Day Camp Brings World of Ocean Science to North Mississippi Students

Registration open to sixth- through eighth-graders interested in STEM fields

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Students participate in last summer’s SSROV Camp.

OXFORD, Miss. – Middle school students from across north Mississippi are invited to sign up for a series of science, technology, engineering and math-related day camps that will give them a window into the life of a scientist who studies the ocean, an unusual treat so far from the coast.

The Seafloor Science Remotely Operated Vehicle Camp, or SSROV Camp, allows students in sixth through eighth grades to follow in the steps of an oceanographer doing research aboard a ship. Throughout the week, the students get hands-on opportunities to learn about technology, including programming circuit boards, building and operating underwater robots, and navigating underwater ecosystems.

The camps will be conducted in Oxford, Southaven and Tupelo in June and July. Registration is $200 and the camps are limited to 28 students per session, ensuring a low student-to-instructor ratio.

SSROV Camp was created by Geoff Wheat, director of the National Institute of Undersea Science and Technology, based at the University of Mississippi Field Station. Wheat is a geochemist and oceanographer who has been involved as a research scientist or chief scientist in hundreds of seagoing expeditions. The camp grew out of the classroom activities he would take to his kids’ schools in Monterey, California, and NIUST hosted the first Mississippi camp last year at the Field Station.

“The kids and their classmates enjoyed it so much that I expanded it into camp form, and it’s really taken off in California,” Wheat said. “We got such a good reaction at last year’s Mississippi camp in Oxford that we wanted to offer it to more kids. That’s why we have reached out to the Tupelo and Southaven communities this year to bring it to them, too.”

SSROV campers are immersed daily in a fun, problem-solving environment where they get to complete practical, real-world science projects and tasks. Activities are done in a team environment, so students also learn presentation skills and collaboration.

SSROV Camp runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. This summer’s camp schedule includes:

June 8-12 – University of Mississippi at Tupelo

June 15-19 – University of Mississippi at Tupelo

July 6-10 – Desoto Central Middle School, Southaven

July 20-24 – UM Field Station

NIUST is a partnership between the University of Mississippi and the University of Southern Mississippi.

For more information about the camps and to register, go to, email or call 662-915-5479.

Summer Research Program Focuses on Concussion Prevention for Athletes

Grant will get high school students involved in wiring Vaught-Hemingway to aid in impact awareness


X2 impact sensors were used in Ole Miss spring football practice to document head impact during plays.

OXFORD, Miss.­­­ – A University of Mississippi engineering professor is helping tackle the risks of head injuries in athletes engaged in contact sports, particularly football, and is inviting bright high school students to help with the project this summer.

Matthew Morrison, an assistant professor of electrical engineering, is using high-tech sensors to monitor the forces on athletes’ heads during practice and game conditions. He plans to work with rising high school juniors and seniors this summer to broaden the project, with a goal of aiding early detection and possible solutions to the critical problem of concussion injuries.

The inaugural “Heads in the Game” research program will take place June 28-July 28 on the Oxford campus. The program is made possible by a $200,000 grant from X2 Biosystems and is a partnership with the Ole Miss Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, the UM Center for Health and Sports Performance and the UM Summer College for High School Students.

“We wanted to find a way to demonstrate to Mississippi high school students the importance of math and science research and show them how the study of these disciplines helps people every day,” Morrison explained. “We know high school students are interested in sports, so we hope that our research using state-of-the-art technology with UM athletes will be a way to pique their interest.”

Students from Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee are eligible to apply for 16 spots in the program. Besides participating in Morrison’s ongoing research concerning concussion management for contact-sport athletes, they will explore the fundamentals of biomedical science, computer science and engineering.

“Through this generous grant from X2 Biosystems, we hope not only to develop tools that can be used by Ole Miss athletics to continue improving the health and well-being of student athletes, but also to give area high school students a chance to improve their own skill set and resume,” Morrison said.

