Electrical Engineering Alumnus Leads Stanford Wave Physics Laboratory

Jerry M. Harris is the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Geophysics

Electrical engineering alumnus Jerry M. Harris is the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Geophysics at Stanford University. Submitted photo

When it comes to terrestrial understanding, University of Mississippi alumnus Jerry Harris (BSEE 73) knows the lay of the land.

As the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Geophysics in the School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences at Stanford University, the Sardis native teaches geophysical courses and directs the Stanford Wave Physics Laboratory, a research group on campus.

“My group includes students, postdocs and research scientists,” said Harris, who also earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from the California Institute of Technology. “We work on seismic imaging for characterizing and monitoring Earth resources.”

Harris joined the Stanford faculty in 1988. During his tenure, he has served as chair of the Department of Geophysics, director of the Center for Computational Earth and Environmental Science, associate dean for academic affairs and associate dean for the Office of Multicultural Affairs, both in the School of Earth Sciences.

Prior to joining academia, Harris worked for 11 years in private industry with the Communications Satellite Corp., Exxon Production Research Co. and British Petroleum. He credited his continual career success to his beginnings at Ole Miss and described his career as a meandering stream rather than a pipeline.

“I chose Ole Miss because it was close to home and they offered me a band/music scholarship,” he said. “In high school, I liked building things, especially radios. Electrical engineering seemed like a good choice of major and had good job opportunities.”

Harris said his favorite engineering professor was Leonard Tsai.

“He was young, a minority and spoke the language of students,” he said. “His door was not just open; he invited me in to chat about academic issues and the social issues of the day, namely race relations on campus and in the country.

Other favorites of Harris were Chalmers Butler, with whom he did his senior thesis, and Damon Wall, who was “a friendly face” to all the students. They, and especially, Tsai influenced Harris’ career path.

“My undergraduate senior project on antennas gave rise to my interest in electromagnetics,” he said. “I went on to get a Ph.D. in electromagnetics from Caltech, though my interests shifted to wave propagation. My desire to become a professor was born from those chats with Leonard Tsai. While Ole Miss was not a very welcoming place for African American students in the early 1970s, Professor Tsai was a friendly voice in electrical engineering. Ole Miss Engineering not only prepared me academically but also helped to recognize the important role professors have in shaping the aspirations of students.”

Harris has received many honors and said they are meaningful for different reasons.

I hold the Cecil and Ida Green Endowed Chair in Geophysics. Cecil Green was an electrical engineer whose company, Geophysical Services Inc., contributed to the introduction of digital electronics to the petroleum industry,” Harris said. “GSI spun off the now powerhouse electronics company Texas Instruments. I’m proud to be an electrical engineer [like Green] who found his career path in the field of applied geophysics for the petroleum industry.”

Being named Distinguished Lecturer for the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, American Association of Petroleum Geologists and Society of Petroleum Engineers are other honors Harris found fulfilling.

“These honors recognize my contribution to the development of the field of crosswell seismic imaging and also for the importance of the field to the industry of reservoir geophysics,” Harris said. “Lastly is the Stanford University Diversity Award, which was awarded to me (as cognizant dean) and the Office of Multicultural Affairs, in recognition of the summer pathways program SURGE that has helped numerous undergraduates from underrepresented groups get admitted to top tier U.S. graduate schools.”

Harris met his wife, Claudia (who also has a Ph.D. in geophysics), during his visit to the Brazilian national oil company Petrobras. Their son, Marek, is an undergraduate at Stanford majoring in human biology and planning to go to medical school. His daughter, Rashida, is a marketing executive with AT&T in Atlanta.


Taiho Yeom Joins Mechanical Engineering Faculty

Assistant professor specializes in thermal-fluid sciences

Assistant professor Taiho Yeom brings his professional experience to the mechanical engineering department. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Taiho Yeom, the newest faculty member in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, said the University of Mississippi is the right fit for him.

“Like most of others applying for jobs, I found the position from job searching online websites and immediately realized that I would nicely fit into the position based on my career and research backgrounds,” said Yeom, who began his employment this past fall. “The position at Ole Miss came out looking for exactly what I had been looking for. Then I applied, and, thankfully, Dr. (Arunachalam) Rajendran (chair and professor of mechanical engineering) contacted and offered me the position.”

UM’s academic reputation, long history and tradition as the flagship university of Mississippi all played a part in Yeom’s decision to accept the offer.

