Hakan Yasarer Joins Civil Engineering

Instructor teaches statics, surveying and laboratories

hakan yasarer


Even before Hakan Yasarer joined the University of Mississippi faculty last fall, the civil engineering instructor already felt that he would enjoy working here.

“I was impressed by the history of the university and I enjoyed the campus atmosphere,” Yasarer said. “Most importantly, I found a work environment as I had always imagined. An environment with respectful people, who are willing to help and share, who are passionate about their work and have a high degree of professionalism.”

Yasarer teaches ENGR 309, Statics, CE 207, Surveying, and three civil engineering laboratories. His research interests include developing prediction models using the Artificial Neural Network approach in CE applications and decision-making in engineering prediction systems.

“I have the opportunity to work with faculty who are scholarly recognized, and at the same time friendly and accommodating,” he said. “Seeing the faculty and staff’s effort to improve the quality of engineering education and to help students develop their careers and be successful after finishing their degree is what I like most about my job and my department.”

Yasarer has gained the respect of his new UM colleagues.

“Hakan is a fantastic and much-needed addition to the civil engineering family,” said Yacoub “Jacob” Najjar, chair and professor of civil engineering. “Hakan, since joining our department, has successfully taught an array of CE and engineering courses. Our students will surely enjoy his teaching style and benefit greatly from his devotion to teaching.”

Yasarer received his bachelor’s degree at Mustafa Kemal University in Turkey, and his master’s and doctoral degrees at Kansas State University. Before coming to UM, he was employed at KSU as a graduate teaching and research assistant for six years.

“During my graduate studies, I received the Transportation Center “Ph.D. Student of the Year” award and scholarship,” Yasarer said. “But my most fulfilling achievement was receiving excellent teaching evaluations over the six years as a graduate teaching assistant.”

Yasarer and his wife, Lindsey, live in Oxford. His hobbies include music and photography.

“I play jazz, classical and flamenco guitar, the ney (a Turkish folk flute), the Western flute and several other traditional flutes,” he said. “I also compose music and I’ve played jazz guitar with the K-State big band and jazz combos.”

In photography, Yasarer uses both film and digital cameras. He had two photo exhibitions of his collected work in Kansas.

“I’m looking forward to exploring Mississippi with my camera,” Yasarer said. “So far, my experience here has been wonderful.”

John Cleveland Recalls Climb to Success

1988 civil engineering alumnus employed 26 years with ExxonMobil

John R. Cleveland

John R. Cleveland

The ladder of success is one John R. Cleveland has been climbing steadily for a long time. The University of Mississippi civil engineering alumnus has worked with oil and gas conglomerate ExxonMobil for more than 26 years. During his tenure, Cleveland has emerged a proven leader who has delivered significant results in each of the 16 assignments held.

“We love Ole Miss and Oxford and have built a house just off the Square so we can return and enjoy the ambiance of the Square and Ole Miss,” Cleveland said. “We fully subscribe to the writing of Frank E. Everett Jr. and his words hang on our wall, wherever we live that states ‘one never graduates from Ole Miss.'”

Cleveland’s leadership abilities were validated early on. The Fulton native became an Eagle Scout at age 15 and was a three-year starting point guard in varsity basketball at Itawamba Agricultural High School. Named Mr. IAHS as a senior, that experience brought him an athletic scholarship to Itawamba Community College, which he attended before entering UM.

“While at Ole Miss, I was a member of the ASCE, Chi Epsilon and VP of the Engineering Student Body,” said Cleveland, who graduated cum laude in 1988. “Since then, I’ve become a Life Member of the Alumni Association, Woods Order, Woods Society, Ole Miss Fund, Education 111 Initiative and Ole Miss Athletics Foundation.”

As the Americas Heavy Fuel Oil Commercial Trader for ExxonMobil, Cleveland has exercised his international business knowledge and adept commercial negotiating skills honed through interactions with major global corporations. His sales savvy, business acumen, vision and leadership enable him to manage large portfolios, in excess of $4 billion.

“I’m a strategic marketer with the ability to manage high-profile brands as in a previous role as marketing manager for Mobil 1, including Mobil 1 Racing,” he said. “I have both organizational design and start-up experience. Being technically astute in critical thinking and strategic analysis has given me the ability to motivate and develop people to achieve a common cause. I also have developed keen expense and capital budget management skills.”

