UM Offers New Minor in Digital Media Studies

Program will include four emphases with common areas of technology and problem-solving

The new minor in digital studies is designed to equip undergraduate students from many different degree majors with digital computing, design and communication skills. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

The new minor in digital studies is designed to equip undergraduate students from many different degree majors with digital computing, design and communication skills. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi will offer a new interdisciplinary minor in digital studies designed to equip undergraduate students from many different degree majors with digital computing, design and communication skills to complement their main academic focus.

The new minor, offered beginning in fall 2016, will be housed and administered in the College of Liberal ArtsDepartment of Writing and Rhetoric. Robert Cummings, chair and associate professor of writing and rhetoric, will serve as director of the minor.

Faculty members affiliated with the program will meet periodically to consider changes to the curriculum and assist in the advising process.

“Students can now prepare for exciting and contemporary technology applications by combining their current major with the DMS minor, which offers a choice of emphases in computing, digital arts and/or digital communications,” Cummings said. “The digital media studies minor offers a novel pathway for students to extend their knowledge in to the creative economy of the information age.”

The College of Liberal Arts, School of Engineering and the Meek School of Journalism and New Media jointly proposed the undergraduate minor. Faculty from across academic programs, UM Libraries and Information Technology met to formulate the proposal and flesh out the courses to be included.

The DMS minor aims to teach students basic web authoring and programming skills, how to critically evaluate digital information and also how to apply digital skills and expertise in multiple fields.

Students will take 18 credit hours, which includes six hours of core classes. They choose the remaining 12 hours from an approved list of options.

The minor includes four emphases from which to choose: computing, digital communications, digital arts or a generalist track. The emphases have different, but connected paths of digital technology and problem-solving, according to the developers of the course.

Richard Forgette, senior associate dean of liberal arts and professor of political science, played a major role in the development of the program. He said there was wide interest from the student body.

“Thanks to all the faculty from across the university who made this happen,” Forgette said. “The new minor will allow students to develop skills needed for emerging career paths in web development, data analytics, computational art, graphic design, data visualization and digital media marketing.”

Crawford Crowned a Queen of Engineering

Alumna's successes at Lockheed Martin earn her a second Black Engineer of the Year Award

Tamara Crawford (right) ins congratulated by Marilyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin chairman/president/CEO.

Tamara Crawford (right) is congratulated by Marilyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin chairman/president/CEO.

Tamara Crawford knows she’s been blessed. So when she entered her 13th year of employment at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, the University of Mississippi mechanical engineering alumna wasn’t the least bit superstitious about her steady stream of career achievements coming to some unfortunate end.

Crawford’s confidence, creativity, leadership and endurance were recently rewarded when she was honored with Special Recognition for Career Achievement during the 2016 Black Engineer of the Year Awards. She previously won the 2014 Black Engineer of the Year Outstanding Achievement Award-Science Spectrum Trailblazer.

This year is the 30th anniversary of BEYA, a national award regarded as “one of the most prestigious and competitive honors in science, engineering and technology management.” Fewer than 1,000 individuals have achieved the distinction of being a Black Engineer of the Year honoree.

“As a 13-year-old girl from a small Mississippi town, in eighth grade, I decided to become an engineer,” said Crawford, who is a board member of the Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering. “My junior year in college, I declared, ‘I’m moving to Texas to work for Lockheed Martin. My parents taught me that all things are possible when you believe in God and yourself.”

She set out with no job, family, interviews or connections and with only $292 in her pocket.

“Fast forward 13 years, and here I am,” Crawford said.

An advanced technical leadership program senior, Crawford is responsible for work product quality, including the assessment of system processes, and product performance for the C-130, C-5, P-3, F-16, F-22 and F-35 fighter programs.

She previously was the lead systems engineer for the F-22 Raptor, the world’s only fifth-generation fighter. When it reached the end of production, Crawford was responsible for overseeing the dismantling of that production line, preserving and storing those production components for future use. With no standard model for doing this, hers will be the blueprint for going forward.