“I thought that this is the great place where I can start my academic career,” he said.

Rajendran said Yeom is a welcome addition to the department.

“Our students will benefit through Dr. Yeom’s teaching of a very important subject such as thermal management as applied to electronic devices and other applications,” he said. “A mechanical engineer with some thermal management background and training will be able to work in a wide variety of industries; I am indeed excited about this opportunity.”

Originally from Gwangju, South Korea, Yeom said Oxford’s climate is similar to that of his homeland. Having earned his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Ajou University in South Korea, he migrated to the United States to seek master’s and Ph.D. degrees. Yeom received the former from Oklahoma State University and the latter from the University of Minnesota. Both degrees are also in mechanical engineering.

“After my Ph.D., I joined Seagate Technology, one of the largest data storage companies, in Minnesota as a senior mechanical engineer,” Yeom said. “I worked on developing (a) next-generation recording head assembly that consists of elaborate micro-scale actuators and sensors focusing on improving structural and dynamic characteristics of the system.”

While Yeom enjoyed his experience at Seagate, he said he missed the research in thermal and fluid sciences he’d conducted in graduate school.

“I always wanted to go back to my original specialty area because I did not want to waste my skills and knowledge that I achieved during almost the entirety of my graduate school years,” Yeom said. “Since I had been struggling a lot in the very cold Minnesota weather for many years, the weather was another reason I wanted a change.”

When his wife, Sohye Lee, became an assistant professor in the College of Nursing at the University of Memphis right after he received the offer from “Dr. Raj,” Yeom knew he had to accept the position.

“That was the final stamp on our decision process,” he said. “Now, I am commuting from Collierville (Tennessee) for about an hour, twice per day, enjoying the beautiful weather and scenery.”

As a tenure-track assistant professor, Yeom is teaching Fluid Mechanics and Heat Transfer this spring semester. He expects to teach other courses in thermal-fluid areas such as Compressible Flow and Thermodynamics.

“My research interest lies in the area of thermal-fluid sciences with a special emphasis on developing novel methods of thermal management and energy conversion systems,” Yeom said.

“The research in thermal management will try to answer the question of how to effectively remove heat from various scales engineering systems employing a variety of cooling techniques, such as piezoelectric active air cooling, microstructured surfaces and multiphase interchip cooling. The research in energy conversion will focus on improving conversion efficiency of pyroelectric devices by employing nano-engineered novel structures.”

Yeom’s short-term career goals at Ole Miss are to initiate teaching activities, look for external funding opportunities and set up his research lab.

“I will try to publish (in) high-impact journals and expose my research to the relevant academic communities,” he said. “Seeking good collaborations will be essential in developing early stages of my research programs. I will put efforts in developing teaching materials and formats to provide improved quality of education to students.”

His long-term goal is to become a recognized researcher and educator in his field so he can contribute to elevating the reputation of the mechanical engineering department, School of Engineering and Ole Miss.

Of Yeom’s professional achievements, he said becoming a faculty member at Ole Miss is the most gratifying.

“It became a turning point in my life, which otherwise would have gone for a completely different direction,” Yeom said. “It will give me a variety of opportunities to achieve what I have been trying to do. I hope to get more great achievements, honors and awards as I walk through my career.”

Yeom and Lee have two sons, Jihoon and Jio. The family enjoys traveling, reading books, swimming, fishing and exercising.


Chinelo Ibekwe Named West Africa Rhodes Semifinalist

Chemical engineering senior is also seeking Gates Cambridge Scholarship

Chinelo Ibekwe, a senior chemical engineering major and student in the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence, has applied for both Rhodes and Cambridge scholarships. Submitted photo

University of Mississippi senior Chinelo Ibekwe was recently named a Rhodes Scholarships for West Africa semifinalist.

The Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College student was among 65 candidates selected for the semifinal round from 2,948 applicants. Ibekwe interviewed via Skype with judges in Lagos, Nigeria, in mid-November 2017.

“We had good conversations about my background and my interest in the Rhodes Scholarship,” said the chemical engineering major from Nigeria. “I did not move on to the final round of 15 finalists. However, I am currently applying for the Gates Cambridge Scholarship and will receive news in March 2018.”

Ibekwe said she is also applying to graduate schools in the U.S. for further study in health-related fields. She seeks to modernize her country’s health care system to help overcome its technology infrastructure challenges.

