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/.

 

 

 

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/.

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.

 

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 https://engineering.olemiss.edu/biomedical/

 

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 ncapwell@olemiss.edu. Information on the Women’s Council can also be found at http://www.omwc.olemiss.edu.

Jeff Rish’s 4 Degrees from UM Result in Long Research Career with Military

Alumnus now teaches engineering course at Florida State

Jeff W. Rish III and his wife, Patti, attend an Ole Miss vs. Florida State University pregame activity in Orlando, Florida. Submitted photo

Jeff W. Rish III’s successful career in technological research for the military began with four engineering degrees from the University of Mississippi.

When Rish (BSCE 77, BSME 78, MS 83, PhD 85) entered UM is 1973, the Pontotoc native dreamed of receiving a bachelor’s degree in either civil or mechanical engineering. He ended up earning degrees in both. A few years later, Rish also earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in engineering science from the university.

“During the years that I attended Ole Miss, the engineering programs had an engineering science focus,” said Rish, who also completed a one-year nonresident Air War College program from the Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base, while working for the Wright Laboratory Detachment at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. “I received a broad education that provided a strong background in mathematics and a heavy emphasis on the scientific foundations of engineering subject matter.”

The breadth of Rish’s education enabled him to quickly adapt to working on research topics involving technologies that were well outside the scope of his formal training, and to become a leader in developing concepts and technologies to enhance the capabilities of U.S. war fighters.

Rish said his success at Ole Miss and beyond was heavily influenced by a number of faculty members.

“I have fond memories of Drs. Ken Stead, Mustafa Abdulrahman, Sam DeLeeuw and Sam Prasad from the CE department,” he said. “The engineering mechanics courses I took from Dr. Stead were quite memorable, and Ken was a mentor to me throughout my entire career as a student.”

John Fox, mechanical engineering chair and professor emeritus, had a huge influence on Rish while he was in graduate school.

“His career brought him in contact with a number of pioneers in the area of aerospace engineering, and his mind was a virtual library on a number of engineering topics. I spent many hours in his office,” Rish said. “Drs. (Thomas) Horton and (Jeffrey) Roux were key influences in my graduate school years. Dr. Roux was my dissertation adviser and friend, and his mentorship impacted my life well beyond graduate school. Dr. Sam Wang was another of my mentors, as was Dean Allie Smith.”

Rish began his professional career in 1986 at the Naval Coastal Systems Center (now the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division) as a research engineer in the materials science branch. His early project responsibilities included leading an experimental investigation using lasers as underwater acoustic sources and modeling heat transfer through experimental liquid crystal diver thermal protection devices.

In 1992, he accepted a position as a research engineer with the Air Force where he spent four years working on advanced materials topics. Rish returned to NSWC Panama City in 1996, and served as principal investigator on several projects to develop and experimentally validate sensor systems for special operations and mine warfare applications. Rish also became actively involved in the development of autonomous unmanned systems for underwater mine countermeasures applications.

“I served 10 years as a branch head for what is now the Intelligent Sensing Branch at NSWC PCD, where I continued to be actively engaged in developing advanced electro-optic and electromagnetic sensors for Navy MCM, MARCORPS and unmanned systems,” Rish said. “This experience gave me insight into a broad range of technologies and enabled me to work with some of the nation’s leading experts on sensor technologies. As a result, I was able to influence the development of sensor systems and unmanned systems for a number of undersea and land-based applications.”

Rish retired from federal service and his position as technical program manager, U.S. Marine Corps Force Protection Countermeasures Science and Technology, in December 2017.

Presently, he is a member of the adjunct faculty at Florida State University’s Panama City campus, where he teaches an undergraduate course in Engineering Thermodynamics. He has been teaching this course there since 2005.

Rish and his wife, Patricia (or “Patti”), reside in Lynn Haven, Florida, but maintain strong ties to his alma mater and Mississippi roots. He was a member of the UM Engineering Advisory Board from 2004 to 2014.

“The wife and I enjoy antiquing together and traveling,” he said. “We both enjoy attending sporting events and tailgating in the Grove with the brothers and sisters when we get the chance.”

 

 

 

In Memoriam: Engineering Alumnus Jon D. Wilson

Professors fondly remember graduate as gifted student

Jon David Wilson (BSGE 00) was an environmental engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Huntsville, Alabama. Submitted photo

University of Mississippi faculty, staff and students are mourning the passing of alumnus Jon David Wilson (BSGE 03) of Huntsville, Alabama. The 39-year-old environmental engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers died last December.