An Ole Miss campus recruiter for ExxonMobil, Cleveland regularly returns to his alma mater and meets with engineering students and faculty. He’s served on the Engineering Advisory Board and is a UM Lacrosse Club sponsor and team booster.

Cleveland has lived in multiple cities with ExxonMobil, including Kingwood, Texas, Bridgewater, New Jersey, Nashville and, presently, in Centreville, Virginia. He has been married to his high school sweetheart, Beth, for 29 years. The couple has three daughters: Megan, Courtney and Kellie.

“A 2013 cum laude graduate of Harding University, Megan is a second-year occupational therapy President’s List student at the University of Mississippi Medical Center,” Cleveland said. “Courtney is a junior in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College at Ole Miss double-majoring in banking and managerial finance. Kellie is a junior at Westfield High School, where she is an honor student and Virginia state champion field hockey and lacrosse player. She plans to attend Ole Miss in 2016.”

The Clevelands are members of Manassas Church of Christ. His hobbies include golf, whitetail deer and upland game hunting, snow skiing and running. Cleveland has been SYA girls travel basketball coach for six years and AAU girls basketball coach for Western Fairfax Mustangs for one year. Other involvements include Rainbow Christian Services (Prince William County Foster Children’s Home), Rainbow Golf Classic co-chair raising $35,000 for foster children, young family ministries leader and vision, mission and values leader at Fairfax Church of Christ and youth and young professionals Bible school teacher at Manassas Church of Christ.

As president of the Westfield Athletic Booster Club, Cleveland oversaw a $2 million capital improvements campaign. The effort produced a turf athletic field in the main stadium, comfort station expansion, lacrosse wall, accessibility paving upgrade and an additional $500,000 to WHS athletic operations. He championed the selection and giving of more than $125,000 in scholarships to deserving WHS athletes to continue their education in college.

Smith Brothers Help Maintain Father’s Legacy at UM

Sons of Charles E. Smith Sr. own manufacturing company, support alma mater

Chuck Smith

Chuck Smith

From 1975 to 2004, Charles E. Smith Sr. devoted his life to the advancement of the electrical engineering program at the University of Mississippi. Years later, the late chair and professor emeritus’ legacy is being maintained by the benevolence of his two sons, Chuck and Steve.

Both Smith brothers earned electrical engineering degrees from the university. Each attributes his career success to their father’s wise suggestions, patient guidance and gentle influence.

“I was all over the map on what I wanted to major in,” said Chuck Smith, president of Guardian Manufacturing Inc. and CEO of Pinnacle Ozone Solutions LLC. “My dad offered some good advice that has served me well to this day. He told me to start off in electrical engineering. I ended up sticking with electrical engineering throughout my college and professional career.”

Steve Smith recalled how his father gave him one of the first Radio Shack computers that began his trip down geek lane.

“However, his greatest influence in all my decisions derived from his character and values that over time built the foundation I stand on today,” he said.

By summer of 2004, Charles Sr. was nearing retirement from Ole Miss. The brothers wanted to do something special that would recognize his accomplishments, dedication and tenure. Chuck thought about naming one of the engineering buildings in honor of their dad’s career through financial support of the engineering school.

“I approached Dean Lee and Tom Black about my idea,” he said. “They came back with a proposal to rename the Engineering Science Building to the Charles E. Smith Engineering Science Building. We loved the idea because this was a building that Dad spent a lot of time in with students and performing research.”

After agreeing to the terms of the support, Black pressed to get the dedication ceremony done on the Friday before the Ole Miss-Auburn football game. Charles Sr. was an Auburn University alumnus.

“I remember the day Steve and I called Dad to tell him about what we had done,” Chuck said. “He was truly touched by our actions in a way that I will never forget. The building dedicated in his name proved to be the perfect way to honor his service and provide financial support for Ole Miss engineering at the same time.”

Steve Smith

Steve Smith

Steve Smith said philanthropy is in the family’s “DNA.” His father was a member of the Woods Order Society, the School of Engineering’s largest financial supporter.

