Southeastern forms partnership with fabrication firm

Thursday, November 13, 2014 PCI partnership
by: Rene Abadie

CHECKING FOR FLAWS - Industrial Technology student John Crutchfield of Denham Springs applies a liquid penetrant to metal in order to identify cracks and other possible flaws, while fellos student Jade "Vicky" Crovetto of Baton Rouge looks on. Observing are, from left, PCI representative David Theriot and Instructor Anthony Blakeney. A new partnership between Southeastern PCI will help support the purchase of needed supplies for metallurgy courses.

HAMMOND – Impressed with the caliber of graduates it has employed from Southeastern Louisiana University's industrial technology and occupational safety, health, and environment programs, a Baton Rouge-based heavy industrial construction company has formed a partnership to help support the programs.

Performance Contractors, Inc., licensed in 27 states and one of the largest heavy construction companies in the South with locations in Baton Rouge, Mobile and Texas, has established special accounts with supply vendors to be used by the university and paid for by PCI.

"Our relationship with Southeastern goes back several years when we started recruiting graduates of the industrial technology and safety programs," said Jerome Mabile, corporate quality control director at PCI and a new member of Southeastern's Industrial Advisory Board. "What has transpired since is a small but steady influx of Southeastern interns and graduates in well-paying positions. The graduates are exceeding our expectations in terms of knowledge, commitment and work ethic. We hope to continue to help the university achieve its goal of placing graduates in exciting and rewarding careers."

"This is a great achievement for our program," said Anthony Blakeney, metallurgist and IT instructor, who helped forge the arrangement. "It is significant for the department and our students and underscores the importance and value industrial technology coursework has on the workforce of this region."

Blakeney said students in the program have no problem finding employment following their graduation because of the heavy demand for well-prepared professionals needed in the growth Louisiana is experiencing in the technological and industrial sectors.

Southeastern's IT and safety program graduates are being paid an average starting salary of over $50,000 per year.

"These are well-paying careers," Blakeney said. "While our students are learning the basic skills of industrial processes, they also need to understand the science behind these processes. These students are being hired for their expertise in metal and weld inspection, quality control and supervision – skills acquired through programs such as industrial technology."

PCI has also hired a number of graduates from Southeastern's Occupational Safety, Health and environment program, said Sebastian van Delden, head of the Department of Computer Science and Industrial Technology.

Southeastern's OSH&E bachelor's degree is one of only a few of its kind in the nation, van Delden added. Initiated in 2004 from a two-year associate degree program, the OSH&E degree is designed to meet the needs of industries in the region for properly prepared professionals to work in the increasingly complex field of safety and health in the industrial setting.

The PCI arrangement allows the Southeastern program directors to obtain materials to be used in metallurgy course work, such as steel tubing, bar stock, metal plates and other supplies.

The donation, expected to be thousands of dollars per year, will supplement funds collected from student lab fees, which cannot fully support the programs, said Sebastian van Delden, head of the Department of Computer Science and Industrial Technology.

He said representatives of PCI serve on the College of Science and Technology's advisory board for industrial technology. Board members, all active professionals with various construction and technology firms, provide department faculty with information on trends in the field in order to keep the curriculum relevant.

"This helps ensure that our students graduate well prepared for employment in their selected fields," he added.

van Delden said PCI has also pledged significant financial support for the university's American Welding Society student organization by sponsoring the group's annual trip to the national AWS/Fabtech conference.


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