NCCHE Software System Provides Real-Time Solutions during Floods

Cutting-edge technology used to predict flows and estimate consequences when dams, levees fail

Members of the National Center for Computational Hydroscience and Engineering research team collaborate on the latest user request on the DSS-WISE Lite software the team created for dam and levee failure projections. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – A cutting-edge software program developed by scientists at the University of Mississippi is proving beneficial in dam- and levee-breach flood predictions and preparations across the country.

Researchers at UM’s National Center for Computational Hydroscience and Engineering created DSS-WISE Lite, a web-based, automated and fully geographic information systems-integrated, two-dimensional dam- and levee-break flood modeling and mapping system.

With resolutions from 20 feet to 200 feet, the free system is being accessed by users from the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters, 10 FEMA regional offices, stakeholder federal agencies and state dam safety offices.

“Since its startup 10 months ago, the system handled more than 1,800 simulations,” said Mustafa Altinakar, NCCHE director and research professor. “There are currently 200 users from all over the U.S., and the number of users is growing fast.”

By using the web-based system, vetted users can easily set up and run simulations of varying scenarios in the event of a dam or levee failure and obtain outcomes. The results, including fully GIS-compatible maps, are being returned to the user within a half-hour in 73 percent of the cases and within two hours in 90 percent of the cases.

“The challenge is to get these calculations in real time in order to best facilitate emergency action plans,” Altinakar said. “This is a truly unique system. There’s no system like this anywhere else in the world.”

An example of the system’s use is when a steady barrage of storms in early 2017 resulted in serious damage to the Lake Oroville spillways north of Sacramento, California, which included a concrete failure on the lower chute of the gated flood control spillway. The California Department of Water Resources used DSS-WISE Lite extensively during the incident to generate emergency flood mapping so it could prepare appropriate emergency response plans. 

NCCHE is partnering with Argonne National Laboratory in the U.S. Department of Energy to add a new module to the DSS-WISE Lite system for estimating potential human consequences of dam- or levee-break floods. This new module provides population-at-risk and loss-of-life analyses – based on the USBR method – and flood-risk mapping.

“This system is so well designed that you don’t have to be an expert engineer in order to set it up and run it,” said Marcus McGrath, a research associate at NCCHE. “It literally won’t let you make a mistake.”

Computational models forecasting the effects of flooding on Texas should various categories of hurricanes strike played a major role in dealing with Hurricane Harvey and several earlier disaster forecasts.

“The system can compute many different dam- and levee-failures scenarios very quickly,” said Vijay Ramalingam, NCCHE research scientist. “It has proven to have the necessary computational speed to serve during actual emergencies.”

Because DSW-WISE Lite involves multiple web connections, the research scientists carry out frequent penetration tests to prevent cyber attacks. The system also is designed to suspend computations and then resume them in event of electrical power outages on campus.

“Our team conducts tabletop exercises and teaches short courses on how to use the system,” said Paul Smith, coordinator of computing facilities at NCCHE. “So far, we have four different locations scheduled for courses in 2018.”

During the 2017 hurricane season, Altinakar and his team were busy assisting various federal and state agencies by running emergency simulations and responding to technical questions.

“Our team is truly dedicated,” Altinakar said. “Whenever we receive a call for our help, we respond on the dot, knowing that accurate and timely information yielded by the system can literally save lives.”

Lawrence Anderson, Third African-American to Graduate from UM Engineering School, Reflects on Achievements

Electrical engineering alumnus has enjoyed long, successful career in paper, pulp industry

Lawrence (Larry) Anderson received his electrical engineering degree from the University of Mississippi in 1972. Submitted photo

Lawrence (Larry) Anderson (BSEE 72) has successfully navigated a career in manufacturing operations and both domestic and international sales with multinational companies. Retired since 2013, the Jackson native quickly credits much of his career accomplishments to his personal growth while earning an electrical engineering degree at the University of Mississippi.

Fifty years ago, Anderson was one of a handful of African-American students on campus following the integration of the institution by James Meredith six years earlier. Attending the university wasn’t a decision he immediately embraced, but he became the third African-American to graduate from the School of Engineering.

