Still Time for Tailgating around Brevard Hall

Sponsorships available for next season's home football games

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hotty Toddy from Brevard Hall!

Engineering Students Take Study USA Intersession Course in New York City

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

multistory engineering building.

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

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

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

 

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.

 

 

Computer Science Student Wins Quip Diversity Technology Scholarship

Blake Lewis visited organization's San Francisco offices in August

Blake Lewis of Ocean Springs, a senior computer and information science major, has received a Quip Diversity in Technology Scholarship. Submitted photo by Ryan Upshaw.

A University of Mississippi engineering student has been awarded the Quip Diversity Tech Scholarship.

Blake Lewis, a senior computer science major with minors in mathematics and sociology, visited software company Quip’s office in San Francisco in August. The scholarship supports students who are underrepresented in STEM fields, particularly computer science, and includes but is not limited to women, African-Americans, Latinos, American Indians, LGBTQ+, first generation, and/or people with disabilities.

The Ocean Springs native heard about the scholarship opportunity via an intradepartmental email.

“Carrie Long, the administrative secretary for our department, sent the email from the Career Center about this program to all the computer science students, and she encouraged any of us eligible to apply,” Lewis said. “So I decided it couldn’t hurt.”

Lewis said visiting Quip was a wonderful experience. The team members not only talked about different topics in computer science with the scholarship recipients, such as design, product engineering and site reliability, but also provided professional advice about career growth and job searching. Lewis had the chance to meet with the CEOs of Quip, Kevin Gibbs and Bret Taylor.

“We learned about some things that Bret and Kevin created while working for other companies like Google Map, Google Suggest and Facebook,” Lewis said. “My favorite part of the day, though, was the panel discussion about diversity in tech.”

He said the biggest takeaway of this panel was that companies must ensure those who are creating the products accurately represent the market they wish to reach in order to create innovative products that are accessible to everyone.

“One of the panelists, Erica Baker, talked a lot about Project Include, which is a company that encourages tech startups to think about diversity and inclusion from the start,” Lewis said. “I think it is important for CS and other engineering students who wish to have a tech startup in the future to know about Project Include and the important work they are doing.”

Lewis has developed a passion for diversity and inclusion since he started at the university. Especially being a community assistant for the Department of Student Housing since his sophomore year of college, he has a more profound understanding about diversity.

“As a CA, I have made it my goal to make freshman residents feel welcome, no matter who they are, and help them get connected to the community,” he said. “On the flip side, I’ve also had to have some tough conversations with residents about diversity and inclusion and how things they say and do can affect people and their access to education.”

Lewis has been serving his second year as vice president of community assistant development for the UM Community Assistant Association and president of the National Residence Hall Honorary. He is also an active member of the UM Pride Network.

Outside the classroom, he has served as an ACUHO-I (Association of College and University Housing Officers International) intern at Montana State University Billings, and been an intern at the same institution’s Diversity Center.

He plans to do his senior project for the housing department this year. Deeply influenced by his experience as a CA, Lewis also would like to pursue a master’s degree in higher education/student affairs and hopes to get a graduate assistantship as a hall director for a residence hall while he is getting his master’s.

“Quip’s staff was very diverse, and it was amazing to meet successful queer computer scientists,” he said. “I would definitely encourage other people at Ole Miss to apply.”

 

 

 

 

 

Engineering Fall Enrollment Includes Inaugural Biomedical Engineering Class

New admission standard expected to ensure higher quality of students, help underprepared students succeed

New School of Engineering students attend the Engineering Freshmen Convocation. Submitted photo by Ryan Upshaw

The Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering program at the University of Mississippi is off to a successful start. Approved last November by the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, the inaugural class consists of 37 new freshmen and 17 internal transfers.

“The new freshmen have an average ACT score of almost 31 (30.9) and GPA of 3.92,” said Alex Cheng, dean of the School of Engineering. “Seventy-three percent of them have at least a 30 on the ACT. We anticipate a great success for the program.”