A member of the Ole Miss Alumni Hall of Fame (Outstanding Young Alumni of the Year) and Ole Miss Alumni Association Life Member, Crawford credits her Ole Miss engineering education for her success.

“I knew that an engineering degree earned from the University of Mississippi would be respected globally,” she said. “Ole Miss provides its students an amazing juxtaposition of experiencing a world-class education in your own backyard.”

The partnering of rigorous engineering study in a liberal arts environment has proven immensely beneficial to Crawford and her career, she said.

“Upon graduation, I was prepared as an engineer and a leader,” Crawford said. “Innovation, teamwork and the art of effective communication are key skills I developed as a students and continue to demonstrate as a professional.”

She serves on the Ole Miss Engineering Advisory Board, lectures in Dean Alex Cheng’s Leadership and Professionalism course and maintains a close relationship with UM engineering faculty who taught her.

“(This is) yet another impressive award on your yet young, but abundantly fruitful career,” wrote Jeff Roux, professor of mechanical engineering. “Your public speaking skills are excellent and highly refined. You are our hero and we are proud of you and love you.”

ME professor Ellen Lackey expressed similar sentiments to her former student.

“Congratulations!” she wrote. “I always enjoy receiving emails from you and finding out about your continued success. I hope to see you soon.”

Crawford acknowledged Lackey, Roux and others as having been instrumental to her career success.

“If Dr. Lackey hadn’t assigned my class to read ‘Skunk Works,’ I may not have moved to Texas to work at Lockheed Martin,” she said. “Dr. Roux (and many others) all taught me well. It means a lot to have their love and support.”

Tamara Crawford (second from right) surrounded by (from left) her brother, Kendrick Crawford; mother, Jeanelle Crawford; and father, Archie Crawford.

Tamara Crawford (second from right) surrounded by (from left) her brother, Kendrick Crawford; mother, Jeanelle Crawford; and father, Archie Crawford.

As both a woman and a minority, Crawford has been a trailblazer in the world of professional engineering.

“Service is inextricably woven into the tapestry of my life,” Crawford said. “My joy is inspiring youth through STEM. I must give back. I love witnessing the ‘light bulb’ moments for younger people … the realization they can be creators of technology, not merely consumers of it.”

Crawford was also selected as a member of the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Advanced Technical Leadership Program. ATLP exists to develop future technical leaders for Lockheed Martin Corp. The purpose of the two-year program is to accelerate the technical, professional and leadership development of selected intermediate career-level individuals through stretch assignments, strategic research projects, training, mentoring and networking.

The program’s four major components are stretch assignments, a strategic research project, community service and training. Additionally, ATLP participants attend periodic learning and networking conferences and participate in a mentoring relationship as a mentee to someone in higher levels of leadership within Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.

Candidates were considered from across the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics locations in Texas, California and Georgia. Only 10 candidates were selected. Crawford’s credentials, nomination and panel interview performance solidified her qualification for this exclusive leadership development opportunity.

Henry Brevard Receives Engineer of Service Award

Longtime benefactor recognized for generosity, philanthropy

Henry Brevard

Henry Brevard

For the past 25 years, Henry Brevard has been a pillar of support to the School of Engineering at the University of Mississippi. Fittingly, the chairman of the board of B&B Concrete Co. Inc. was recently presented the school’s Engineer of Service Award for the longevity of his efforts.

In 1991, he made an initial $1 million gift to the School of Engineering in order to establish the Brevard Family Scholarship Endowment in Engineering. Since the fall 1991 school semester, the endowment has provided partial undergraduate scholarships to more than 500 students.

In 2001, Brevard and his family established the Elizabeth B. Brevard Council Scholarship Endowment to provide academic scholarships for students to attend Ole Miss. The family established the Brevard Family Engineering Chair at UM in 2012.

To honor Henry Brevard and his family for their support for the engineering school, the university renamed the Old Chemistry Building as Brevard Hall in April 2011.

