One hundred STEM —science, technology, engineering and math — students from Lafayette Parish high schools attended LAGCOE '13, meeting with professionals from across the industry and visiting exhibits.
So YPL’s leadership collected assessments of their first ever tour effort, made adjustments and aimed higher for LAGCOE 2015, scheduled for Oct. 27-29 at the Cajundome. YPL wants to sign up 200 high school juniors and seniors from Acadiana’s nine parishes to attend the exposition and engage with professionals at the most interactive exhibits.
YPL tour guides and college ambassadors will direct morning and afternoon tours for high schoolers on Oct. 28. And students will include not just prospective engineers and geologists, but also students interested in hands-on industry work such as welding and operating.
Kelsey Corrigan, YPL board member and a Chevron field engineer, said the goal this year was a wider footprint for the event, both in geography and interests of students.
She said in 2013, STEM students were selected by teachers to attend. This year, students themselves applied. Interest was slow at first, butpassed 100 students four weeks before the event.
She said most participating students loved the event in 2013, regarding the exposition as a "super-cool classroom.”
"It’s a little different atmosphere this year, with the down market” she said. Oil was trading at $45.02 a barrel Thursday, down from more than $100 a barrel in summer 2014.
But student interest is heartening. LAGCOE gave two $10,000 scholarships to students studying engineering last year; Corrigan said the organization will give scholarships this year, too, although the totals have not been approved by the board. Corrigan said students who attend LAGCOE will receive information about applying for the scholarships.
Tully Blanchard, YPL president who works in corporate sales for H.B. Reynolds, said YPL members have visited high schools around the region to talk about the tour program. He said he spoke to students at St. Thomas More High School.
YPL has some 600 members, including 40-50 active members who promote the organization’s programs. YPL hosts an annual clay shoot to raise funds for education.
He said profits — not yet revealed —for the shoot were better than expected, given the soft market for oil and gas.
Blanchard said students begin their LAGCOE visit with an orientation session at the LITE Center, then walk across the street to the Cajundome. He said tour groups include a YPL member, a college ambassador and five or six students. The students visit five or six sites at the exposition. The event takes about four hours.
"A lot of juniors and seniors in high school have questions marks about their futures,” Blanchard said. "Hopefully, this will be good as a catalyst to choose oil and gas.”
Blanchard said he was among those reviewing student applications for the scholarships last year, and he learned something himself.
"Man, we have some sharp kids in this area,” he said.
For more information about the future professionals event, see www.lagcoe.com\futureenergyprofessionals