This fall also marks the first time the engineering school raised its admission requirements to reorganize the student body and better develop underprepared students. Incoming freshmen in every UM engineering degree program except general engineering are required to have an ACT math score of 25 and high school GPA of 3.00 to be admitted. Students with an ACT of 22-24 and a GPA of 2.80-3.00 are admitted to the general engineering program.

“These students are in Math 125, EDHE 105 and three sections of Introduction to Engineering classes,” Cheng said. “Once they finish Math 125 with a B to qualify for calculus, and have a 2.50 GPA, they will be moved to the department of their choice.”

This new policy has caused a small decline in new freshmen enrollment (337 versus last year’s 349), but the overall quality continues to improve, Cheng said.

“The whole new freshman class has (an average) 27.7 ACT (+0.4), 3.73 GPA, and 35 percent have at least a 30 on the ACT,” he said. “As the underprepared students (start in) general engineering, each department also sees improvement in student quality. We hope that this new admission policy can help us to continue our path to an elite program, (and) at the same time to take a firm control of less-prepared students to make them successful.”

 

 

 

 

Engineering Students Enjoy Summer Internships

Prospective employers provide employment, training to four from UM

Professional development is vital to the preparation of future engineers. Students who graduate with some type of internship experience are more likely to gain employment upon graduation than those who do not, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Many students receive employment offers directly from their internship employers.

This past summer, several University of Mississippi engineering students completed internships, gaining skills and experience that will be beneficial as they complete their degrees and seek future employment.

Ben Maples at International Paper. Submitted photo

Benjamin Maples of Lucedale completed an internship with International Paper in Vicksburg. The junior mechanical engineering major learned about this

opportunity by attending the biannual Engineering, Manufacturing and Technology Career Fair, co-sponsored by the School of Engineering and the UM Career Center. As part of Maples’ internship, he worked on a variety of projects in the powerhouse area of the mill and worked closely with a reliability engineer on tracking shipments.

“This experience has been invaluable because I have learned to apply topics that I learn in class to real-world problems and situations,” he said. “I’m also getting exposed to topics that I will soon learn about in class like heat transfer.”

Maples also said that communication is important when working with a team on complex projects. While he considers himself a good communicator, he said the internship helped him develop more effective communication skills.

William Peaster at BASF. Submitted photo

Yazoo City native William Peaster also found that communication was important through his internship with BASF in Mobile, Alabama. The company produces chemical products for customers across the country. Peaster helped with creating new diagrams for all of the process lines in the plant.

He also had the chance to create a mass balance that helped identify some yield issues within the plant, and was exposed to the business side through working with the supply chain management team.

During his time at BASF, the senior chemical engineering student was able to see firsthand the inner workings of a chemical plant, and like Maples, see things that he could not glean from a textbook. It also helped him define his future role as an engineer.

“Part of being an engineer is being able to come up with an answer and a solution when things are gray,” he said. “My internship experience allowed me to see the constant communication between engineers, managers, accountants, operators and other team members.”

Jake Azbell at Dynetics. Submitted photo

Electrical engineering senior Jake Azbell spent his summer interning with Dynetics in Huntsville, Alabama. The Riddleton, Tennessee, native learned of the internship opportunity from Ole Miss graduates who were recruiting on campus. Since working in Huntsville, Azbell has worked on data simulation and real-time processing for a radar prototype and has implemented the simulation using GPU programming.

Like Peaster, he said his experience as an intern has helped him see what the professional world will look like after he graduates this upcoming year.

“Being an intern has given me the chance to see how a postgraduate career will look and how to better prepare for life after school,” Azbell said. “I have had the opportunity to explore different aspects of engineering at the company and develop needed skills for my future career.”

While he found it challenging to learn the software for his projects in such a short time, he said that his course work had provided some basic experience in the area. He would also consider working for Dynetics as a result of his positive experience working with the company.

