Mechanical Engineering Alumnus Shows He’s a Team Player

Justin Carrillo works for US Army Corps of ERDC in Vicksburg

Mechanical engineering alumnus Justin Carrillo is part of an award-winning division at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Economic Research and Development Center in Vicksburg. Submitted photo

Five years ago, Justin Carrillo (BSME 13) was only beginning his career as a professional engineer. Today, the University of Mississippi alumnus works as a research mechanical engineer and is one of the award-winning team members in the Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg.

“The U.S. Army ERDC Award for Outstanding Team Effort is one of the most fulfilling achievements in my professional career,” Carrillo said. “Personally, the best measure of success of any organization is the ability of teams to work together to accomplish overall objectives and goals of an organization. I firmly believe a successful team is greater than the sum of its parts. This award highlights the most important goal of my career.”

A Raymond native, Carillo decided to attend UM for several reasons.

“First, I had family members that graduated from Ole Miss as well as family that was currently attending Ole Miss at the time,” he said. “Second, the trips that were taken to view the engineering program made a big difference in deciding to be involved in Ole Miss’ engineering program and thus lead me to attending Ole Miss.

“Lastly, the amount of opportunities that Ole Miss provided both in and outside of the classroom played a major role.”

As an undergraduate, Carrillo gained practical experience by participating in the Student Temporary Employment Program at ERDC and in Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society. He graduated magna cum laude.

“My favorite professors were Dr. Jeffrey Roux, Dr. Tyrus McCarty, Dr. Ellen Lackey, Dr. Alexander Yakovlev and Dr. James Chambers,” Carrillo said. “All of the professors listed were without a doubt passionate, although expressed in different ways, about teaching and devoted to the success of their students even beyond the classroom. They were the professors in my eyes that made the biggest difference in the future of their students.”

Carrillo’s favorite engineering courses typically required heavy use of mathematics or use of some form of programming.

Arunachalam Rajendran, chair and professor of mechanical engineering, said he knew Carrillo would have a successful career one day.

“Justin graduated in the top 5 percent of his class in terms of overall GPA, with a unique talent to excel in all academic studies, including undergraduate research,” Rajendran said. “As I always believed that Justin would pursue his graduate degree, he is obtaining his master’s degree from the Purdue University under ERDC sponsorship. I am indeed very proud of our graduates like Justin who always bring laurels to Ole Miss as alumni.”

While working for the Mobility Systems Branch, Carrillo specialized in the area of high-performance computing for computational modeling of sensors, vehicle-terrain interaction and vehicle dynamics, as well as vehicle and sensor field testing.

He is a principal investigator and work unit manager on various programs related to the off-road performance of manned/unmanned ground vehicles, manned-unmanned teaming, and development of high-performance computer-based simulations for testing and evaluation of autonomous systems through sensor-environment interactions.

Justin Carrillo stands beside two of the vehicles he drives when at work with the Corps of Engineers in Vicksburg. Submitted photo

“My Ole Miss engineering education has given me the academic background that is needed to become successful in my career combined with additional broad-based skills that have played an even bigger role in the success of my career,” said Carrillo, who is working on receiving his master’s degree in computational engineering from Purdue University in 2019. “An Ole Miss engineering education comes with both academic and in-the-field knowledge, communication skills, leadership skills and, most importantly, teamwork skills that are critical for being successful in any career.”

A published author, Carrillo has written articles for numerous professional journals. He holds membership in the International Society for Terrain-Vehicle Systems and has received both the 2015 ERDC Award for Outstanding Team Effort and the 2014 Department of the Army Achievement Medal for Civilian Service.

Carrillo lives in Raymond, with his wife, Carra, and children, Lillian and Walter. When not working, he likes to play baseball, basketball and golf.


UM Professor’s Research Highlighted in Ship Technology Publication

Waheed Uddin shares insights into how infrastructure improvements can protect ports during coastal disasters

Waheed Uddin is a civil engineering professor and director of the Center for Advanced Infrastructure Technology at the University of Mississippi. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

A University of Mississippi civil engineering professor’s research about how infrastructure improvements can help protect ports from the effects of coastal disasters such as hurricanes and tsunamis was featured in a technology publication recently.

Waheed Uddin, director of UM’s Center for Advanced Infrastructure Technology, was featured in a story appearing in the digital magazine Ship Technology on Nov. 9, 2017. Uddin conducted a study that uses computer modeling and geospatial analysis of natural disaster risks to identify the priority measures that ports can take to build a comprehensive resilience management strategy. Two of Uddin’s civil engineering graduate students assisted in his study: Quang Nguyen (PhD 17) and W. Tucker Stafford (MS 17). Uddin and Nguyen presented the results for Vietnam’s port city at an international infrastructure and disaster resilience conference in Seoul, Korea, in July 2017.

