Engineering Research Group Developing Coatings for Sturdier Packaging

10 undergraduate chemical engineering majors part of group also investigating antibacterial coatings, oil-spreading behavior over soils

Chemical engineering majors Anas Al-Abri (left), Brandon Knight and Shaylin Williams conduct lab experiments in Brenda Prager’s Coatings, Surfaces and Interfaces Research Group. Submitted photo

Three years ago, Brenda Prager received a parcel of medications from her Australian pharmacist. As it was winter in Australia, the parcel was badly damaged because of wet weather, and the box containing the medications fell apart upon opening.

“It struck me at the time that a cheap but strong, hydrophobic-coated surface over this paper-based package would have gone a long way in protecting my medications,” said Prager, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at the University of Mississippi.

About the same time, a friend sent her some much-wanted “Aussie chocolate.” The Mississippi heat, however, melted the tasty treats.

“Thermal barrier coatings, in this case, would have enabled my beloved Cadbury’s to have arrived safely during transportation,” she said.

Fed up with ineffective package wrappings, Prager created the Coatings, Surfaces and Interfaces Group (CSIG), a research team dealing primarily with the development of intelligent and functional coatings onto paper substrates for packaging applications and investigating their surface behavior, functionality, interactions with the paper substrate and mechanical strength properties.

“Three types of coatings are currently being investigated: hydrophobic, or water repellent, coating; thermal barrier coatings; and antibacterial coatings,” Prager said. “Using the same fundamental science of surfaces and interfaces, I’ve also expanded my research into a fourth project area, investigating oil-spreading behavior over soils, a phenomenon occurring during an oil spill. Understanding this fundamental behavior may lead to modified incident responses following an oil spill.”

The CSIG group includes three graduate researchers (one of whom is a former undergraduate research student of Prager’s): Kola Adenekan of Nigeria, who is working toward his Ph.D. in engineering science; Anas Khalaf Al-Abri of Oman, who has begun his master’s degree in engineering science; and Mustafees Khan of India, who recently completed his master’s in engineering science.

The graduate students help supervise 10 undergraduate students, all chemical engineering majors. They are Claire Cozadd of O’Fallon, Illinois; Osas Imafidon of Lagos, Nigeria; Jared Foster of Horn Lake; Shaylin Williams of Natchez (a McNair Scholar); Aransa Gonzalez of Caracas, Venezuela; Brandon Knight of Collinsville; Ebrima Komma of the Gambia in West Africa; Adam Luckett of Jackson; Jordan Ryan of Gulfport; and Mitch Sypniewski of Vero Beach, Florida.

“Many of my students begin in my research group as volunteers to get a taste of research,” Prager said. “While not all stay in the group, those who do are typically drawn into the excitement that research brings and genuinely enjoy the challenges and higher-order thinking required to successfully conduct the research.”

Komma entered the research group after having taken Prager’s mass and energy balance course last summer.

“I wanted to put into practice the theories that I learned, so I talked to Dr. Prager about research, and she told me about the CSIG research group,” Komma said. “The work they do there interested me, so I gladly joined when she offered me a position.”

The most rewarding part for Komma has been the hands-on experience.

“Making a hydrophobic coating on a filter paper sounds fancy, and being able to be a part of that will help me grow my knowledge in chemical engineering,” he said. “I haven’t particularly gone deep into what (I) am supposed to do, but I do have the gist of it.”

Ryan said being able to work with such an incredible team is what he finds most rewarding.

“Though I’ve been on this research team for a short time, Dr. Prager’s involvement and leadership is such a critical part of our work,” he said. “Also, knowing that our research might solve real-world problems is very gratifying.”

Other students are introduced to research by teaming up with Prager to complete their honors project or by taking credit hours in ChE 330, a class specifically designed for students to conduct research in chemical engineering.

While most of these projects were initially funded by Prager’s startup money, the hard work by her team has enabled two successful research grants to be received: a NASA seed grant (Award NNX 15AH78H) investigating thermal barrier coatings (October 2017 to September 2018) and a USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative seed grant (Award No. 2018-67022-27972) investigating thermal barrier and hydrophobic coatings for food packaging applications (June 2018 to May 2020).

“These grants have allowed some of the undergraduate researchers to undertake paid research work and employ a new master’s student on the thermal barrier project,” Prager said. “Brandon was also able to attend the 2018 American Coatings Conference in Indianapolis, finding it an enriching experience.”