Catherine Teh (left) at the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. Submitted photo

Like Maples, Catherine Teh secured her internship with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality after interviewing with representatives at the on-campus career fair. However, she initially received notice from MDEQ that she had not been selected for a spot. Nevertheless, she received a phone call in mid-May, informing her that the department was interested in offering her a position, and she gladly accepted.

Although the process did not begin how she wanted, Teh, a sophomore chemical engineering major from Brandon found the internship experience to be eye-opening. According to Teh, MDEQ interns spend five days in each of the seven divisions of the Pollution Control office and are given small projects in each division. This way, they are exposed to all areas of the organization. She was also able to shadow an MDEQ mentor and go out into the field as well as take part in some sample collection.

“Even though I learned a great deal of technical skills, I took from the experience that it’s OK to make mistakes and how important interpersonal skills are in the workplace,” she said. “It’s important to seek out challenges and opportunities to grow. I received that from my internship with MDEQ.”

Teh said one of her biggest challenges was rotating between all the different divisions and getting to know so many people. As a rising sophomore, she found it difficult since she didn’t have an opportunity to settle into a routine. She does hope, however, to secure future internship opportunities to continue to develop her skills.

 

 

Catherine Grace Norris: Muzungu from Mississippi

UM geology and geological engineering graduate joins Peace Corps, works in Zambia

Catherine Norris (center) embraces twin sisters Jane (left) and Joy Mulambila. ‘We are triplets, and they taught me how to scream when you see vermin as well as how to cook.’ Submitted photo.

It’s a long way from the Grove, but Zambia is going to be home now for Catherine Grace Norris (BSGE 16).

Norris took her “still warm” diploma around the world to find relevance and reward in her major. She is working with strangers who have become her closest friends overnight, literally. The night is a good time to have close friends when living in a mud hut, draped in mosquito netting, listening to the small and large sounds that waft through the walls and settle silently in the corners.

So, the truth is, Norris is no ordinary young woman.

With a good education and job prospects to contemplate, she jumped off the edge of the cliff and joined the Peace Corps, a decision born of spirit, spunk and gargantuan optimism. Norris embraced the certainty that there would be hardships and languages to learn, she opened her future to the world and gave up her apartment. Little did she know that the three-month training and the mountain of “Google-ese” were only the caption on a full-color, 3-D, action-packed movie of her future.

Norris calls herself stubborn, but committed may be a better word. At 23, she is both respectful and impulsive, and she touts being adaptable as well. She served for two years as the Girl Friday in the dean’s office in the School of Engineering and did some awesome work, all the while under appreciating the indoor plumbing and Wi-Fi. She has neither now, but she is effusive in her praise of the Peace Corps’ grassroots development model and “mandatory” orientation.

Norris references her upbringing in the Bible Belt and acknowledges the culture shock of Luapula Province in the district of Mwense bordering the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She has picked up some Bemba with a just sprinkle of Lunda. Norris has fought the good fight with malaria mosquitoes and rumored black mamba snakes (lethally venomous), and she still insists “this is the most amazing thing I have ever done.”

One of the early highlights of her Peace Corps assignment was discovering an elephant orphanage near her town. Although it is a tourist destination, it has a commendable mission to rehabilitate elephants orphaned by the poaching in Zambia. While the entrance fee of 50 kwacha (about $5) was beyond her Peace Corps salary … “it’s free on Mondays!”

Norris’ work has involved meeting with the Japan International Cooperation Agency, a rice nongovernmental organization, to discuss hosting a workshop in Luapula Province. She frequently hosts demonstrations on how to make compost fertilizer and smaller projects involving animal husbandry, women’s empowerment and hydrogeology. At the end of the day, Norris cooks her dinner on her brazier, fends off mosquitoes, plays with her cat and dog, and watches the corners of the room for signs of life.

A true sign of contentment is that Catherine signs her blog “Your African Queen.” Not a bad job, and who wouldn’t want to be Katharine Hepburn?