Why Ole Miss?

“During the civil rights era, I was encouraged to attend the university after a recruiter visited Brinkley High School,” he said. “I enrolled with five students from my segregated senior class. Dr. Donald Cole (UM assistant provost and associate professor of mathematics) was a classmate of mine.”

A friend since childhood, Cole said that he and Anderson were like ‘peas in a pod’ who would either excel together or fail together.

“We were not only classmates; we were friends who always enjoyed each other’s company,” Cole said. “Lawrence was always the ‘smart one’ in the group who set the pace for the rest. We complemented one another and helped each other in those difficult classes.”

Cole said Anderson was a hard worker who would never give up, and he was not surprised by his friend’s success.

“He learned from every mistake, every subtle error and every mishap,” he said. “He was excellent at studying and performing under pressure and meeting deadlines. … His calm demeanor always provided rational decisions even in heated situations. We have remained friends over the years and, to this day, I appreciate the excellent advice that he renders.”

Anderson said he remembers his Ole Miss professors liked to give homework but were supportive.

“The entire staff was supportive of minority students, including Dean (Frank) Anderson,” he said. “Considering what other minority students faced in other schools at the university, the engineering school stood out as very receptive.”

Anderson said he chose electrical engineering as his major because he had an uncle who was an engineer for Lockheed Martin in California. His math background and aptitude proved to be a good match. When he graduated, he was also commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army.

“Graduating with a degree from Ole Miss went far beyond giving me the technical skills to compete in the workplace,” Anderson said. “I developed the soft skills and EQ (emotional intelligence) needed to work in a changing and competitive social environment. Both sets of skills continue to serve me well.”

After graduating from college, Anderson spent two years on active duty at Fort Belvoir and Fort Hood. He was hired by Procter and Gamble Cellulose after leaving the military. At P&G’s Perry, Florida, facility, he held a series of operational and manufacturing roles. Each role was unique in that he was the first African-American supervisor for which the mill employees had ever worked.

He got a chance to move closer to home in Memphis, where he was responsible for the development of maintenance systems for four plant locations and also became superintendent of the cotton linter pulp mill operations.

He moved into sales as the first African-American sales manager for P&G and established a solid reputation as he became highly proficient in both domestic and international sales and marketing. He effectively marketed and launched Champion International Paper’s first wet lap product line and was recognized by executive leadership for strategic excellence in sales in the company’s annual report.

As an international sales manager for Buckeye Cellulose, Anderson developed the business case for Buckeye to purchase a cotton linter mill in Brazil. He also was the specialty fiber sales manager for South America and Asia. He later worked as a senior sales manager for Weyerhaeuser, where he was the global account manager for Procter and Gamble, the largest account for the company.

Anderson retired as the director of technical services for the pulp business at Weyerhaeuser Co. in Federal Way, Washington. In this role, he was responsible for leading a global team of technical representatives that represented both customer and manufacturing interests and supported research and development of new products.

He also retired from the Army Reserve Corps of Engineers as a lieutenant colonel.

“My military experience was invaluable in my leadership development and personal success,” he said.

Reflecting on his professional achievements, Anderson said two stand out in his mind as the most fulfilling.

“Being inducted into the Eta Kappa Nu electrical engineering honor society is definitely at the top of my list,” Anderson said. “Considering the bumpy journey and environment that was present at Ole Miss from 1968 through 1972, this recognition appeared to be an improbable achievement.”

“Second, was being hired as the first African-American pulp sales manager with national and international accounts,” he said. “Being in a position on private planes to facilitate discussions with senior executives from several companies was a ‘pinch myself’ moment. For sure, I was a long way from Kansas.”

Anderson is married to Dorothy Anderson, a Vanderbilt University alumna with an Ed.D. degree in human development counseling. She is a licensed certified mental health counselor and supervisor. Anderson has two sons: Lawrence, a University of Memphis graduate with a degree in computer science; and Kofi, a 2004 Ole Miss graduate with a bachelor’s degree in English who earned his Ed.D. from Seattle University. His daughter, Erica, is deceased.

