Tag Archives: Louisiana Tech

From Tech to UNT: Great Education, Awkward Football for Life

Just about anyone who knows me, knows that I am finishing up my Master’s degree at Norwich University and am immediately starting my Ph.D. What they may not know is where, because over the past few months, I have floated many names of potential institutions to start my next degree program. After a process of mutual rejection and disappointments, I have landed in the Learning Technologies Ph.D. program at the University of North Texas.

There is a lot that I like about this. For starters, UNT is forward-thinking with the program and have opened it to include distance learners. This was important for me, because Tech did not have a single Ph.D. program that I felt captured the essence of the doctoral work I wanted to pursue in computing, education, and cognition. Because of this, it originally appeared that I would need to leave the professional nest that I have built for myself in Ruston. Fortunately, that will not be the case, as I have grown quite attached to some of my coworkers.

Secondly, I like the fact that UNT, like Tech, is an institution that is building prestige. When I was deliberating whether or not to pursue the Ph.D. program at UNT or wait to reapply to more competitive (read: prestigious) universities, one thing that resonated with me was the idea that it is much more satisfying to help build a program than to stand on the backs of people who have already built elite programs.

What I’m not looking forward to about UNT is football. For those who may not be aware, both Louisiana Tech and UNT are members of Conference USA. More specifically, both are members of C-USA’s Western Division which means that UNT and Tech face off on the gridiron more-or-less every year theses days. To make matters especially awkward, my first year as a UNT student finds the Mean Green taking a trip to Ruston in November – for Tech’s homecoming game. Pretty awkward time to don green for the first time.

Kidding aside, I’m really excited about being involved with the program at North Texas. Classes started today, and so far the professors like my type: no nonsense. It will be interesting adapting to the teaching methodologies at UNT after spending a year-and-a-half with Norwich. Still, it should be easier than adapting to wearing green after fifteen years of blue.

Louisiana Tech Joining UTeach Initiative

My colleagues in the College of Education at Louisiana Tech deserve some major props. Tech has just been announced as one of five research universities across the United States to be part of an expansion of the UTeach program that originated at that University of Texas at Austin.

The program will help leverage Tech’s strengths in science and engineering to help train educators in STEM fields. I’m hoping, that perhaps, there’s a computer science teaching certification somewhere in the future (given Southeastern Louisiana University is the only public university in Louisiana offering teaching certification in computer science).

Did I mention this comes with a $1.45 million grant over the next five years?

Let me reiterate that; $1.45 million. That’s a lot of money for innovation in Louisiana’s cash-starved higher education environment.

I won’t belabor this news any further, and will let the University press release handle the rest.

Suffice it to say that I’m happy to be part of an institution doing this kind of quality work despite being underfunded by the State. I’m proud to be part of the Louisiana Tech family.

Featured image: IDEA Place Balloons, from the 2010 Anniversary Gala; own work.

Looking Back at Tech – Seven Years of Progress

It seems rather fitting to christen the redesign of my personal website with a look back at the last seven years of my life. Truthfully, there has been a lot happening that has caused me to be reflective. Anytime you start polishing up your resu… er… curriculum vitae and start looking back at what you have done with your life for the last decade, you are probably going to start getting a little reflective, but even then things don’t necessarily seem real.

Taking action, however, makes things real, and the potential for future change became real today. As of December 1, I am officially an applicant to Ph.D. level programs in Information Science at the University of Washington (Seattle), University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), and Cornell University.

I honestly never thought I would be applying to a Ph.D. program. More honesty, I never thought I’d pursue a Masters. When I finished my B.S. in Computer Science at Tech, I was burned out. It took me seven years of back-and-forth between Computer Science and Electrical Engineering to finish a degree, and I was tired. I swore I was finished with school, and I went off to find a job. I guess fate took over.

I  left the College of Engineering and Science and moved just across campus to the College of Education. When I started work here, it was a pretty technically abysmal place. Our computer labs were mostly old and broken (the Mac lab was new, but still broken). The majority of classrooms in Woodard Hall were pretty much the same in 2007 as they were when I started school in 1999, with no technology of any kind. Even our website was a wreck.

Since 2007, a lot has changed at Louisiana Tech. Some buildings have gone, and other new ones have been built. As a campus, we have a renovated recreation center, the beginnings of a research park, and we have grown in enrollment by about 1,000 students. All this, despite State administration that has consistently cut higher education expenditures to below… pretty much below everyone.

IMG_1129In the College of Education, we have made tremendous strides. We have almost completely eliminated our circa-1960’s seating. Rather than classrooms with worn out chalkboards and projectors on rolling carts, we have classrooms with built-in technology. Our website, is lightyears ahead of where it was when I started. We have not only caught up technologically with other Colleges on campus and the schools in which we are supposed to be preparing educators to teach, but we are also beginning to lead and innovate on campus through the build out of a student collaboration and study center and through the build out of additional cyberinfrastructure.

Louisiana Tech University has made great progress over the last seven years, and I’m proud to have contributed to the growth and progress. I think, as much as I have contributed to the University, the University has contributed just as much to me. Had it not been for the work experience I have had at Louisiana Tech, I would likely have not built the resolve to attempt my Master’s degree, and I certainly wouldn’t have had the inclination to pursue a Doctorate.

I will always have  blood and sweat (and I mean that as literally as I can) invested in this University. No matter where I go from here, this will always be home. Alas, sometimes, we have to leave home to continue our growth. I’m going to miss Tech, but I’m also prepared for a new chapter of life.

Featured photo: Louisiana Tech Band of Pride Drum Corps, own work.