From the desk of President Leslie K. Guice

A Day for Signing Beams

Oct 8, 2018 | Weekly Update

As President, I sign a lot of papers. On Saturday, I had the opportunity to sign my first beam, a steel beam. I have designed many steel beams over my career as a structural engineer and professor. But this was my first beam to ever sign. And it was a very special beam, the final beam to be lifted into place in the superstructure of the new Integrated Engineering and Science Building. A lot of other people signed the beam too – our students, faculty, staff, alumni, Board members and elected officials. Governor John Bel Edwards made the major commitment to allocate funding essential for the building to begin construction this year – and he signed the IESB beam on Saturday.

Saturday’s beam signing ceremony was planned to celebrate a milestone in the construction of the IESB, and a milestone in the history of Louisiana Tech University. An institution founded in 1894 as an “Industrial Institute”, Louisiana Tech has had a strong focus on engineering and science over its 125-year history. As it has grown, Tech has built excellent programs in many other fields as well and will continue to do so. It seems fitting that we will celebrate the opening of this building on the 125th ‘birthday’ of Louisiana Tech.

Tech’s excellent reputation in engineering and science can be attributed to many outstanding faculty who have taken good students and shaped them into superb engineers, scientists, technologists, leaders and citizens – pursuing many kinds of career opportunities all around the world. One of those legendary faculty members, Randall Barron, signed the IESB beam on Friday. Tech’s reputation has been enhanced by innovative academic programs like Biomedical Engineering, founded by President Emeritus Dan Reneau in 1972. President Reneau signed the IESB beam on Saturday. Tech’s success as an institution can be attributed in part to the strong interdisciplinary culture, a culture that brings together engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs, artists, writers and more to develop exciting curricula that have impacts on society – like the Integrated Engineering Curriculum. Dr. Stan Napper played a major role in developing that curriculum, and he was on campus to sign the IESB beam on Saturday.

Another legendary Tech professor, Jack Painter, has his mark on that beam even though he is no longer with us. Mr. Painter, one of our most innovative professors, always made a point to have a short party in his classes on the last day before the Christmas break. He would teach his students the lesson about completing successful structures projects, and he would bring out his little Christmas tree with lights blinking. He would talk about the traditional “topping out ceremony” that often happens when a tree is placed atop the structure after the last beam is in place. I know that many of our engineering alumni who were in attendance on Saturday were thinking about that lesson from Mr. Painter on Saturday as they signed the beam. I did.

We are very grateful to all who have given generously of their time, resources, and leadership to make this grand building happen, and I know that our students will benefit from this exciting learning environment for decades to come. And I know that our faculty will continue to develop more and more innovative approaches to learning because of this investment. Our faculty and students were the inspiration for this building!