Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the Louisiana Economic Development grant during an event Friday that celebrated Waitr’s new downtown headquarters.
Dr. Mark Zappi envisions a large future for the College of Engineering at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. This includes higher numbers in enrollment and even more involvement for students in research projects.
Zappi recently took the helm of the college, serving as dean. He replaced Dr. Anthony Ponter, who returned to the classroom at UL Lafayette.
“ I want to work with student recruiting and get our numbers up for both undergrads and graduate students,” said Zappi, who would like to see undergrad numbers grow 50 percent in the next five years. “Lafayette is a very technology savvy city and engineering is all about technology and diversity. This college is the perfect setting for students interested in becoming engineers.”
His initial plans include working with alumni groups to get the message that the College of Engineering is committed to producing high caliber students.
“ This is an extremely exciting field and one of the finest colleges to attend for engineering is UL Lafayette,” said Zappi. “A number of alumni are interested in promoting the college. It’s nice to be a fellow alum and know other alumni want to grow this university.”
He also hopes to see the amount and breath of research occurring in the college dramatically increase. Zappi said he believes that research productivity is closely tied to regional economic development. He said he wants the high caliber research at UL Lafayette to be a catalyst for the birth of new industries and job creation.
“ We want to forge strong, collaborative relationships with our industrial neighbors which will prove to be beneficial to the industry, faculty and most importantly, our students,” he explained.
Zappi brings with him a background in bioprocessing research. He holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at UL Lafayette and a master’s and Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Mississippi State University. He is a registered Professional Engineer.
His prime areas of research include the production of chemicals from biological feedstocks like agricultural products and waste organic materials. He also studies the design, implementation and optimization of bioprocesses, hazardous waste treatment and the commercialization of technologies.
“ I am very excited about Dr. Zappi joining our academic leadership team. He brings an incredible zeal for advancing our College of Engineering and he has a keen sense of the synergy between teaching and research,” said Dr. Steve Landry, vice president for Academic Affairs. “His previous success in managing large research projects provides a solid basis upon which I expect he will lead the college in efforts directed toward achievement in economic development.”
Prior to arriving at UL Lafayette, Zappi held the Texas Olefins Professorship in Chemical Engineering within the Dave C. Swalm School of Chemical Engineering at MSU. He served as the director of MSU’s Environmental Technology Research and Applications Laboratory. This research organization focused on the development and refinement of advanced treatment technologies.
Zappi spent 15 years as a research environmental engineer. He is the founder and former director of the Department of Energy’s Federal Integrated Biotreatment Consortium. He has personally been involved in the cleanup of more than 25 polluted sites and has assisted numerous companies with meeting regulatory compliance.
“ I want to introduce students to all this experience,” said Zappi. “One of my favorite aspects of higher education is the inclusion of students into research.”
He hopes this inclusion will attract potential students. He will also rely on established faculty in the college and their research to increase student interest.
“ Overall I want to raise our exposure in the state and the region,” he said. “I want to reach potential students while at the same time letting companies know about the impressive engineers we are producing here at UL Lafayette.”