Cleco Power supports scholarships for Cenla students


“Graduates of Northwestern State University’s Engineering Technology programs are equipped to understand, design, analyze and work effectively in industrial settings utilizing product/process control systems and electrical power systems,” said Bill Fontenot, chief operating officer for Cleco Power. “Cleco is proud to support NSU’s Engineering Technology programs as we are dependent on graduates who understand local, national and global issues related to the electrical power industry.”

As a show of support for NSUs’ Engineering Technology program, Cleco recently completed three years of funding $15,000 in scholarships that are awarded to five students each academic year. Three are for entering freshmen focused on Electronics Engineering Technology (EET) or Industrial Engineering Technology (IET). Preference for the entering freshmen scholarships is given to residents of Allen, Avoyelles, Grant, Rapides and Vernon parishes. Two scholarships are awarded to senior students with preference to students from Avoyelles and Rapides parishes.

“I was brought to this program by my love for structure and system,” said Shane Perkins, a freshman from Leesville. “I have always love creating things since I was young.”

Perkins said that uncertainties in the oil and gas industry left his father worrying about paying for Perkins’ tuition and expenses. Being awarded a Cleco scholarship made a big difference.

“This scholarship means more to me than most would assume,” he said. “It’s things such as this scholarship that mean the world to me.”

NSU’s Engineering Technology programs have a long history of providing workforce training and qualified graduates to meet the demands of employers such as Cleco. Students in the Electronics Engineering Technology concentration learn to analyze, build, test, operate and maintain electrical systems. The programs were designated an Area of Excellence by the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors and are accredited by the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission of ABET,

“I love how open and willing the professors are not only to teach in front of an entire class, but also work side by side with you to find solutions and acquire your goals,” Perkins said. “To any future student interested in joining the engineering program, I encourage you to take this opportunity and dive in head first. These professors are some of the smartest men I know, and I am certain that they share the same vision as any of their students and will do whatever it takes to see you reach your goals.”

Cleco is a regulated utility company headquartered in Pineville. In business since 1935, the company has approximately 1,200 employees serving approximately 287,000 customers from Mansfield to Patterson through its retail business and supplies wholesale power in Louisiana and Mississippi. Cleco owns 10 generating units with a total nameplate capacity of 3,333 megawatts, 11,830 miles of distribution lines and 1,300 miles of transmission lines.

“We are extremely grateful to Cleco for their outstanding support of our Engineering Technology programs,” said Dr. Ali Ahmad, department head. “Enrollment continues to grow in our programs which is helping to meet the demand for technologists capable of using appropriate theory, mathematics and computational technology in support of the electrical power industry.”

For information on NSU’s Engineering Technology program, visit

Cleco Power COO Bill Fontenot, left, presented scholarship funds to Dr. Ali Ahmad, head of Northwestern State University’s Department of Engineering Technology.