“I am also open to global health fellowships in African countries and job opportunities in health care companies,” Ibekwe said. “My long-term goal is to work in the Nigerian Ministry of Health and to help foster technology innovation in our health care sector.”

Ibekwe is also a student in the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence and has worked with the UM chapter of Engineers Without Borders in Togo, West Africa. She has done two internships with Goldman Sachs. In addition, Ibekwe interned with Mars Food Co. and took a year off to work for Medtronic. She also was a summer public policy fellow at Princeton University and a summer pre-MBA student in the Tuck Business Bridge Program organized by the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.

Ibekwe is writing her honors thesis about health policies that affect nursing mothers in the Mississippi Delta region. She chose her major, her research topic and her internships to prepare her to return to Nigeria, where she would like to be the minister of health one day.

“Chinelo has been deliberate in designing an interdisciplinary academic and co-curricular experience, from chemical engineering to manufacturing, visits with health care professionals during winter breaks, internships in finance, food production and medical device development, and, most recently, a summer institute focusing on public policy,” said Toni Avant, director of UM’s Career Center and Ibekwe’s adviser. “I have never seen a student more dedicated to reaching her career goal.”

The West Africa Rhodes Scholarship was introduced in 2017 to identify and support innovative young leaders in West Africa. Students selected for the West Africa Rhodes will receive scholarships for tuition and living expenses to study at the University of Oxford in fall 2018. The Rhodes Trust, established in 1903, selects creative young leaders with a commitment to serving others.

Since 1903, it has “convened a community of extraordinary people who share a history of enriching their communities, pioneering in their chosen fields, and applying the knowledge and experience acquired as scholars for the betterment of society,” according to Charles Conn, chief executive officer of the Rhodes Trust. The Rhodes Scholarship selection committees seek students of outstanding intellect, character, leadership and commitment to service.


Pigford Recalls BSU’s Proud Tradition of Uniting Student Groups

Former president uses leadership lessons learned at UM to help others

Kezia Pigford

OXFORD, Miss. – Being part of the “Turn Your Back on Hate” campaign at the University of Mississippi was a defining moment for Kezia Pigford.

Pigford, a native of Hattiesburg who graduated from UM in 2005 with a marketing communications degree, served as president of the Black Student Union during the 2003-04 school year. She was part of the “Turn Your Back on Hate” movement, which was an approach to confronting controversial speakers on campus.

This tactic involved students lining up to protest hateful speakers, but instead of yelling at them or holding signs, students peacefully turned their backs. 

“This was the turning point for me,” Pigford said. “I decided BSU was the organization I wanted to be part of. They really were interested in equality and coming together with all members of the Ole Miss student body to make things better.

“Watching how they handled adversity and handled it professionally was inspiring.” 

The university’s BSU, founded in 1968, celebrates its 50th anniversary with events throughout the 2017-18 academic year. The group’s golden birthday will culminate with a gala in February 2018. 

Throughout the period of celebration, past presidents, former members and current students will be profiled on the BSU website and on the UM website. Special anniversary content on social media can also be found using the hashtag #UMBSU50.

Pigford got involved with the group her sophomore year, and going into her junior year, she was encouraged to run for BSU president. As the group’s leader, she focused on the BSU mission of making sure that everyone always felt welcome. 

“The BSU made it known that we were all welcome here and that yes, this present is for you to make it what you want it to be,” Pigford said. “BSU is a place of acceptance and comfort.

“It also pushed me to step out into campus and let me know I didn’t just have to be in BSU and be withdrawn. BSU is the vehicle to show all the possibilities at Ole Miss.” 

While serving as president, she found herself thrust into a more active leadership role than most BSU presidents have because that year, the Associated Student Body president was removed from office, leaving a large leadership void on campus. Taking on these roles gave her valuable leadership experience, including becoming better at public speaking, she said. 

Jacqueline Certion, coordinator of enrollment and advising for UM’s Foundations for Academic Success Track, worked at the university when Pigford was in school. Pigford considers her a mentor, along with Val Ross, director of the UM Office of Leadership and Advocacy

Certion, who also served as Pigford’s Sigma Gamma Rho adviser, draws from a Douglas MacArthur quote when remembering her.

“A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions and the compassion to listen to the needs of others,” MacArthur said. “He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.”

Pigford epitomizes this quote, Certion said. 

“Kezia was a passionate leader,” Certion said. “Her ability to connect with diverse populations made her a wonderful asset to every organization in which she served. She led by example, therefore making it easy for those who followed.”

