Sustainable Solutions: Lori Hawkins’ Journey at Louisiana Tech

Lori Hawkins, a senior majoring in Civil Engineering and Environmental Science at Louisiana Tech College, brings a unique blend of experience to the academic landscape. Hailing from Shreveport, Louisiana, Hawkins arrived at the institution with an unconventional resume that included a psychology degree and over two decades of experience in the technology and business architecture sectors. Her professional journey has seen her take on various leadership roles, particularly in business architecture, where she managed teams spread across six continents.

Bridging the Gap: MALT Industrial Research and Assessment Center

One of the most significant contributions of Hawkins during her tenure at Louisiana Tech has been her involvement in establishing the MALT Industrial Research and Assessment Center, a four-campus initiative spanning four states, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE). Collaborating closely with fellow student Robert Kolling and esteemed Tech Professors Dr. Henry Cardenas, Dr. Elizabeth Matthews, and Dr. Jun-Ing Ker, Hawkins played a pivotal role in securing the founding grant from the DoE and ensuring the successful launch of the center. Her responsibilities extended to recruiting Louisiana Tech students and coordinating their efforts for assessment reporting. Moreover, she assumed the role of founding president of the Sustainable Energy Club, an organization affiliated with the center.

The MALT Center’s inception was driven by a profound commitment to advancing sustainability in the region. It emerged as a beacon of innovation and research, with a mission to assist local businesses in their journey towards sustainability by conserving energy and reducing costs. Lori Hawkins firmly believes in the center’s potential to foster change, not just within the academic realm but also in the broader community. It’s about seeing the unseen, recognizing opportunities where others may have overlooked them, and addressing the finer details, from HVAC systems to the alignment of fluorescent lights with ballasts.

A Vision for Sustainability

Lori Hawkins’ passion for sustainability extends beyond the classroom and research labs. It’s a philosophy deeply ingrained in her worldview. Working at the MALT Center has not only broadened her horizons but has also reinforced her belief in the transformative power of sustainable practices.

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

Leading Sustainable Initiatives

Hawkins was initially drawn to Louisiana Tech’s Civil Engineering and Environmental Science programs due to her interest in urban infrastructure and climate resilience projects. Her journey at the university has been marked by active involvement and leadership roles within the student community.

One of the highlights of her engagement has been her participation in the Tech American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) student chapter. In 2021, she assumed the role of Sustainability Chair and spearheaded the Sustainability Team to a third-place victory at the international ASCE Sustainable Solutions Competition. This achievement showcased her dedication to sustainability and her ability to lead a team towards meaningful results.

Innovative Endeavors

For her senior project, Lori Hawkins and her team embarked on an ambitious venture—designing a collapsible dome for rapid relief housing deployment, aptly named “Snap City.” The project was not only a testament to their engineering prowess but also a demonstration of their commitment to addressing pressing humanitarian challenges.

The collapsible dome aimed to provide a rapid and efficient solution for disaster relief scenarios, where shelter is urgently needed. The team’s innovative approach resulted in the creation of a proof-of-concept prototype, which satisfied the senior project requirements for graduation. Their hard work and dedication did not go unnoticed, as they received recognition by winning Tech’s Top Dawg New Venture Championship for the project. It was a validation of their innovative thinking and a promising step towards practical implementation.

The Journey Ahead

As she nears her graduation in November, Lori Hawkins is prepared to take the knowledge and experiences she has gained at Louisiana Tech back to Texas A&M, where she completed her undergraduate studies in psychology. Her next academic pursuit involves a graduate degree in Architecture for Urban Planning and Development, aligning perfectly with her passion for sustainable solutions. At Texas A&M, she will also collaborate with the Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center, further extending her impact in the realm of disaster resilience and recovery.

The journey ahead promises to be as dynamic and impactful as her experiences at Louisiana Tech. Lori Hawkins exemplifies the spirit of an individual dedicated to making a difference. Her story is not just about academic success; it’s about embracing a purpose-driven path that combines passion, knowledge, and innovation to create a sustainable and resilient future.

Words of Wisdom

For incoming students, Hawkins has some valuable advice: “Do something you love. Everyone comes to college for different reasons, and many have external voices influencing their decisions. The most important voice to trust is your own. Be passionate. Once you find something you love, pursue it wholeheartedly, dedicate yourself to it, breathe life into it, and maintain unwavering passion for it.”

Lori Hawkins’ journey at Louisiana Tech exemplifies the transformative power of combining diverse experiences with a fervent commitment to sustainability and innovation. Her legacy serves as an inspiration to all who endeavor to make a lasting impact on the world through their academic pursuits. Her story reminds us that through dedication and passion, we can unlock sustainable solutions that shape a better future for all.