Erika Louviere’s mother once called her a “Jackie of all Trades.” The moniker seems pretty fitting.
Since earning her B.S. in Industrial Technology in 2002, the New Iberia native has held over a dozen positions in almost as many fields, from oilfield service to real estate to education. Louviere also owned and operated two manufacturing businesses and creates metal decor.
“I would get to the point that I couldn’t move up because I just had a bachelor’s, so I did different things from drafting to production coordinator to purchasing,” she said.
Last year, Louviere encountered a new roadblock. She had settled into a teaching position at a charter school in Franklin when administrators said they would not renew her contract if she didn’t acquire her teaching certification.
Rather than attain that certification, Louviere decided to earn a graduate degree, giving her the opportunity to teach in higher education and provide more mobility in the industry.
“It was a no-brainer,” she says. “I could get my master’s and then teach what I know instead of elementary math, science, or english.”
Louviere set a pretty ambitious goal for herself. Enrolling in the Master of Science in Systems Technology online program in Fall 2018, she aimed to finish in three semesters.
And that’s exactly what she did.
“Everybody was like, ‘You can’t do it that fast; there’s no way,'" she says.
"Tell me I can’t and watch me."
Louviere didn’t have experience with online courses or UL Lafayette’s online Learning Management System, Moodle. But she quickly embraced the technology and its capabilities.
“At first, it was like, ‘what is this?’ But it was amazing to have all those tools,” she says. “That makes it easy for those of us who are parents, trying to work and balance home lives. You can do what you need to do from home. You don’t have to be on campus, in the library.”
From the outset, Louviere knew she needed to begin working on her culminating project to hit her projected timeline. But research regarding technologies she was interested in — 3D printing or plasma cutting — seemed saturated.
“You have to invent or come up with something that streamlines a process making it more efficient,” she said.
That something came from a surprise sounding board: Louviere’s 14-year-old son.
“I said I needed to create something that makes life easier or a process to create consistent results,” recalls Louviere. “He said, ‘Mom, can you come up with something to help my Coush-coush (grandfather) to pick up those crawfish traps? It hurts his back so much.’”
That was all Louviere needed to begin formulating a mechanism to relieve musculoskeletal stress in crawfish farmers.
She reached out to LSU AgCenter Agriculture and Coastal Resources Specialist Mark Shirley, who said he hadn’t seen anything designed specifically to help crawfish farmers collect traps.
Louviere is now working to patent the project to potentially bring it to production.
She said she hopes to publish her results soon.
“We’ve tested it and proven it. Over the next year, my plan is to perfect it, modify it to be a little more efficient, and then push forward with patenting,” she says.
True to form, Louviere has other coals in the fire.
The M.S. in Systems Technology — the only program of its kind in the Southern Region — combines courses to hone industry skills and knowledge with graduate business courses to equip students with advanced problem-solving skills.
Louviere drilled down on courses in entrepreneurship to support her plans to open a storefront to sell original and custom metalwork.
“I loved them,” she says. “They were so informative.”
Meanwhile, she’ll have the opportunity to “teach what she knows” at South Louisiana Community College in the Industrial Technology program this fall.
Request information today about the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s M.S. in Systems Technology program and how it can prepare you for upper and mid-level technical and managerial roles.