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eXploration Camp for Inspiring Tomorrow's Engineers (XCITE)

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

July 18, 2014

The Gulf Coast Center for Evacuation and Transportation Resiliency in conjunction with LSU's College of Engineering Office for Diversity Programs held the seventh annual eXploration Camp Inspiring Tomorrow's Engineers (XCITE). XCITE, featured a residential program for high school girls who will be entering the ninth and tenth grades. These students were introduced to the various types of engineering through engineering curriculum, hands-on activities, engineering design projects, while professional engineers shared their work environments.

The high school female students also participated in communication, teamwork and leadership building skills by completing the LSU Challenge Course at the University Recreational Center. In addition, these students completed ACT Prep and Computer-Aided Drafting courses lead by LSU engineering doctoral students.

Engaging female high school students to engineering during the summer is challenging, but comments from XCITE participants confirm that the camps are exciting and making a difference.

Natasha Rankins, a freshman attending Jehovah-Jireh Christian Academy in Baton Rouge, was enthusiastic about her camp experience. "XCITE has by far been the most extraordinary, educational, and XCITEing program that I have ever attended," said Natasha. "It has helped me choose my career. As a result, I plan to pursue a career in biological engineering, and then go off to veterinary school. I just would like to say that XCITE is the best!"

Sharon Lagos, XCITE tenth grade participant from West Jefferson High School in Harveyn LA, added "Coming into this program I never knew what to expect, considering that this is my first time coming to a camp. I honestly thought that this was going to be like one of those boot camps, but it turned out to be the exact opposite. Over the past two weeks, I've learned the importance of engineering, and what engineering truly is. This program has helped me expand my choices, and actually consider engineering as one of my career options!"

Parents of participating students were equally impressed with the program's impact on their children. Monita Overstreet, mother of XCITE participant Meaghan Overstreet, said, "Thank you for hosting such a wonderful event. My daughter has learned so much and you all did such a great job. She wants to come back next year!"

Charisma Edwards, ACT Prep Instructor for XCITE and PhD candidate in the LSU electrical engineering department, credits the program with helping set a great example of how engineering truly benefits society and the importance of recruiting females and minorities early into engineering. "Ms. Vaneshette Henderson and staff did a great job planning XCITE," said Edwards. "The camp schedule gave the participants a taste of college life and majoring in engineering at LSU. I was fortunate to be introduced to engineering at a young age, but many girls are never introduced to the possibility of being an engineer and their value to society. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of the participants' experience!"

The Office for Diversity Programs initiatives focus on the recruitment and retention of female and minority students to thereby improve overall enrollment and graduation rates, and enhance diversity both within the College of Engineering and the workforce. The goal of the Office for Diversity Programs is "to enhance the academic environment for talented female and minority students and to increase the visibility of highly qualified women and minorities in all sectors of engineering."

Recruiting into Engineering High Achieving Multi-Cultural Students (REHAMS)

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

June 19, 2014

The Gulf Coast Center for Evacuation and Transportation Resiliency hosted the 2014 REHAMS Summer Camp. Recruiting into Engineering High Ability Multi-Cultural Students (REHAMS) gives multi-cultural students an opportunity to explore the various disciplines offered by the College of Engineering (CoE), including biological, chemical, petroleum, industrial, civil, electrical and computer engineering, computer science and construction management.

The first REHAMS program was held at LSU in 1977, and it was one of the first programs in the country to target minorities and recruit and retain them in STEM disciplines. Since then, REHAMS has provided pre-college students an opportunity to explore CoE disciplines through a holistic overview of the field by presenting both the academic structure and career possibilities.

“The most valuable part was seeing how hard works pays off,” said George Tullock-Harris, an 11th grade student from Chicago, Ill. “No matter how big of a challenge the students and professors knew engineering was going to be, they all went the extra mile and succeeded. Everyone has a passion for what they’re doing. Throughout the program, they sugar-coated nothing, and I liked that. They made sure I knew everything about engineering, even the things I thought I wouldn't need to know. Overall, it was fantastic.”

St. Joseph’s Academy Career Day

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

March 14, 2012

Katie Spansel presented at the St. Joseph’s Academy (SJA) Career Day on March 14, 2012. SJA is an all-girls Catholic high school in Baton Rouge, LA, with high standards of excellence in its academic programs. The mission of SJA is to educate young women as responsible and unifying members of the world community.

During the event, Spansel explained the typical duties of a civil engineer and the requirements to achieve an engineering degree at LSU. She described the University Transportation Center and the interesting on-going research projects dealing with transportation, safety, and evacuation. The girls expressed interest through their thought provoking questions and inquiries.

“I am hopeful that these eleventh grade students have a new found interest in engineering as a potential career endeavor. With SJA having a strong math and science emphasis in the curriculum, I know the girls will be well prepared for any engineering field,” Spansel said.

