University, ERDC Officials Discuss Partnership Opportunities

UM aims to increase collaborations with agency on several research projects

UM Vice Chancellor for Research Josh Gladden (far right) chats with (from left) ERDC Deputy Director David Pittman, NCPA Director Craig Hickey and ERDC Director James Holland during a visit Feb. 9 to the National Center for Physical Acoustics. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Several University of Mississippi administrators met with two top representatives from the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center who visited campus Thursday (Feb. 9) to discuss strengthening mutually beneficial collaborations.

ERDC Director Jeff Holland and Deputy Director David Pittman visited Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter; Alex Cheng, dean of the School of Engineering; and Craig Hickey, interim director of the National Center for Physical Acoustics, to talk about funding opportunities and strategies. The ERDC officials also met with William Nicholas, director of the Hub at Insight Park; and Ryan Miller, associate director of the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence.

“We’ve had a wonderful relationship with the University of Mississippi for many years,” Holland said. “While it’s important that researchers at both ERDC and the university collaborate with each other, it’s also important that senior administrators at both places do the same. I believe we absolutely accomplished that objective today.”

Both Cheng and Hickey touted the value of the visit.

“In terms of engineering research, EDRC is one of the strongest assets in the state of Mississippi,” Cheng said. “The School of Engineering looks forward to educating students for high-tech careers who, hopefully, will seek and find employment at ERDC, thereby boosting the state’s economic growth.”

“As primarily a research organization on campus, NCPA and ERDC have multiple common research areas of interests,” Hickey said. “I can foresee scientists at both facilities continuing to communicate and increasing collaboration.”

Before Thursday’s meetings, UM and ERDC officials conducted visits, tours and calls at both sites. They agreed that the resilience of earthen dams and levees is a topic with mutual interest and capabilities that meets a national need.

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter (left) enjoys conversations with (from left) ERDC Director James Holland and Deputy Director David Pittman during a visit to the Lyceum. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

“Over the past several years, UM and ERDC have put more energy into exploring collaborations, and we are excited about new opportunities that are emerging,” said Josh Gladden, interim vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs.

Last fall, the university signed an Educational Partnership Agreement and joined the ERDC Graduate Institute. The move allows both Ole Miss and ERDC to host coursework, pursue internships and engage in other activities.

The university and ERDC have shared interest and expertise in infrasound and earthen dam and levee monitoring and assessment, Gladden said.

“There are immediate opportunities in these fields for us to pursue together,” he said. “Other areas of potential collaboration are acoustic monitoring techniques for fish ecology, sediment transport, blast- resistant materials and general disaster resilience. As our relationship strengthens, it is likely this list will expand.

“Dr. Holland and I are on the same page about the need to foster higher-tech businesses in the state. They have looked at the business ecosystems around other large government research facilities which have vibrant small high-tech startups as potential models for ERDC and Vicksburg.”

Pittman and Miller said the agency’s partnership with the university will result in continued successful outcomes.

“We’ve had a wonderful association with the University of Mississippi for many decades,” Pittman said. “With new leaders coming into place, we look forward to our relationship becoming even stronger.”

“Having Drs. Holland and Pittman on campus was a great honor and a testament to the relationship we have with them and want to continue developing,” Miller said. “They had a great tour of the CME and discussed how manufacturing education here might play into research that ERDC is doing.”

UM is included in the elite group of R1: Doctoral Universities – Highest Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, the definitive list of the nation’s top doctoral research universities. The group, which includes Harvard, MIT and Johns Hopkins, represents 2.5 percent of institutions of higher education in the U.S.

CIS Professor Named Region 4 Adviser of the Year

Byunghyun Jang won the campus adviser award last year

Byung Jang (back row, center) and his students engage in cutting-edge excascale research. The assistant professor has won the NACADA Region 4 Excellence in Academic Advising Award. Submitted photo

Last year, Byunghyun Jang won the University of Mississippi’s Excellence in Advising award. As winner of the campus award, he was nominated for additional recognition through the National Association of Academic Advisors.

Now Jang is NACADA Region 4 winner of the Certificate of Merit for Excellence in Advising.

