UM Geologists Study Impact of Bonnet Carré Spillway on Mississippi Sound

Research findings offer insights into new water levels' effects on oyster production along Gulf Coast

Jarett Barnett, a UM geology and geological engineering graduate assistant, retrieves sensory landers from the Mississippi Sound as part of a study being conducted. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi scientists who are studying the Mississippi River’s ebbs and flows are trying to find out how changing water levels in the river can affect fishing and seafood industries in Mississippi.

With the rising water levels in the lower Mississippi River, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened the Bonnet Carré Spillway west of Lake Pontchartrain in early March. As the flooding continued, more bays of the spillway were opened and remained open through the month. The spillway is designed to channel water into Lake Pontchartrain and through the Rigolets Pass into Lake Borgne and ultimately into the Mississippi Sound.

“The opening of the spillway lowers the water levels flowing through the New Orleans area and lessens the pressure on the levees, pumps and other flood control structures,” said Greg Easson, UM director of the Mississippi Mineral Resources Institute, professor of geology and geological engineering, and a co-principal investigator on the study. “As part of the Mississippi Based RESTORE Act Center of Excellence, we are supporting the redevelopment and restoration of the Mississippi oyster resources as a key action in the restoration of the Gulf Coast.

“Understanding the impact of the opening of the spillway on the water properties in the Mississippi Sound is an important component.”

Easson and Jarett Bell, a UM geological engineering graduate student from Bay St. Louis, have been collaborating on the project since before the student graduated from the university with his undergraduate degree last spring. Sensors are used to gather data about dissolved oxygen, conductivity, temperature and light from the water. Bell’s responsibilities include preparing, launching and recovering the sensor programs, offloading and interpreting the data.

“Another preparation is that we use hidden buoys so that our platforms stay out of sight for at least a week,” Bell said. “Once the buoys sit for the allotted time, we retrieve the landers, offload the data, return them back to Oxford and clean all the components.”

Preliminary graphs of dissolved oxygen and conductivity show the influence of a large freshwater influx and subsequent recovery.

“This information generated will have significant implications for oyster reef restoration and resilience on the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” Easson said. “It will provide critical knowledge related to acceptable sites for future oyster reefs that will support sustainable and productive oyster fisheries.”

The results of the study will be shared with MBRACE partners from Mississippi State University, the University of Southern Mississippi and Jackson State University. It will also be the subject of Bell’s master’s thesis in 2019, and an eventual journal article.

This project was paid for [in part] with federal funding provided through the University of Southern Mississippi under the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality by the Department of the Treasury under the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act). The statements, findings, conclusions and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Southern Mississippi, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality or the Department of the Treasury.

 

Army ROTC Cadet, Engineering Senior Receives National Recognition

UM student Donald Lorbecke selected for Society of American Military Engineers Award of Merit

Army ROTC Cadet Donald Lorbecke (right), receives the Society of American Military Engineers Award of Merit presented by Lt. Com. Joshua Taylor. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Most military personnel are honored after having engaged in active combat, but one University of Mississippi Army ROTC cadet is being nationally recognized before even being commissioned.

CDT Donald Lorbecke, a fifth-year senior majoring in mechanical engineering with a minor in military science from Madison, Alabama, has been selected to receive the Society of American Military Engineers ROTC Award of Merit.

Awardees must be in the top 25 percent of their engineering class and in the top 25 percent of their Reserve Officers’ Training Corps class. Recipients are selected through a central military service board for the Army, Navy and Air Force ROTC programs.

“It is a fairly select award that is competitive among all service branches commissioning programs,” said Lt. Commander Joshua Taylor, chair of the university’s Army ROTC and professor of military science. “With over 5,000 cadets per cohort nationwide in Army ROTC alone, it is quite an honor for him.”

Lorbecke, who receives his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering Saturday at Commencement, will be commissioned in the Mississippi Army National Guard as a 2nd Lieutenant Engineer Officer. He said he is humbled by his recognition.

“I was very honored to learn the selection process for this award,” he said. “Sometimes, I forget that I am doing more than people expect. I think it is because I am doing what I love: military and engineering.”

Taylor said Lorbecke is “unmatched by his peers in terms of his character, competence and commitment to duty.”

“I have watched Cadet Lorbecke grow as a leader and embrace a sense of stewardship for the profession,” he said. “He is completely selfless in all actions and commits more time toward giving back to our program.

“He is a genuine leader and will excel in all that he does. It was a privilege to have him in our program.”

Lorbecke and his sister, Margo Lorbecke, were raised by their aunt and uncle, Jean and Jeff Downs of Madison. The Downs, both Ole Miss alumni, influenced Lorbecke’s decision to attend the university.

“My aunt did 20 years in the Army and my uncle is a mechanical engineer,” he said. “One cousin is also a mechanical engineer. Another one is a geological engineer and served in the Army as well.”

Lorbecke said he is grateful for professors in both the mechanical engineering department and Army ROTC program.

Donald Lorbecke speaks during the recent Cadet ‘Change of Command’ ceremony. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

“Dr. (Erik) Hurlen (instructional assistant professor of mechanical engineering) and Dr. Raj (Arunachalam Rajendran, chair and professor of mechanical engineering) are very smart and supportive professors,” he said. “Both these men should never leave this university because of the impact they make here.”

