PLAQUEMINE, La. (BRPROUD) – Some of the nation’s leading manufacturing companies are investing in Louisiana’s emerging talent. They’re designing fun STEM-centric events for colleges and K-12 schools.

On Wednesday morning, hundreds of students from schools across the area converged on River Parishes Community College in Plaquemine to attend such an event.

The program featured leaders from DOW, the National Association of Manufacturers, Union Pacific Railroad and LABI.

But the young attendees did more than sit and listen to a lecture. The program was full of hands-on activities, including an exciting escape-room-like game.

Chrys Kefalas, the managing vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers/Chief Strategist, Creators Wanted, described how the game worked saying, “Teams bust myths, solve riddles, crack codes and solve problems—and have fun on their way to seeing firsthand the potential and reward of careers in manufacturing.”

Highlighting the exciting side of STEM

Kefalas said the event aimed to help young people understand that careers in STEM are not dull. Instead, there are all sorts of jobs in STEM and many involve cutting-edge technology. 

“There is a place in manufacturing for everyone, especially students who have an interest in creating the technologies of tomorrow, while also making a great living in their own communities,” Kefalas said. “From advanced robotics to creative design outlets, manufacturers are seeking skills from diverse backgrounds and varying interests.”

Students say they were ‘left speechless,’ learned a lot

Many of the attendees enjoyed the program.

Zendial McQuirters is a nursing student at River Parishes Community College. She said the event opened her eyes to how STEM can benefit her as a nursing student and as a young person who may want to explore other career opportunities.

“I know the nursing field is very hard, so it’s always good to have a backup plan,” McQuirters explained. “And there’s a lot of opportunities where if you do get involved with these companies, there’s a good chance they’ll help you pay for your tuition and see you through to your career.”

Cameron Gore, another student at River Parishes Community College, had high praise for the program, “The presentation left me speechless; I can’t really speak for everyone else. But it left me speechless because this is my first time coming to an event like this.”

“It was nice to walk around and talk to lots of people and get my questions answered,” Gore added. “It also allowed me to articulate what I want to do in the future, and how I hope to help people while making money. “

Big companies are recruiting more women for STEM jobs

The program was also designed to highlight the important roles women play in the STEM community.

Kefalas said, “While Creators Wanted is at River Parishes Community College, students will hear from women team members at Dow about how they got their start in manufacturing through a variety of panels and programs and they can sign up to join the Women MAKE mentorship program, so they find a mentor to support their journey into manufacturing.”

According to Kefalas, the Wednesday event in Plaquemine was only the tip of the STEM-centric iceberg.

“Our efforts aren’t just limited to three days in Plaquemine,” he said. “The Manufacturing Institute, the workforce and development arm of our campaign, has specialized and fully functional programs focusing on students, women, veterans, workers and underrepresented communities.”

Websites like can help interested students learn more about careers in STEM.