorporating lessons from each of the 10 disciplines of engineering and featuring hands-on learning, students are also exposed to professional ethics and safety and have the opportunity to interact with industry professionals, according to Dr. Nikos Kiritsis, McNeese professor of mechanical engineering.
High school students who continue on the pre-engineering pathway will learn about the engineering and design process and problem solving, while gaining skills in writing code, mathematical thinking and programming through introductory courses in computational thinking and in robotics. Students who complete the approved pathway courses can earn a Silver or Gold STEM Diploma Seal issued by the Louisiana Department of Education. Additionally, all students who complete the pathway will have the opportunity to take the Inventor Certified User Exam for an Industry-based Certification.
“McNeese is a leader in the region in providing STEM education,” says Kiritsis. “McNeese partnered with the Calcasieu Parish School System and CITGO to bring STEM education to over 900 elementary students through a national program called Engineering is Elementary. Last year, McNeese began offering a summer STEM Academy on campus, which hosted over 750 elementary and middle school students.
“We’re working to expose as many students as possible to the ideas and concepts of engineering,” he adds. “Even if students decide not to continue in this field, they’re still learning important skills for any career, including critical thinking, teamwork, effective communication and how to interact with technology. Through the LaSTEM Pathways partnership, McNeese is doing our part to provide a new generation with competitive STEM skills.