Spring Break is for Learning

This blog post comes from two students who are members of The American Association of Drilling Engineers – Student Section. They shared their learning and growing experiences they had over Spring Break with us!

Most college students are dying for the mid-semester break from class and schoolwork that is dragging them down. The minute students are released for spring break; they are in a hurry to make their way to the beach or head home to catch up with family and friends. This year was drastically different for me. Being over the Gulf Shores scene and consuming one too many adult beverages in the previous years, I decided it was time for me to do something new. Hearing about this great opportunity through the American Association of Drilling Engineers (AADE) to attend a five-day drilling and production camp at the Shell Robert Training and Conference Center, I quickly made plans for my junior year spring break.

Yes, I know it does not sound as much of a great time as spending the week with your friends having fun at the beach; however, I left with no regrets. Making sure I had one of my best friends come along definitely helped, yet I made a lot of new friends. I saw a lot of familiar faces from my classes that I probably would have never gotten to know otherwise. I really enjoyed this year’s spring break at the Shell facility. Although it was never a “break” from schoolwork, the twenty-seven petroleum engineers and I took advantage of an opportunity of a lifetime. From enjoying the amazing food there to utilizing their wonderful facilities, I was in shock at the amount of information I learned over just five days. Moreover, I was surprised by the amount of fun I was having.


Just to give you a taste of how the Shell camp worked, here is an overview of our daily schedule. Each day consisted of waking up around seven in the morning to catch breakfast before the day started at eight (this was probably my least favorite part). We would then attend an overview of the subject we were learning that day with presentations for the next couple hours from the excellent Shell facilitators. The next part of the day would include splitting up in three groups to work on the different simulators to receive hands on training of the subject we talked about. This part was by far my favorite. We got ourselves into working the high class drilling simulator, subsea simulator, and separation/production trains. And I am talking about a warehouse filled of equipment just like you would see on a floating production platform offshore. Taking a break for lunch we would rotate roles through the different activities ending our day around four thirty.

I cannot express the amount of fun I had with my peers over this great learning experience. It was awesome to learn so much in such a small amount of time from the top industry trainers. I cannot thank AADE enough for giving me this wonderful opportunity! This definitely beat going to the beach for another year.

Written by John Dwyer
Petroleum Engineering
Hometown: Houston, Texas

About three months ago the American Association of Drilling Engineers (AADE) at LSU was approached with the idea of creating an event to bring students out to Shell’s training Facility in Robert, La.

AADE has been involved with annual events in the past like our Wild Well Control course where we send 30 students to Houston for a three day well control certification. But, this new opportunity with Shell was huge for us. Not only were we sending nearly 30 students for a full week of training, but we got an all-inclusive stay plus hands on training at Shell’s state of the art training facility.


Now, the process to get the camp planned and funded certainly didn’t just happen overnight. Our officers have never taken on a funding project of quite this scale, and there were times that we thought that the training camp just wasn’t going to happen. But, with dedication and hard work from our team, we were able to plan out the course and secure the funding we needed to send all 28 students.

With a game plan in place and the funding accounted for it was time to get ourselves to Robert, La. The five-day course took place over spring break from March 21-25, but we arrived the evening before in order to get a smooth start the following day.

Throughout the five days we went through lectures and hands on training in well control, drilling, sub-sea processing, and surface processing operations. After learning the different simulation software, we were able to work on live troubleshooting scenarios. This is where our members really started to shine – solving real engineering problems. We were also able to get our hands on Shell’s process training equipment which mimics a surface separation facility where oil is separated from water and gas. Students were able to take control of the processing equipment functions to direct various valves and set pressure limits in order to run a smooth separation process.

All in all this was an incredible learning opportunity for our AADE members. With the success of this first trip, we plan to make this an annual event so more students will have access to these world-class facilities that are sitting in our own back yard.

Written by Brendan Marlborough
Petroleum Engineering
Hometown: Westminster, MA
Vice President, AADE at LSU



Leading into Graduation: Leadership LSU Class of 2015

Courtney Irwin

Courtney Irwin

This month’s post comes from Courtney Irwin, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering with a minor in leadership development. As an LSU student, Courtney served as the Engineers without Borders (EWB) chapter president. Courtney is also a candidate for the Distinguished Communicator certification, which recognizes students that demonstrate successful use of their communication skills in leadership roles and community service.

