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.


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.



UM Engineers Without Borders Adopting Village in Ecuador

Launching crowdfunding campaign, team advances infrastructure project

Engineers Without Borders-Ole Miss members, from left, Dillon Hall, Vera Gardener, Cris Surbeck, Paul Scovazzo, Paige Lohman, Robert Holt, Timothy Steenwyk and Zach Lepchitz take a break from working with Togo, West Africa, residents. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Entering its seventh year of helping people in developing nations build sound infrastructures, members of the University of Mississippi chapter of Engineers Without Borders are adopting a small village in South America.

After working on two primary projects in Togo, West Africa, as well as several minor projects, the UM chapter has begun the process of adopting 25 de Diciembre in Ecuador. The community is named after a battle fought on the day commonly known as Christmas.

“We decided in May of 2017 that we would be able to take on a new project for the upcoming school year,” said David Thomas, EWB-Ole Miss chapter president. “During the fall semester, we filtered through all of the unassigned projects on the EWB-USA database and found several projects that could benefit from our previous experience that we’ve gained during our Togo projects. These final project prospects were put up to a chapter vote, and the Ecuador project was chosen.”

As with their Togo project, the group will use EWB-USA’s quality project process, which includes project initiation, project adoption, assessment, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and closeout. EWB-USA makes a special point to mandate the use of locally sourced materials and labor. It also requires that the community contributes 10 percent of the project cost. These two criteria result in longer staying power of installed projects due to the community’s established hands-on role, which carries over to infrastructure maintenance.

“We have just wrapped up the project-adoption phase, having been given the official go-ahead from EWB-USA,” Thomas said. “Now we begin the exciting work of organizing an assessment trip.”

The people of 25 de Diciembre are in dire need of a clean water source as well as a sufficient irrigation system. In the assessment phase of the project, EWB will send members of the chapter to the community to speak with governing officials about their specific needs and how best to execute the endeavor.

The total cost for this project will be around $50,000 spent over the five-year duration. These funds will cover travel and food for the members and advisers, local labor and project material expenses. Engineers in Action will be EWB’s contact in Ecuador once the project is approved.

EWB launched a crowdfunding campaign through Ignite Ole Miss in December. With help from donors, the goal is to raise $20,000. Money received will enable members of EWB and School of Engineering faculty members to spend seven days there, planning how to provide clean water to the village.

“We are planning on sending our first team over for an assessment trip this May,” Thomas said. “The travel team will be selected based on specific skill sets needed including Spanish speakers, civil or geological engineers and those who have committed effort to the chapter and to fundraise for the project and advance it forward.

“We also consider class year and graduation dates. We want to incorporate a mix of ages so the project does not get stranded when upperclassmen graduate. Certain faculty advisers with prior experience drilling wells and working on international projects will also be a part of the travel team.”

While the population of 25 de Diciembre is concerned about clean drinking water, it also depends heavily on clean water for a variety of other crucial reasons, said Paul Scovazzo, professor of civil engineering and faculty adviser of EWB-Ole Miss.

“The community is very driven by agriculture, meaning that without clean water and a proper irrigation system, men and women struggle to feed themselves and their children,” Scovazzo said. “In addition to this, a lack of clean water creates troubling sanitation hazards for citizens who struggle to remain healthy and uncontaminated as they bathe.”

For more information about EWB-Ole Miss, visit To make donations through the Ignite Ole Miss website, go to .

Honors Students Find New Worldviews during Freshman Ventures

Groups of engineering majors discover cultural differences and experiences define 'truth'

UM students Nathan Lancaster (far left), Ariel Williams (center), Kelly Bates and Noah McKone share a moment during their Freshman Ventures trip to New York City. Submitted photo

“How do we know what is true?”

This question was posed by the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College to its freshman class. Groups of students traveled across the country to find the answer to this very important question and learn more about themselves than they ever thought possible.

Ariel Williams, a biomedical engineering major from Waynesboro, was one of the many students looking for the truth. Her group members traveled to Connecticut where they interviewed the chief mother of the Connecticut Navajo Tribe. Their travels also took them to New York City.

In an effort to gather a different perspective on their questions, they also interviewed members of local tribes in Itawamba County here in Mississippi. This allowed them to learn more about the Native American influence in their own communities, as most of the group members are from Mississippi. Williams traveled with civil engineering major Nathan Lancaster of Madison, and fellow biomedical engineering majors Kelly Bates of Collinsville and Noah McKone of McComb.

