April 18, 2012 03:44
INNOV81

A visionary group seeks to assemble Lafayette's abundant assets for success in a 21st century economy and here's a clue: Arts and culture play a big, big role.

 

A visionary group seeks to assemble Lafayette's abundant assets for success in a 21st century economy and here's a clue: Arts and culture play a big, big role. By The Independent Staff / Photos by Robin May

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sometimes somebody just has to step up and connect the dots.

Four decades ago, it was The Junior League of Lafayette. Realizing that the region needed better arts education, it saw an opportunity to pool existing public resources with fundraising events and launched a regional program to improve it. By educating budding artists and building appreciation among emerging audiences, the Acadiana Center for the Arts (born as The Acadiana Arts Council) has helped make Lafayette a cultural center for visual and performing arts, a key asset in the new economy.

Similarly, through the years the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce has successfully matched opportunities with funding to incubate many institutions that now drive enterprise development here, including the Lafayette Economic Development Authority, the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission and the Lafayette Airport Commission, among many more.

INNOV8 Lafayette has the potential to be the first of that ilk in this century. By packaging an eight-day series of more than 40 events from seemingly disparate disciplines, the goal is to spark a catalytic collaboration that will drive business development in the 21st century. How disparate? Consider that UL's veep for research Dr. Robert Twilley is on the same planning committee as Blue Moon Saloon owner Mark Falgout and you get the point. How do we assemble these seemingly unrelated assets into a matrix ripe for business creation and job development? Those are the dots that INNOV8 seeks to connect next week.

"This is about bringing talent together with resources and growing our region on a platform of strategic thinking and the exploration of opportunities," says Jerry Greig, 2012 chamber chairman. This is also an idea so cool that we're embracing it as a welcome addition to the Lafayette Cool Town roster. By threading together existing idea platforms from musicians and filmmakers to engineers and techies, INNOV8 can help construct a multi-disciplinary core that draws even more creatives to the city, which would be a very cool thing indeed.

INNOV8 also inspired us to produce this interactive addendum to The Ind, inviting many of the creative forces behind INNOV8 to contribute. We've included a sprinkling of online videos by INNOV8 co-chairs George Graham and Dr. Gerd Wuestemann with QR code links to some of the features. The entire package is available in flip format at www.theind.com, ready for perusal on your tablet device.  We've also added INNOV8-branded events to Acadiana365.com, the comprehensive online community calendar we launched last year, and have been previewing events since last week on The INDsider, our daily online news blog (sign up for free at www.theind.com/subscribe). And, of course, we'll be blogging daily from some of the key events.

Hundreds of volunteer hours helped lay the foundation for this debut along with an interesting cross-section of government, corporate, media and individual sources. Many of us are competitors, which is another barometer of buy-in for the vision INNOV8 represents. These relationships will be useful when INNOV8 eventually emerges from the incubator to be its own free-standing event, similar to Austin's SXSW or Aspen's Idea Festival.

The INNOV8 experience essentially combines the best of living and working in Lafayette on any given day. It's likely, in fact, that everyone who reads this is already involved with more than one event on the INNOV8 schedule. Find something outside your normal routine and go. Cool things await you. That's where the magic of INNOV8 begins. - Cherry Fisher May, co-publisher

Kickoff Event: Earth Day

Sunday, April 22, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

By Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin, information specialist, U.S. Geological Survey National Wetlands Research Center

INNOV8's first Earth Day at UL Lafayette's Research Park is an event whose time has come. Earth Day at the Research Park is a natural fit with the type of research and innovation at the U.S. Geological Survey National Wetlands Research Center, the NOAA Estuarine Habitat, the Coastal Fisheries Center and UL Lafayette.
Families can participate in activities and visit exhibits sponsored by the Evangeline Area Council of Boy Scouts of America. Kids can try their skills climbing a rock wall or have some fun in the bounce house. People of all ages can learn about BSA's exciting Atchafalaya Basin conservation efforts along with its new plans to create an Atchafalaya Basin High Adventure Base.

The wetlands center will kick off its 20th anniversary with the event "Celebrating 20 Years of Worldwide Wetlands Science in Acadiana." The staff of the center is anxious to show the people of Acadiana what NWRC is all about.

Facility tours will be offered at 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. NWRC's Science Response Vehicle used to respond to disasters such as Katrina, a marine radar used to track birds and a variety of boats used by researchers will be on display, as will biofacts such as pelts from Louisiana's furbearers and much more.  