Leadership LSU is an annual program which addresses adaptive leadership through the lens of critical issues here in Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas. This year, the Leadership LSU Class of 2015 explored issues such as race, education, modern day slavery, and crime with various speakers including Maxine Crump, the first woman of color to live on LSU’s campus, and Dr. Laura Murphy, Founder and Director of Loyola University’s Modern Slavery Research Project. Participants gained specific insight into these issues and focused on the adaptive leadership challenges that each leader faced.

Leadership LSU Class of 2015

Leadership LSU Class of 2015

I learned an incredible amount about myself over the course of the program, and was able to identify challenges in my own life and my own leadership efforts that were echoed by the leaders and by my peers in each session. Throughout my time here at LSU and in the College of Engineering, I have been in many leadership positions, whether in small group settings or larger student organizations, and have faced many challenges. Some of these challenges stemmed from my own skills or my team members’ skills, but others were much greater challenges stemming from organizational or societal issues. Being able to reflect on my personal experiences while learning about the experiences of other leaders led me to many personal realizations and understandings. Sometimes, it is important to take a step back, as hard as it may be, and reevaluate a situation.

Courtney Irwin and fellow Leadership LSU Class of 2015 members

Courtney Irwin and fellow Leadership LSU Class of 2015 members

Even in a setting such as community service where you would like to be on the ground getting work done, it is sometimes more beneficial as a leader for you to step back, observe, and develop a new strategy before getting back in the action. Reflection can also be an incredible tool for growth. I was able to identify several aspects of my previous experiences and challenges that I had not extensively thought about before, and look at them with a new perspective.

The leadership and teamwork skills that I have learned throughout my time at LSU and through the Leadership LSU program have been, and will continue, to be invaluable as I move forward in my career. After graduation in May, I will work full-time in New Orleans, La. for Shell International Exploration and Production Co. as a Wells Engineer, specifically for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. As a drilling engineer, one works as a project engineer, interacting with people from many companies with different technical skills, educational backgrounds, and cultural backgrounds. It is very much a team position with inherent leadership because of the decisions that are left to the drilling engineers.

Many engineers are in roles with similar responsibilities and that require communication, team, and leadership skills. Be sure to make the most of the opportunities you are presented with here at LSU, both in and out of your classes. Geaux Tigers!

– By Courtney Irwin
Mechanical Engineering

Opting In for the Engineering Co-Op

Shane Harrington at an LSU football game.

Shane Harrington

My name is Shane Harrington and I am a junior chemical engineering student. I recently chose to accept a co-op with MAVERICK Technologies for the spring semester. I know that taking a co-op is always a tough decision for many engineering students. Leaving school to work in a whole new town while you watch your friends continue on through their academics is not an easy decision to make. The reason I accepted the co-op is because I felt that experience means a lot to employers, and to obtain a job in the industry upon graduation you need a great resume that sets you apart. What better way to gain practical experience than working with industry professionals for six months?

After the first three weeks working for MAVERICK in Pensacola, Fl I knew that my decision was the right one. I have learned more in three weeks than I could have ever imagined possible. I wish I was a sponge so that I could just absorb all the knowledge thrown my way. Working with a team of experienced engineers to solve real world problems has been extremely rewarding. Also taking what I have learned in my courses and applying that to real situations is a crazy feeling on its own.

I obtained this co-op by attending the career fair at LSU. I talked to several recruiters and then went through the interview process. If I had one piece of advice to give to a fellow student it would be to utilize the resources that LSU gives you and take advantage the great opportunities that are thrown you way. In the grand scheme of things, one extra year of college is nothing if it means a successful life and career after you graduate.

Geaux Tigers!

 By Shane Harrington
Chemical Engineering

The College of Engineering is proud to partner with the LSU Olinde Career Center to provide job opportunities for our students. We encourage all of our Engineering students to check out the resources that the LSU Olinde Career Center provides, including their upcoming career expos!

College of Engineering Networking Reception
February 11, 2015
6:00pm to 8:00pm
Location: Student Union Ballroom
This Pre-Expo Networking Reception allows employers participating in the Expo to visit with Engineering students in a more intimate setting than the Expo provides.

All Majors Career Expo
February 12, 2015
10:30am to 3:30pm
Location: PMAC
This event will be a one-day all majors career expo. The Engineering Expo will take place on the PMAC arena floor.

Meet the LSU Engineering College Council

Engineering College Council members are elected by the student body to serve on LSU Student Government. Get to know your representatives here!