Pigford teaches elementary math and science in Bossier City, Louisiana, which she said she enjoys because she gets to affect the lives of her students, just like she was able to affect the lives of Ole Miss students. She said some of the lessons she learned at UM find their way into her classroom these days. 

“It does matter what has happened, but you can’t let it define you,” Pigford said. “You have to channel it and use it. The question is, what are you going to do with what you have now and the opportunities that are there for you in the future.

“I want to help those who are younger than me move forward in a positive direction and know they can overcome any adversity.”

Matt O’Keefe to Lead Center for Manufacturing Excellence

Expanded undergraduate program, new graduate program among goals for new executive director

Matthew J. O’Keefe has been hired as the executive director of UM’s Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence. Submitted photo by Sam O’Keefe/Missouri S&T.

OXFORD, Miss. — With decades of professional and research experience, Matthew J. O’Keefe was named the new executive director of the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence at the University of Mississippi.

A Rolla, Missouri, native, O’Keefe will start at CME Jan. 1. In addition to administrative oversight of personnel, facilities and operations, he is responsible for leading the academic unit of the CME (including curriculum development), providing leadership and strategic guidance for the center, and developing strong relationships within the university and with industry to enhance opportunities for students and faculty.

“I was very honored and grateful for the opportunity to be associated with such an outstanding program and university,” said O’Keefe, who earned his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees (both in metallurgical engineering) from Missouri University of Science and Technology and the University of Illinois, respectively.

William Nicholas, UM assistant director of Insight Park, who chaired the search committee, shared how important it was to find someone of O’Keefe’s caliber to lead the CME, which is a recognized asset for the future growth of advanced manufacturing in Mississippi.

“Matt O’Keefe brings exceptional experience and skills to ensure that the CME continues developing synergies with the business community resulting in long-term economic impact,” Nicholas said.

O’Keefe began his career as a manufacturing engineer at AT&T Microelectronics. He transferred to AT&T Bell Laboratories, where he conducted applied research and development for manufacturing locations. O’Keefe earned his Ph.D. while working for the Air Force Research Laboratory and continued in-house research and program management before taking a faculty position at his undergraduate alma mater.

Before joining UM, O’Keefe was an academic department chair, a research center director and assistant vice chancellor supervising the campus distance education program at Missouri S&T.

“In many ways, each of these positions have prepared me to lead CME,” O’Keefe said. “I applied for the position for many reasons, but the main one was that it is a unique program that provides an opportunity for students in accountancy, business and engineering to learn and work together in an area of national need: manufacturing. The curriculum that CME students experience provides a breadth to their major degree program that prepares them to have successful careers and enhance the manufacturing industry.”

O’Keefe’s goals include augmenting the existing program by increasing undergraduate student participation and developing a graduate program focused on helping to develop the local, state and national manufacturing professional workforce.

“People are the most important asset of any organization, and for educational institutions it is the success of students that is paramount,” he said. “To achieve student success and grow the undergraduate program, as well as initiate a graduate program, will take additional staff and faculty along with keeping the facilities state of the art.”

UM administrators are pleased to welcome O’Keefe to the university.

“Dr. O’Keefe is an accomplished engineering faculty member and administrator who brings valuable perspectives to the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence,” said Noel Wilkin, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. “We are fortunate to have him as the leader of this center, which has outstanding faculty and staff. We look forward to the CME reaching the next level of success under his leadership.”

“Over the years, the unique CME program has attracted and graduated many outstanding engineering students who are equipped with not only the traditional technical skills, but also the practical manufacturing experiences and business and management knowledge,” said Alex Cheng, dean of the School of Engineering. “It has been one of the most important resources that raised the quality of engineering education at the university. I am pleased that Dr. O’Keefe, a highly experienced educator and administrator, will take the helm of this important organization to further raise its level of success.”

CME was established in June 2008 to provide unique opportunities for students interested in manufacturing. The opportunities developed are considered distinctive to the CME and are not available to undergraduate students at other universities in the United States. The CME is developing interdisciplinary educational opportunities within an innovative academic learning model that provides students with the practical experiences, fundamental knowledge and creative skill sets needed to lead the world of modern manufacturing.

Though he has received many professional honors and awards, O’Keefe said he is most pleased to have received those that were student nominated or selected.

“It is great to be recognized by your peers, professional societies and institution, but student recognition is the most enjoyable and rewarding,” he said.