“Henry Brevard is a natural recipient for the Engineer of Service Award,” said Kevin Gardner, UM development officer for the engineering school. “While pouring foundations for decades, he has been methodically laying a firm foundation for the School of Engineering.

“His sacrificial involvement has abundantly strengthened our program. It is difficult to measure the height and breadth; but rest assured, his impact has and will continue to inspire and influence generations upon generations.”

In 1987, Brevard was named the UM Engineer of Distinction. The next year, he was inducted into the UM Alumni Hall of Fame. Brevard is also a member of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, the Ole Miss Associates, the Chancellor’s Trust and the Lyceum Society.

Brevard’s other contributions to his alma mater include serving as president of the UM Foundation, a president of the engineering alumni chapter, chairman of the school’s board of advisers and chairman and charter member of the Woods Order. He is also a former board member for UM’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture and a former member of the board of directors for the UM Alumni Association.

Brevard co-founded B&B, a concrete materials supply company with plants throughout north Mississippi, in Tupelo in 1949. Brevard is also president and chairman of the board of Concrete Industries Inc., a real estate firm with ready-mix concrete plant holdings in north Mississippi.

A native of Amory, he graduated from Amory High School in 1939. Later, Brevard earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from UM in 1943. As a senior student, he served as a student instructor in the Department of Civil Engineering. He was also member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon social fraternity.

Upon graduation, he enlisted as a cadet in the Army Air Force, where he was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He was then selected to remain at the Hondo Air Field as an aerial navigation instructor. Just before the end of World War II, he completed B-29 aircraft combat training.

Brevard married the former Mae Elizabeth (Beth) Boozer, and the couple was married almost 67 years before Mrs. Brevard passed in 2013.

After his discharge from the service, Brevard was employed by the Design Section of the U.S. Corps of Engineers in Vicksburg. He worked for the Corps for almost a year, assisting in the design and development of such projects as the Grenada Dam and reservoir.

He later worked for the Mississippi Highway Department as a structural engineer in the Department of Bridge Design in Jackson. He moved to Tupelo, where he and his father-in-law, Riley Boozer, co-founded their concrete company. That same year, Brevard was admitted into the National Society of Professional Engineers. He is the oldest practicing Professional Engineer in Mississippi.

Active in community affairs, Brevard is a former chairman of the board of Mississippi Methodist Senior Services Inc., the North Mississippi Medical Center and North Mississippi Health Services. He is a founding trustee and former chairman for the North Mississippi Health Services Foundation (now the Health Care Foundation of North Mississippi) and 50-plus-year volunteer for the Yocona Area Council of Boy Scouts of America, serving on the Camp Yocona redevelopment committee.

Other roles Brevard has filled include former president of the Yocona Area Council, former president of the Tupelo Kiwanis Club, a member of the board of directors of First Citizens National Bank in Tupelo and a local advisory board member for Deposit Guaranty National Bank. He is a former board member for the Mississippi Economic Council, the MUW Foundation, the Baddour Center, the CREATE Foundation, the Tupelo Symphony Orchestra, the Tupelo Art Gallery (now the Gumtree Museum of Art) and the highways and parkways committee for the Community Development Foundation.

A faithful member of First United Methodist Church in Tupelo, Brevard has given the church a priority of his time and resources. He is a former lay leader, former chairman of the finance committee, former chairman of the long-range planning committee, former chairman of the building committee, former delegate to annual conference, former member of the administrative council, former member of the trustees, and former teacher in either the youth or adult Sunday school program for more than 45 years.

In 1997, Brevard and his family donated a 21-lot subdivision, equipped with utility hook-ups and a concrete street in Verona, to Northeast Mississippi Habitat for Humanity for use in building houses for worthy recipients. He and his wife established an endowment fund at the Health Care Foundation of North Mississippi to support community health needs, such as school nurses and immunizations.

Brevard was awarded the Silver Beaver for Distinguished Service to Scouting in 1967. He was selected as the Yocona Area Council’s Eagle Class Honoree in 1992 and again in 2015. In 2002, Brevard was honored as a Distinguished Citizen by the council. He was named Tupelo’s Outstanding Citizen of the Year by the Tupelo Junior Auxiliary.

