John O’Haver New Chair of Chemical Engineering

Professor brings age experience, fresh vision to department

John O'Haver Photo by Harry Briscoe

John O’Haver – Photo by Harry Briscoe

Like many baby boomers, John O’Haver finds himself somewhere between the way things have been and where things are headed. Fortunately, his years of experience and vision for the future make him a perfect fit to lead the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Mississippi.

As chair, O’Haver replaces Clint Williford, who retired June 30 after 33 years at the university. The professor is confident that he can continue building on the foundation laid by his predecessors.

“My short-term goals are to help our two new faculty members off to a great start in teaching and research, hire a permanent instructor and an additional tenure track assistant professor, and to shepherd the program through reaccreditation in 2016,” O’Haver said. “I also am aiming for curriculum changes and revisions to ensure that our students graduate with the technical, writing, speaking and teamwork skills needed to be leaders in their profession.”

Farther down the road, O’Haver looks to further develop appropriate long-term mentoring and growth opportunities for four untenured faculty members, helping them to develop ongoing, externally-funded research programs. He also plans to encourage regular alumni giving to support scholarships for students, increase the department’s national reputation as a top undergraduate chemical engineering program, develop more long-term co-op and internship relationships and increase the number of faculty to return to a 20-to-1 student-faculty ratio.

O’Haver has a proven track record of achieving goals he sets for himself and others. A 2012 Elsie H. Hood Teacher of the Year Award recipient, he is known for his lively teaching style, and alumni cite him as a major influence on their own successes.

“For me, teaching is much more than just the content, though it is obviously very important. Teachers shaped my life; I want to be available to help others,” said the native Oklahoman, who also serves as director of the UM Center for Math and Science Education. “This award is a recognition that others think I have done my job, and done it well. That I have covered the content, but also influenced lives for the better. That has always been my desire.”

A member of the UM faculty since 1996, O’Haver accepted the position because he needed a job and the position looked like a great balance of teaching and research. Almost 20 years later, he says his students, teaching, creative challenges and colleagues remain what he loves most about working at the university.

“The most personally fulfilling part of my job is exemplified by an incident that happened a few years ago, when a student came down two flights of stairs to throw up in my trash can,” he said. “When I asked why they passed two sets of restrooms to come to my office, they said because they knew I’d take care of them. If I have the reputation of helping my students, academically, personally and professionally, that is very fulfilling.”

Anecdotes aside, O’Haver has won praises from people on and off campus.

“While having the fervor to reach out to public schools, Dr. O’Haver has been a respected researcher, a mentor of undergraduate and graduate researchers, a superior classroom teacher and an innovative administrator,” said outgoing Chancellor Dan Jones. “O’Haver is the university’s only faculty member to have twice been recognized with the Faculty Achievement Award, UM’s highest award given to a single faculty member each year who combines excellence in teaching, research and service. As a teacher-scholar, Dr. O’Haver is our university’s very best.”

“He engages in life coaching as much as teaching,” one student wrote in her nomination letter for the Hood award. Another marveled that, “Dr. O is the best teacher I have known and is undoubtedly an even better mentor.”

O’Haver had always wanted to be an educator at the university level.

“When I left teaching high school to go back to grad school, I knew that I wanted to go into academia. I just love working with students,” he said. “I love the ‘lightbulb’ moments. I like being a mentor to those who want me to be one.

“I poke fun at myself. I am very transparent. I do a lot with problem-based learning. We do a lot in teams. I try hard to make the tough concepts very clear and memorable. I try to relate them to life and then ask them to apply the concepts.”

The goal is to let students know he cares, O’Haver said.

“My undergrad days were some of the worst for me, mostly because I didn’t have anyone in my life that I could ask tough questions,” he said. “So I am available to say to students, ‘I’ve been there. I’ve walked the rough path. I’ve made these bad decisions and I can tell you what happened.'”