Many people don't know that NWRC provides the official land change figures for coastal Louisiana, which loses approximately one football field an hour. It's an important task. Visitors can learn more about land change in Louisiana at a 2:30 p.m. presentation, "Louisiana's Coastal Wetlands: A Primer."

The NOAA Estuarine Habitat and Coastal Fisheries Center, located next door to NWRC, houses the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service along with several other federal agencies. It's another place most people don't realize houses a wealth of scientific innovation to save the coast. EHCFC Facility Administrator Dr. John Foret will tell visitors about NOAA's coastal restoration efforts at a 3:30 p.m. presentation, "Louisiana's Coastal Wetlands and Estuarine Dependent Species." In line with the wetlands theme, Louisiana's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority will present information about its 2012 Coastal Master Plan that lays out a path to create a sustainable coast in the next 50 years.  

UL Lafayette will also have a variety of interesting exhibits and presentations to showcase innovation in designing sustainable communities. And what Lafayette Earth Day celebration would be complete without a visit to UL's BeauSoleil Home? Housed at UL's main campus, the BeauSoleil Louisiana Solar Home is a culturally relevant, technological hybrid that advances the traditional homebuilding in our region.

TODAY - INNOV8 Preview Event: Lafayette's Comprehensive Plan

Wednesday, April 18, noon (one of six public meetings held April 16-19)
Acadiana Center for the Arts

By Carlee Alm-LaBar, assistant to the city-parish president, Lafayette Consolidated Government


Lafayette thinks big. It's been that way since the early days of the oil industry. And as we have grown, that "wildcatter mentality" has taken root beyond the oil industry. That same risk-taking entrepreneurial spirit has spread from the oil field to other fields - technology, culture, medicine and more.  

But despite our culture of forward-thinking innovation, a lack of public planning has caused our public infrastructure and development atmosphere to lag behind, placing a drag on our economy, our taxes and our way of life. This is where the comprehensive planning process comes in. More important, this is where you come in.

The INNOV8 preview event is serving a dual role as one of our community forums. The forums this week are the first in a four-forum series, so you will have many opportunities to participate.

So what does innovation have to do with the Comprehensive Plan? Think about it this way - Lafayette's Comprehensive Plan is our opportunity to define and decide what we want Lafayette to be. We can "innovate" together as a community to determine our future.  

What are the best things about Lafayette? The worst? What are our opportunities? The potential pitfalls? We will build our road map based on these hopes and realities, aspiring to make Lafayette the best it can be.

We all need to participate. The plan will be strongest when it has been designed by the entire community. We are not reinventing the wheel here. There are countless stories out there of communities saved by plans and cities made great by plans. At the same time, there are plenty of cities that have gone through a half-hearted planning process and ended up with a plan that never gets off the shelf. By participating in this process, we will end up with a plan that matches Lafayette's forward-thinking roots. And the next 20 years will be as exciting as the last.

"Innovating" our community began this week, Lafayette, and it began with you.

Brian C. Miller, Julie Bordelon and Natalie Kingston
The Passion Series

Tuesday, April 24, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Acadiana Center for the Arts


Who we hope to attract: Creative professionals, artists, filmmakers, musicians, designers, chefs, community and business leaders

What you'll get out of this: The Passion Series is a screening of short web-documentaries about people and their unique passions followed by a Q&A with each subject person and the filmmakers. This event will showcase local creative talent who exhibit innovation and artistic expression.

By Julie Bordelon, assistant to the city-parish president/film-media at Lafayette Entertainment Initiative, and executive director, Southern Screen Film Festival

The Lafayette Entertainment Initiative and Southern Screen Film Festival present The Passion Series at the Acadiana Center for the Arts on Tuesday, April 24, at 6:30 p.m. during INNOV8. The event will screen four episodes in The Passion Series and after each episode a Q&A with that episode's passionate creative. At the end, the filmmakers will have a Q&A to talk about their process and personal passions. This event will showcase local creative talent who exhibit innovation and artistic expression.

The Passion Series (www.thepassionseries.org) is a collection of short web documentaries about people and their unique passions. Each film immerses you into the world of a soul that has been set on fire. Through this exploration, you'll discover why these people do what they do and what drives their spirit. The filmmakers, Brian C. Miller and Richard and Natalie Kingston, have a shared passion for telling stories through beautiful moving images. By using the fuel from their own passion, they want to showcase others' passions so you, in turn, may be inspired to go out and do what you love.