Eryn Short

Eryn Short, President

Major: chemical engineering
Minor: business administration and chemistry
Year: senior
Hometown: Baton Rouge, LA
Favorite spot on campus: LSU Lakes
Favorite LSU memory: Performing for LSU School of Music’s Concert Spectacular in the Union Theater for a music theatre class
Why did you choose LSU? “LSU is one of the best schools to network with and hire engineers from.”
Why did you choose the College of Engineering? “I love math. I love science. Chemistry was one of my favorite subjects in high school.”
What do you want to accomplish on Engineering Council? “I want to improve communication across the college, and cohesion among student groups.”


Craig Richard

Craig Richard, Vice President

Major: biological engineering
Year: junior
Hometown: Hahnville, LA
Favorite spot on campus: Laville Courtyard
Favorite LSU memory: Participating in the LaSTEM Summer Bridge Program after high school graduation
Why did you choose LSU? “I was part of a research program called LaSTEM, and that program really influenced me for coming here.”
Why did you choose the College of Engineering? “I’ve always been interested in biology, and I wanted to help people. In engineering, you can have such a broad impacts with what you’re doing. I can help people with my research while studying my interests.”
What do you want to accomplish on Engineering Council? “I would like to see the student body and the College as a whole more cohesive. I want to see more inter-department collaboration, and I want to see the College grow.”

SECRETARY: Reed Wilson

Reed Wilson

Reed Wilson, Secretary

Major: petroleum engineering
Minor: geology
Year: junior
Hometown: Mandeville, LA
Favorite spot on campus: LSU Bell Tower
Favorite LSU memory: 2012 LSU football game against University of South Carolina
Why did you choose LSU? “I grew up my whole life a huge LSU fan. Once I decided my major as petroleum engineering, it was a no-brainer.”
Why did you choose the College of Engineering? “My dad started off in the oil field. He has lots of friends working in the oil business, and they encouraged me to look into it. I really enjoy it.”
What do you want to accomplish on Engineering Council? “I want to get the council a lot more involved, and I want to get the students more involved in the College of Engineering.”

TREASURER: James Hamilton

James Hamilton, Treasurer

James Hamilton, Treasurer

Major: mechanical engineering
Year: senior
Hometown: Tampa, FL
Favorite spot on campus: Patrick F. Taylor’s mechanical engineering hallway
Favorite LSU memory: 2011 LSU football game against University of Alabama
Why did you choose LSU? “My parents went here. My family is from here.”
Why did you choose the College of Engineering? “Math and science always interested me.”
What do you want to accomplish on Engineering Council? “I didn’t know anything about what Student Government could provide until I joined. I want to make engineering students more aware of the resources available to them.”


Tim Montet

Tim Montet, Public Relations

Major: chemical engineering
Minor: biological molecular engineering
Year: junior
Hometown: Lake Charles, LA
Favorite spot on campus: LSU Sculpture Garden
Favorite LSU memory: 2007 BCS National Championship Game
Why did you choose LSU? “I liked how it was far enough away from home, but it was close enough if I needed to go home.”
Why did you choose the College of Engineering? “My mom is an engineer, and her father is an engineer, too. The family aspect pulled me to engineering.”
What do you want to accomplish on Engineering Council? “I want to increase the visibility of the College Council. This year I want students to boost publicity.”


Laura Theriot, Student Relations

Laura Theriot, Student Relations

Major: biological and agricultural engineering
Minor: business administration
Year: senior
Hometown: Houston, TX
Favorite spot on campus: LSU Lakes
Favorite LSU memory: “I really enjoy football games with family and friends.”
Why did you choose LSU? “I wanted to experience something different than the Texas schools I grew up with. Also my dad is an alum of the College of Engineering, so that persuaded me.”
Why did you choose the College of Engineering? “Coming into college I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but I liked biology and math. Biological engineering really combines all that.”
What do you want to accomplish on Engineering Council? “I would like to facilitate communication between the engineering council and the student body.”


Michael Rodriguez, Corporate Relations

Michael Rodriguez, Corporate Relations

Major: chemical engineering
Year: junior
Hometown: Mobile, AL
Favorite spot on campus: “The Lakes in front of my fraternity house”
Favorite LSU memory: “Mike and I jumping up and down, soaking wet after the Auburn football game my freshman year.”
Why did you choose LSU? “I really wanted to get away from Alabama and Auburn and this was the best school so far. I fell in love with it on my first visit.”
Why did you choose the College of Engineering? “I was originally biology, and I figured out that the harder my classes were the more I enjoyed them and I really liked the engineering classes.”
What do you want to accomplish on Engineering Council? “I really want to help the council grow. I really fell in love with this college, and I’m in charge of getting donations. I want to get as much money as possible for us.”