O’Keefe and his wife, Laura, have two married sons: Patrick (Megan) of Kansas City, Missouri, and Sam (Shelby) of Rolla, Missouri, and two grandchildren: Kennedy and Will. O’Keefe’s hobbies include golf and following sports. He is a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals’ fan.


New School of Engineering Recruitment Video on YouTube

Students describe close community, experiential learning

Dear Friends,
Please see below for Ole Miss Engineering’s latest video, which focuses on the school’s unique liberal arts-anchored and experiential-learning-enhanced programs, as described by its students.
If you agree with the school’s education philosophy and like the video, please share it with prospective students and their families by forwarding the link, tweeting and/or posting it on Facebook and other social media.

Please contact Ryan Upshaw, assistant dean, if you have or know of students who are interested in pursuing a degree in engineering here at the university. He can be contacted via phone at 662-915-7007 or email at rlupshaw@olemiss.edu.


Civil Engineering Alumnus Is VP of Sales at Nansemond

Kelly Holloman credits UM education with concrete career

Kelly Holloman (left) discusses work with NPCC founder (and fellow UM alumnus) Doug McConnell. Submitted photo.

Kelly Holloman has served steadily in the construction industry since earning his civil engineering degree from the University of Mississippi in 1994.

Before becoming vice president of sales at Nansemond Pre-Cast Concrete Co. in Suffolk, Virginia, Holloman was a senior project manager for Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, a planning and design firm in the Richmond and Hampton Roads areas of Virginia for 15 years. There, he mainly specialized in land development engineering, focusing on port-related industrial projects, as well as residential and retail projects.

“While growing up, I had two much-older brothers-in-law that were engineers,” said Holloman, who is originally from Enfield, North Carolina. “They encouraged me to go to engineering school, but I chose to attend East Carolina University and major in economics. I received that degree in 1990.”

Following graduation, the economy experienced a slight downturn, so Holloman decided to return to school and major in civil engineering. He selected UM for its relatively small engineering school and student-to-faculty ratio.

“As a student, one of my favorite classes was Rock Mechanics with Dr. Nolan Aughenbaugh,” he said. “He was a real pleasant guy who loved his subject matter. He was always interjecting his experiences into the lectures. We students kind of viewed him as a James Bond type of character – if James Bond had been an engineer.”

Holloman named several favorite engineering faculty at Ole Miss, including the late Charles Smith Sr., chair emeritus and professor emeritus of electrical engineering, and Kenneth Stead Jr., assistant professor emeritus of civil engineering.

“Unlike other programs, civil engineers at Ole Miss have to take the same Circuits class that the electrical engineers take,” Holloman said. “Dr. Smith was always willing to take the time to make sure us civil majors got it.”

Holloman remembers Stead giving him a solid piece of advice.

“[He] told us, ‘Engineering is like baseball, and at Ole Miss, we’re going to teach you how to throw, hit and catch,” he said. “If you can throw, hit and catch, you can play shortstop today, maybe pitch tomorrow, and outfield if needed.’”

That is exactly what Holloman’s Ole Miss experience provided him, he said.

“It has given me the technical skill set, the ability to think like an engineer and the confidence to complete different types of engineering projects throughout my 23-year career. I believe this is because of my Ole Miss education.”

Holloman said he considers being a licensed professional engineer in both Virginia and North Carolina his most satisfying professional achievement.

“It validates the educational process I had to work hard to complete,” he said. “I am also grateful for being an Eagle Scout.”

Holloman’s family includes his four sisters, four nieces, five nephews and a great-niece. His leisure activities include golfing, fishing, hunting and reading history.

“I enjoy boat building and have built five boats,” Holloman said. “My first boat was the canoe for our ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) student chapter while at Ole Miss.”



UM United Campaign Way Underway

Goal is $150,000 for annual fundraiser to benefit LOU community

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi annual United Way campaign is underway with a goal of raising at least $150,000 of the United Way’s $525,000 communitywide goal.

“Oxford has recently lost several large businesses, and this impacts both our ability to raise funds and the people that need United Way assistance,” said Lucile McCook, instructional professor and curator of the Pullen Herbarium who serves as co-chair of the campus campaign with University Police Officer Thelma Curry. “It is my hope that you will all speak with your colleagues about the importance of United Way and encourage them to give to the workplace campaign.”

The university accounts for about 30 percent of the community fundraising goal.