Brevard was recognized as a fellow by the North Mississippi Health Services Foundation. Criteria for selection as a fellow included service, advocacy, volunteerism and philanthropy. He and his wife received a McLean Award for Philanthropy from the CREATE Foundation in 2007. Brevard was inducted as a member of the inaugural class of the Mississippi Concrete Industries Association’s Hall of Fame in 2013.

Henry and his late wife have two children: Elise Brevard Smith (Mike) of Ridgeland and David Brevard (Shawn) of Tupelo. They have three grandchildren: Riley Smith and Lizzie Brevard of Washington, D.C., and Stewart Brevard McMillan (Victor) of Tupelo.

Farhad Farzbod Joins Mechanical Engineering Faculty

Newest professor brings creativity, energy to students and colleagues

Farhad Farzbad (far right) enjoys some time with his wife, Rosita, and friends at YellowStone National Park.

Farhad Farzbad (far right) enjoys some time with his wife, Rosita, and friends at YellowStone National Park.

As technological advances continue, the imaginary line between fiction and reality is being erased. And that’s one of the reasons Farhad Farzbod is an assistant professor at the University of Mississippi.

“I looked for academic opportunities in the South and I found Ole Miss,” said Farzbod, who joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering faculty last August. “When I visited the campus, I was attracted to the level of collegiality in the department and how helpful everyone was. Not to mention that the campus was much more beautiful than what I had in mind.”

Farzbod, whose research area is mainly actuator design and novel acoustic devices, has taught Dynamics and Mechatronics. He will teach Engineering Systems Analysis and Design and Linear Control next semester.

“My background is in different areas, from laser ultrasound and bio acoustics to mechatronics and sensor design,” Farzbod said. “Currently, I am pursuing a subset of these.”

Farzbod is a welcome addition to the ME department, said Arunachalam Rajendran, chair and professor of mechanical engineering.

“Dr. Farzbod brings incredible multidisciplinary characteristics and capability through his work experience with the Google Inc. and research work at the Idaho National Laboratory,” he said. “The use of micro-electro mechanical systems in mechanical/electronics components and all types of sensors necessitates a need for teaching mechatronics to our students.

“With faculty like Dr. Farzbod, the mechanical engineering department has now positioned itself to further modernize its curriculum so that our students could find better opportunity in the global market.”

After earning his Ph.D. from Georgia Institute of Technology, Farzbod took a postdoc at Idaho National Laboratory. He was a research engineer at Google [x] Lab before coming to UM.

Farzbod’s most fulfilling professional achievement thus far is his second patent, which he filed while employed at Google.

“It is about using nose vibration to pick up speech signal,” Farzbod said. “I think it is really useful for wearable computers and it helps to personalize communication with wearable devices without much sacrifice for the power and the price.”

Although Farzbod enjoyed his time at Google, he found himself drawn to life in a college town more than the big city. “Those years of living in the South, with its green nature, warm weather and nice people made my best memories,” he said.

The new faculty member has already set short- and long-term goals for himself.

“My short-term goal is to bring outside research money to the department to provide for graduate student stipend, experimental setups and possibly some summer hours for undergrads,” he said.

“One of my long term goal is to reach out beyond Ole Miss and serve the state of Mississippi. Another long-term goal is to be somewhat well known in my area of research, to have a lab with state-of-the-art facilities to serve both my research and teaching activities.”

The most gratifying part of the job for Farzbod is working with students.

“I am still on a learning curve about the level of students here,” he said. “Some of them definitely beat my expectations. But I have to find the average, to adjust my gears.”

Farzbod and his wife, Rozita, enjoy hiking and playing cards with friends. He looks forward to serving the campus community and beyond.

“I remember that when I was working at Google, we were encouraged to go out couple of days a year and tutor high school students in underprivileged schools in the Bay Area,” Farzbod said. “I think Mississippi, among all places, needs our help. The late Jim Chambers – God bless his soul – was active in this.”

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