To read the Ship Technology article, visit


5 Students Selected for Outstanding Senior Leadership Awards

All are members of Center for Manufacturing Excellence or Honors College

Students (left to right) Harleigh Huggins, David Rozier, Zachary Mitchell, William Garrett and Colbert Lehr have been named Outstanding Senior Leadership Award recipients. Submitted photo by Ryan Upshaw

Five seniors have been named recipients of the 2017-18 Outstanding Senior Leadership Award from the University of Mississippi School of Engineering.

Honorees are William Garrett of Greenfield, Indiana; Harleigh Huggins of Oxford, Colbert Lehr of Brandon, Zachary Mitchell of Moss Point and David Rozier of Oxford. Each recipient was selected through a competitive nomination process in his or her respective department.

Nominations are based on the students’ records of academic achievement, leadership, professional development and community service. The students also delivered a presentation to the selection committee about their undergraduate experiences while pursuing their engineering degrees.

“This year’s selection process was particularly difficult for the review committee,” said Dean Alexander Cheng. “These five students rose to the top of an exceptional group of nominees from the senior class, and we are always excited to celebrate the accomplishments of our students.”

A mechanical engineering major, Huggins has maintained a 4.0 GPA while also being a part of the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence and the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. She has been extensively involved in engineering student organizations, having served as president of Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society, the Collegiate Automotive Manufacturing Society and the Society of Women Engineers.

Huggins also served as co-chair of the CME student advisory board and was selected for membership in Phi Kappa Phi and Mortar Board societies. She also held two separate internships with ABB Inc. and completed co-ops with BorgWarner and Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing.

“I am honored and proud to be receiving this award, especially with all of the amazing students we have graduating from the School of Engineering this year,” Huggins said. “I am grateful for all of the opportunities that the Center for Manufacturing Excellence and the mechanical engineering department have afforded me during my collegiate career. I look forward to representing the School of Engineering, and I will do my best to reflect its excellence.”

In addition to the leadership award, Huggins was named the university’s representative to the Mississippi Engineering Society’s Outstanding Senior award program in Jackson. After graduation, she will assume a full-time position with ABB Inc.’s Manufacturing Engineering group in Senatobia.

Garrett, who is also pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering, is a member of the CME and has maintained a 3.98 GPA. He has been an active member of Engineers Without Borders and Tau Beta Pi. Garrett has also been selected for membership in Phi Kappa Phi, and served as house manager and chaplain of his fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha.

He held internships with Ingersoll Rand and Rolls Royce North America, and completed two separate co-ops with South Mississippi Electric Power Association in Batesville and Viking Range in Greenwood. Garrett has accepted a full-time position with Milwaukee Tool at one of its Mississippi locations.

An electrical engineering major, Lehr served as Engineering Student Body president during the 2016-17 academic year and has served as a member of the ESB Leadership Council for four years. He also represented the School of Engineering at the National Association of Engineering Student Councils Conference, as well as the PULSE Leadership Conference in 2016.

Having maintained a 3.98 GPA, Lehr has been selected for membership in a variety of honor societies, including Omicron Delta Kappa, Lambda Sigma, Mortar Board, Tau Beta Pi and Phi Kappa Phi. He has volunteered extensively with the FIRST Robotics program, serving as a team mentor and referee for the event. Lehr also completed two internships with Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems in Forest.

He plans to return to Raytheon full time after graduation and to complete a master’s degree in electrical engineering while employed.

Mitchell, a general engineering major, is a member of the Honors College and has maintained a 3.91 GPA. He serves as vice president of the Biomedical Engineering Society and the Youth Movement Against Alzheimer’s. Mitchell is also a member of the Engineering Student Body Leadership Council and active with Sigma Nu fraternity. He has been selected for membership in Tau Beta Pi and Phi Kappa Phi and has volunteered in the emergency room at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Oxford.

Mitchell has also served as both a teaching assistant and a research assistant in the Department of Biology. He is working on his honors thesis, titled “Nonlinear Analysis of Postural Stability in Postmenopausal Women and Its Relationship to Estrogen Deficiency.” After graduation, Mitchell plans to attend medical school.