 

 

Valuable Lessons from a Candy Bar

Assistant professor demonstrates practical applications of chemical engineering to freshmen

Madeleine Mixon (left) and Cole Bofrek prepare caramel for their chocolate bar. Photo by Brenda Prager

Chemical engineering students enrolled in Ch E 101: Introduction to Chemical Engineering were required midway through the semester to use their cooking expertise to prepare a Snickers bar. Why, you might ask?

After observing the strengths and pitfalls of carefully preparing caramel dispersed with roasted peanuts, and mixing nougat to the correct consistency with a scrumptious peanut butter flavor, the freshmen investigated in depth a chocolate bar manufacturing process.

Many were surprised to learn that everyday items often taken for granted were part of an intricate chemical process. They learned that food manufacturing requires careful planning of unit operations and their order within the overall process, as well as accurate control of many variables (particularly temperature) within each step.

Students worked in groups of four, learning valuable teamwork skills, which included the inevitable compromise and dealing with conflict and, of course, an overall enriching experience and greater depth of learning through collaboration.

Writing up a practical report was a first-time experience for many students. Not only were they required to describe the chocolate bar preparation, but they also had to consider likely equipment items, draw process flow sheets, and conduct basic chemical engineering calculations such as flow rate and average molecular weight of the nougat stream.

“This project was a very fun endeavor, as it allowed me and my group to indulge some delicious treats while also applying scientific methods and analytics to our process,” said Walker Abel, one of the students.

After working in both industry and academia as a chemical engineer, I first learned about Differentiated Teaching and Learning when I completed an M. Teach (secondary) from the University of Melbourne, and subsequently taught high school chemistry, physics and mathematics for five years. Coming back into academia and chemical engineering, I decided to implement these techniques into my freshman classes in order to present students with a more targeted education that best matched their learning needs. This method of teaching is common in many K-12 settings but underutilized at the university level.

Freshmen often come from varied backgrounds and different high school experiences, and it is important that their first year adapts to their needs and assists in progression of both learning and retention. Differentiation is characterized by a) understanding student need; b) presenting concepts in multiple ways; c) providing challenging learning experiences; d) promoting collaborative tasks; and e) progressing students into independent learners.

By successfully preparing students with these skills in their freshman year, they are more likely to thrive in later years and proceed to completion of their course.

Through the Snickers bar project, students learned new chemical engineering skills and reviewed most of the engineering calculations covered previously within the course as well. Throughout the project, students were required to make decisions and judgments about various sections of their written reports, providing real-life experiences of working in teams and becoming independent learners.

“As a team, we achieved our goal of making the bar, as well as applying the techniques that we used in the preparation of the candy bar in a large-scale setting,” Abel said.

The semesterlong course contained targeted instruction covering the five points described above. Formal feedback from students upon completion of the course showed important progress in the implementation of differentiated learning at a college level. For example, 83 percent of the class found active reading and problem-solving study skills sessions extremely or very useful; and 87 percent used the differentiated homework sheets to challenge themselves or choose questions matching their current ability level.

With respect to the chocolate bar project, 70 percent learned a lot about cooperation and compromise within a group setting; almost 60 percent were more confident with engineering calculations encountered earlier in the semester; and 87 percent learned – as a team – the key points in writing a technical report.

Research in this area is important to pursue. It is vital that students receive a targeted education to meet their needs and successfully graduate. STEM education is important for the nation, and although improvements have been made, a 2016 report showed that attracting high school students to STEM education in college remains a challenge. The students in STEM courses must be cultivated and encouraged from day one, so teaching and learning strategies that are targeted to students’ needs is an important step in attracting more students into these areas.

Brenda Prager is an assistant professor of chemical engineering in the UM School of Engineering.

 

UM Engineering Science Ph.D. Continues Research at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

Mamun Miah studying earthquake hazard simulations, risk assessments

Mamun Miah, a UM chemical engineering graduate, is a postdoctoral fellow at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Submitted photo

From the suburbs of his native Dhaka, Bangladesh, to the Energy Geosciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, Mamun Miah has been on an incredible journey. And the faculty, courses and programs of the University of Mississippi School of Engineering have played an important role in his career path.