Film one showcases writer/artist Kody Chamberlain. Kody was born in Thibodaux and relocated to Lafayette in 1993 to attend UL, where he earned a bachelor's degree in advertising design. Early in 2004, he started his career as a professional comic book artist and hasn't looked back. Kody has been called one of the most versatile artists around and will often adapt stylistically to better serve the type of story being told.

Film two is about writer and musician Johanna Divine. Johanna is a songwriter, singer, filmmaker and writer whose roots in the most culturally rich pockets of the South have inspired a soulful and wide-ranging body of work. Her songs inspired TimeOut New York to call her music "lovely and impressive," while Offbeat Magazine says she's an artist "to keep an eye on."

Film three features gelato artist Silvia Bertolazzi. "In Italy gelato is a way of life," says Silvia. She moved from northern Italy to Lafayette and recently fulfilled her dream of opening a gelateria. Silvia strongly believes that making gelato is not just a culinary creation. "It's about the energy and passion you have when creating, and when people taste it, they can feel it."

Film four is artist Denise Gallagher of Youngsville who draws incessantly and loves to make beautiful things. Her images provide glimpses of a grand and sprawling story, a mysterious tale that is yet to be written. Denise's work was included in the New York Society of Illustrators' 51st Annual Show, the Los Angeles Society of Illustrators' Illustration West 50 Show and most recently in Communication Arts Magazine's 2012 Illustration Annual.

The Lafayette Entertainment Initiative and the Southern Screen Film Festival sponsor The Passion Series event in a partnership. The Lafayette Entertainment Initiative was launched by Lafayette Consolidated Government to promote Lafayette as a forward-thinking, technologically advanced city that is viable as a prime destination for creative content production. LEI is currently recruiting film, music and digital media production companies to participate in its development of next-generation infrastructure. Lafayette is distinguishing itself as a high-tech epicenter focused on smart growth and innovative economic development.

The Southern Screen Film Festival is an annual event held in Lafayette fostering the art and education of filmmaking in Acadiana. Its goal is to encourage community enrichment and investment in the art of independent film and filmmakers in Acadiana by sharing creative works, valuable knowledge and our way of life with artists and their audiences.

Visit us at www.facebook.com/events/358086260910659/.

CampFiber for Creatives

Tuesday, April 24, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Acadiana Center for the Arts


Who we hope to attract: Creative professionals, artist, technologists, community and business leaders

What you'll get out of this: CampFiber for Creatives is a day long exploration of how creative industries can leverage technology to assist in the challenges they face regarding creation, collaboration and distribution. The intent is to introduce creatives, technologists and business leaders to the tools needed to grow our industries and to spark conversation regarding the future of technology in the creative world.

Campfiberforcreatives.eventbrite.com

By Geoff Daily, executive director, FiberCorps

This event is being produced by FiberCorps, a community non-profit charged by the city, chamber, LEDA, university, community foundation and LITE to drive digital economic development in our community.

Fiber camps provide an avenue for a unique, multi-faceted group of people to come together to make connections, be exposed to new ideas and engage in a dialogue about defining what we want the future of our professions and our community to look like.

Eighteen months ago FiberCorps put on CampFiber for Healthcare, highlighting the growth of technology-powered health care in Lafayette and creating an opportunity to connect health care professionals, technologists, and business and community leaders.

As a direct result of that event, our community is being considered by state and federal officials as well as leading technology companies as an ideal test bed for next generation health care.

FiberCorps was inspired to focus the next CampFiber on creative professionals and artists because of the strength of our creative community and because of the complex nature for how technology is expanding and redefining what it means to be creative.

CampFiber for Creatives will start with a morning filled with thought-provoking presentations aimed at getting the creative juices flowing. Together we'll explore how technology changes the nature of art, how creative professionals are using technology to overcome challenges and create opportunities today and what the future can look like through tomorrow's technologies.

In the afternoon we'll apply those lessons learned through a collaborative brainstorming session that will highlight four projects in various stages of development in Lafayette and focus discussions around how these projects could be augmented through the use of technology.

Finally the day will end with a panel exploring the possibilities of crowd-funding projects via sites such as Kickstarter.com through the eyes of local creatives who have successfully leveraged that tool to get their projects off the ground.