“Our local United Way is proud to partner with the University of Mississippi in order to improve lives and meet needs throughout the Lafayette-Oxford-University community,” said Kurt Brummett, executive director of United Way of Oxford-Lafayette County.

“The university’s support is vital to our mission and I sincerely appreciate all of our donors, volunteers, partners and advocates on campus, as our organization cannot make such a significant difference in the lives of others without their generosity and dedication.”

Committee members encourage university employees to participate in Fair Share, Associate or Leadership giving plans. Fair Share givers contribute one hour’s wages each month to the United Way. Associate givers donate $250 to $499. Leadership givers contribute at least $500.

Ninety-nine percent of the money raised for United Way stays in Lafayette County to help fund 16 or more local charities, including American Red Cross of North Mississippi, Boys & Girls Clubs of North Mississippi, Dignity Period Oxford, Doors of Hope Transition Ministries, Exchange Club Family Center, Family Crisis Services of Northwest Mississippi, Girl Scouts Heart of the South, Good Food for Oxford Schools, Horizons at the University of Mississippi, Interfaith Compassion Ministry, Lafayette County Literacy Council, Leap Frog Program, LOU Saves, North Mississippi Kidney Foundation, Oxford Community Market, Special Olympics Mississippi – Area IV and Three Rivers Planning and Development District.

“A donation to the United Way of Oxford-Lafayette County provides the means to touch every age group and demographic in our community,” Brummett said. “All funding decisions are locally driven and our award process ensures accountability as applicants must demonstrate the positive outcomes of their programs as well as the severity of the needs being addressed.”

“Your contribution will truly make a difference,” McCook said. “For example, a gift of only $5 per pay period provides four children a free book each month. A gift of $10 per pay period provides 100 healthy meals for homebound seniors. A gift of $25 per pay period can provide food to a family of four for a month.”

All Ole Miss employees receive pledge cards, allowing them to pay gifts in full or in installments through payroll deduction. Other giving options include text-to-give, online donations, intradepartmental competitions and student organization-led events.

“Regardless of the method or amount, please give,” McCook said. “Thank you for believing in our local United Way’s mission and your assistance in making our LOU community a great place to live.”

For more information, contact Brummett at 662-236-4265 or at Kurt@unitedwayoxfordms.org.

Still Time for Tailgating around Brevard Hall

Sponsorships available for next season's home football games

Students, alumni, faculty and friends of the University of Mississippi School of Engineering enjoy tailgating in the Circle in front of Brevard Hall. Submitted photo by Ryan Upshaw.

As if life is not grand enough in the world of Ole Miss Engineering, during the fall semester, there is an added element of football, free food, outstanding student organizations, wonderful alumni, faculty and staff, friends and prospective students all converging on a premier real estate spot on the Circle.

Multiple red and blue tents provide cover for the Brevard Hall School of Engineering tailgate! The event is complete with big-screen game coverage and plenty of live color commentary. It’s always a fun and memorable game-day Saturday when spending it with your engineering friends at the tent or just stopping by on your way to the game.

Master chef/engineering professor Greg Easson continues the tradition of serving a few hundred of our closest friends who come to the tent for some of the finest game-day food available on campus.

“It was very cool to come to the engineering tent for the South Alabama game,” said David Prather, a high school senior from Oxford. “The food was great, and I got to talk to several engineering students and even the dean.”

Ryan Upshaw, assistant dean for student services, organizes student participation to cover football season.

“We can’t thank Dr. Easson enough for all the work he does to make sure each game is a win for engineering,” Upshaw said. “We’re probably enjoying a winning record of about 70-0 at this point!”

Two generous sponsors for the School of Engineering tailgate tent claimed their dates for the 2017 season. The Asset Co. of Canton is sponsoring the Nov. 11 game along with its tailgate host, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or IEEE, chapter. And BorgWarner of Water Valley sponsored the Oct. 21 game along with its host, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, or AIChE, chapter. 

If you would like to be a $1,000 sponsor next year, please email marni@olemiss.edu. We would be happy to hang a banner with your name on it.

Alumni and friends, join us anytime. Thank you to all of our student organizations for helping make football season special in the School of Engineering, including AIChE, IEEE, the Engineering Student Body, Engineers Without Borders, Society of Women Engineers, Tau Beta Pi and American Society of Civil Engineers.

Hotty Toddy from Brevard Hall!