National Evacuation Conference 2012

New Orleans, Louisiana

February 7-9, 2012


The 2nd National Evacuation Conference took place in New Orleans from February 7th to 9th. This conference brings together the fields of transportation and emergency management to discuss evacuation planning to accommodate the needs of all people before, during and after a major disaster. The conference fosters an interdisciplinary exchange of ideas surrounding a broad range of evacuation issues, particularly mass evacuations prompted by disasters.
CETR Associate Director and co-organizer of the conference, Dr. John Renne, also a conference panelist, spoke with Jill Hezeau WWL TV about evacuating a mass amount of people and where New Orleans rates as a City in evacuation planning. Click here to watch Dr. Renne on WGNO.

Dr. Wolshon Chairs the TRB Security Summit Workshop

Irvine, California

August 22-24, 2011

In August, Dr. Wolshon chaired the 2011 Transportation Research Board National Cooperative Highway Research Program (TRB/NCHRP) “Transportation Hazards and Security Summit Workshop” in Irvine, CA. This event brought together experts from across the United States to discuss issues directly related to the theme of the Center. For summary of the event Click here

The theme of the TRB/NCHRP event was “Looking Beyond the 10th Anniversary of 9/11” and included speakers from government, academia, and the private sector. Dr. Wolshon, in an extension of his duties as Chair of TRB’s Emergency Evacuation Subcommittee, served as the Technical Chair of the Conference as was responsible for coordinating a program of 24 technical sessions with topics covering the full range of hazards, modes, communications, coordination, management, planning, and control of emergency transportation resources and operations.

Attendees were treated to two and a half days of exploration and discussion of past, current, and emerging practices and results related to the implementation of security research over the past ten years; successful security practices; identification of barriers to instituting security practices; and development of future research and evaluation needs, including improvements to implementation of research.

Four New Orleans Schools Participate in International Walk to School Day

New Orleans, Louisiana

October 5, 2011


With help from the Louisiana Safe Routes to School State Network, a program hosted at UNOTI, hundreds of students at four New Orleans area elementary schools participated in International Walk to School Day on October 5th, 2011. CETR staffers helped coordinate and promote these events, which encouraged students to increase their daily physical activity and practice safe pedestrian behaviors through this fun, celebratory event. Participating schools included the International School of Louisiana, ARISE Academy, Harney Elementary, and Medard H. Nelson Charter School, and events were attended by City of New Orleans Health Commissioner Dr. Karen De Salvo and her staff, Louisiana Safe Routes to School State Network Partner organizations, as well as students, parents, and school administrators.

LSU Senior Design Students Tour LA DOTD Project

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

November, 2011


LSU Senior Design Project Class students were given a guided tour of the new Magnolia Bend Bridge under construction in the Baton Rouge area. During the tour, led by a team of Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development bridge, traffic, and construction engineers, the students were able gain first-hand knowledge of design, engineering, and construction techniques under real world conditions. The students were then able to bring this knowledge back to the classroom for successful completion of their projects and defend them to a group of local expert practitioners. Experiences like this are routinely used at LSU to best prepare students to make the transition from student to professional engineer.

National Evacuation Conference 2010

New Orleans

February 3-5, 2010



Dr. Brian Wolshon and Dr. John Renne making Welcome Remarks

The aim of this conference was to bring together the fields of transportation and emergency management to discuss evacuation planning to accommodate the needs of all people before, during and after a major disaster. This was expectedto foster an interdisciplinary exchange of ideas surrounding a broad range of evacuation issues, particularly mass evacuations prompted by disasters.

The conference also featured several keynote speakers from national and international acclaim.


The conference resulted in two special issue journals, that will publish the top papers from the conference: Journal of Transportation Safety and Security and the Risk, Hazards and Crisis in Public Policy.


Urban Pathways to Livable Communities:
Building Partnerships for Healthy Neighborhoods

February 25 and 26, 2010, New Orleans 

Transportation, public health and urban planning professionals gathered in New Orleans for an exciting two-part conference.   Along with local and national experts, they explored key strategies for building effective partnerships to advance the development of healthy, walkable and bikeable neighborhoods to restore and rebuild communities.

More Information is available at: http://www.railstotrails.org/ourWork/promotingTrailUse/urbanpathways/conference.html


Setting A Vision for Sustainable Development: The Louisiana Transportation Renaissance
 March 26, 2009, New Orleans
1350 Port of New Orleans Place
New Orleans, LA

Transportation leaders, advocates and industry professionals attended "Setting A Vision for Sustainable Development: The Louisiana Transportation Renaissance." The conference was held on March 26 in New Orleans. The opening keynote address was made by the Louisiana Transportation Secretary Dr. William Ankner, with lunch remarks from Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc, and a closing keynote by American Public Transportation Association President & CEO William Millar, and presentations by a series of nationally-known transportation and smart-growth advocates. The conference resulted in insights and discussions on factors influencing the sustainable transportation future for Louisiana and the Gulf Coast Region.

More Information is available at: http://www.railstotrails.org/ourWork/promotingTrailUse/urbanpathways/conference.html