As for his ROTC instructors, Lorbecke lists Capt. Joseph Gooch, operations officer and MS III instructor, and Maj. Ronald Rogers, MSARNG recruiting BN, Program XO and MS I instructor, as having been his most influential.

“They showed you how a great leader should act and take care of soldiers,” he said. “Capt. Gooch prepared us for our advanced camp summer evaluations last year. Without him, I would not have received the Distinguished Military Graduate Award.

“Maj. Rogers was the assistant professor of military science and the National Guard Simultaneous Membership Program instructor. His presence would give you this feeling that he truly did care for the development in others and the program.”

Rajendran commended Lorbecke upon his recognition.

“I’ve always admired Don’s attitude and demeanor towards all activities during throughout his undergraduate education here at the Ole Miss,” he said.

Army ROTC Lt. Com. Joshua Taylor (left) and Marni Kendricks, assistant dean of engineering, congratulate Donald Lorbecke for winning the Society of American Military Engineers Award of Merit. Submitted photo

Rajendran interacted with Lorbecke during the 2018 American Society of Mechanical Engineers robot design competition. Lorbecke was a member on one of the two teams that participated in the competitions at Pennsylvania State University at State College, Pennsylvania.

“Don and his team designed the robot with enormous passion and hard work,” Rajendran said. “He has been a rising star as an ROTC cadet. Winning the SAME award further confirms Dons’ well-rounded accomplishments.”

Engineering school Dean Alex Cheng agreed.

“Donald is a remarkable young man with excellent leadership, strong determination and true integrity,” Cheng said. “He is well-deserving of this award and I believe he will soon distinguish himself in his very promising military and engineering career. We are proud to claim him as an Ole Miss engineering alum.”

The SAME Award of Merit, a bronze medal with bronze key replica, was authorized in 1948 to be awarded annually to outstanding junior and senior engineering students in the ROTC program. A central military service board selects outstanding students for the awards from nominations submitted by the professors of military science and technology, naval science and aerospace studies.

Electrical Engineering Senior Soars to Success

Kranthi Kadaru started the Ole Miss Robotics Club and joined several academic honor societies

Kranthi Kadaru won second place in the 2016 Gillespie Business Plan Competition. He also attended HackMIT 2017, a Hackathon at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Although the University of Mississippi was the only school he applied to, Kranthi Kadaru arrived on campus as a freshman with some doubts.

Hailing from India, he chose to enroll based on the academic excellence scholarship opportunities he was offered as well as photos of the campus that he saw online. He also had a passion for engineering that started in the eighth grade and led him to choose electrical engineering as a major.

“When I came here, I did not know anyone, could not speak English well, and the worst of all was the fear and self-doubt.” Kadaru said.

Nevertheless, he found his niche in a variety of campus activities and proved himself as a student leader in many of them. He found success in the classroom as well.

Kadaru recently participated in undergraduate research and completed his senior thesis as part of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. He worked on a team with Tai Do and Rodrick Rogers, both fellow electrical engineering students. The title of his project was “Home Network Protector – IOT Security Device,” and the aim was to develop a plug-and-play network security device with routing capabilities and security features to protect home networks from possible penetration techniques. It was directed by Matthew Morrison, assistant professor of electrical engineering.

Kadaru has also been named to Eta Kappa Nu electrical engineering society, Tau Beta Pi engineering society as well as Phi Kappa Phi, Omicron Delta Kappa and Golden Key. He was also recognized with Who’s Who honors last month.

Outside his academic pursuits, Kadaru founded the Ole Miss Robotics Club in 2017. He reflected on this experience as being his biggest success as a student.

“I was not sure if I would get any support for the organization, but I knew that I was passionate about robotics and may not have been the only one in the School of Engineering,” he said. “After receiving funding from the School of Engineering, we now have many dedicated members who are consistently working towards our goals and purpose of providing an engaging environment for students to learn about robotics.”

In addition to his work with the Robotics Club, Kadaru has served as an Associated Student Body senator, a member of the Engineering Student Body Leadership Council and a community assistant for Student Housing, and participated in the Gillespie Business Plan Competition where he earned second-place honors. He also served as president of the Entrepreneurship Club and worked as a Pre-College Programs counselor for the Division of Outreach.

Kadaru said he learned a lot from the activities he was involved in during his four years on campus and he is grateful for the opportunities that were provided to him at the university.

“Ole Miss pushed me to give back to the community and helped me get out of my comfort zone,” he said. “Every leadership role I served in helped me grow as a person. Overall, it was challenging but rewarding.”

He said he is also grateful for the experiences he had as part of the School of Engineering and credits faculty such as Morrison for their assistance and advice, which helped him achieve his academic goals.

“Our small, but growing, engineering program helped me form better relationships with faculty and staff,” he said.

Kadaru is slated to graduate summa cum laude this month. He has accepted a position as an R&D controls engineer at Hytrol Conveyor Co. Inc. in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

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, 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, 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.”

Besides receiving the scholarship, Dhaliwal had an 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 http://ewb.olemiss.edu/. To make donations through the Ignite Ole Miss website, go to https://ignite.olemiss.edu/project/8862/wall .

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 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!