O’Haver earned his bachelor’s and his master’s degrees in secondary education and his doctoral degree in chemical engineering, all from the University of Oklahoma. Since joining the UM faculty, he has been a leader for outreach efforts that focus on using university-level expertise to improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics teaching in public schools, with special emphasis in the K-6 grade levels.

He was appointed associate dean for academic and student affairs for the School of Engineering. In this role, O’Haver developed new programs, including a set of writing courses for engineering students and a special class to help certain entering engineering majors shore up their fundamental academic skills.

An accomplished researcher with expertise in applied surfactants and surface chemistry, he publishes regularly in the peer-reviewed journals in his field and has directed the theses and dissertations of approximately 20 students, including a number as part of a cooperative arrangement with institutions in Thailand.

O’Haver and his wife, Kevie, have a son, Hudson, and a daughter, Maren, both 18.

Chemical Engineering Couple’s Careers Climbing

Alumni David and Janey Quigley enjoy relationship, work responsibilities

David and Janey Squigley enjoy traveling when away from work.

David and Janey Quigley enjoy traveling when away from work.

As children, David Quigley and Janey Henley became fast friends who shared similar interests and ambitions. The University of Mississippi chemical engineering alumni, who married five years ago, make a formidable pair whose individual achievements have brought each significant career success within the DuPont Corp.

David Quigley is an operations manager for the packaging and warehouse area of the Chemours Ti-Pure (formerly DuPont) Plant in DeLisle, Mississippi. Janey Quigley is a manufacturing technology engineer at the DuPont Crop Protection Plant in Mobile, Alabama.

“With only four years working as an engineer, I have been recognized as an ‘up and coming’ leader in Chemours and have been selected to attend several leadership courses,” said David, who manages approximately 50 Chemours employees and 150 contract employees in such areas as budget management, program improvement and operations evaluations. “I have also been recognized by my plant’s management for several projects which have improved quality, uptime and safety.”

Janey oversees the process for making a product called Rynaxypyr, a commercial insecticide. Her role includes ensuring the production schedule is met, implementing safety-related projects and increasing their capacity and reducing waste.

“Like David, I have received several awards and recognitions,” she said. “In my previous role as a contractor at URS in New Orleans, (before working at DuPont) I received two Client Satisfaction Awards for my work on projects for Phillips 66 refinery. At DuPont, I have received recognition for my work in waste minimization and increasing capacity.”

The Biloxi natives have known each other since fourth grade and were always good friends while growing up. They dated during high school and eventually decided to attend the university.

“David was the one who originally interested me in Ole Miss,” said Janey, who grew up in a family of University of Alabama alumni. “They were quite surprised with my decision to ultimately go to Ole Miss, but after visiting the campus and Oxford, I fell in love with the college and they definitely understood why. The campus was beautiful, the university staff was very helpful and Oxford was by far the best town to live in when compared to other college towns I considered.”

David’s family has always been Rebels fans, and he was always interested in attending UM.

“I ultimately made the decision to go to Ole Miss based the great campus and the hometown feel of Oxford,” he said. “More importantly, I really appreciated the atmosphere of the engineering school with smaller class sizes and having professors who actually taught classes, instead of TAs for instance.”

The Quigleys’ said all their chemical engineering professors were great, even if they expected much from them and ‘ruined’ many nights and weekends with all the homework and studying. Among the most memorable are Peter Sukanek and John O’Haver, who welcomed students to spend time with them beyond the classroom.

“Dr. Sukanek was always infamous for hard tests and surprise quizzes,” David said. “I feel that he really prepared us for ‘real world’ engineering, always challenging us to ask why. Dr. O’Haver was not only a great professor, but he was the moral support for making it through engineering school. We always knew we could lean on him for guidance. He cares for each of his students and wants them to succeed.”

“But we don’t want to forget Dr. (Wei-Yin) Chen, Dr. (Paul) Scovazzo or Dr. (Clint) Williford,” Janey said. “They all cared for their students and wanted to give us the best opportunities and learn to be successful engineers.”

