Reed Serves as Role Model for UM Engineering

Successful civil engineering alumnus is savoring career, supporting alma mater

W. R. “Bob” Reed, UM Civil Engineering alumnus

W.R. ‘Bob’ Reed

Growing up in the Mississippi Delta, W.R. “Bob” Reed’s two great loves were working in the family-owned lumberyard and watching University of Mississippi sporting events.

“My father was in the construction business, so I had construction in my blood,” the Cleveland native said. “Civil engineering was suggested to me by Dad. I chose Ole Miss because I had always been an Ole Miss sports fan.”

Reed, who earned his bachelor’s degree in 1981, is president and general manager at the Mid-South division of Cives Steel Co. in Rosedale. The company is a structural steel fabricator with expertise in connection design and project management.

Asked which professional and personal achievements he finds most fulfilling, Reed quickly responds.

“I’m proud to be a registered PE in Mississippi,” he said. “I’m equally proud to be an Eagle Scout as a youth and recipient of Scouting’s Silver Beaver Award as an adult after serving 23 years as a scoutmaster.”

Reed finds working with young people other than his own children to be very rewarding.

“Scouting is a long-term program allowing you to work with a boy from 11 to 17 and really be a part of his growing-up process,” he said.

Since graduation, Reed has remained connected to the UM Department of Civil Engineering.

“Dr. Sam DeLeeuw, Dr. Abduhlrahman, Dr. Mullen and Dean Alex Cheng have allowed me to speak with students about issues they will encounter when they hit the working world,” Reed said. “Subjects have included steel construction, scheduling, contract issues and shop tours at our plant.”

Engineering school faculty members said Reed is a welcome addition in their classrooms.

“Bob has been a good friend to me as well as a mentor and role model for scores of civil engineering students in Steel Design and senior capstone design classes I’ve taught,” said Christopher Mullen, professor of civil engineering. “Most memorable are invaluable field trips he hosted at his fabrication yard in which he arranged guided tours of the Rosedale plant’s offices and welding operations for literally busloads of our seniors. Catfish lunches he sponsored at a nearby state park were enjoyed by all.”

Reed also recently joined the School of Engineering advisory board.

“His company faithfully comes to our annual Engineering Career Fair to recruit every year,” Cheng said. “Bob has visited the civil engineering department multiple times to give lectures on steel connection to Dr. Mullen’s civil engineering design class.”

Reed and his wife, Teresa, have two sons, Will and Caleb.

“Both are married and have given us two great daughters-in-law and three lovely granddaughters,” Reed said.

His hobbies include hunting, fishing and working out.

Reed credits Ole Miss engineering with laying the foundation for his successful career.

“My Ole Miss engineering education allowed me to learn how to perform complex connection design,” he said. “It also allowed me to effectively communicate with our customers’ engineers.”

Computer Science Alumnus Presents Hadoop Workshop

Arun Buduri taught students, faculty and staff to use MapReduce software

Arun Buduri (standing), UM computer and information science alumnus, conducted a Big-Data Hands-On Workshop at the department recently.

Arun Buduri (standing), UM computer and information science alumnus, conducted a Big-Data Hands-On Workshop at the department recently.

Managing huge amounts of data can be a challenge for even the most savvy computer scientist. So when University of Mississippi students, faculty and staff got an opportunity to learn more skills from a talented alumnus who is enjoying a successful professional career, they took advantage of it.

Arun Burduri, a 2000 UM alumnus who works as a venture accelerator, conducted the Big Data Hadoop MapReduce Workshop in mid-November. Some 50 undergraduate and graduate students from the Department of Computer and Information Science joined faculty and UM Information Technology staff for the daylong event.

“The workshop’s purpose was to learn the fundamentals of distributed computing hands-on by getting into the internals of one of most popular, open-source ‘Big Data’ tools, Apache Hadoop,” said Byunghyun Jang, assistant professor of computer and information science and co-coordinator of the workshop. “Topics included fundamentals of HDFS-distributed file system, fundamentals of Hadoop, internals of MapReduce, how MapReduce works and the components of the system.”

The training also covered writing and running a basic MapReduce job (in Java), creating a cluster of laptops to run a job in true distributed mode, processing 1 billion rows of data using just laptop(s), tweaking the cluster config parameters to understand its effect on the performance and Google Cloud, said Dawn Wilkins, professor of computer and information science and workshop co-coordinator.

Buduri, who has worked for Nortel Networks, Microsoft, Ingersoll Rand and other companies, helps accelerate early-stage startups in taking their product or business to market. The workshop was received very well, he said.

“I have been conducting these Big Data Hadoop hands-on workshops in the U.S. and India and plan to conduct in Singapore and other countries early 2015,” Buduri said. “The workshop ends with an introduction to Hadoop on Google Cloud platform so the attendees can learn and build bigger solutions on the cloud.”

Buduri said he would definitely enjoy returning to his alma mater to conduct more workshops in the future.

“Depending on the students’ availability and free time for a similar full-day workshop, I’d love to bring them up to speed on some of the latest cloud techniques,” he said. “Google is working with me on my workshops by sponsoring a $500 Google Cloud credit to anyone who attends.”

While such hands-on workshops typically cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars per person elsewhere, Buduri conducts these via a Meetup group free of charge.

“My main goal is to share my Big Data experience and knowledge with the academia and the general public whenever I have spare time,” Buduri said.