A member of the Honors College and the CME, Rozier maintained a 4.0 GPA in chemical engineering and completed his honors thesis in 2017. He was named a Taylor Medalist in 2016 and received Who’s Who honors in 2017. Rozier also received the Outstanding Chemical Engineering Student Award in 2015, 2016 and 2017. He serves on the CME student advisory board and has been selected for membership in Phi Kappa Phi, Omicron Delta Kappa and Tau Beta Pi. He is also an active member of Sigma Nu.

Rozier completed three summer internships: two with International Paper in Vicksburg and one with 3M in Decatur, Alabama, as well as a co-op with ExxonMobil in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. After graduation, he will return to International Paper as a full-time process engineer.



Dwight Waddell Directs Successful, New Biomedical Engineering Degree Program

With 51 students in the inaugural class, the number of applicants continues to increase

Electrical engineering associate professor Dwight Waddell continues teaching courses while leading UM’s new biomedical engineering degree program. Submitted photo

Years ago, a biomedical engineering degree program in the University of Mississippi School of Engineering was only a dream. But with 51 students accepted into the inaugural class last fall, the dream is now a wonderful reality.

“The word is apparently out,” said Dwight Waddell, BME program director and associate professor of electrical engineering. “Our current BME class has representatives from states across the country. Thirty-seven are new freshmen, and we had a fair number of transfers from other departments on campus after we got started last August.”

The idea and initial work for the new program were initiated by Ramanarayanan “Vish” Viswanathan, chair and professor of electrical engineering, with support from Alex Cheng, engineering dean. Waddell, who was a UM associate professor of health, exercise and recreation management, joined the engineering faculty in 2013 to facilitate program development.

“I was responsible for newly created courses, including Physiology for Biomedical Engineers, Biosignal Analysis, Introduction to Biomedical Engineering and a lab-based course to teach bio-measurement techniques,” said Waddell, who worked with Paul Scovazzo, associate professor of chemical engineering, to launch the emphasis. “Prior to this, I taught courses in biomechanics, electromyography and neuromotor control.”

Waddell said the inaugural class is exceptional.

“In truth, it is a hard curriculum, but the inaugural class was notable in their academic preparation before university,” he said. “The average ACT score and high school GPA of the applicants were quite high, which was very exciting for everyone involved. The students are very proactive. They are hungry.”

Last semester, the charter for UM’s Biomedical Engineering Society student chapter was established.

“It was really two students who did the lion’s share of work getting national approval,” Waddell said. “A big shoutout to BME students Justin Reynolds and Juliana Davis for making it happen and recruiting over 20 inaugural student members. It is an exciting time around here.”

If preliminary fall 2018 enrollment figures are any indication of what’s to be expected, the BME program is just getting started.

“The number of admitted applicants for the upcoming fall term is impressive,” Waddell said. “As of Feb 12, we have already admitted 142 biomedical engineering first-year students. This is a substantial increase in admitted students over the same time last year.”

While Waddell said not all of these students will decide to attend the university, he is confident that the number of incoming students will match and exceed expectations.

“Our number of retained students (admitted versus actual attendees) last year was above 50 percent,” he said. “On our original submission to IHL for approval, we estimated 30 freshmen for the second year, and I am confident we will meet and exceed that number.”

Chairs in both the electrical and chemical engineering departments said Waddell’s leadership has exceeded their expectations.

“Dwight is extremely busy this academic year,” Viswanathan said. “In addition to advising all (biomedical engineering) students, he’s juggling teaching two courses each semester, advising students’ research, conducting a search for two tenure-track faculty positions and serving on several university committees.”

“Dwight has done an outstanding job of moving the BME program forward,” said John O’Haver, chair and professor of chemical engineering. “His passion for the program, for the students, and his ability to work well with the departments that are involved in the program have caused it to progress rapidly and well.”

A former postdoctoral researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Waddell has a master’s and a doctoral degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Texas and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Louisiana State University.

The Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees approved the biomedical engineering program in 2016. Biomedical engineering prepares students for rapidly growing opportunities in three primary job markets: biomolecular engineering, biomedical systems engineering and bioinformatics.

For more information about UM’s biomedical engineering program, visit


UM Professor Leads Dinosaur Track Preservation Project

Findings from discovery and digital reconstruction of trackway site result in journal article

The team preserved the tracks, created by dinosaurs that roamed near an ancient sea, at an Arkansas gypsum quarry. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi geologist’s collaboration with researchers at the University of Arkansas has yielded the discovery and digital preservation of the first tracks of carnivorous dinosaurs ever found in Arkansas.