“Growing up walking through the doors of Carrier Hall, I always looked for the new donor’s bronze plaques that adorned the entrance, the members of the Woods Order Society,” Smith said. “Many I knew as my father’s colleagues and neighbors. This instilled in me a vision of one day being a member and having the ability to give back.”

Over time, members of the Smith family have participated in supporting many initiatives through the UM Foundation for the School of Engineering. They also give as much time as they can through participation with the Engineering Advisory Board, the Vision Council, guest speaking and sending company employees to UM for consulting.

“I joined the Woods Order Society years ago and am still a proud member today,” Steve said. “I strongly encourage all alumni to join, as it provides direct funding to the dean for student activities where you see an immediate return on your investment through the student projects you support.”

In his dual roles, Chuck’s time is divided between managing two growing companies and product development for industrial applications. Steve became a part owner of GMI in 1999. Together, the Smiths have grown into C&S Consolidated that holds GMI, Pinnacle Ozone Solutions LLC, Guardian Creative Integration LLC and several other entities, all with a foundation based on Control System Integration and delivering ozone generation systems and products worldwide.

“We serve a vast array of industries, including aerospace, entertainment, municipal, agricultural, material handling, housing, oil and gas, solar energy and others,” Steve said. “In doing so, and being a small business, I wear many hats, including vice president, CFO, abnormal physiologist and, at times, janitor.”

The brothers have many fond memories of Ole Miss and their father.

“As a child, I remember going to work with Dad to see all of the things they were making in the fab shop. It was fascinating,” Chuck Smith said. “I remember guys like Ken Pruitt and Ray Cronin that would show me how to use the equipment and make things. I remember selling programs and Cokes at all of the Ole Miss football games.”

As a student, Chuck remembers the nights studying with others in the basement of Carrier Hall.

“Dad would stop by around 9 or so and see what problems we were having,” he said. “He’d never tell us the answer, but would give us just enough hints to figure it out on our own. I will always treasure the memory of having my Dad as a professor. He had a way with students that was genuine and caring. It didn’t matter who you were or where you were from. He would spend the time with you to ensure you got it.”

Steve also vividly recalls the long hours beating his head against the wall studying.

“But when our heads were bruised from the wall, Dad was among the professors who would stop in and lend a hand – many times extremely late at night,” he said. “Many of the professors are still teaching today and through the EAB meetings I have with them, I still see the same passion for the students.”

Chuck is most proud of his achievements as an entrepreneur.

“Starting, developing and running a multimillion dollar organization from the ground up has been a rewarding experience that I feel truly blessed to be a part of,” he said. “This March, our first company, Guardian Manufacturing, celebrates its 22nd year in business. By surrounding myself with a very talented group of engineers and technicians, our companies have been successful in many areas of business.”

Another Smith brother, Gary, leads the company’s information technology department. Steve’s son, Brad, works as a software developer.

“It’s great to have family at your side that you admire and trust,” Chuck said.

Steve feels “blessed” to be a part of an organization that continually provides a means to achieve more on the next project.

“It never ceases to amaze me the opportunities that come our way,” he said. “Being a control system integrator is awesome, but my highest achievement is learning a balanced life with God as my focus helping me lead my family and enjoying and helping others.”

Chuck and his wife, Tami, a 1987 UM education graduate, have three children. Hannah is studying accounting at the University of Central Florida. Sarah is a pathology major at Adventist University of Health Science. Kyle is in 11th grade and plans to be the couple’s first child to attend Ole Miss is 2016. When not working, Chuck enjoys flying, golf and fishing.

Steve and his wife, Karen, married while he attended UM. Brad, and his wife, Michelle, have two children, Wyatt and Levi. The grandparents love travel and spending time with their grandchildren.

A graduate of Auburn University, Charles E. Smith Sr. joined the UM faculty in 1975. His research interests were microwave circuits, antennas, measurements, RF systems, and digital and analog electronics and computer-aided design. Smith’s professional memberships included the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Senior Member, IEEE Microwave Theory and Technique Society, IEEE Antennas and Propagation Society, IEEE Education Society, Mississippi Academy of Science, American Society for Engineering Education and Order of the Engineer.

Four Named Outstanding Seniors in Engineering

Students planning to pursue graduate school, employment opportunities after graduation

Outstanding Seniors (from left) Robinson, Bowie, Clark and Dyer.