“It was a really big surprise as I never thought I deserved this award,” said the assistant professor of computer and information science. “I am very humbled by this award, and I feel like this award is given to tell me to improve my advising.”

Jang’s original nomination was made by his graduate and undergraduate research assistants.

“I was very pleased to see that students who work with me on a daily basis enjoy my advising and mentorship,” he said. “I always wanted my students to succeed in their study and research.”

Jang joined the UM engineering faculty five years ago. He teaches undergraduate and graduate computer architecture, compiler and high-performance parallel computing courses.

His research focuses on efficient co-design of software and hardware for high-performance and energy-efficient computing. He formerly had such projects with industry and government agencies such as Samsung, LG, MediaTek, the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Army.

“I believe that the CIS department at Ole Miss has great potential for growth, and my expertise in high-performance heterogeneous systems can have synergistic effect through collaboration with the faculty and students in the department and across the university,” Jang said. “My grand vision is to make the department and the School of Engineering a leading center for ‘exascale computing’ and to make the classroom full of excitement and motivation through practical teaching and research.”

Exascale computing refers to a computer system capable of reaching performance of at least one exaflop. Such capacity would represent a thousandfold increase over the existing petascale. (One exaflop is a thousand petaflops.  A petaflop is equal to a thousand million million operations per second.)

Jang has led efforts on several important projects in prominent companies in his field, including Advanced Micro Devices and Samsung. During his doctoral study, he won an AMD/ATI Ph.D. fellowship, which is awarded to only four doctoral students worldwide annually after rigorous project proposal review.

“I hope that by working with me, my students can have a deep understanding of current computer science and technology fields,” Jang said. “With good skills, hard work and by contributing to this field, they can succeed as engineers, researchers, professors and so forth.”

UM administrators congratulated Jang on his achievement.

“This is indeed good recognition and good news,” Dean Alex Cheng said. “What a wonderful and well deserved honor.”

“The National Academic Advising Association is the gold standard for research, publications and best practices within the profession of academic advising,” said Travis Hitchcock, assistant director for advising in the UM Center for Student Success and First-Year Experience. “To be recognized by them is a huge achievement for Dr. Jang and highlights the university’s commitment to facilitating a quality advising program.”

Jang earned his bachelor’s degree from Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul, South Korea. He earned his master’s degree at Oklahoma State University and his doctorate from Northeastern University.

Established in 1983, the NACADA Annual Awards Program for Academic Advising honors individuals and institutions making significant contributions to the improvement of academic advising. NACADA is a representative and advocate of academic advising and those providing that service to higher education.

The association has grown to more than 11,000 members and hosts an annual conference each fall that has attracted more than 3,000 attendees, as well as 10 regional conferences, international conferences and intensive study of advising through various other events held throughout the year. NACADA publishes a scholarly journal, a quarterly e-publication and occasional special publications.

For more about the Department of Computer and Information Science, go to or call 662-915-7396.


Co-Op Intern Yields Experience for CIS-Studio Art Major

Claire Hubacek spent summer working at Toyota

Claire Hubacek was a co-op intern at Toyota Mississippi last summer. Submitted photo

Last spring, Claire Hubacek attended the University of Mississippi Engineering, Manufacturing & Technology Career Fair on a mission: to find a co-op position. After meeting with representatives from Toyota at the event, the Flowood native received a call from the company a week later.

The senior, double majoring in computer science and studio art, was attracted to the opportunity with Toyota because it provided her a chance to branch out beyond her academic experiences.

“Toyota offered me an Information Systems/Information Technology Co-op,” Hubacek said. “At Toyota, I was excited to learn more ways to apply my knowledge in a real-life setting with hands-on experience and even more so to be able to work on projects that directly affect the rest of the company.”

As a co-op student, Hubacek was required to complete a Toyota Business Practice project. These TBP projects are designed to teach co-ops the “Toyota Way,” as well as problem-solving techniques that the company has used for decades to solve problems.

“My TBP assignment was reducing money wasted on repairing and maintaining a piece of information systems equipment used within the company,” she said.