“Our group’s goal was to​ ​uncover​ ​how​ ​our​ ​society​ ​might​ ​discern​ ​what​ ​is​ ​true​ ​when​ ​the​ ​truth​ ​has​ ​been​ ​distorted​ ​throughout history, ​​specifically​ ​applying​ ​to​ ​the​ ​history​ ​and​ ​culture​ ​of​ ​Native​ ​Americans,” Williams said.

Williams was the videographer for her group and assisted in the coordination of the interviews and travel. She indicated that the greatest challenge was identifying a way to answer such a difficult question. However, she also reflected that she and her group were able to “learn so much more about ourselves and our roles in society.”

They also learned about the overt harm of cultural appropriation and its potential to deconstruct the truth as well as perpetuate misinformation and ignorance.

Chemical engineering major Jake Noll also traveled over the break to learn the answer to the Freshman Ventures question. He and his group focused on a legal approach and traveled to Miami, Florida, to find truth within the justice system. Noll served as the group leader and helped organize much of the group’s activities including travel and interviews.

“There are so many conflicting opinions, ideals and emotions surrounding the justice system,” Noll said. “We wanted to figure out (if) one can know whether their justice system is ‘correct’ and how to know whether it is too harsh or too lenient.

Jacob Noll (far right) enjoys new friends he made while on his Freshman Ventures trip. Submitted photo

“Additionally, we wanted to compare the U.S. legal system to other countries and figure out which country had the best legal system. Finally, we wanted to figure out how the lawyers separated fact from fiction and emotion from logic in their cases.”

With this in mind, the group decided to interview two lawyers: one a criminal defense lawyer and the other an immigration rights lawyer. According to Noll, the group learned that “truth” is extremely subjective and that everybody has a different definition of it.

Given the climate of the world today, it seemed evident to the group that people may need to spend more time listening to and learning from one another.

“My Freshman Ventures experience showed me that the solution to these seemingly endless conflicts is for individuals to experience the other side for themselves,” he said. “They must understand the opposing side’s definition of truth in order to see the other side’s reasoning and perhaps change their own definition of truth.”

Beyond the challenge of finding answers to a difficult question, another challenge for the group members was organizing many moving pieces months in advance. From purchasing plane tickets and hotel rooms to developing a budget for travel in the city, food and other incidentals, they needed to do a lot of planning and paperwork for the trip that they had not dealt with before.

Once all the groups have traveled, they will come together to present their findings to honors staff, faculty and peers in February during the Freshman Ventures Retreat. The winning group will be rewarded with a trip to New York City.


UM Students Place in International Robotics Contest

Mechanical engineering teams win second and third prizes

Members of the award-winning UM team are Jonathan Brown (left), Eli Schuette, Turner Wharton and Ryan Steele. Submitted photo by Arunachalam Rajendran

OXFORD, Miss. – Two University of Mississippi mechanical engineering student teams have brought home top prizes from an international robotics competition in Tampa, Florida.

The 2017 American Society of Mechanical Engineers Student Design Competition (The Robot Pentathlon: Citius, Altius, Ingenious) challenged each team to create a fast, strong and agile robot. Each team was also expected to build a device to remotely control its robot and compete against others in five different events – a robot pentathlon.

This competition is based on design requirements and a set of rules that change annually. This year, the requirement was to design a robot that could accomplish five objectives: a 10-meter sprint, a stair climb, a tennis ball throw, a golf ball hit and a weight lift.

“Ole Miss had two teams that not only won first and second place in the regional competition in Tennessee, but also those teams went on to win second and third place in the finals, which included teams from around the world,” said Arunachalam Rajendran, chair and professor of mechanical engineering, who accompanied the teams.

The original regional competition, held at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville, Tennessee, last April, included such universities as Virginia Tech, Clemson University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and several SEC universities. After their victory, the UM students graduated and began their careers. However, the robots they left were eligible to compete in the international competition, held in mid-November.

“After the competition was completed, the first-place award went to the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, second went to the Ole Miss Red team with Ryan Steele of Southaven and Turner Wharton of Fairfax, Virginia, and third went to the Ole Miss Blue team with Jonathan Brown of Ecru and Eli Schuette of Ocean Springs,” Rajendran said. “Overall, the Ole Miss students won $1,500 in prizes, plus an additional $750 to the ASME student group on campus.”