Anderson named golfing, boating and Rotary as his leisure and volunteer activities. He has also served on the UM School of Engineering Alumni Advisory Board.

For more information about the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Mississippi, visit https://engineering.olemiss.edu/electrical/.

 

 

 

Two Mechanical Engineering Students Named Inaugural Hino Motors Scholars

David Biggs and Manny Dhaliwal benefit from financial and professional support

UM students David Biggs (left) and Manny Dhaliwal are the inaugural recipients of the Hino Motors Scholarship. Submitted photo by Kennedy Grazer

Two mechanical engineering students at the University of Mississippi are the inaugural recipients of the Hino Motors Scholarship.

Senior David Biggs of Norman, Oklahoma, and junior Manny Dhaliwal of Silver Creek, Mississippi, each received the awards last fall. The scholarships were created following a 2015 meeting in which representatives of Hino Motors Manufacturing Inc. contacted the UM School of Engineering in hopes of providing a combination of scholarship and professional development opportunities to students.

The intent of the award is to identify students with leadership potential and interest in the automotive manufacturing industry. Scholarship recipients have the opportunity to complete an internship with the company, located in Marion, Arkansas.

“We are thankful for the opportunity to partner with Hino Motors,” said Ryan Upshaw, assistant dean for student services. Upshaw oversees the selection of the scholarship recipients and serves as a liaison with Hino Motors staff.

“This is a unique opportunity for students to benefit from financial and professional support while completing their undergraduate degree. Manny and David have been excellent representatives of the school, and we look forward to selecting a new scholarship recipient this spring,” Upshaw said.

Before receiving the award, Biggs had the opportunity to visit the Hino facility and learn more about the company’s operations. He said he appreciates Hino’s support.

“The Hino scholarship allowed me to focus fully on my studies,” Biggs said. “To pay for books and various other expenses, I often had to take on jobs and use up time that could go toward volunteer work, extracurricular activity or studying.

“With the scholarship, I was given the funds to put my full weight into school and truly work towards what I believe I can achieve. I will always be grateful to Hino for providing me that opportunity.”

A member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Biggs is slated to graduate in May. His plans are to either work as a supplier engineer in Tucson, Arizona, or to work as a junior developer in his hometown.

Dhaliwal, who is a student in the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence, also said he appreciates the opportunities Hino provided.

“When I found out I received the Hino scholarship and summer internship, I was ecstatic beyond belief,” Dhaliwal said. “When I received the award, I felt blessed because Hino saw value in my diligent work ethic and personality.”

In addition to receiving the scholarship, Dhaliwal had the opportunity to intern with Hino last summer.

“My internship experience with Hino was great,” he said. “The employees at Hino are very friendly and helpful. I enjoyed working alongside the engineers and other interns there. There is strong influence of Japanese culture at Hino, which permeates into how they operate as a company. It was truly an experience I will not forget.”

Dhaliwal also credits his internship experience with helping him develop both soft and technical skills that will benefit him as he prepares for a career in engineering. He hopes to complete another summer internship before his senior year. After graduation, he plans to keep working in the industry for several years and eventually pursue a master’s degree.

 

Colby Kimmel Named Mississippi Engineering Society’s 2018 Young Engineer of the Year

UM civil engineering alumna works as project manager at Mississippi Department of Transportation

UM civil engineering alumna Colby Kimmel (right) receives the MES Young Engineer of the Year Award from her supervisor, Richard Pittman, MDOT roadway project engineer. Submitted photo

Much like the roads she helps design, Colby Willis Kimmel (BSCE 08) goes the extra mile.

The University of Mississippi civil engineering alumna’s efforts have been noticed. Most recently, the project manager in roadway design at the Mississippi Department of Transportation was recognized by the Mississippi Engineering Society of the National Society of  Professional Engineers as the 2018 Young Engineer of the Year.

The award recognizes an MES member, age 35 years or younger, who has advanced the profession; exhibited technical competence, high character and integrity; developed improved member attitudes toward the profession; and contributed to public service outside his or her professional career.

“It is one of the most rewarding events of my life,” Kimmel said. “I work with so many talented young engineers in both the public and private sectors. To be recognized among this group is truly an honor.”