Her main accomplishment at the company was identifying an issue that reduced repairs by 80 percent and establishing a chain of command for maintaining the equipment. Ultimately, her work stopped a problem that had cost Toyota more than $100,000 and saved the company at least $50,000 a year going forward.

Hubacek said she was proud to present the results of her project to the plant president, national information systems manager and North American CIO at the end of her co-op. While she found success, she faced several challenges, including those of implementing ideas in a large company as a paraprofessional.

“Executing changes in a company requires many different levels of approval and cooperation,” Hubacek said. “As a female in a factory setting who is at least 10 years younger than anyone I worked with, I had to communicate with a lot of different people and be absolutely certain in my ideas in order to get the support I needed to implement the changes and have their support to maintain those changes.”

Hubacek advises any student interested in a co-op experience to keep their grades in mind. Initially, she was surprised to find that Toyota would not consider any co-op applicants with less than a 3.0 GPA. She encourages potential co-op students to maintain a high standard of academic success to be competitive.

She also encourages students to attend career fairs and events hosted by the School of Engineering and the Career Center.

Overall, Hubacek had a great experience working with Toyota.

“As a computer programmer, taking this position really didn’t seem to fit with my career goals,” she said. “However, it was invaluable as an experience in engineering and working with a large company. It has additionally helped me refocus my future career goals in ways I didn’t expect.”

Hubacek is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Association of Computing Machinery and the university’s Mock Trial team. She has been selected for membership in Phi Kappa Phi society and Upsilon Pi Upsilon computer science honor society, and she is involved in Hip Hop Rebs and her sorority, Alpha Phi.

Following graduation in May, Hubacek hopes to go to law school to study intellectual property law to represent engineers who are also innovators.

Richard Chisolm Chosen MDOT Assistant Chief Engineer

1995 civil engineering alumnus served agency 22 years before latest promotion

Richard Chisolm, a 1995 civil engineering graduate, is assistant chief engineer for the Mississippi Department of Transportation. Submitted photo

Professional advancement is always cause for joy, and Richard Chisolm has much to smile about these days.

Since earning his civil engineering degree in 1995, the University of Mississippi alumnus has worked in the Mississippi Department of Transportation. Over more than two decades, the Madison resident has steadily been promoted from entry level engineer-in-training to his present position as assistant chief engineer in field operations.

“Assistant Chief Engineer Chisolm will have the responsibility of overseeing MDOT’s Construction, Maintenance and Traffic Engineering Divisions,” said Melinda McGrath, MDOT executive director. “Prior to his current role, he served as the state construction engineer, where he oversaw the administration of construction contracts throughout the state.”

Chisolm said he was very pleased to accept the new position and credits his Ole Miss engineering education for his career success.

“The most rewarding part is serving on numerous AASHTO committees and sharing and learning ideas from other states in regards to the transportation industry,” Chisolm said. “The strong fundamental principles learned at Ole Miss, along with the emphasis put on communicating your thoughts and ideas to others, have led me to where I am today.”

Originally from Lexington, Chisolm attended Holmes Community College for a year-and-a-half before transferring to Ole Miss, where he received a football scholarship.

“I was the punter for Ole Miss in 1991 and 1992,” he said.

Chisolm fondly recalled his favorite engineering professors and courses.

“Mustafa Abdulrahman (had) this unique ability to be able to explain things so that you could fully comprehend exactly what he was teaching,” he said. “Waheed Uddin always showed enthusiasm and used a ‘hands-on’ approach with his students.”

Civil engineering professor Uddin remembers Chisolm among the most talented group of students whom he had the privilege to teach during his early years at the university.

“I remember him as a dedicated student who excelled in my transportation and all other courses and continued outstanding performance in the professional life,” Uddin said. “I am very proud that Richard has been promoted in the important leadership position as assistant chief engineer at MDOT. His promotion brings recognition to Ole Miss engineering and serves as an exceptional role model for younger students and engineers.”

Chisolm and his wife, Bridgett, are parents of three children: Connor, Morgan and Matthew. His favorite past-times include keeping involved with his kids’ numerous sporting activities, hunting and watching Ole Miss sports. The family also is active in Madison United Methodist Church.