Matt Lowe, machine shop supervisor in UM’s mechanical engineering department, said the teams can be very proud of their placements in the competition.

“They took a cost-effective approach to complete a very engineering-effective design,” Lowe said. “For example, the manufacturing cost for the Ole Miss robot was less than $500, and it outperformed a robot from a rival institution that costs more than 10 times as much to create.”

“We couldn’t have won the top two places without the hard work and dedication of the machine shop supervisor, Mr. Matt Lowe,” Rajendran said. “The team members worked very hard under the supervision of Mr. Lowe and utilized all resources in our machine shop for exceptional cost savings. I am so proud of them all.”

Ryan Steele (left) and Turner Wharton pose in front of the ASME official display. Submitted photo by Arunachalam Rajendran

The ASME competition provides a platform for engineering students to present solutions to design problems ranging from everyday household tasks to groundbreaking space exploration. Each team is required to design, construct and operate a prototype that meets the requirements of an annually determined problem statement.

“This experience not only allowed students to learn more about robotics, design and engineering, but it also showed engineers from around the world the fantastic capabilities that Ole Miss has in engineering,” Rajendran said. “Several hundred schools enter the regional competitions each year, yet Ole Miss teams held two victorious positions.

“This not only shows the amazing growth and engagement that Ole Miss engineering has had in recent years, but it is also a testament to the opportunities that are possible with incredible faculty support.”



Chinelo Ibekwe Named West Africa Rhodes Semifinalist

Chemical engineering senior is also seeking Gates Cambridge Scholarship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Still Time for Tailgating around Brevard Hall

Sponsorships available for next season's home football games

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hotty Toddy from Brevard Hall!

Engineering Students Take Study USA Intersession Course in New York City

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

multistory engineering building.

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

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

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


13 Engineering Students Named Brevard, Adler Scholars

Freshmen hail from four states and represent several majors

Dean Alex Cheng (back row, left) meets with Brevard and Adler scholars (front row, from left): Haley Watts, Kelly Bates, Nayan Chawla; (back row, from left): Bryce Little, Laine Keel and William Guy. Submitted photo by Ryan Upshaw

Thirteen University of Mississippi students have been named recipients of major scholarships in the School of Engineering this fall.

Representing Mississippi, Alabama, Illinois and Tennessee, they are this year’s Brevard and John G. Adler scholars. This exceptional group of students posted an average ACT score of 33.4 and an average 3.92 high school grade-point average.

“We are pleased to welcome these outstanding students into the School of Engineering,” Dean Alex Cheng said. “We are also thankful for the generous support of our donors who make it possible for us to award these scholarships and attract the best and brightest students to the university.”

A graduate of West Lauderdale High School, Kelly Bates is one of this year’s recipients of the Brevard Engineering Scholarship. After being recruited by universities such as Yale, Vanderbilt and Harvard, she chose to pursue a degree in biomedical engineering at Ole Miss and accepted membership in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.

“I was completely humbled,” she said. “I never expected to receive something like this, and it just solidified my decision that Ole Miss would help me thrive, grow and experience the most as a college student.”

Bates, a native of Collinsville, earned the title of STAR student and valedictorian. Named one of Mississippi’s U.S. Presidential Scholars, she participated in the UM Summer College for High School Students engineering program. She served as president of the National Honor Society and on the Youth Ambassador Council for the Mississippi Children’s Museum.

She hopes to get involved in undergraduate research experiences early on in her college career as she prepares to attend medical school.

“The research opportunities here along with the close-knit community makes it the best of both worlds,” Bates said. “Where else can you work in an R1 rated lab where the professor knows you by name and wants to help you learn and grow?”

Other Brevard scholars include Nayan Chawla of Cleveland, William Guy of Saltillo, Baylee Howard of Corinth, Bryce Little of Clinton, Laine Keel of Lucedale and Jennifer Myers of Raymond.

Chawla was named a STAR student and National Merit Finalist at the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science. He served as a student government senator and member of the physics club, mock trial team and Technology Student Association. He plans to study computer science as a member of the Honors College.

Salutatorian at Saltillo High School, Guy served as vice president and president of the student council, junior class president, senior class secretary and attended Mississippi Boys State. He was also a member of the Scholars Bowl and math and science teams. He plans to study electrical engineering as part of the Honors College. He will also be a member of the Chancellor’s Leadership Class.