Prager is searching for another master’s student to lead the soil remediation work using departmental funds awarded to her for this project. She is also preparing a small grant for the antibacterial coatings project.

“I actively recruit students into my research group, encouraging women and other minorities to consider these opportunities,” Prager said. “There is a dual benefit: The students learn the nuts and bolts of how to do research and cultivate higher-order thinking skills in areas related to their class work. Their hard work then enables research grants to be written and publication of results in journal articles.”

Prager said necessity usually dictates the focus of her research projects.

“I’ve spent most of my working life in industry and academia dealing with all sorts of coatings – photographic coatings, paperboard coatings and biomedical coatings on point-of-care sensors, investigating in-depth their respective functionalities, surface and interfacial properties,” she said.

“It was my damaged medications and melted chocolates which inspired me to create this particular research group. The end must justify the means.”

 

 

 

14 Freshmen Receive Prestigious Engineering Scholarships

Exceptional students from 4 states named Brevard Family, John G. Adler and Harper Johnson scholars

The 2018 John G. Adler, Brevard Family and Harper Johnson Engineering Scholarship recipients include (back row, from left): Leah Ladner, Spencer Johns, Henry Seiler, Aditya Surakanti and John Martin Paczak; (front row, from left): Doc Herrin, Anne Stewart Piazza, Cindy Nguyen, Jabria Thompson and Ajah Singleton. Submitted photo

Fourteen University of Mississippi freshmen have been named recipients of top scholarships in the School of Engineering this fall.

Representing Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Texas, they are this year’s Brevard Family, John G. Adler and Harper Johnson scholars. The exceptional group of students posted an average ACT score of 33.4 and an average 3.92 high school grade-point average.

“We are excited to welcome these outstanding students to the School of Engineering,” said Ryan Upshaw, assistant dean for student services. Upshaw manages the School of Engineering’s recruitment efforts and coordinates the scholarship awarding process. “We look forward to their contributions to the school and to the university.”

Aditya Surakanti, a biomedical engineering major from Madison, is a Brevard Scholarship recipient. A STAR student and AP Scholar at Madison Central High School, he participated in the UM Summer College for High School Students engineering program and was part of the MCHS Engineering Academy. He is also a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.

“I worked hard to receive scholarships to reduce the financial burden for my family,” Surakanti said. “When I found out that I was receiving this scholarship, I was elated, and it strengthened my commitment to Ole Miss.”

Other Brevard scholars are Wallace “Doc” Herrin of Picayune, Cindy Nguyen of D’Iberville, Henry Seiler of Tupelo and Lauren Skinner of Ocean Springs.

Herrin earned the status of salutatorian and served as student body president at Pearl River Central High School. He was also the student representative on the school board and attended the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Conference. He also plans to study biomedical engineering as part of the Honors College and has been accepted into the Chancellor’s Leadership Class.

Valedictorian of D’Iberville High School, Nguyen received numerous academic awards. She served as president of both the Key Club and the math and science team. She plans to study biomedical engineering as part of the Provost Scholars program.

STAR Student at Tupelo High School, Seiler was named an AP Scholar. He was also a member of the AP Science Club and served as a section leader for the marching band. He plans to study biomedical engineering as part of the Honors College.

Skinner was named valedictorian and STAR Student at St. Patrick Catholic School and attended the APEX Leadership Summit. She served as captain of the Science Olympiad and mentored a local Lego League team. She plans to study biomedical engineering as part of the Honors College.

Adler Scholar Spencer Johns of Little Cypress, Texas, hopes to pursue a career in the intelligence community after studying computer science and participating in the Center for Intelligence and Security Studies. He was named valedictorian at Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School and attended both the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Conference and Texas Boys State. An Eagle Scout, he served as junior class president.

“I was overwhelmed when I received the email notifying me of the award,” Johns said. “It meant a lot to me that someone believed enough in my drive and experience that they would help support my further growth.”

Additional Adler scholars are Ashton Devall of Ethel, Louisiana, Leah Ladner of Gulfport, Bryson O’Malley of Mathews, Alabama, John Martin Paczak of Madison and Anne Stewart Piazza of Vicksburg.

Valedictorian of Centreville Academy, Devall was named STAR Student and served as senior class president and president of the Beta Club. She attended the APEX Leadership Summit. She plans to study chemical engineering as part of the Honors College.