Asked how their Ole Miss engineering education has proven beneficial to their career success thus far, both Quigleys said they felt they received strong foundations in the fundamentals of engineering.

“This pride in our education was confirmed when we won honorable mention in the AIChE National Student Design Competition, along with Jonathan Jones, when we were seniors,” David said. “I think this experience was a major contributor to preparing us for our engineering careers.”

“Also, our education at Ole Miss taught us how to work as part of a team and network with others,” Janey said. “In school, we focused a lot on giving presentations and speaking skills which has helped tremendously in interviews and when presenting a business case to peers and management.”

Jones praised the achievements of his former peers.

“Throughout our core coursework, David and Janey developed the reputation of being among the most diligent, earnest and creative among our tight-knit group,” he said. “Not to be outdone with their classroom successes, the two led the class in dancing, humbling the rest of us regularly on Friday nights and commencing a beautiful wedding reception with their one-of-a-kind first dance. It is no surprise to me that the talented pair is excelling in professional engineering in each new role they undertake.”

The Quigleys immediate ‘family’ consists of a Rob the cat and Roxie, a French bulldog.

“They are both spoiled and loved very much,” Janey said. “Our favorite leisure activities are boating, fishing and scuba diving. We especially enjoy diving and try to plan trips at least two or three times a year.”

Presently, their primary leisure activity has been homebuilding.

“We are building a home in Grand Bay, Alabama, and expect to complete it next month,” David said.

Students Enjoy Successful Summer Internships

Trio found satisfying work experiences, possible future employment during training

This mold was created by Elena Rajan while she worked at Parker Hannifin.

This mold was created by Elena Rajan while she worked at Parker Hannifin.

For many students, summer break is spent traveling on vacation, taking a class or just hanging out by the pool. Others may spend some of that time working a job at the local grocery store or movie theater. However, several University of Mississippi engineering students spent their summer preparing for their future careers.

One such student is Christopher Tutor, a senior majoring in civil engineering with an emphasis in transportation engineering. A Como native, Tutor spent his summer completing an internship with the Mississippi Department of Transportation in Batesville, where he spent time working in the materials testing laboratory.

Tutor learned of the opportunity after attending the Engineering, Manufacturing and Technology Career Fair that is hosted biannually by the School of Engineering and the UM Career Center. He interacted with representatives from MDOT at the career fair and encourages students to participate in the event, which is held once in the fall and again in the spring semester.

“I submitted my resume to MDOT staff at the Engineering Career Fair on campus and informed them that I was interested in airfield layout and design,” he said. “After consulting with some of the MDOT engineers, I was contacted by the staff of the Batesville location and offered an internship.”

The experience was very valuable and allowed Tutor to get hands-on experience in areas in which he may choose to pursue professional opportunities in the future.

“I was able to successfully test materials that are being utilized within the soils and asphalt sections of any road construction,” Tutor said. “This allowed me to comprehend why different designs are established for different roads and intersections.”

As a result, he thinks he obtained knowledge and skills that enhanced what he has been studying in the classroom and increase his effectiveness.

Mechanical engineering senior Elena Rajan also said her internship experience helped her develop additional skills that cannot be learned in the classroom. Rajan, who is from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, recently finished her work as an intern with Parker Hannifin Corporation’s Racor Division in Holly Springs.

“My internship provided me with real industry experience and expanded my network,” she said. “I hope to work with design in the future, and this internship was one of my first step to beginning a professional career. Internships open doors for other opportunities in the future.”

Rajan encourages students seeking an internship not to give up if they do not land one right away.

She was made aware of the internship position via email communications from the university’s Career Center and its EmployUM system. Her work involved creating Inventor models, developing engineering designs using Inventor, releasing engineering change notices and innovating new mold designs for one of the production lines.

She recalled that learning a new computer-aided design program was a challenge, but one that she was able to master. One of her major accomplishments through the internship was designing molds for one of the production lines and producing SLA prototypes for the molds. According to Rajan, the company is in the process of acquiring quotes to produce the molds that she created.