Corinth High School’s STAR student, Howard earned the title of salutatorian and was named to the Hall of Fame. She served as student council vice president and was a member of the Mayor’s Youth Council and Junior Leadership Alcorn. She received various honors at state-level math and science competitions. She will pursue a degree in biomedical engineering as part of the Honors College.

A National Merit Finalist, Little earned the rank of Eagle Scout at Clinton High School. Ranked eighth in his class, he participated in the Tech Jackson Computer Coding Competition and was named Model United Nations Outstanding Diplomat. He attended Mississippi Boys State and participated in the Clinton Chamber of Commerce Youth Leadership Committee. He will study biomedical engineering as part of the Honors College.

Keel was ranked third in his class at George County High School. He attended the APEX Leadership Summit at Ole Miss and received numerous academic awards. He was captain of the quiz bowl team and president of the mathematics club. He will study biomedical engineering as part of the Honors College.

Myers was named STAR student and valedictorian at Hillcrest Christian School. She served as vice president of the National Honor Society and editor of the yearbook. She played varsity soccer for four years and has volunteered as a youth soccer coach. She plans to study biomedical engineering as part of the Honors College.

Receiving the Adler scholarship sealed the deal for Jake Noll of Columbia, Illinois, to enroll at the university.

“This scholarship was the final push in my decision to choose Ole Miss as my future home,” he said. “Thanks to this generous scholarship, I will be coming out of college debt free. This lifts a huge weight off of my shoulders and allows me to focus entirely on my studies.”

Noll graduated as valedictorian of Columbia High School. An Eagle Scout, he served as vice president of the National Honor Society and captain of the cross-country team. He was also a member of student council and the scholastic bowl. He will study chemical engineering as part of the Honors College.

“I toured many schools across the country. I found what was missing once I toured Ole Miss and visited its engineering department, Noll said. “What Ole Miss had that other schools lacked was this: personal connection and belonging. At Ole Miss, I felt that I would be a name and not a number.”

He hopes to work in the area of alternative energy or the aerospace industry, and he would like to further his education in materials engineering after graduation.

This year’s other Adler scholars are Charles Gilliland of Memphis, Tennessee, Elizabeth McCutcheon of Hartselle, Alabama, Ashton Murrah of Corinth, Samuel Plash of Mobile, Alabama, and Haley Watts of Hattiesburg.

Gilliland was a National Merit Commended Scholar at Memphis University School. Listed on the faculty honor roll, he was captain of the cross-country team. He has worked with the Memphis Research Group as an intern in security research analysis and database management. He will study computer science as part of the Provost Scholars program.

McCutcheon earned the status of valedictorian and AP Scholar with Distinction at Hartselle High School. She also participated in the UM “Heads in the Game” summer research program. She served as senior class president, HHS ambassador and attended Alabama Girls State. She will study biomedical engineering as part of the Honors College.

A National Merit Commended student, Murrah was ranked third in her class at Corinth High School and chosen for the Hall of Fame. She was a member of Junior Leadership Alcorn and the Mayor’s Youth Council. She was also a student council representative and captain of the cheerleading squad. She will pursue a degree in biomedical engineering as part of the Honors College.

A National Merit Finalist, Plash served as student body president and was named valedictorian at UMS-Wright Preparatory School. He served as class president for two years and was captain of the football team. He received various academic awards including the Edward C. Greene scholarship for the top student in the junior class. He will pursue a degree in civil engineering as part of the Honors College. Plash will also be a member of the Ole Miss football team.

Watts represented the Mississippi School for Math and Science at the Lott Leadership Institute in summer 2016. She served as an MSMS emissary and was a member of the student government association and mock trial team. She participated in university research in an epidemiology lab. She will pursue a degree in biomedical engineering as part of the Honors College.





Two Engineering Freshmen Named Stamps Foundation Scholars

Harrison McKinnis of Madison and Robert Wasson of Jackson among 2017 recipients of prestigious academic honor

Ryan Upshaw (left), assistant dean, welcomes 2017 Stamps Foundation scholars Robert Wasson of Jackson and Harrison McKinnis of Madison to the UM School of Engineering. Submitted photo

Two outstanding engineering freshmen at the University of Mississippi are among recipients of the Stamps Foundation Scholarship.