HEADS IN THE GAME from UM Division of Outreach on Vimeo.

Since 2010, X2 has pioneered the development of wearable impact-monitoring devices and assessment tools to enable more accurate diagnoses and comprehensive management of concussions in sports, military and industrial environments. The National Football League, National Hockey League and Major League Soccer have all adopted X2’s Integrated Concussion Evaluation, or ICE, solution for baseline neurocognitive testing, post-injury evaluation and return-to-play progress monitoring of their athletes.

“X2 was founded to improve concussion safety for the millions of young athletes who benefit from participating in sporting activities, but at the same time are exposed to all manner of physical impacts,” said John Ralston, X2’s CEO. “Helping Ole Miss engineering and athletic performance researchers to instill an appreciation of the underlying science and technology in high school students is a fantastic opportunity to combine athletics and academics in the development of creative young researchers.”

Morrison applied and received an educational research grant from the company in the fall of 2014. In conjunction with the Ole Miss Athletics Health and Sports Performance Center, he began using the X2 impact sensors and ICE software during spring football practice to document head impact during plays. During the Grove Bowl spring football scrimmage last month, players and trainers gathered enough information from immediate readings to implement in-game techniques to ward off potentially damaging hits to the head.

“We are excited about the potential data that will be collected and may ultimately help set standards in health care and athletic performance,” Shannon Singletary, UM senior associate athletics director for health and sports performance said. “This will be a cutting edge program that will benefit high school students as well as athletes of all ages as we explore causes and treatments for sports related issues such as concussions.”

The high school students selected for the “Heads in the Game” program this summer also will help set up and test equipment in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium that athletics staff can use to monitor impact readings in real time from football players wearing X2 devices on the field.

Program participants will also be working closely with UM athletic trainers to develop a mobile device application that will track nutrition and water consumption of athletes to see if those results yield data that are useful for preventing head injuries during competitions.

“Our goal is to help the players play smarter, play safer and play longer,” Morrison said. “We think the implementation of this system will aid trainers in improving players’ form and nutrition to get them back on the field, all while improving their health and safety.”

During the program, students will present their findings during a weekly meeting of Ole Miss athletics coaches, trainers and staff.

“This unique program is definitely one of a kind and an amazing opportunity for high school students,” said Cass Dodgen, director of UM Summer College for High School Students.

Applications are available online for students who would like to be a part of the research program this summer. Each student accepted also gets a $2,000 scholarship to cover the cost of room, board and program activities for four weeks on campus.

“We are looking for motivated, hard-working students who have a love of sports and technology,” Dodgen said.

Students must have a score of 25 or higher on the ACT and at least a 3.0 high school GPA to be eligible. The application deadline is June 1. For more information, visit

Seven Seniors Get Inaugural Hall of Fame Recognition

Students represent the best in academics, research, service and leadership

The University of Mississippi School of Engineering has inducted seven seniors into its new Student Hall of Fame.

The honor was established to recognize students who have shown dedication to the School of Engineering, the university and the profession of engineering as a whole. A committee of engineering faculty, staff and students selected the first group of honorees, whose names were made public during the annual Engineering Honors Banquet in April.

The inaugural School of Engineering Student Hall of Fame members are: Erin Dyer and Abdul Hamid, both of Oxford; Jeremy Roy of Abbeville; Corey Schaal of Paris, Tennessee; Colin Wattigney of Waggaman, Louisiana; Charles Rainey of Jackson; and Haley Sims of Ridgeland. Each inductee reflected on their experiences.

“I am grateful for the education and opportunities provided by the School of Engineering at Ole Miss.” Wattigney said. “The experience has been better than I could have imagined. I have always strived to give back to the School of Engineering by serving it to the best of my abilities and will continue to do so as an alumnus.”

Schaal said he has had an excellent undergraduate experience in the school.

“I believe the greatest strength of the program is the outstanding instructors that are willing to take a special interest in the students’ success and studies,” he said. “Their help and guidance have significantly shaped my academic and career goals.”