Named to the Hancock High School Hall of Fame, Ladner was ranked sixth in her class and served as both president and regional governor of Mu Alpha Theta. She also served as treasurer of the Catholic Youth Organization. She plans to major in biomedical engineering as part of the Honors College.

O’Malley earned the status of salutatorian and served as National Honor Society vice president at Macon East-Montgomery Academy. He was selected to represent his school at the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Conference. He plans to pursue a degree in engineering as part of the Honors College.

A STAR Student at Madison Central, Paczak was named an AP Scholar and participated in the APEX Leadership Summit. He attended Youth Leadership Madison County and Mississippi Boys State. He plans to study civil engineering as part of the Honors College.

Piazza was ranked fifth in her class at St. Aloysius High School. She served as president of the senior class and the National Honor Society. She represented her school at the UM Trent Lott Leadership Institute summer program. She plans to study biomedical engineering as part of the Honors College.

Harper Johnson scholars are Peyton Lott of Clarksdale, Ajah Singleton of Raymond and Jabria Thompson of Florence.

Ranked third in his class, Lott served as sophomore and junior class president as well as student body president at Lee Academy. He also participated in the Clarksdale Youth Leadership program. He plans to study chemical engineering.

President of the student body at Raymond High School, Singleton was ranked fourth in her class and also served as junior class president and president of the Beta Club. She plans to study biomedical engineering as part of the Honors College.

Thompson earned the status of salutatorian and served as senior class president at Hartfield Academy. She also served as vice president of Mu Alpha Theta and co-captain of the varsity dance team. She plans to study chemical engineering as part of the Honors College.

 

Computer Science Staff Members Help Ignite Esports at Ole Miss

CS department chair Dawn Wilkins and administrative assistant Carrie Long see potential of gaming tourneys

Cray Pennison (left), president of the Ole Miss Esports club, is joined by Noel Wilkin, UM provost and executive vice chancellor, and Jason DeShong, president of MSU Esports, to announce the Esports Egg Bowl set for Oct. 13 in the Pavilion at Ole Miss. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

On Sept. 13, the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University announced the first-ever Esports Egg Bowl, an electronic matchup Oct. 13 in the Pavilion at Ole Miss between the two schools whose football rivalry stretches back to 1901.

The history of Ole Miss Esports is not nearly as lengthy. The club, designed to establish a community of gamers and promote competitive esports play on the UM campus, was founded in January 2017 by junior English major Cray Pennison, of Mandeville, Louisiana.

About a year-and-a-half ago, Pennison approached the UM Department of Computer and Information Science requesting financial support for Rebel Rumble 2017, a campus club gaming tourney. The department, under the direction of Chair Dawn Wilkins, again assisted with Rebel Rumble this spring, and the club’s momentum was ignited.

“The timing just seemed right,” said Carrie Long, administrative assistant for the department and a self-described “ally” of the club. “Esports is undoubtedly a very popular event worldwide and can be used in the university setting in multiple facets.

“It is a good team-building unit, much the same as any team sport; it can be used to help motivate students to participate in leading roles as well as collaborate with others working toward common goals.”

Scholarly pursuits, including research into programming, psychology, kinesiology and virtual reality, also can be linked to esports, Long said.

And esports can be supportive in assisting a student’s mental health.

“Our hope is this will help students find others in the community who have similar interests, as well as support their interest but also make them accountable for going to class and encouraging them to be more social,” Long said.

Long and Wilkins approached Provost Noel Wilkin about administration support for the club. It did not take much to persuade him.

“This is about embracing the future: the future of online gaming, the future of sports and the future of understanding how the online world brings society together,” Wilkin said. “The future is here, competition is changing and the need for new talent is emerging. Ole Miss is changing the world.”

As the esports conversation accelerated over the summer, the idea arose for an Esports Egg Bowl, with Ole Miss and MSU battling it out for esports supremacy in the state.

“The fact that Ole Miss pulled the trigger on (supporting an esports club) is a really smart move,” said Gage Angle, a junior economics major from Colorado Springs, Colorado, and vice president and co-founder of the Ole Miss Esports club. “They are taking it seriously. That’s making people realize that this is going to be real.”