CampFiber for Creatives is intentionally designed to be relevant to a wide variety of creative professionals including but not limited to videography, 3-D modeling, dance, music, acting, graphic design, fine arts, architecture, sculpture and writing.

CampFiber is also relevant to business owners who want new ideas and to connect with local creative professionals. We encourage business owners to consider sending their creatives to join their peers and engage in these discussions to help their businesses be on the leading edge of using technology.

CampFiber provides an opportunity for community leaders who want to be engaged in working with creative people to participate in a dialogue about building a better tomorrow for our community.

And we welcome the participation of technologists who will have an opportunity to dream big and connect with the broad collection of talents that's needed to bring exciting new projects to life.

Doors open at 8:30 with a continental breakfast. Lunch will be provided by Jolie's. And there will be an after party at Jefferson Street Pub.

We'd like to thank our generous sponsors for their support in making this event happen: Acadian Ambulance, Cox Communications, LEDA, AT&T, LUS Fiber, Acadiana Computer Systems, Legends, Shaw Group, Creating Clever, the Jefferson Street Pub, and the Acadiana Center for the Arts.

Acadiana's first ever pitch event
- The Vault Get In. Get Rich!

Friday, April 27, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (the Friday of Festival, one of INNOV8's culminating events)
The Vault at the Acadiana Center for the Arts


Who we hope to attract: Anyone with a new idea and anyone interested in investing in new ideas

What you'll get out of this: You can play a role in building "The New Idea Economy"

Inventureworks.com (click on The Vault)
(337) 205-8788

By Pete Prados, chief idea officer, and Neil Mason, chief innovation officer, InventureWorks

                           Pete Prados and Neil Mason

Next Friday, Festival International's newest partner, INNOV8, will take the lead in the most serious dancing downtown.  
Futures and fortunes will swirl in Lafayette's first rapid-fire idea pitch event - "The Vault Get In. Get Rich!" - created and produced during the hustle of startup madness by our staff here at InventureWorks.   

No, it is not a reality television show - yet. But it is real. And that's what's most rewarding.  

With a focus on making the pitch of their life, individual heartbeats from the Cajun Heartland should be loud and fast enough to drown out a world of music - until someone emerges from the Acadiana Center for the Arts with the nod that their idea is going to become a reality. Then, the Festival dancing will start.

His or her life is going to change, and our company is going to shift gears with the success and continue to grow. Because of that one idea, more people with ideas will come and have the same opportunity with us.

On the Friday of Festival, we will walk out of The Vault tired, knowing that our vision of helping people change their life simply by using their own God-given talent has been proven in our first few months. We have to pinch ourselves all the time.

The pace is fast, but each day brings a sense of anticipation because when the door opens, we never know what's coming through. Prospects are filled with enthusiasm and energy, grateful we are here.

We've added three jobs in the past month and we've impacted those lives. They watch us interact and think we're humorous enough to be the reality television show. We've done this for four years, and we have the same goal in mind.  

Somehow, we get to the right solutions, find the right people, at just the right time.

Our premise that "anyone can come up with the next great idea" will indeed continue to be proven true.  

And we will take the next step in establishing "The New Idea Economy" for South Louisiana and beyond, always looking for opportunities to partner with our community.

At this time, 30 projects are under way for presentation in the belly of the iconic, historic old LBA vault, once at the heart of Lafayette's economy. It is that very sense of protection and security that made it an ideal location for InventureWorks. The protection and security of ideas is paramount.  

But we so wish we could tell you all about the ideas.   

What we can tell you is they come in all shapes and sizes, from hair products to Ethanol plants. They come from people spanning six decades in age. They come from all over South Louisiana.

There may be time to squeeze in some more "great" ideas for this premier. We are continually developing the investor team, so please call us at 205-8788.

When the last dance is done, it is our expectation that those first InventureWorks clients, the panel of original investors and even the old vault, will be remembered for helping InventureWorks introduce "The New Idea Economy" in South Louisiana.

The Vault is not the ending but a beginning, a starting point for InventureWorks and everyone in South Louisiana.  

Let's begin.

LITE and University Research Park iOpener

Friday, April 27, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
University Research Park LITE, Picard Center and Abdalla Hall


Who we hope to attract: Professionals, students, families, and community and business leaders

What you'll get out of this: The LITE and UL Research Campus iOpener is an open-house style event that is going to allow the community to experience the innovation that is happening right here at our university and with partners like LITE. This event aims to encourage you to not only become aware of the innovation, but to see how you can participate.