Donald Monk, Volunteer Coordinator

Donald Monk, Volunteer Coordinator

Major: construction management
Minor: business and technical sales
Year: senior
Hometown: Baton Rouge, LA
Favorite spot on campus: “Parade Grounds”
Favorite LSU memory: “2007 football game against Florida”
Why did you choose LSU? “Both my parents went to LSU and I’ve lived in Baton Rouge my whole life, and I went to U-High. I wanted to be close to home.”
Why did you choose the College of Engineering? “I like to learn things in school that I can apply in a hands-on environment. What we learn in class you have to know on the job site.”
What do you want to accomplish on Engineering Council? “I want to get better involvement in the different organizations. I want to promote interdisciplinary work, and promote more community work in Baton Rouge to make it a better place.”


Dane D’Gerolamo, Event Coordinator

Dane D’Gerolamo, Event Coordinator

Major: petroleum engineering
Minor: business administration
Year: junior
Hometown: New Orleans, LA
Favorite spot on campus: Tiger Stadium
Favorite LSU memory: “This past weekend (LSU v. Ole Miss), and rushing the field”
Why did you choose LSU? “I was always an LSU fan since I was really young. I developed a passion for engineering and LSU petroleum is one of the best in the nation.”
Why did you choose the College of Engineering? “My liking of science and math at a young age.”
What do you want to accomplish on Engineering Council? “I have an on campus job. I want to get more students involved in using the facilities. A lot of people don’t come to Patrick F. Taylor except for class. I want to get people involved in the events to meet new people and new friends.”


Katie Hogan, IT Coordinator

Katie Hogan, IT Coordinator

Major: biological engineering
Minor: biology, chemistry
Year: junior
Hometown: Choudrant, LA
Favorite spot on campus: Wilson Laboratories
Favorite LSU memory: “Recently for the New Mexico State game, I got to go on the field for a scholarship I got. I knew exactly where my parents where in the stands, so I got to see them when I was on the field.”
Why did you choose LSU? “I was initially part of the LASTEM research scholars program. I came here to be part of the program.”
Why did you choose the College of Engineering? “Engineering is interesting.”
What do you want to accomplish on Engineering Council? “Hopefully we can get a nice polished website up so that potential funders and any companies that want to sponsor us can look and see what our mission is.”

For more information about the Engineering College Council and to keep up with events, like their Facebook page!

Research in the Real World

The LSU Honors College did a Q+A with one of our biological engineering graduates, Linda Cross, about her Honors Thesis research. For the original article by Liz Billet, please click here.

Tell me a little bit about you—where you’re from, how you ended up at LSU…

I’m from Ruston, Louisiana. LSU was always on the radar—I had some siblings who came to LSU, and I also have a sister who lives in Baton Rouge. Georgia Tech was my competitor with LSU. I got into their Honors program, I got into the Honors College [at LSU] and the deciding factor was money. LSU’s in-state, so that’s great.

Coming to Baton Rouge was a big change, population-wise. But I really found a place within the Honors College. It’s a small community within LSU.

Was there anything that surprised you about the Honors College when you got here? Anything that you weren’t expecting?

I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know what to expect with the classes, the rigor of the curriculum, what writing a thesis would actually entail. At the beginning, I had to get used to asking for help—get used to interacting with faculty and be able to go to them for assistance with Honors classes. I wasn’t used to not getting the material right away.

Did you find that faculty were receptive to you coming to them?

Definitely. They always want to see that you’re interested in the material and that you’re willing to learn it, and then they’ll help you from there—to teach you, at the beginning, how to learn it, and then from there, the specifics of their subjects.

So how did you get involved in your research?

I started in Biochemistry, but I said to myself, I really want a major that I can be more hands on with, that will apply more clearly in the real world. So I switched to Biological Engineering. I do research on nanoparticle biodistribution. I was planning on writing an Honors Thesis, but I didn’t know exactly what to do it on. I thought, maybe I’ll do it on my research; maybe I’ll do it on my senior design project. [All College of Engineering majors require a design project in the senior year.]