Harrison McKinnis of Madison and Robert Wasson of Jackson, will major in chemical engineering and be members of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. McKinnis will also participate in the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence. Both are also members of the Chancellor’s Leadership Class.

With its partner universities, the Stamps Foundation seeks students who demonstrate academic merit, strong leadership potential and exceptional character. Through the foundation, students have access to funding to engage in internships, undergraduate research or other professional development activities. Potential Stamps scholars are invited to campus for a special weekend visit to get an in-depth look at the university’s academic programs as well as opportunities to interact with campus administrators and current students.

“Harrison and Robert are shining examples of the outstanding students that the Stamps scholarship has helped Ole Miss attract over the past few years,” said Ryan Upshaw, assistant dean for student services for the School of Engineering. “I look forward to their contributions to our academic program and the university as a whole.”

McKinnis said he is grateful to be considered for the scholarship.

“I felt that every candidate was worthy of the scholarship, and I was shocked to find out I was chosen,” he said. “At that point, my college decision process ended, and I knew that I had found my new home, one that wants to support me just as I want to support it.”

McKinnis also noted that his visits to campus were a major factor in his decision to enroll at the university and in the School of Engineering.

“I found that the University of Mississippi had a chemical engineering program that would challenge me academically but also support me in finding opportunities to advance in my professional and personal lives,” said McKinnis, who was named salutatorian and STAR student at Madison Central High School.

A National Merit Finalist and AP Scholar with Honor, he scored a perfect 36 on the ACT. Named Mr. Madison Central High School, McKinnis was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame and received highest average honors in 18 subjects. He was also a member of the MCHS Engineering Academy for three years.

Beyond academic excellence, McKinnis was also a top leader at Madison Central. He served as co-president of the MCHS Student Government Association after serving as class treasurer for two years. He also served as a junior ambassador for the Chamber of Commerce, Madison County Youth Leadership ambassador and represented his school at the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Conference.

McKinnis was also a student-athlete as a member of the MCHS soccer team. In the community, he has given time to a variety of organizations including the Mississippi Food Network, American Cancer Society and Soccer Kids Camp.

He hopes to participate in a co-op or internship with an engineering firm at some point in his undergraduate education to gain the experience and knowledge to become a professional engineer. McKinnis is considering entering the practice of chemical engineering or pursuing further education upon graduation.

Like McKinnis, Wasson’s academic and leadership record afforded him various college options. However, it was the personal attention he received during his visits to campus that helped him decide to attend Ole Miss.

“After touring many other engineering departments nationwide, I decided to attend Ole Miss because it felt the most like home,” he said. “The Ole Miss chemical engineering department was a welcoming environment that I knew would provide me with the opportunities to have one-on-one contact with professors and other opportunities not available at other institutions. Additionally, Ole Miss encourages its engineers to be involved outside of the classroom and to pursue other interests.”

Wasson was also excited to learn that he had been named a recipient of the Stamps scholarship and ready to take advantage of the unique opportunities the award offers.

“When I learned of my selection as a Stamps Scholar, I was deeply humbled and honored to be chosen out of such a competitive field full of great applicants,” he said. “I then realized the tremendous charge I had been given to do great things with such an amazing opportunity.”

Wasson was salutatorian at Jackson Preparatory School. A National Merit Finalist and STAR student, he scored a 36 on the ACT as well. Wasson was featured in Portico Magazine’s “25 Students Who Will Change The World” edition and the Jackson Free Press “Amazing Teen” issue in 2016.

During summer 2015, Wasson spent time on the Ole Miss campus participating in the Heads in the Game summer research program through the School of Engineering, where he conducted research on concussions in student-athletes. In 2016, he was selected to participate in the Trent Lott Leadership Institute at UM, where he took courses in political science and speech as well as traveled to Washington, D.C.

Active in the community, Wasson earned Eagle Scout status and volunteered with the Youth Ambassador Council for the Mississippi Children’s Museum as well as Batson Children’s Hospital. He was also a part of Youth Leadership Jackson and attended Mississippi Boys State. He served on the senior advisory board for Jackson Prep’s Global Leadership Institute and as a member of the Prep Patriot League, the school’s student ambassador program. He was also a student-athlete on the cross-country team.

Wasson hopes to take full advantage of the opportunities available to him via the Stamps scholarship and plans to attend medical school after graduation.