Outstanding Seniors (from left) Robinson, Bowie, Clark and Dyer.

Four University of Mississippi seniors have been named recipients of the 2014-2015 Outstanding Senior Leadership Award in the School of Engineering.

This year’s recipients are Samuel Bowie of Stafford, Texas, John Clark of Daphne, Alabama, Erin Dyer of Oxford, and Caleb Robinson of Canton. Each was selected through a nomination process in their respective departments based on their records of academic achievement, leadership, professional development and community service. Nominees also delivered a presentation to the selection committee about their undergraduate experiences while pursuing their engineering degrees.

“As in the past, this year’s competition has brought forward a group of outstanding seniors, who not only excelled academically but also demonstrated strong leadership qualities,” Dean Alex Cheng said. “We congratulate all the students who participated in the competition.”

Bowie, a double major in mechanical engineering and computer science, is the 2013 recipient of the John A. Fox Outstanding Mechanical Engineering Student Award. Listed on the Chancellor’s Honor Roll, he also received a Taylor Medal in 2014 as well as the Distinguished Senior Scholarship. He has earned membership in Phi Kappa Phi honor society, Tau Beta Phi engineering honor society and Upsilon Pi Upsilon computer science honor society.

During the summer of 2012, Bowie held a software engineering internship with Idera software company, working with a multidisciplinary team to solve issues with the internal software creation process. Additionally, he holds memberships in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Association for Computing Machinery.

Bowie was also named the university’s student representative to the Mississippi Engineering Society‘s Outstanding Senior program. He will travel to Jackson to be recognized with the other MES Outstanding Seniors from across the state.

“I am surprised to receive this award with all the stellar engineers that are graduating this year,” Bowie said. “I appreciate both the mechanical engineering and computer science departments for making me the engineer I am today. I would also like to thank the Mississippi Engineering Society for pushing engineering students to strive for excellence. I hope to represent the Ole Miss engineering school well.”

Bowie is considering graduate school admission offers from Georgia Tech, MIT and Stanford.

Clark, a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, is also pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering with an emphasis in manufacturing through the Center for Manufacturing Excellence. He has earned membership in Tau Beta Pi and Phi Kappa Phi, as well as a Taylor Medal. He also served as treasurer of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and volunteered with the Big Event. Clark has also held internships with Airbus Americas Engineering in Mobile, Alabama, and BBB Industries in Reynosa, Mexico.

Fluent in Spanish, he was able to conduct presentations and participate in meetings in Spanish while at BBB. Through his participation in the Summer Manufacturing Outreach Program, he designed modifications at Viking Range that resulted in a 40 percent improvement in their machine cycle time. Clark is seeking employment in the automotive or aerospace industry.

Dyer, a double major in chemical engineering and Chinese, is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and the Chinese Language Flagship Program. She holds memberships in Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi and Tau Beta Pi and was the recipient of a Taylor Medal. She also holds a Barksdale Honors Scholarship from the Honors College. She has studied abroad in China during the summers of 2011, 2012 and 2014 and served as a research assistant at Shanghai University’s School of Environmental and Chemical Engineering. On campus, she has served as president of the Chinese Flagship Ambassadors, represented the School of Engineering at various recruiting events and is a member of the Society of Women Engineers and the Ole Miss Club Tennis Team.

Dyer has also participated in the Honors College’s sophomore service trip in 2012 and was selected as the UM representative to the 2014 Language Flagship National Student Meeting. She is deciding between pursuing a career in engineering and seeking admission to medical school.

Robinson is pursuing a degree in computer science and is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. He received the Outstanding Computer Science Student Award during his freshman year and has served as president of the student chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery, as well as vice president of Upsilon Pi Upsilon. Robinson has competed in regional programming competitions through ACM since 2011 and has presented undergraduate research at the 2014 ACM Southeastern regional conference. He also holds membership in Phi Kappa Phi honor society. Robinson has also completed software development internships with C Spire in Jackson and FNC Inc. in Oxford. Additionally, he has two publications to his credit with a former computer science faculty member dealing with his interest in facial recognition.

Robinson plans to marry his fiancé this summer. He is considering offers of admission from Georgia Tech, University of Virginia and University of Florida, where he would pursue a Ph.D. in computer science.