The technology industry along the I-20 corridor has gotten a little more connected with the opening of Louisiana Tech’s Academic Success Center (ASC) inside Bossier Parish Community College’s STEM building at the National Cyber Research Park.
The crown jewel of the ASC, the Cyber Training Center, will act as a catalyst for research, training, and education. It will guide students and military, both retired and active duty, towards four-year degrees and career advancement.
“We want the knowledge-based jobs. That’s what this is about,” said Louisiana Tech University President Dr. Les Guice.
The added significance is that Louisiana Tech is now offering classes in Bossier Parish.
“Being in Bossier Parish with a more visible location will help people understand that we’re a big part of the community,” said Dr. Guice. “We feel like a big part of the community, there have not been many weeks where we’re not over there.”
This isn’t the first time Tech has offered classes in Bossier — classes were available at Barksdale Air Force Base. But this is a much more visible and accessible location. Dr. Guice noted that one of the factors that was cited as a need for the ASC was the limits at Barksdale.
“It’s increasingly difficult to get on-base to talk to advisors about what we have to offer. We knew we needed to create a location off-base where we could have a one-stop shop with information on our courses,” he said.
“And most of all, it will allow us to work more closely with BPCC to develop cyber education programs.”
Dr. Guice acknowledged there are many ways that his university could better partner with BPCC if they were directly next to the college.
“We’re getting more serious about planning with BPCC on how we can shape degree programs that meet needs of companies like CSRA. Now is the time for us to get together and start doing those things.”
The center came to life as a public-private partnership between Bossier City and Parish, the Cyber Innovation Center, CSRA, Tech, and BPCC — as well as a $1 million gift from the AEP Foundation The CIC had an agreement for space in BPCC’s STEM building since it was conceived and began talking to Tech about occupying that space.
“Supporting the workforce needs of northwest Louisiana by being right there where a lot of people have job opportunities was important to us,” Dr. Guice explained. “This (center) will act as a focal point for connecting current and prospective students with opportunities right here in northwest Louisiana. It will also support an emerging defense industrial base growing here at Barksdale Air Force Base.”
The next step for the ASC is to finish classroom space and veterans resource center on the fourth floor.
“Both Tech and BPCC will be collaborating over that space. We’re talking about training programs that support people with skills who want cyber careers,” Dr. Guice revealed.
The visibility of the ASC means people will come to Tech for assistance, be it academic programs and training needs, or companies who need their students.
“Our goal is to advance economic prosperity for our region. This is a place where companies and students are going to want to be,” said Dr. Guice.