Brian Platt, assistant professor of geology and geological engineering at UM, was lead author of “LiDAR-based characterization and conservation of the first theropod dinosaur trackways from Arkansas, USA,” an article in the Jan. 2 edition of the journal Public Library of Science ONE. He was contacted by colleagues at UA after miners discovered the large, three-toed prints in a gypsum quarry near Nashville in 2011.

The footprints were preserved in a layer of rock that the mine had been blasting through to reach deposits of gypsum, a widely distributed mineral frequently used as a soil amendment and in making wallboard and plaster of Paris.

“When I first saw the footprints, I could barely contain my excitement – the entire surface of the site was completely trampled by dinosaurs,” Platt said. “I remember trying to follow one of the trackways by stepping in each footprint and I just couldn’t do it because the tracks were too far apart. It is thrilling to me to be able to step in the exact spot that a dinosaur stepped over 100 million years ago.”

The miners generously agreed to delay blasting so the team could examine the site before it was destroyed.

Because time was of the essence, the team applied for a special grant through the National Science Foundation that is designed for time-sensitive projects, called a RAPID grant. The University of Arkansas received RAPID funding for $10,000, and the UA vice provost for research and economic development and the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences each provided matching grants, making the combined total funding $30,000.

To preserve the site, colleagues from the UA Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies used a method of laser scanning called LiDAR to create a digital replica of the site. LiDAR, which stands for light detection and ranging, uses a pulsed laser to measure distances to the earth in tiny increments. Researchers used LiDAR because traditional methods would have taken too long.

“Once the site was preserved digitally, I could use the digital data to begin the time-intensive work of drafting a map of the site and taking measurements of the footprints,” Platt said. “I spent a lot of time working on the map during a 2012-13 post-doc, but there was so much LiDAR data to sort through that I needed to spend some time at the University of Arkansas to take precise measurements with the proper computer software.”

Platt’s 2014 travel was funded by a Southeastern Conference Traveling Faculty Grant, which the conference awards each year to enable SEC faculty members to collaborate with peers at other conference institutions. The award, which was supplemented with funds from the UM Department of Geology and Geological Engineering, allowed him to spend a week at UA over spring break to collect the measurements he needed.

Brian Platt, UM assistant professor of geology and geological engineering, displays models he uses in presentations about rare dinosaur tracks he and a University of Arkansas team uncovered and digitally preserved. Submitted photo

The tracks have since been destroyed, but the scans allowed the team of researchers to study the tracks and determine that they were made by Acrocanthosaurus, a large, carnivorous dinosaur. The findings extended the known range of the dinosaur 56 miles east, to what was the western shore of an ancient sea.

“It actually confirms that the main genus of large theropods in North America was Acrocanthosaurus,” said Celina Suarez, an assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences at UA, who was part of the team that documented and studied the tracks. “It now has been found in Wyoming, Utah, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Maryland – a huge range.”

The site had two different sized tracks, suggesting both adult and younger animals lived in the area about 113 million years ago, during the Cretaceous Period. It also contained tracks made by sauropods, long-necked plant-eating dinosaurs.

“Now we know more about the ancient ecosystem, e.g., both sauropods and theropods lived together in the same environment,” Platt said. “On a broader scale, the rocks that contain the footprints tell us that the environment was once a large tidal flat or evaporative coastal basin that experienced very dry conditions.

“Ancient climatic information like this can be used to help us better understand the impacts of climate change on ecosystems.”

Platt earned a bachelor’s degree from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and master’s and doctoral degrees in geology from the University of Kansas. Before coming to Ole Miss, he worked for an environmental consulting firm in New Jersey and as an instructor and lecturer for the geology department at the University of Kansas.

After completing his doctorate, he spent a year working as a post-doctoral researcher at the Kansas Geological Survey. His research integrates sedimentary geology and paleontology.

Researchers also created a detailed, publicly accessible online map of the site and the tracks. The digital reconstruction of the trackway site can be viewed at the website for the Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies.

To read the PLOS ONE article, visit

Morgan Tapped as Emerging Philanthropist

Ole Miss Women's Council recognizes a 'legacy that matters'

UM engineering alumnus Markeeva Morgan is the inaugural recipient of the Emerging Philanthropist Award of the Ole Miss Women’s Council for Philanthropy. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Every morning Markeeva Morgan and his wife, Shaquinta, send their two daughters off to school by emphasizing a message: “Be learners, be leaders and be lights.”

“We feel these attributes form a foundation of humble greatness infused with a central compulsion to give forward,” said Morgan, the inaugural recipient of the Emerging Philanthropist Award of the Ole Miss Women’s Council for Philanthropy. He will be honored April 13 at the University of Mississippi.