Erin Dyer

Erin Dyer

Dyer, a member of the Chinese Language Flagship Program, and the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, is studying chemical engineering. A Barksdale Scholar, she also earned a Marcus E. Taylor Medal and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi and Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society.

She has combined her education in Chinese and engineering to serve as a research assistant at Shanghai University’s School of Environmental and Chemical Engineering in addition to serving as student representative to the Language Flagship National Meeting in 2014. She is a member of the Society of Women Engineers and the Ole Miss Club Tennis team and participated in the Honors College’s sophomore service trip. Dyer is applying to medical school in the next year.

A member of the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence, Hamid is studying mechanical engineering with an emphasis in

Abdul Hamid

Abdul Hamid

manufacturing. He is an Honors College student and received the John A. Fox Outstanding Mechanical Engineering Student Award for 2014. He is also received a Taylor Medal and has earned membership in Phi Kappa Phi, Order of Omega and Omicron Delta Kappa.

He serves on the CME Student Advisory Board, the Big Event Executive Committee and has served as an Ole Miss Ambassador. Hamid is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, where he has served as president. He also was selected to Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges this year. With two internships at General Electric Aviation in Batesville and Ellisville to his credit, Hamid is interviewing for full-time positions with a variety of companies.

Charles Rainey

Charles Rainey

Rainey is a chemical engineering major with minors in business and accountancy. He has been named to Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges, Order of Omega and Mortar Board, and served as secretary of Omicron Delta Kappa. He has also served as an Associated Student Body senator and on the Executive Committee for the Big Event and was a winner in the PriceWaterhouseCoopers Accountancy Case Competition.

Rainey has held a number of leadership roles within the engineering school, including vice president of the Engineering Student Body, vice president of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and School of Engineering Ambassador. He is pursuing opportunities for full time employment.

A mechanical engineering major, Roy is a member of the Honors College and the CME. He has held a co-op with Caterpillar in Oxford and an internship with Hol-Mac Corp. in Bay Springs. A member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, he has served as co-chair of the CME Advisory Board and as a CME ambassador.

Jeremy Roy

Jeremy Roy

Roy has also served on the executive council of his fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi, and participated in its 2015 Journey of Hope cycling project. He is a member of Tau Beta Pi, Order of Omega, National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Gamma Beta Phi and the Chancellor’s Leadership Class. He has volunteered with the Lafayette County Fire Department as a volunteer firefighter and as an emergency medical responder. His honors thesis will involve exploring firefighter accountability systems. Roy has accepted a full-time position as a reliability engineer with ExxonMobil in Beaumont, Texas.

Schaal, a geological engineering major, is the recipient of the Outstanding Freshman and Junior Awards from the geological engineering department. A member of the Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists, he has interned with Geotechnology Inc. during the summers of 2013 and 2014. He received national scholarships from the Underground Construction Association and the Women’s Auxillary to the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers.

Corey Schaal

Corey Schaal

Schaal has been recognized with membership in Order of Omega, Phi Kappa Phi, Tau Beta Pi and Alpha Lambda Delta. He is also the recipient of a Distinguished Senior Scholarship and was a finalist for the School of Engineering’s Outstanding Senior Award. He has been an active member of Beta Upsilon Chi fraternity, serving as social chair and pledge trainer. Schaal will enroll in graduate school at Virginia Tech and continue to pursue a career as a professional engineer and professional geologist.

A civil engineering major, Sims is a graduate of Holmes Community College. She served as president of Chi Epsilon civil engineering society, vice president of the Phi Theta Kappa alumni organization, treasurer of Tau Beta Pi engineering society and secretary of Engineers Without Borders. She also traveled to Togo, Africa, with EWB in 2014 to aid in the construction of a school building.

A Taylor Medalist, she was the recipient of the Outstanding Junior Award for the Department of Civil Engineering and was named to Phi Kappa Phi honor society. Sims was also instrumental in the coordination of the American Society of Civil Engineers Deep South conference that was held on campus in March.