Ole Miss engineering is a family tradition.

“My father received his B.S.C.E. from Ole Miss in 1980, and my mother earned her Juris Doctor from the UM law school in 2002,” she said. “Growing up in Grenada, I naturally visited Ole Miss a few times, especially with my mother being in law school while I was in high school. She loved to take us to Ajax Diner on the Square.”

Spending time on campus and on the Square made the university an obvious choice for Kimmel.

“And what better place to get an engineering degree than the place where my dad got his,” she said.

As an undergraduate, Kimmel took several classes related to transportation under Waheed Uddin, professor of civil engineering and director of UM’s Center for Advanced Infrastructure Technology. Uddin’s classes allowed Kimmel the opportunity to visit a variety of places to get a glimpse of the “real world.”

“We took trips to the airport, an asphalt plant, a traffic management center and much more,” Kimmel said. “I also really enjoyed my senior design class with Dr. (Christopher) Mullen. We worked on creating a green hospital following the requirements in place for a hospital to be LEED certified.”

Uddin and Mullen said they remember Kimmel as one of their best students.

“Colby was one of a select group of junior and senior students who excelled in CE courses and were responsible and dependable students,” Uddin said. “After her graduation, Colby worked full time as CAIT research associate for an aviation research project funded by the National Academy of Sciences’ ACRP (Airport Cooperative Research Program) and Federal Aviation Administration. She contributed immensely to the successful completion of this national project, where we pioneered the accuracy evaluation and use of the airborne LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) remote-sensing survey for obstruction-free airspace in and around airports.”

Kimmel spent several semesters working at CAIT. Through these experiences, she learned about working for clients, meeting deadlines, managing time, budgets and reporting data. The senior design class permitted Kimmel and her classmates to work with civil engineers in the real world and apply their knowledge to an actual project. It also provided interview experience by requiring them to present their projects and then answer questions posed by a panel.

“I knew Colby as Catherine Willis during her stay here,” Mullen said. “I really came to know her abilities through group project activity she engaged in during the capstone design sequence I led at the time. She proved capable both individually and as a team player, receiving A’s in both semesters.”

While grateful for the Young Engineer Award, Kimmel said serving on the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Subcommittee on Design, Joint Technical Committee for Non-Motorized Transportation is her most fulfilling achievement.

“My interest in this began with a class on designing pedestrian facilities for the disabled community,” she said. “Since then, we have updated our standards in Mississippi as well as worked to educate other engineers, contractors, designers, inspectors, etc., on the importance of making sure our facilities are accessible to all.”

Being selected for this national committee has allowed Kimmel to expand her knowledge, work with representatives from other states and aid in the development of design criteria and guidelines.

“This issue impacts more people than most of us realize, and I have had the pleasure of meeting some of these people while teaching classes throughout the state,” Kimmel said. “It is truly fulfilling to be able to see the positive impact you are having within a community and for individuals.”

Uddin said that he is proud of Kimmel’s professional achievements, which culminated in her being honored as Young Engineer of the Year.

“Colby’s expertise in geospatial analysis and GeoMedia Pro software was instrumental, besides the world-class civil engineering education at Ole Miss in securing her a job for (an) EIT (engineer-in-training) position in the highway design division of the Mississippi DOT,” he said. “She has been a licensed PE for several years and recruited many Ole Miss CE alumni who work in the MDOT highway design division.”

Mullen agreed.

“I am especially glad to see that she has excelled in her work at MDOT, where leadership and teamwork are valued highly along with technical competence,” he said. “Her involvement in ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) is additional proof of both her leadership skills as well as her commitment to professional service.”

Kimmel and her husband, Chris, have two sons: Barrett and Jack. Her favorite leisure activities include reading and being active in the Northminster Baptist Church in Jackson.

For more about the Mississippi Engineering Society, go to http://www.msengsoc.org/. For more information about the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Mississippi, visit https://engineering.olemiss.edu/civil/. For additional information about the Center for Advanced Infrastructure Technology, visit http://www.olemiss.edu/projects/cait/home/.