The 2001 UM electrical engineering graduate, of Madison, Alabama, is leading a multidisciplinary engineering team to design and develop software for an aerospace vehicle. The 38-year-old avionics; guidance, navigation and control; and software manager for The Boeing Co. previously was NASA’s Space Launch System core stage avionics hardware subsystems manager.

The Emerging Philanthropist Award was founded to illustrate to OMWC scholars and others examples of philanthropic efforts accomplished by a person early in his or her life or career, said Liz Randall of Oxford, the OMWC member who proposed the award’s creation. It complements the OMWC’s Legacy Award, which honors individuals with lifetime resumes of philanthropy and accomplishments.

“Givers in the Ole Miss family are plentiful; many of them inspire me,” Morgan said. “That I would be selected from among them for this honor is quite surprising.

“I am humbled and honored that my family’s attempt to respond to the yearning in our hearts and the calling on our lives to help others would be recognized with such an accolade.”

Morgan said he is not yet able to write “big checks,” so he gives in other ways, such as devoting time to students.

“I consider encouraging the next generation of thought leaders and innovators to be part of my job as a member of the working citizenry in this country,” he said. “In essence, I don’t consider my giving to be something I have to find time to do. It is something that is a part of everything I do.”

The award recognizes Morgan’s significant service to students and organizations, coupled with his demanding, high-pressure career and his dedication to family, said Mary Haskell of Oxford, the OMWC chair. Besides working with Ole Miss students, Morgan, who earned a master’s degree in engineering management from Catholic University of America and who is pursuing a doctorate in systems engineering at George Washington University, teaches at the University of Alabama at Huntsville.

“The Emerging Philanthropist Award gives us the opportunity to spotlight someone who, by their philanthropic spirit, is modeling what it means to give back to our community, alma mater and the next generation of leaders – someone well on his or her way to building a legacy that matters,” Haskell said.

Jan Farrington of Jackson, an OMWC founding member and former chair, was among those who nominated Morgan based on her shared experiences with him on the boards of the University of Mississippi Foundation and the Ole Miss Alumni Association. The Young Alumnus of the Year recipient also serves on the advisory boards of the School of Engineering and the Center for Manufacturing Excellence and as an annual guest lecturer for the Chancellor’s Leadership Class.

“Markeeva sets an incredible example for Ole Miss students,” Farrington said. “While continuing to build a very successful career, he manages to take on an array of leadership and service roles, participate in many Ole Miss activities and be a loving dad to his daughters, Mallory and Sydney.

“He finds time to mentor students, encouraging scholarship, leadership and giving back. He and Shaquinta, also an engineering alumna, are both effective and dynamic ambassadors for the University of Mississippi.”

In the Huntsville-area community, Morgan is president of the board of directors for the Christmas Charities Year Around, a nonprofit charitable organization that provides basic necessities to families all year and toys and food during the holiday season to more than 5,000 children and adults.

“My parents instilled in me a deep gratefulness; that is the genesis,” said Morgan, one of 10 children who grew up in Strayhorn. “Then, over the years, so many people have poured into me with no requirement to do so; so many have invested in me with no benefit to be had from the returns; so many have shared their experiences, wisdom and roadmaps; and I have no way to repay them. So, I am compelled to pay their efforts forward.”

Having the time to devote to philanthropic activities comes from combining family time and couple time with helping others, Morgan said.

“I am fortunate to be married to someone who also understands and underscores the importance of giving back,” he said. “Our home is an environment of giving, which not only facilitates a balance among the many demands; it actually integrates them.

“Some of our family time is used to give and serve. Some of my wife’s and my quality time together involves charitable and other giving activities. We teach our children to be grateful for and share blessings, using them to positively impact their world.”

Randall said she hopes by recognizing Morgan and other philanthropists, they can inspire other young people to act.

“Often, young people perceive philanthropy as an activity that occurs later in life as a capstone – that you need to be more seasoned to make meaningful contributions – but that is simply not the case,” Randall said. “There are incredible examples of significant contributions being made by young people, and our goal is to celebrate them.”

In its 18th year, the OMWC has attracted more than $13.1 million for scholarships. The $32,000 named scholarships – $8,000 annually for four years – are among the largest on campus. Thus far, 119 OMWC scholars have benefited from the program, which features mentoring, leadership development and cultural activities.

For more information on the OMWC and its awards, contact Nora Capwell, program coordinator, at 662-915-2384 or Information on the Women’s Council can also be found at