Haley Sims

Haley Sims

“I will be working, conducting research in the Geotechnical Engineering and Geoscience Branch of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Engineering Research and Development Center,” Sims said. “While at ERDC, I will be actively seeking graduate and doctoral degree programs in the field of Environmental Engineering at various schools across the United States.”

A member of both the Honors College and the CME, Wattigney is a mechanical engineering major. He has served as president of Tau Beta Pi and as chairman of the CME Student Advisory Board. He has been recognized with membership in Alpha Lambda Delta and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

Colin Wattigney

Colin Wattigney

Wattigney has also held a number of internships, including work with Accenture in Southfield, Michigan, Borg-Warner in Water Valley and General Electric Aviation in Batesville. He has also assisted in a number of recruitment efforts on behalf of the School of Engineering. He will remain at Ole Miss to pursue a Master of Business Administration beginning in August.

Ray Ayers Lands Lifetime Achievement Award

Civil engineering alumnus has 48 patents and numerous professional accolades

Ray Ayers

Ray Ayers

Winning professional honors and awards is nothing new to Ray R. Ayers, but getting the 2015 Offshore Technology Conference Heritage Award was still a thrill for the successful University of Mississippi alumnus.

Still achieving technical breakthroughs in his 51st year as a professional engineer, Ayers has enjoyed a career filled with multiple contributions in a number of areas that have contributed greatly to the safety and viability of the offshore technology industry. It is for the whole of this work that he was awarded the lifetime recognition.

“I was overwhelmed,” said Ayers, who earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1963. A prolific inventor with 48 U.S. patents, he has earned the Silver Patent Award by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and major professional honors from the American Gas Association, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and the Ocean Energy Center.

Ayers considers his greatest career achievements to be his work on deepwater pipeline design and repair, technology to help clean up oil spills on water and a polyester rope mooring system. He worked more than 50 years for such companies as Brown Engineering Co., NASA’s Saturn V program and Shell Oil Co. He has worked in a range of positions from engineer to research adviser, and is a staff consultant for Stress Engineering Services.

“I can remember back when I was working full-time during the day while going to graduate school at night,” Ayers said. “My young kids would see me working at the breakfast table, and they would ask me, ‘Daddy, are you working on work-work or school-work?’ Of course, my answer changed each day.”

The Brookhaven native grew up in Biloxi. After graduating from UM, he completed the master’s program in engineering mechanics from the University of Alabama at Huntsville in 1968 and the doctoral program in civil engineering from the University of Houston in 1973. Though pleased to have earned those advanced degrees, Ayers credits Ole Miss with having given him his start.

“I decided on Ole Miss because they offered me a Forest Land Scholarship, the only scholarship offered me from anywhere,” Ayers said. “UM provided an excellent general civil engineering education and the motivation to succeed. And I will never forget the smiling ladies at the cafeteria who fed me the best food in the state of Mississippi.”

Ayers remembers C.C. Feng as his favorite UM engineering professor.

“Dr. Feng would start a class session with the chalk in the right hand and the eraser in the left,” he said. “He would say, ‘So far to now, we have covered (topic). Then, he proceeded to write on one side and erase on the other, making it difficult to take notes. So I would say he was challenging!”

Ayers’ mentors included Dean R. Malcolm Guess, “who encouraged me to study harder so that I would not lose my scholarship,” and the Rev. Don Anderson of the campus Wesley Foundation. “He made it possible for me to have a rent-free room to live in at the Wesley Foundation House. He also provided short-term loans (lunch money) until additional funds arrived.”

Ayers is married to his college sweetheart, the former Carolyn Kerr, who earned her bachelor’s degree in music at UM. They have two sons, Tom and Andy, and a daughter, Cheryl Sauls. He enjoys singing choral music at Memorial Drive United Methodist Church in West Houston, Texas.