Engineering Students Take Study USA Intersession Course in New York City

Civil engineering professor guides class to close-up of bridges, sites in the Big Apple

Christopher Mullen (center) stands with his students in front of the area where the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers once stood. Submitted photo

During May 2017 intersession, seven University of Mississippi civil engineering students ventured to New York City as enrollees of a new course titled “Bridges of New York.” The first offering proved to be an adventure in many respects for all involved.

“The idea for the course grew out of a bridge engineering course I taught the year before,” said Chris Mullen, UM associate professor of civil engineering. “I’d worked in Manhattan a number of years before beginning my academic career and thought that my excitement about the topic would be best shared and explored firsthand.”

Participant Tennant Duckworth agreed, finding it “a wonderful experience both in terms of academic knowledge and life experience.”

“Walking around the city helped to reinforce the topics covered in class,” he said. “Meeting with the various professionals and professors living and working in New York City was a great experience to gather a greater idea of the scope of the projects.”

The course was structured through a proposal submitted to UM’s Study USA program. After the idea was approved, a detailed agenda was mapped out with program director Laura Antonow, who had received her M.F.A. degree at Parsons School of Design in New York.

“It was decided to spend three days on campus preparing for the trip and a full week in New York City,” Mullen said. “While the focus would be on site visits to major bridges, time would be spent meeting with engineering professionals, with a number of museum visits and tours to provide cultural exposure.”

Before traveling, the class met for four hours each of the three days on campus to review structural engineering concepts related to bridge analysis, design, technology and maintenance. Textbook and assigned reading selections provided historical context and details of individual bridges, some of which the students visited.

UM engineering students listen as professor Andrew Smyth (right) gives them an overview of the Carleton Laboratory at Columbia University. Submitted photo

A variety of technical assignments were given including research on travel times to traverse multimodal transportation routes, design calculations for main cables of suspension bridges, live loads for locomotives, and influence lines for shear and moment in beam girders.

“After traveling on their own the night before, the class literally hit the ground running the first day,” Mullen said. “The class departed the hotel at 9 a.m., caught a subway from Grand Central Terminal to Brooklyn Bridge station, walked the milelong trek on the bike/pedestrian promenade across the bridge and down to Brooklyn Bridge Park and caught another subway that passed through a tunnel under the East River back to Manhattan.”

The group then listened to an hourlong presentation by young bridge project engineers in the offices of WAI, a major consulting firm located on Wall Street, caught yet another subway to Times Square, walked a half mile to Pier 83, took a one-and-a-half-hour Hudson and East River cruise on the Circle Line multilevel vessel around Lower Manhattan, passed under three historic East River suspension bridges, reversed their walk back to Times Square, passed the Port Authority bus terminal and returned to Grand Central Terminal and the hotel.

“The entire first day, they walked a total of over 20,000 steps in one day, according to one student’s fitness tracker,” Mullen said.

After the first day, the rest of the week flew by. The class became experts in subway travel by the third day and were able to enjoy many sites on their own at the end of each day including a number of museums.

The second day was a bit more relaxed and included a morning tour of the One World Observatory at the top of the Freedom Tower, which afforded views of all of Manhattan, the Hudson and East rivers, and the New York Bay, as well as the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, the newly completed Oculus and World Trade Center Transportation Hub, and the Tribeca Bridge.

“Visits to the George Washington and Tappan Zee bridges were spread over subsequent days,” Mullen said. “On route to the GWB, the class visited the main campus of Columbia University and received a guided tour of the Carleton Laboratory inside the

UM civil engineering professor Christopher Mullen (center) shares a moment with the project manager for the replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge. Submitted photo

multistory engineering building.

The tour was led by a civil engineering professor who explained details of a unique test apparatus for a full-scale bridge cable, a moderate scale shake table he used for his research, and a loading machine capable of applying nearly a million pounds of force to bridge components.”

After lunch at Chelsea Market, the class traveled by chartered van to the New York Thruway Authority project office for the new New York (now Mario Cuomo) Bridge that carries Thruway traffic along a 3.2-mile crossing of the Hudson River. Weather prohibited access to the actual construction site, but the class saw a detailed presentation of the complete design and construction of the bridge including novel cost-saving techniques for prefabrication of deck and piers, delivery by river, and installation by dedicated derrick barge moored at the site.

“The final day was capped by a relaxed breakfast at the Princeton Club,” Mullen said. “Those who did (not) have morning flights were treated to an informal discussion with a world-class structural engineering expert who asked them some very challenging questions relating to the future of the profession.”