Memphis native Kyle Weaver had an opportunity to intern in her own hometown. A senior chemical engineering major, Weaver was hired as an intern with Medtronic’s Spinal Division Headquarters, where she worked directly with the Environmental Health and Safety Department. Her experience included the ability to travel on behalf of the company.

“I was sent to the facility in Eatontown, New Jersey, to aid in chemical inventory and their ISO14001 impacts/aspects goals,” she said. “I also helped in FY16 planning for the EHS group and attended the first training session to receive my green belt in Lean Sigma training.”

Weaver said she was able to accomplish a great deal in the internship as well as learning more about herself and her career. She felt that the fast-paced atmosphere helped her jump in with questions and engage in research and problem-solving.

“After reviewing and updating water and electrical data and the costs associated with those utilites, I worked with an active DMAIC A3 template in order to reduce water consumption at their campus by 10 percent before FY20,” she said. “I was not completely sure about my plans post-graduation, but this internship showed me that the medical device industry is for me.”

Students such as Tutor, Rajan and Weaver have taken an important step in their undergraduate career to prepare for their future. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the top skills sought after by employers include the ability to work in a team, decision-making and problem-solving, planning, organization and prioritization of work, internal and external communication and technical knowledge related to the job. Internship and work experience directly related to a career field can allow students to gain those skills and bring their academic experiences into reality.

Drumming Up Support for Engineering School

Administrators, faculty and students visit alumni to share needs, ask for backing

Dean Alex Cheng (center) chatted with UM alums (from left) John Baker and Derrick Wilson during the meet-and-greet.

Dean Alex Cheng (center) chats with UM alumni (from left) John Baker and Derrick Wilson during a meet-and-greet.

Even with fewer students on the University of Mississippi campus during the summer, engineering faculty stay busy. Amidst summer camps, freshman orientation, summer school, hosting parents and high school students on college tours, and planning meetings for the fall, Dean Alex Cheng and select faculty members manage to attend some alumni gatherings out-of-state.

“Having the dean and/or professors on the meet-and-greet road show is quite a joy,” said Kevin Gardner, development officer for the School of Engineering. “I am reminded of the special relationships our small student-to -teacher ratio fostered as I see the graduate (now professional peer) and professor interact.”

During the visits, UM graduates shared their perspectives on industry trends, research and the need for increased financial support for Ole Miss engineering, as well as renewing old acquaintances and establishing new ones.

“In recent years, we have been able to host alumni gatherings in Houston, Alexandria/Washington, D.C., Huntsville and Baton Rouge,” Gardner said. “This summer, our travels took us to Dallas and Ft. Worth, where Tamara Crawford and Derrick Wilson were our gracious ambassadors. These networking opportunities are also beneficial for our engineering administration to convey the recent progress and updates on campus and allowed us to hear what our alumni are doing in their respective fields.”

One of the lunch meetings featured a whole roomful of alumni, Cheng said.

“Among them were Mr. David Galloway, who graduated in 1943, and Ms. Lizzie Holt, who graduated last May.” he said. “Their graduation time spans more than 70 years. They seemed to have made a good connection right away. It was a happy sight.”

In August, Cheng, Wilson and Gardner toured Venture Research Inc., hosted by owner and UM electrical engineering alumnus John Baker of Plano, Texas.

“We saw a technology museum of the evolutional changes in the last 25 years compared to today’s products, solutions and the state-of-the art RFID test lab,” Cheng said. “We hope to be traveling soon and will be calling on the local alumni to suggest site selection and to assist us with reception recruitment as we strive to see as many alumni and industry representatives as we possibly can.”

Alumni are encouraged to contact the School of Engineering whenever they come to Oxford or to visit campus.

“We have lots to talk about and show you,” Cheng said.

For more information, contact Kevin Gardner at 662-915-7601 or Kevin@olemiss.edu, or Alex Cheng at 662-915-7407 or acheng@olemiss.edu.