The club, born out of a defunct League of Legends club on campus, convened with about five members at its first meeting. At a club social Aug. 23 in Brevard Hall, 85 people signed up for the club, with more than 100 students in attendance, chowing down on pizza and playing video games. More than 50 students attended the club’s first official fall meeting.

The explosion of the group mirrors the mushrooming popularity of esports around the globe. Newzoo, a games, esports and mobile market intelligence provider, forecasts that the total, global esports audience will grow from 395 million this year to 580 million by 2021. 

Newzoo also states that the global esports economy will grow to $905.6 million this year, a year-on-year growth of 38 percent.

The Ole Miss Esports club was founded in January 2017 to establish a community of gamers and promote competitive esports play on the UM campus. Photo by Shea Stewart/Ole Miss Communications

Games are played on a trio of platforms – mobile (smartphone and tablets), PC and console games – in genres that include fighting and multiplayer online battle arena, first-person shooter or real-time strategy games. Some of the most popular games are “Call of Duty,” “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive,” “Dota 2,” “League of Legends,” “Overwatch,” “Rocket League,” “Super Smash Bros. Melee” and “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege.” 

Players go by game aliases. Pennison’s is “Syliris” because he likes the combination of sounds; Angle’s is “Geiji,” a Japanese pronunciation of his first name.

And while millions play the games, millions more watch online, thanks to sites such as Twitch and YouTube. Twitch, a subsidiary of Amazon, is a live-streaming video service and social site with an estimated daily viewership in the last 30 days of more than 1.1 million viewers. By comparison, ESPN – the leading U.S. basic cable sports network – had an average of 2.5 million total viewers in primetime for the week of Sept. 3.

Besides the free, live event sponsored by C Spire at the Pavilion, the Esports Egg Bowl will likewise stream online – time and place to be announced.

“One of the things I get is, ‘So you enjoy watching other people play video games?'” Pennison said. “I always joke back, ‘You like watching people play football as you sit on the couch?’ It’s the same thing.”

That growing worldwide fascination with esports, the popularity of which first bloomed in South Korea, is gaining notice in the U.S. ESPN has added esports to the growing list of sports it covers. And the Mississippi High School Activities Association added esports as a pilot program in 2018-19.

Esports also has become a varsity collegiate sport. In 2014, Robert Morris University in Illinois announced a scholarship-sponsored “League of Legends” team.

Since then, the esports scene has skyrocketed, with a national governing body known as the National Association of Collegiate Esports representing more than 90 institutions, ranging from tiny Culver-Stockton College in Missouri to larger schools such as the University of North Texas and Georgia State University.

In March, the University of North Georgia captured the first-ever Peach Belt Conference League of Legends Championship. The championship was the first of its kind in the nation as the PBC is the first NCAA conference to present a league title for esports.

The popularity of esports – competitive video game playing – is booming, with an estimated global audience of 395 million in 2018. Photo by Shea Stewart/Ole Miss Communications

Yes, the showdown will be a battle, because esports is competitive. The Ole Miss Esports club has finished highly ranked at some competitions, including two top 10 finishes in the Collegiate Battleground Association’s fall 2017 and spring 2018 PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds tournaments.

The idea is for the club to compete this year in the most popular esports games, with club members split into their respective games of interest and each game overseen by a chairman. Some games have multiple teams, and each team is coached by a captain.

Much like other team sports, esport captains develop game plans by researching opponents, searching for patterns in play or weaknesses, and poring over data. Players, especially in a multiplayer online battle arena game such as “League of Legends,” are always searching for that most efficient tactic.

“In the ‘Call of Duty’ team here, our practices consist of (playing training games against) other schools for at least 15 hours a week in-game, watching hours of video-on-demand to get intel on other school’s teams, and even writing down strategies and critiques of our own play to use in-game,” said Sergio Brack, alias “Physix,” a pre-pharmacy major from Chicago who is the club’s “Call of Duty” chairman.

All this takes time, and it takes a great amount of time to become even competent at a game. But esport players do not have to be athletic freaks of nature, able to hit a nasty 85 mph slider or slalom up and down a soccer field, dribbling the ball while avoiding opposing players.

“(Esports) seem more accessible than other sports,” Angle said. “You see athletes, and it is like, ‘Those guys are big and tall, and they have the genetics and they’ve been working out their whole lives,’ and then you see guys playing video games and it’s like, ‘Oh my God, I do that.’

