LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - On his latest stop of universities across the state, Governor Bobby Jindal is getting a taste of what McNeese State University does best. On a tour of Drew Hall, he's shown how engineering students train on a working model chemical plant - complete with a simulated control room.
"This is just one example of how the McNeese campus has done a great job with working with local industry to get local industry to donate equipment and facilities so they can train their students on the latest, newest devices. Newest computers, newest hardware that means the students are ready to hit the ground running but it also means industry doesn't have to spend a lot of money or time training there new employees when they hire McNeese students," said Gov. Jindal.
More than a third of workers employed at Southwest Louisiana chemical plants are McNeese graduates. Soon to be the newest product of the department is senior engineering student Jennifer Carson.
"Actually I've worked at a refinery for about 18 months and my experience that I've learned here from McNeese, I was able to integrate to the job and I actually already have my job offer," said Carson.
Another area of excellence is McNeese's Nursing Department, where future nurses train on simulated patients, before they're ever on the job.
"If you feel right here - you can actually feel the pulse. The lips will also turn blue," explains nursing instructor.
In this scenario they've just delivered a baby. But perhaps Governor Jindal could be the instructor having delivered his third child at home back in 2006 with the assistance of a 911 operator.
"You know I've delivered a baby actually," explained Jindal. "There was no simulator when I did it... Laughs."
But all joking aside, the program works. Nearly a 100% success rate for students passing board exams.
"This program has really helped me to develop a lot of my assessment skills and the vital skills I need to carry on in the professional world after graduation. And the instructors are great and the technological advances we have here really help out with that," said Nursing student Jessie Dunham.
Under Jindal's administration, half a billion dollars has been pumped into higher education - more than 13 million dollars at work at McNeese. Despite budget cuts, Jindal says he's committed to continuing investing in programs like this.
"Louisiana ranks in the top ten for per capita spending on higher education. Yet we have the lowest graduation rates in the south. We're going to continue to invest in education but there has to be accountability and there has to be results and that's why we want to learn from and highlight what's going on so well here," said Jindal.
During his tour the governor also heard of progress being made by the partnership between The Chamber Southwest Louisiana and McNeese in development of their entrepreneurial and business incubator.