By Erin Ryan, director of communications, LITE
Dr. Robert Twilley, VP of research, UL Lafayette


If you have ever wanted to go behind the scenes of the 3D conversion process of Harry Potter, venture into a virtual world, see robots in action or learn how to create an animation, then mark your calendars for Friday, April 27, for iOpener.

Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's Research Office have teamed up with INNOV8 Lafayette to bring awareness to the technology and innovation that is occurring in the University Research Park every day. The LITE and University Research Park iOpener will be an open-house-style event that runs from 1 to 5 p.m., and visitors are encouraged to stop by and visit the more than 20 hands-on demonstrations that will be in action.
Are you interested in finding out what goes on inside the "Egg"? LITE will offer a full tour of the facility that will include demonstrations on the 3D conversion process of Harry Potter by Pixel Magic, an opportunity to experience the human body in the Total Immersion Space and see how video games are training safety techniques to the next generation of oil and gas workers. LITE tenants Global Data Systems and the Academy of Interactive Entertainment will also be on hand to showcase their technologies.

Once you have completed the LITE tour, stop out in the LITE parking lot and check out the UL Engineering Department's displays of technology and innovation. CajunBot, the nationally acclaimed auto robot; the Cajun Crawler, which is a Segway-like vehicle that crawls on legs; and the Baja are just a few of the exhibits that will be on display. From mechanical to petroleum engineering, there will be something for everyone. If you are lucky, you may even get the opportunity to see the Baja racing around the grounds.

Next venture over to Abdalla Hall where you will be able to dive even deeper into innovative-technologies at UL Lafayette. There you will be able to enter the back bay area to experience and test some of the most recent virtual reality projects the university has been developing. From being able to strap inside the Omni-Directional Treadmill and walk through a virtual environment to building a unique and virtual city within minutes, it's all available here.

Finally, visitors will have the opportunity to view the Cecil J. Picard Memorial Library in the Picard Center, while the Cajun Code Fest, also apart of INNOV8, is going to be in full swing in the auditorium area of the center. The library is a museum that pays tribute to Cecil Picard, who devoted his life to improving the outcomes of the lives of children in Louisiana.

Also, if you have time for lunch, stop by before 1 p.m. to grab a bite with the Oh My Taco food truck in the LITE fountain area.

The mission of the iOpener is to allow the community to experience the innovation that is happening here at our university and with partners such as LITE. By showcasing the assets that are being developed by the University Research community, we are opening the doors to innovation and encouraging you, the local community, to participate. The iOpener is your opportunity to see it all: advanced 3-D visualizations, Hollywood film work, robotics, engineering technology and much, much more. This is an event that you will not want to miss.

For more information on the event or to see the full agenda visit www.lite3d.com/iopener. The iOpener is free and open to the public of all ages. You can also call LITE at 337-735-5483 for more information.

See you in the Park!

CajunCodeFest: Healthcare Data + Geeks + Wonks = Innovative IT Solutions Minus Childhood Obesity

Friday and Saturday, April 27-28
Picard Center, Abdalla Hall and LITE in the UL Lafayette Research Campus


Who we hope to attract: Software designers and engineers, undergraduate/graduate students, health care policy leaders, hospital administrators, wellness/nutrition experts, researchers and entrepreneurs who all have a stake in improving kids' health care.

What you'll get out of this: Innovative technology solutions to address childhood obesity

By Ramesh Kolluru, director, Center for Business and Information Technologies, UL Lafayette

Gumbo. Spicy, boiled crawfish. The Cajun two-step.

Louisiana's distinctive cuisine, music and cultures set it apart. But the Bayou State has something in common with the rest of the country that's far less appealing: increasing rates of childhood obesity.

The Center for Business and Information Technologies at UL Lafayette is partnering with U.S. Health and Human Services, Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, FiberCorps and the private sector to help reverse that trend. The CajunCodeFest, part of INNOV8, is a two-day coding competition that is bringing more than 175 thinkers from across the nation to Lafayette to transform health care data into innovative technology solutions that address childhood obesity.