“In esports, there is not much you can be born with for talent. You have to work hard. You have to get ahead of everybody.”

While athletic ability, beyond talents such as hand-eye coordination and quick reflexes, is not necessary for excelling at esports, a competitive spirit is beneficial.

“I noticed with esports, people who play competitively, when they were younger, they usually played sports so they have that competitive nature,” Pennison said. “And then they played video games, so it becomes where you can play the thing you really like to do – video games – and enjoy the high of being competitive and being good at it.”

Still, the games are essentially supposed to be fun, an escape from stress and the tasks of being a student. That is the role these games have played in Ole Miss Esports players’ lives since they started playing video games, which have been a near-constant since birth.

Austin Turner, a junior computer science major from Yazoo City, remembers playing as a child on his PlayStation, thinking it was the “coolest thing ever.” By high school, he was playing “League of Legends,” and when he arrived at UM, he started playing “Overwatch” for “hours on end with no end in sight.”

“For me, the joy is just the pure rush,” said Turner, the club’s “Overwatch” chairman. “I play competitive games and also survival games, so the rush for me comes when I am able to overpower another player in a game and get rewards from it.”

Esport players compete in a number of games, with some of the most popular being ‘Call of Duty,’ ‘Counter-Strike: Global Offensive,’ ‘League of Legends’ and ‘Overwatch.’ Here, Ole Miss students play ‘Super Smash Bros.’ Photo by Shea Stewart/Ole Miss Communications

So where does all this lead? Down the road to a National Collegiate Esports Tournament in a dedicated Ole Miss arena? (It’s not so far-fetched: The University of California at Irvine opened its UCI eSports Arena in September 2016.)

But first steps first, such as opening a practice room for Ole Miss Esports members, then maybe becoming an officially recognized sport and offering scholarships. Then the arena and national tournament.

Wilkin said UM will work toward establishing “sites where Ole Miss gamers can gather, practice and connect with expert gamers recreationally and in preparation for tournaments.”

“We will work toward establishing a competitive program that will enable our Rebel gamers to compete against the best collegiate gamers in the country. It is consistent with our efforts to build excellent programs that give students the knowledge and understanding necessary to enable them to unleash their potential and prepare them for the lifelong learning necessary in their careers.”

James Zhou, a junior managerial finance major from Madison who goes by the gamer alias “icytea,” sees a big future for Ole Miss Esports, especially with the university’s support.

“It’s still a long shot for any school, but hopefully we can become national contenders for multiple popular esports,” said Zhou, who is the club’s “League of Legends” chairman. “Universities from around the world have been hopping on the esports train.

“I definitely did not expect the amount of growth that we’ve had in the past few years, so props to everyone involved, especially the leadership.”

And by supporting the development of the Ole Miss Esports club, the university is doing more than creating a new team; it is giving students a new channel for developing their talents.

“Esports, here at Ole Miss, is an outlet for some very talented people to come and show off a skill that doesn’t involve having to be physically good at something,” Turner said. “This is an opportunity for people that may have social issues, physical issues, medical issues, etc., to come and show off that they don’t have to conform their bodies to a certain sport or face the negative stigma around gaming.

“We’re all geeks in some way or fashion but together in this organization, we can come together and push boundaries that have never been reached at Ole Miss.”

The Storied Life of Charley Calhoun

Civil engineering alumnus's prestigious career spans decades, miles and milestones

Charles A. ‘Charley’ Calhoun (BSCE 61) enjoys sharing stories from his half-century-long career with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Submitted photo

Charles “Charley” A. Calhoun (BSCE 61) never set his sights on becoming well-known. Yet, the University of Mississippi civil engineering alumnus’s career has made him somewhat of a living legend within the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, where he was employed for more than 50 years.

“My father had a strong influence on me,” said Calhoun, who was born July 4, 1939 in Hattiesburg. “I remember when I was in about the 10th or 11th grade, we would sit down on the back steps talking about careers. He asked me what I wanted to study when I went to college.”

While Calhoun assumed he would go to college, he didn’t determine his major beforehand.

“My father thought civil engineering was the best career,” he said. “I got into the technical aspects of civil engineering and discovered that, to a large extent, he was right. It’s been a fascinating profession and one that has served me well.”

