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Lt. Governor Nungesser visits Louisiana Tech, experiences SciTEC

Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser visited Louisiana Tech University last Wednesday to learn more about the Science and Technology Education Center (SciTEC) and efforts by Louisiana Tech’s College of Education in partnering with outside organizations for mutual benefits.

Lindsey Keith-Vincent, director of Louisiana Tech’s Office of Outreach and External Funding, Science and Technology Education Center and Office of Professional Education Outreach, said it was a tourism meeting that initially set up Nungesser’s visit.  Nungesser’s office oversees Louisiana’s Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism.

Louisiana Tech President Les Guice (left) welcomes Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser (center) with College of Education Dean Don Schillinger (right).

Louisiana Tech President Les Guice (left) welcomes Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser (center) with College of Education Dean Don Schillinger (right).

“The original invitation we extended was related to a conversation (Nungesser) and I had at a tourism meeting about the IDEA Place and planetarium,” Vincent said. “From there, after we highlighted those two resources we have here at Tech, we explained to him the SciTEC umbrella covered much more than that, and that our College of Education and SciTEC Center have been able to create really cool partnerships with some awesome people we felt he needed to learn more about.”

After being welcomed by Louisiana Tech President Les Guice, Nungesser was given overviews on SciTEC and UTeachTech, and also learned about partnerships between SciTEC and the Cyber Innovation Center in Bossier City and the IDEA Place and CenturyLink.  Nungesser also heard a presentation from Andrew Ganucheau, director at Louisiana Center for Afterschool Learning (LACAL), which is also working with Louisiana Tech’s College of Education.

LACAL is a growing collaboration of local, regional and statewide organizations working together to improve the quality and access of afterschool, summer and youth programs.  The organization’s says its mission is to build a statewide coalition of partners and develop policies to expand and sustain high-quality afterschool programs across Louisiana that improve outcomes for young people and help working families.

“This is important because when you hear about these kinds of programs, you ask are they really teaching or is it just glorified babysitting,” Nungesser said of the LACAL presentation. “Because that’s what we don’t want to spend governmental dollars on. But this seems to be looking at things the right way.”

The Lt. Gov. also heard a presentation from Louisiana Tech professor Julie Holmes and Cathi Cox-Boniol, ACHIEVE (Accelerating Children Higher In Educational Values Everywhere) Coordinator for Lincoln Parish Schools about the Engineering by Design and Pipes Afterschool STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Academy.

Nungesser was also able to view and interact with young children at a Pre-K STEM “Bricks4Kidz” program and learned about Louisiana Tech College of Education’s Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness, which partners with the Louisiana Center for the Blind in Ruston.

“I had no idea Tech had that and partnered with the School for the Blind,” Nungesser said.  The Lt. Gov. said he is impressed by Louisiana Tech students more and more every time he visits the university.

“I’ve been up to Ruston seven times or so and I’ve never seen kids (college students) with the passion and dreams (Tech students) have, and it makes me realize how passionate they are about their education.”

Vincent said she hopes Nungesser’s visit will lead to more visitors to Tech from across the state and all over the nation.

“Moving forward, we’re looking at opportunities to host some large conferences, meetings and chances to bring people in from across the nation to learn more about these partnerships and relationships and how we’ve been so successful in some of our STEM efforts,” Vincent said.

Written by T. Scott Boatright – boat@latech.edu