Civil Engineering senior helps found Louisiana Tech research center

Sep 14, 2022 | Engineering and Science, General News, Research, Students

Civil Engineering and Environmental Science senior and Shreveport native Lori Hawkins came to Louisiana Tech University with a unique resume that included a psychology degree and more than 20 years in the technology and business architecture sectors, many of which were in business architecture and leadership roles where she oversaw employees on six continents.

At Louisiana Tech, Hawkins has used her experience to build success in student organizations, the classroom, and, most consequentially, in helping Louisiana Tech establish the four-campus, four-state MALT Industrial Research and Assessment Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE).

Hawkins worked with fellow student and Technical Lead Robert Kolling (Construction Management), Tech Professors Dr. Henry Cardenas, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Nanosystems Engineering, Dr. Elizabeth Matthews, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering and Construction Engineering Technology, and Dr. Jun-Ing Ker, Program Chair and Associate Professor of Industrial Engineering and Engineering and Technology Management, to coordinate the founding grant with the DoE and the four campuses that would house the center. She has since led the efforts to recruit Louisiana Tech students and coordinate their activities for assessment reporting. She’s also the founding president of the Sustainable Energy Club, a student organization affiliated with the center.

Why has Hawkins invested so much energy in the MALT Center? Because she believes in the center’s mission to help regional businesses become more sustainable by saving energy and money.

“Working with the MALT Industrial Research and Assessment Center helps students learn to see opportunities. The biggest challenge to an on-site visit is learning to look at things the business owner hasn’t already examined. At the center, we learn to look at little things, as well as big items like HVAC systems and machinery. For example, I recently learned that fluorescent lights don’t work as efficiently if they’re not properly aligned with ballasts. We also learn to use handheld equipment to trace energy leakage.”

Hawkins joined Louisiana Tech’s Civil Engineering and Environmental Science programs to work on urban infrastructure and climate resilience projects. She joined the Tech American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) student chapter, serving as the Sustainability Chair in 2021 and leading the Sustainability Team to a third-place win at the international ASCE Sustainable Solutions Competition that year.

Hawkins, who will graduate this November, and her team built a collapsible dome for “Snap City” rapid relief housing deployment for her senior project. She and her team made a proof-of-concept prototype that satisfied the senior project requirement for graduation and won Tech’s Top Dawg New Venture Championship for the project.

Hawkins will take her Louisiana Tech education back to Texas A&M, where she earned her bachelor’s in psychology. There, she will work toward a graduate degree in Architecture for Urban Planning and Development and will work with the Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center.

What advice does she have for incoming students?

“Do something you love. Everyone comes to college for different reasons, and many have voices in their heads that are not theirs. The most important voice to trust is their own. Be passionate. Once you find something you love, go for it, work for it, breathe it, and stay passionate for it.”