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

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.

LSU Tiger Calls: Connecting with Prospective Students



Meghan Brunet is a Construction Management student at LSU who recently participated in LSU Tiger Calls. We’ll let her explain what it’s all about!

1. What made you interested in engineering?
Growing up I spent a lot of time with my dad fixing cars and building various things for the house. I learned early that I wanted to have a career where I could create and construct things and I felt like engineering would allow me to do just that.

2. Why did you choose LSU and its College of Engineering?
Originally I did not want to attend LSU, but my parents made me visit campus and the engineering interest presentation. That day I fell in love with LSU and the engineering program and I knew there was no better school for me to go to.

3. How did you hear about LSU Tiger Calls?
At a Construction Student Association meeting, Professor Schneider spoke to us about contacting high school students interested in attending LSU for engineering to get the word out about our awesome CM program and answer any questions they may have about it.

4. Can you briefly explain for us what Tiger Calls is?
The Tiger Calls I made were to graduating high school seniors who were accepted to LSU and looking to study construction management or another major in the College of Engineering. After congratulating them we talked about their interest in CM and the advantages of LSU’s CM program that sets it apart from other schools or majors. I answered any of their questions about LSU classes or campus and left them with contacts they might find useful, such as their advisors and the program coordinator in the College of Engineering. After hanging up, I wrote a postcard to them touching on the topics we talked about in our phone call.

5. Why did you want to volunteer for this?
I volunteered for Tiger Calls because I want to help welcome future students and let them know how great the College of Engineering is here at LSU. I wish I had an LSU student call during my senior year and reassure me of attending a big university. I also want to ignite any interest high school seniors have in construction management and let them know about the special connection LSU CM has to the industry. I love LSU CM and CSA. If I knew more about the program and the job outlook before coming to LSU, I would have chosen it first. I would like to help incoming engineering students by giving them the information they need to choose the best engineering major for them the first time, unlike most construction management students.

6. What kind of questions did you receive from prospective students when doing the Tiger Calls?
Prospective students asked questions like “How many math classes will I have to take?” and “Do I have to have an internship while in school?”

7. Do you believe that it’s important to connect current students with prospective students and, if so, why?
I think it is very important to connect with incoming students as well as current students. Most of us are under the same pressure with student loans, being away from home, and maintaining grades. As if that’s not enough, the thought of finding a job, like the job you’re studying so hard in school for, is kind of scary. But none of us are alone in this; we need our peers. As current students we can guide the incoming students through their transition. For those in our classes, we can study together and aid each other on homework assignments; together it is easier. In this way you form friendships where you encourage and want them to succeed as much as yourself and vice versa. As a team you can pass and the only common factor needed to promote this relationship is the ambition to succeed.

8. What other ways would you like to see the College of Engineering connect current and prospective students?
I’d like to see the College of Engineering connect current and prospective students through the use of student associations. Giving the prospective student ways to contact current students in their intended major may relieve some anxiety about coming to college and studying something as challenging as engineering.