“During my undergraduate study, I felt the need to further my technical as well as communicative skills, which made me think of coming to the USA,” Miah said. “Following that dream, I applied and got accepted into the civil engineering programs at several U.S. universities. Ole Miss has a good engineering program and offered me financial assistance, which helped me decide to attend Ole Miss eventually.”

After earning his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology in 2009, Miah entered UM.

“Ole Miss is a great school, not only for its academic curriculum but also for its sincere engagement in students’ overall well-being,” he said. “Some courses that shaped my career include Finite Element Analysis for Structures provided by Dr. Christopher Mullen, Continuum Mechanics by Dr. Ahmed Al-Ostaz, Shear Strength of Soil by Dr. Chung Song, Groundwater Modeling by Dr. Robert Holt and Engineering Analysis by Dr. Wei-Yen Chen. Ole Miss Engineering also has some career fair and diversity inclusion programs, which helped me further my career by building connections and communications beyond the school.”

Miah’s former UM engineering professors have fond memories of him.

“A hardworking student, Mamun showed great interest to learn new technologies and accept challenging research topics,” said Waheed Uddin, a professor of civil engineering who directed Miah’s thesis. “His M.S. thesis research involved traditional two-dimensional and innovative three-dimensional geospatial analysis for floodplain mapping and aviation infrastructure visualization. I am glad that he successfully pursued and completed his doctoral degree.”

“In academic and technical matters, he transitioned almost seamlessly from a transportation-oriented master thesis to a structural engineering-related research project to a geophysics-based dissertation,” said Christopher Mullen, professor of civil engineering and Miah’s dissertation director. “Mamun has demonstrated both self-motivation and talent in applying programming-based computer modeling to numerical simulations of some very complex problems in engineering science. It has been a pleasure to see him develop from a graduate student unsure of his direction in life to a highly skilled, self-assured postdoctoral researcher at one of the world’s most respected government research laboratories.”

Yacoub “Jacob” Najjar, chair and professor of civil engineering, said Miah was an outstanding graduate student during his time at Ole Miss.

“Besides working on his research, he was also nicely engaged in teaching and helping CE faculty in a number of courses,” he said. “Above all, Mamun is one of those exceptional doctoral students who was able to choose his Ph.D. research topic and get it funded by an external sponsor. We are very proud of him and his achievements. I wish him the best in all of his future endeavors.”

It was at a UM career fair where Miah connected with the Berkeley Lab.

“I attended a National Lab day in 2012, which was held at The Inn at Ole Miss,” Miah said. “By talking and engaging in discussions with the scientists from across the nation, I eventually availed an internship at the prestigious Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 2013. After a successful internship, I wrote a grant proposal to LBNL for my Ph.D. thesis, which they approved.”

At Berkeley, Miah found a very sound research resource on his thesis topic. He also kept attending science and engineering seminars provided by some of the world’s most renowned scientists and professors.

“I think this internship opportunity had a tremendous effect on my career success,” he said.

Miah received his master’s in engineering science in 2010 and Ph.D. in the same field in 2016, both from Ole Miss. He then became a postdoctoral fellow at the Energy Geosciences Division at LBNL.

“I am working on exascale-level computing for regional-scale earthquake hazard simulations and risk assessments in the San Francisco Bay Area,” he said. “I am also working on earthquake soil-structure interaction for safety of nuclear power plants managed by (the) U.S. Department of Energy.”

Miah said he also appreciated the instruction he received at Bangladesh University.

“Almost all the faculty members have a very solid understanding as well as teaching capability for the comprehensive civil engineering program,” he said. “Their teaching style along with relevant learning materials and homework problems made the courses really interesting to learn and apply for the practical engineering purpose. I owe them a lot for my today’s career.”

For more about Mamun Miah and his work at LBNL, visit

https://eesa.lbl.gov/meet-postdoc-mamun-miah/

By Edwin Smith

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