I ended up on an interdisciplinary senior design project—my teammates are mechanical engineers. One of my teammates, Amy Pinner, proposed the project last spring: to design an automated pressure sore reducer for wheelchair leg rests. I was interested in it, so I said, hey, I’ll be on the team. And when I got on to the team, I said, “I could really do more to improve the project through an Honors Thesis.”

Linda and her teammates

Linda and her teammates

Can you explain that to me—an automated pressure sore reducer?

Well, pressure sores result from, usually, over-bony prominences where you have a lot of pressure over a period of time. People with limited mobility don’t have the sensory perception to perceive that pain or discomfort over those areas, and they don’t have the motor control to reposition themselves. So our project worked to redistribute the legs, redistribute pressure, for them.

In the fall [of 2013] we were out in the community. We spoke with mobility-limited patients and wheelchair manufacturers and they gave us feedback on what they would want in the device—what they would actually use, what they have a need for. We also spoke with John Figarola at the National Hansen’s Disease Program Center in Baton Rouge, and they showed us the current technology and what’s being done about pressure sores right now. There’s the automated tilt-in-space wheelchair, which—the entire wheelchair, pretty much every part of it, moves up and down. But for a manual wheelchair there’s not automated technology for the feet. All of the technology revolves around the seat of the wheelchair—mobility limited patients have the technology to move the seat of their wheelchair, but they don’t have anything that moves their feet. So we tried to apply some of those concepts to our project, but with the leg rests. This spring we’ve been building and testing our prototype—with paraplegic and quadriplegic patients at the Hansen’s Disease Program and the Baton Rouge Clinic—to make sure it works.

Wheelchair Design with Pressure Sore Reducer

Wheelchair Design with Pressure Sore Reducer

I saw your presentation at the Honors College Undergraduate Research Colloquium—it seems like you were successful in reducing pressure at those points, but not temperature.

No, our prototype did not decrease temperature. We’re thinking that may correlate with blood flow. The right foot, which was our control foot, did decrease in temperature—we’re thinking that it lost some blood flow, and the left foot, which our prototype was moving, kept the blood flow.

Will you work on this project again in the future, do you think?

Yes—we were selected as one of the finalists for the ASME [American Society of Mechanical Engineers] Undergraduate Design Competition. We’re presenting our prototype at the 7th World Congress of Biomechanics this July. For the conference we may do some additional testing. We have a list of future changes we’d like to make—like implementing a feedback system based on the sensors—and our pad was not as breathable as we would like. There are definitely still improvements to be made.

What else were you involved in during your time at LSU? I know you’re the outgoing president of the Honors College Student Council…

Yes. I originally got involved in a lot through the Honors College Student Organization Fair—I signed up on all the e-mail lists, thought “Oh, I’ll get involved in everything!”—I was a freshman—and when I went to the Honors College Student Council meetings—it was just very friendly and was a very close-knit community. They were very accepting of new members. And their activities were fun and engaging. So I continued in that. I was elected vice president of service [when I was a junior] and then this past year served as president.

What kind of service projects has HCSC organized?

We’ve done service with Best Buddies—we did a kickball tournament with them—and we’ve worked with the Baton Rouge Homeless Youth Program—we did their 2K Walk for Kicks, which raises shoes for homeless children in East Baton Rouge schools. This year we did a local playground build and we organized our first large scale project at the Burden Center, where we worked on reforestation projects.

The skills that I’ve learned through these positions—they’ve taught me a lot about organization, and communication, having to go between peers and faculty and staff. They will definitely apply, wherever I go.

Now that you’ve graduated, what are your plans for the future?

I’ve accepted a job at the Tulane Cancer Center in New Orleans as a Cancer Registry Assistant. I will be providing support for tumor boards—multidisciplinary cancer conferences [concerning patient treatment]. I’m hoping this work will provide me with clinical experience and the opportunity to follow cases and interact with doctors. So I’ll do that for the next year while I apply for medical school—I want to become a doctor. Right now I’m thinking something in orthopedics, because of my biological engineering background. I want to be directly involved in serving people.

What advice would you give to our incoming LSU Honors College freshmen?

Get involved! The Honors College is a community—it’s very easy to meet new people with similar interests, and goals, and ambitions, just by getting involved in the organizations, or in Laville [the Honors College residence hall]. They’ve developed a lot of programs and events for Laville, and it’s very convenient for getting to classes, or for forming study groups for those Honors classes. Because they are a challenge! It is extra work, but it’s challenging work that helps you develop as a person, both academically and professionally.