Public sector leaders attending include Todd Park, who was recently appointed by President Obama as the CTO of the U.S., and Bruce Greenstein, secretary of the Louisiana DHH. The CajunCodeFest is inspired by Todd and Bruce who both envision that opening up health care data will stimulate innovative solutions. Todd helped create healthdata.gov, a publicly accessible health data website, in addition to hosting code-a-thons, such as the CajunCodeFest, across the nation. Over the past 18 months, code-a-thons resulted in more than 50 products including apps and websites to help patients locate doctors and better manage medications, resulting in startups that commercialize those technologies. We want some of that in Lafayette. Joining us from the private sector include Jay Walker, founder of Priceline.com and curator of TEDMED, Sean Nolan from Microsoft, Jose Ramos from Northrop Grumman, and Lafayette native Jared Quoyeser from Intel Corporation, among others.

These leaders will serve as speakers and judges at the CajunCodeFest, recognizing the most innovative solutions. Competing teams will have just over 24 hours to analyze data, brainstorm ideas and create digital prototypes. The stakes are high: The winning team will receive $25,000 and entry to the invite-only U.S. Health Datapalooza competition. The stakes are even higher for the nation's children: One in three kids between the ages of 2-19 is overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Direct medical costs for treating overweight and obese children are estimated at $3 billion per year.

It is fitting that the nation is looking to Lafayette for solutions to the toughest problems we face as a society. With some of the finest health care providers in the country, Lafayette has established itself as a regional medical-hub in the South. The city's entrepreneurial culture and its ubiquitous fiber infrastructure position Lafayette as the test bed for design of next-generation health care innovations. UL Lafayette was recently designated by the National Science Foundation as the Center for Visual and Decision Informatics - the only such center in the nation and the first ever such NSF Center of Excellence in the history of Louisiana. With such research centers as CBIT and CVDI, your university is contributing to the development of the next-generation health care innovations.

The CajunCodeFest has attracted overwhelming attention and has far exceeded our participant and sponsorship target. Enthusiasts are encouraged to check in early next year. Please check us out at CajunCodeFest.org and follow the buzz at #CajunCodeFest on Twitter.

Fiber for Breakfast: Fueling Education

Monday, April 23, 7:30 a.m. - 10 a.m.
LITE


Who we hope to attract: Representatives from public, private and parochial institutions; parents and grandparents of school-age children in Lafayette

What you'll get out of this: Fiber for Breakfast is an informative event that will showcase ways Lafayette schools are currently utilizing technology to provide new experiences to elementary and high school students. The innovative examples presented will highlight what is possible when a community has access to an ultra high-speed fiber optic connection.

By Terry Huval, director, LUS Fiber

Over the last few years we won a fight to build an infrastructure that will future-proof our city, we designed and constructed a network with features that had never before been offered, and we provided access to this network to residents and businesses in the city of Lafayette. And every step of the way we talked about the great opportunities a pure fiber optic network would provide to our city, to our business community and to our children. We have been talking about the possibilities for a very long time. But in reality our local schools have been using the technology to enhance education for years. On April 23 at LITE is an event that no longer talks about possibilities but will show realities.

Fiber for Breakfast will showcase how technology is fueling education. The Lafayette Parish School System and St. Thomas More Catholic High School are providing new experiences to elementary and high school students. They have expanded the classroom by connecting with instructors across the U.S. and collaborated on projects with schools nationwide. They study applications and software that prepare them for jobs with companies that are locating here in an industry that is new to Lafayette. They engage in debates with other students and professionals around the world. And they are doing these things today.

The current use of technology in our schools is one way to foster education and to ensure that we produce a continuous supply of highly qualified individuals who will become functioning, contributing members of society. Through advancements in technology and dedicated members of our public and private schools, Lafayette will continue to create new opportunities in education. And with the recent announcement that LUS Fiber now offers affordable speeds of up to 1 Gigabit per second, we are truly providing the tools schools need to be innovative leaders.

On April 23, participants will see presentations from the Lafayette Parish School System's eCampus initiative, the Academy of Information Technology at Carencro High School and the World Languages Academy at Alice Boucher Elementary, as well as a presentation from St. Thomas More High School.

Representatives from all public, private and parochial institutions should consider attending to discover that having access to ultra high-speed fiber optic connections makes your possibilities realities. Also any parent or individual with a vested interest in preparing their children to be successful in today's world will gain valuable insight to the opportunities right here in Lafayette.

LUS Fiber is the city's only community-owned, 100 percent fiber optic network, and it can provide every school in Lafayette with an opportunity to create new, innovative environments for students. It gives them an advantage over other schools in the country that do not have access to this type of bandwidth.

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