When you think Baton Rouge, do you think world-class engineering? Because you should. Situated next to downtown Baton Rouge along the Mississippi River is the massive urban development project best known as The Water Campus. The campus is a collaborative space for researchers to come together and create innovative solutions for coastal issues. Current key tenants include the LSU Center for River Studies, The Water Institute of the Gulf, and Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. And amongst these big-name organizations and world-class research sits Denton Graham.
Denton is currently a Master’s candidate in Louisiana State University’s Coastal & Ecological Engineering Program. This Baton Rouge young professional gets a front-row seat, hands-on view at the LSU Center for River Studies, which houses a physical scale model of the lower Mississippi River.
Find out how Denton is making waves and finding his footing as an engineer in Baton Rouge.
What led Denton to coastal and ecological engineering? It was his love for the outdoors. Born and raised in Baton Rouge, Denton grew up hunting and fishing in areas only a stone’s throw away from the Baton Rouge Area, like Pecan Island and Port Fourchon. Throughout the years, Denton noticed increasing changes in the environments he visited, and not good ones. He saw canals widen, islands disappear, and beaches recede. These rapid effects of coastal erosion are what led him to his current career path. Looking to protect the lands and hobbies he loves, Denton chose to combine his schooling in engineering with his passion for hunting and fishing in Louisiana’s coast by pursuing a master’s degree in coastal and ecological engineering at LSU.
Turning a passion for the outdoors into a career path takes dedicated mentors, a targeted curriculum, and hands-on experiences. Luckily for Denton, Louisiana’s flagship university is located less than a mile from the Water Campus in Baton Rouge. LSU is a land, sea and space grant institution, with a research focus on coastal sustainability and the environment, which is where Denton’s master’s program falls.
While he may be a student now, Denton is walking alongside world-class researchers and contributing to solving coastal issues. Because of his studies at LSU and his experience at the Water Campus, Denton is interning in tandem with LSU and Alden Labs in Holden, Massachusetts this summer to create a physical model of the Mid-Barataria Diversion. Through his research, he is investigating a new means of replacing eroding sediment in a more natural way than the current marsh and beach restoration methods used.
Denton and other professionals at the Water Campus are working hard to solve one of the major problems in our state and around the world: coastal erosion. Because problems that big are rarely solved in silos, engineers in Baton Rouge are collaborating with industry, coastal researchers, government, and the public. That’s not just good news for the coast, it’s also good news for the economy. Baton Rouge is becoming a national hub for the water management industry, opening the door for innovative business ideas and job growth.
When you think of collaborative engineers, #thinkBR. There’s a lot more to Baton Rouge than all of us might think. We have great job opportunities, the friendliest people, a culture like nowhere else, exciting festivals, incredible cuisine, a wide variety of amazing parks and outdoor activities, and the list goes on and on. To find more #thinkBR stories, visit brac.org/thinkBR.