The Calhoun family moved several times during Charley’s early years. His father was a civil engineer for the Mississippi State Highway Department. During World War II, he briefly worked for the Corps of Engineers in Louisiana before returning to his wife’s hometown of Lucedale, Mississippi, and working in the shipyard in Mobile, Alabama, until the war ended. He then returned to Hattiesburg where Charley grew up and graduated from high school.

Calhoun’s father was a UM alumnus who earned his degree in 1927. Thirty years later, Calhoun followed in his father’s footsteps.

“The Ole Miss School of Engineering is made up of many wonderful stories of connections that have brought people together at different times for similar engineering educational experiences at this flagship university,” said Marni Kendricks, assistant dean of undergraduate academics in the engineering school. “We always enjoy meeting and hearing about our legacy alumni because of the deep-roots commitment to their alma mater. For Ole Miss Engineering to be an integral part of this family for so many years, we consider it to be a very, very special honor.”

During his junior and senior years at the university, Calhoun worked part time at the USDA Sedimentation Lab. Following graduation, he began a long career working for the Bureau of Reclamation.

“Dean Kellogg told us the Bureau of Reclamation offered some of the best engineering professional opportunities anywhere,” Calhoun said. “As I learned more about the mission and the program of the Bureau of Reclamation and the work in water resources, it had a great deal of appeal to me.”

Calhoun was offered a job with the bureau after graduation in June 1961. He went to Denver and worked there in a variety of jobs.

“I got in some real neat foreign activities,” Calhoun said. “There was a great deal of interest in the Soviet Union. We entertained Soviet engineers over here with Deputy Commissioner Ed Sullivan, and accompanied him over to the Soviet Union for a couple of weeks in ’74.”

Calhoun also went to Spain for a couple of weeks in early 1975, and entertained Spanish engineers visiting the U.S.

“We were looking for ways to achieve an operation of open-channel canal systems,” he said. “I was expected, and fortunate, to have the opportunity to go through a one-year rotation program. So I spent three months in canals and pipelines, I spent three months in contract administration doing construction contract work, three months in the soils lab over in soil mechanics, and then three months out in California in Los Banos doing some fieldwork, pre-construction and construction work.”

Calhoun remembers the drought of 1976-77, which was one of the worst droughts since the ‘30s, throughout most of the Western United States.

“We got into a legal confrontation with the City of Denver,” Calhoun said. “The City of Denver was diverting water out of priority beyond their entitlement at Dillon Reservoir that affected our ability to store water at Green Mountain Reservoir as part of the Colorado-Big Thompson project. And so I got involved very deeply with the Solicitor’s Office, Justice Department, pursuing possible litigation to protect the reclamation rights-project rights.”

Calhoun said he was taken from a somewhat sheltered career in the technical areas into the world of politics, law and management in a two-year period.

“All this was going on, and I realized how fortunate I was to have this type of opportunity and looked on it as a real challenge,” he said.

Calhoun was promoted to chief of water, land and power for the Southwestern regional office of the Bureau of Reclamation in Amarillo, Texas, in 1980. He remained in that position for three years before being transferred to Albuquerque, New Mexico, as a project manager.

“I stayed there nine years and went to Boulder City, Nevada, as assistant regional director,” he said. “I was there a couple of years and then moved to the regional office in Salt Lake City, Utah.”

Calhoun’s positions and assignments also included his being appointed federal commissioner and chairman of the Pecos River Commission from 2003 to 2010.

“The bureau was considered in some ways almost a graduate school at that time for young engineers,” Calhoun said. “You could come into the bureau and get some very good experience if you were fortunate enough to work in a more enlightened area.”

Calhoun considers the Meritorious Service Award that he received from the U.S. Department of the Interior in 2000 his highest professional honor. He said he owes a lot to his education and sees value in continuing to support his alma mater.

“I see it as my payback for an outstanding education,” he said. “I told my kids many times that I think everybody should pursue their education to whatever appropriate level, because education is almost a holy quest and you should be knowledgeable. It’s great to have a profession, but the people who get things done in this world are usually the people who can work the other people in some sort of team arrangement or some sort of an organizational arrangement.”

Calhoun and his wife, Paula, reside in Orange Beach, Alabama, and spend summers in Sandy, Utah. Calhoun’s hobbies include reading, walking, gardening, and applying engineering principles to drainage problems in Orange Beach. The couple has five children (all of whom have bachelor’s degrees and three with master’s degrees) and three grandchildren, “who sure are a joy,” Calhoun said.