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Attractive from Coast to Coast

Engineering freshmen make UM connections

David Thomas

David Thomas

Over the past five years, the University of Mississippi School of Engineering‘s undergraduate population has doubled from roughly 700 to more than 1,400 students. While a significant number of those come from Mississippi, many others come from long distances to pursue engineering education here.

Two such students are David Thomas of Brooklyn, New York, and Richard Jaramillo of San Diego. Thomas, who was accepted into the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, is pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering and hopes to become a student in the Center for Manufacturing Excellence to earn an emphasis in manufacturing. A graduate of LaGuardia High School, he was drawn to Oxford and the university because of personal connections to the region as well as the academic programs available.

“I have always liked the South and have been visiting my entire life,” Thomas said. “I have family nearby who really encouraged me to consider Ole Miss. I was definitely drawn in because of the combination of the School of Engineering and the Honors College along with the strong athletics and social scene. My official campus visit helped seal the deal!”

Although Thomas was a member of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and participated in theater productions in high school, the AP Scholar and Eagle Scout found that engineering was a great match for his interests.

“I’ve always loved solving problems and thinking of better ways to do things,” he said. “That’s exactly what an engineer does.” His favorite courses this semester are calculus and psychology.

So far, he has had a positive transition to the university because faculty and staff have been very supportive. He has decided to become a member of a Greek organization and has joined the Ultimate Frisbee team. He hopes to get involved with Engineers Without Borders.

Jaramillo, a member of the Provost Scholars program, has also enjoyed his first few months on campus. Although he admits to missing family and the weather back home in California, he has found the adjustment to Ole Miss easy.

“People are really nice, and it has been easy to make new friends here,” Jaramillo said. “Also, the staff at the Center for Manufacturing Excellence are willing to help you in any way that they can. The CME provides a one-on-one experience stronger than any of my other classes.”

He has started discussing cooperative education program opportunities (co-ops) for a future semester.

A graduate of Scripps Ranch High School, Jaramillo visited campus before a home football game and was introduced to the CME by a current engineering student. He believes the emphasis in manufacturing will allow him to engage in his areas of interest, since he has always considered a career in engineering.

“From a young age, I liked to fix things,” he said. “I have rewired rotary phones and worked on classic cars. I love to make things work, better them or create something new.”

Jaramillo’s favorite course this semester is Manufacturing 250, which involves Creo 3D modeling. He has become involved in a Greek organization and spends free time playing intramural sports. Jaramillo hopes to become involved with the internal combustion industry.

Both Thomas and Jaramillo encourage any high school students who are considering engineering to take time to visit the university.

Engineering’s ‘O’Reilly Factor’

Auburn alumnus Andy O'Reilly joins faculty in geology and geological engineering

Andy O'Reilly

Andy O’Reilly

Andrew “Andy” O’Reilly may not have attended the University of Mississippi, but the new assistant professor of geology and geological engineering is more than pleased to be part of the UM faculty.

“Ole Miss has a growing, respected ABET-accredited program in geological engineering that allows me to combine my broad engineering/design skills from my civil engineering background and my expertise in the hydrological and geological sciences developed at the U.S. Geological Survey,” said O’Reilly, a product of Auburn University and the University of Central Florida. “Additionally, the collegiality and breadth of expertise of the faculty in the department and the emphasis on student engagement, both in teaching and research, were very attractive.”

O’Reilly taught ENG 645 (Contaminant Transport) this fall. In the spring, he will teach GE 503 (Environmental Geochemistry) and assist in teaching GE 421 (Geological Engineering Design). Previously, he was a teaching assistant at Auburn and a USGS hydrologist for 21 years before entering academia.

“While at the U.S. Geological Survey and as a Ph.D. candidate at UCF, I was closely involved in the development of a new storm water best management practice,” O’Reilly said. “The new BMP utilizes an innovative storm water infiltration basin and biosorption activated media, a functionalized soil amendment to reduce inputs of nitrogen and phosphorus to groundwater.”

The jointly funded, collaborative effort combined the unique expertise and contributions of academia with those of federal, state and local science and resource management agencies. The new BMP is continuing to effectively reduce nutrient loading to groundwater and has served as a model for additional applications of similar nutrient reduction technology.

“The study was particularly meaningful to me because it linked research and application, culminating in the design and construction of a functioning facility,” O’Reilly said.

O’Reilly is a welcome addition to the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering, colleagues said.

“He brings two decades of experience with the U.S. Geological Survey out of Florida, where he worked with regional groundwater models and efforts to protect the state’s water resources,” said Gregg Davidson, chair and professor of geology and geological engineering. “The addition of Dr. O’Reilly strengthens our areas of expertise in hydrogeology and engineering.”

O’Reilly said his professional goals include continuing his geoenvironmental subfield research, focusing on processes in shallow, heterogeneous geologic environments in Earth’s critical zone that govern aquifer recharge and groundwater quality.

“I endeavor to use knowledge gained from my research to develop and implement engineering solutions for maintaining and enhancing groundwater quantity and quality while fostering sustainable development within a wide range of geoenvironmental challenges facing society,” he said.

O’Reilly and his wife, Kelli, have a daughter, Felicity. He enjoys bonsai and amateur astronomy.

He summed up his ultimate goal for his UM tenure as follows:

“I want to provide opportunities for young engineers and scientists to achieve their full potential by passing along what I have learned in my experiences within and outside academia in an effort to always link research and application via teaching and societal engagement.”