Connections pay off for students


Zachary Araki

Dr. Mohammed Zeidan, assistant professor of engineering technology, shows William Maley, a junior engineering technology major, and Christopher LeSage, a senior engineering technology major, the equipment used in the construction lab. Two students in the engineering technology program will receive a scholarship funded by a grant from Terracon.

In an expression of support and connection, Terracon Foundation provided a $5,000 grant to the university’s engineering technology program to be split into two scholarships.

A panel of faculty will select one student from the construction engineering technology concentration and another from the computer, energy or mechanical concentration.

“Right now, we’re in the process of putting together criteria for that,” discussed Dr. Mohammad Saadeh, department head for industrial and engineering technology. “We may have students write why they deserve it and what they can use it for, and there will be a panel of faculty to choose. We don’t think this will take any longer than early February.”

Connections between Terracon, a firm specializing in environmental, facilities, geotechnical and materials services, and the university paved the path for this grant. Since Terracon grants require an employee to champion for the recipient, involvement with the industry prompted the grant.

“I have several employees in my office here in Baton Rouge that are graduates of Southeastern university, and they have actually been heavily involved,” said Laura Campa, senior principal for Terracon. “They go to present to some of the classes and the advisory council to the engineering technology department, and I moved here three years ago, and I actually started getting involved with them as well.”

When looking at applicants, Terracon searches for those that support its mission of delivering success for employees, clients and communities.

“We want to see that the grants are going to be used to promote those types of things that we do,” explained Campa. “It needs to be in a STEM related field, and it’s up the university to develop the criteria for how they’re going to award the scholarship. And again, the other criteria is there has to be employee involvement. They expect the employees of ourselves to give our time, not so much our money, but they want an investment of the employees’ time in the organization.”

Terracon provides both community and university grants, and the number of grants varies each cycle, which occurs twice a year.

“It just depends on the pool of applicants,” shared Campa. “We typically have a dollar threshold that we give out every year, so we try to satisfy that. It may vary. It just depends on the number of applicants that we get and whether they support the mission of the foundation as well.”

Connections with the community motivated Terracon to offer grants.

“We want to be able to be a good partner to the communities we have offices in, and we wanted to encourage our employees to get involved and give back to the communities where we live and work,” said Campa.

Saadeh believes that the faculty, a hands-on program and connections with industries make the engineering technology program successful.

“We do have great support from administration,” expressed Saadeh. “We do have support from our dean. We do have support from industries around us. We have connections with people in industries. We invite them to our meetings or take our students to their buildings.”

By working with graduates from the university, Campa noticed the effect of the engineering technology program on the community.

“I feel they’re a great partner, great program,” said Campa. “They’re wanting to learn. They’re wanting to grow, so I really feel like it’s a way for both of us to make an impact in the community, Southeastern with what they’re doing with the program and us being able to support that.”