Services for Wilson were held at Berryhill Funeral Home in Huntsville. He is survived by his wife, Kimberly Fortenberry Wilson, of Huntsville, Alabama; four children: Kane, Bryce, Brielle and Aiden; his parents, Mitchell Wilson and Connie Hamby; and a brother, Greg Wilson.

“Jon Wilson brightened any room he walked into,” said Gregg Davidson, UM chair and professor of geology and geological engineering. “His positive attitude was contagious. He loved his field of study and the people he worked with. He will be greatly missed.”

Former UM civil engineering professor Joel Kuszmaul expressed similar remembrances of Wilson.

“[He] was the most energetic person I have ever known, but it was his endlessly upbeat attitude and generosity for everyone around him (even strangers) that created the most lasting impression,” said Kuszmaul, associate dean, associate professor and chair of geological engineering at Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts. “He had the highest ethical standards. He was always a gentleman. [Jon] took on the most difficult courses that anyone was offering and not only achieved a great grade, he formed study groups with his colleagues to help ensure that they succeeded as well and that they enjoyed the challenges they faced together.

“He was the first Mississippi graduate who asked to work with me as a graduate student, and I learned so much about the best of human nature from him.”

 

Nominations Accepted for Gregory Gomez IV Humanitarian Service Award

Mechanical engineering alumnus died in a bus accident in Peru

UM 2008 alumnus Gregory Gomez IV was serving on a mission trip in Peru when killed in a bus accident. Submitted photo

A University of Mississippi School of Engineering alumnus, whose life ended tragically while serving on a South American mission trip, is being remembered with a newly created award.

 
The Gregory Gomez IV Humanitarian Service Award was created in 2017 to honor the memory of Gomez (BSME 08), who traveled to Peru in summer 2008 to serve with the International Mission Board. He was working to map routes to rural areas when he died in a bus accident. This award honors Gomez’s memory and seeks to identify other members of the Ole Miss Engineering family who have demonstrated extraordinary service somewhere in the world. 
 
Nominations can be sent to engrdean@olemiss.edu or mailed to School of Engineering, Brevard Hall, Room 229, University, MS 38677. Please include contact information and a paragraph to explain your nomination.
 

General Engineers: The Medical Field Is an Option

Problem-solving skills learned in engineering are valuable in medicine

UM engineering graduates who are now medical doctors include, from left, Drs. Brooks Turner at Halifax Medical Center, Jennie Katherine Ellis Lofton at UMMC, Steve Faulks at the University of Florida College of Medicine and Cameron Bonds at North Mississippi Medical Center. Submitted photo

When Dr. Brooks Turner, a 2013 general engineer graduate from Ole Miss, was considering career options, he knew he wanted to go into a field where he could help make a difference in people’s lives. He then made the decision to go into the medical field, which he viewed as a combination of altruism and science, similar to engineering. He is now practicing family medicine at the Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Florida.

“I believe the critical-thinking skills I acquired in engineering have played a major role in preparing me for the medical field,” Turner said. “The system-based approach to problem solving has definitely helped me in evaluating clinical scenarios.”

Dr. Ellis Lofton, a psychiatrist at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, was a general engineering major at Ole Miss and graduated in 2013. She said she believes there can be a misunderstanding when it comes to general engineers and their career paths.

“I think there is a misconception that you have to major in biology or chemistry to gain acceptance into medical school,” Lofton said. “However, I don’t believe that is the case. While my medical school class did have a significant proportion of students with science backgrounds, we also had students with backgrounds in engineering, architecture, law and seminary.”

Her engineering undergraduate skills, similar to Turner’s, also taught her how to problem solve, which has benefited her medical career.

“I think one of the greatest things I learned in my engineering studies was how to problem solve,” Lofton said. “Now, I use those same problem-solving skills from undergraduate to work with patients and find what therapies and treatments work best.”

The medical field is open to engineers, and Turner said he hopes future undergraduates will take advantage of it.

“I would definitely encourage students to strongly consider engineering as a pathway to medicine,” Turner said. “It’ll prepare you to critically think when problem solving, allow you to tailor your pre-med undergraduate schedule in a way that fits your plans for taking the MCAT and applying for medical school, and it will most certainly help your resume and application stand out.”

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.