Message from Engineering Student Body President

Dear Engineering Alumni
and Friends,

This has been a big year for the School of Engineering, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to serve as the Engineering Student Body (ESB) president during such an exciting time. With the addition of the newly renovated Brevard Hall, the expansion of Carrier Hall and the soon-to-be-completed Center for Manufacturing Excellence, it's easy to see that our school is growing. During this growth, it's important to me that the students who enter the School of Engineering stay in the School of Engineering. That's why the ESB has initiated new programs and ideas to help freshmen and transfer students adjust to the Ole Miss School of Engineering and succeed in their studies.

One program my leadership team and I began is the ESB tutoring program. This program has reached out to many engineering students, particularly freshmen. Making an appointment is as easy as going online and submitting a request form. And, it's not only convenient, but it's also affordable. Students don't have to pay out of their pockets because the bills simply go to their bursar accounts. The program is managed by our tutoring coordinator, a paid position created and funded by the ESB. There's no doubt that our tutoring program exemplifies the school's motto, "We see the engineer in you."

Another program we initiated is the freshman mentor program, where every new student is assigned an upperclassman to help guide him or her throughout the year, whether it be making class schedules or passing down lecture notes. The Meet-Your-Mentor Cookout, hosted by the ESB in the Circle, allowed the freshmen to not only meet their mentors but also meet other upperclassmen, professors and other freshmen who will be with them for the next four years.

The ESB also played a vital role in planning our school's 110th anniversary. We had the privilege of holding our traditional trebuchet contest beside the Lyceum, where hundreds of high school students from throughout the state competed on campus. This annual event gives us an opportunity to show potential students what sets our engineering school apart from others.

Our School of Engineering has undergone many improvements this year, and I know it will never stop improving. Next time you are in Oxford, the members of the ESB would love to meet you. Every home football game we have a Grove tent set up in front of Brevard Hall, where you will see our attractive 50-inch television, generously donated by alumnus Tom Riddell. We hope to see you at the next game.

Hotty Toddy,

Ryan Jones
ESB President, 2010-11


Doctoral student coaches team
to Olympiad championship

Olympiad Championship
A team of Oxford Middle School students is on its way to a national science competition, thanks, in part, to some valuable coaching from a University of Mississippi engineering student.

Michael Hougendobler will accompany the group to the 2011 National Science Olympiad Tournament to be held May 20-21 at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. The team, which won six medals at the state competition in March at the University of Southern Mississippi, is one of two groups representing the state in the contest.

"We will travel to Madison earlier in the week to take advantage of the workshops, tours and exhibits being offered in conjunction with the competition," said Hougendobler, a native of Franklin, Tenn., who is completing his doctoral degree in materials science and engineering at Ole Miss. "I believe 60 middle schools and 60 high schools compete at the national level."

A NASA/MSSGC (Mississippi Space Grant Consortium) Graduate Research Fellowship recipient, Hougendobler began coaching the students last September after meeting with two OMS teachers who coached the previous year's team.

"Mrs. (Patricia) Kincade and Mrs. (Susan) Drummond contacted the Mississippi Center for Math and Science Education to see if anyone would be interested in coaching," Hougendobler said.

In previous years, Kincade worked closely with John O'Haver, CMSE director. Alice Steimle, associate director, put Kincade in touch with Hougendobler.

"One component of the fellowship is outreach to local K-12 math and science teachers," Hougendobler said. "The CMSE contacted me to see if I was interested. I met with them and started working with their students shortly after."

Hougendobler has been a wonderful coach and a positive influence upon her students, Kincade said.

"The fact that he is a grad student, not one of their teachers, really upped his 'cool' factor, and all of the students seemed to enjoy interacting with him," Kincade said. "We are lucky to have found Michael."

The students met twice per week after school until Christmas break. Afterward, they began meeting three times per week.

"Most of the students on the team competed in last year's competition, so they already had a good idea about how to prepare," Hougendobler said. "I made sure they were staying on task, following the rules, and I helped them understand some of the concepts they were struggling with."

His assistance proved to be invaluable, Drummond said.

"This year's science Olympiad team is weighted heavily on the male side, with 10 boys and six girls, so having a male coach was awesome for the boys," she said. "Having Michael coach the team helped us by bringing in additional subject matter expertise and allowed us to focus on ancillary details that go along with preparing for both the state and national competitions."

Preparation for the event varied. "Certain events required building things in advance, such as a trebuchet or wooden tower," Hougendobler said. "Other events required students to learn about specific scientific topics such as anatomy, ecology, electricity and the solar system."

The Oxford team, which had no financial sponsors to the state competition, is seeking sponsorships for its trip to the national event.

"The state trip was paid for by the school and parents," he said. "Engineers from the Tennessee Valley Authority helped students prepare for some of the events."

Hougendobler holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and a master's degree in materials science and engineering. He is the son of John and Cindy Hougendobler of Memphis, Tenn.

For information about how to become a sponsor for the Oxford Middle School Science Olympiad Team, contact either Patricia Kincade at pkincade@oxford.k12.ms.us or Susan Drummond at sjdrummond@oxford.k12.ms.us. For more information about the UM School of Engineering, visit http://engineering.olemiss.edu/. For details about the National Science Olympiad, visit http://nso.wisc.edu/.



Walter GuidrozAlumnus brings industry knowledge
to petroleum geology classroom

For many graduates, giving back to their alma mater generally involves little more than writing a check or arranging to fund a pledge with a credit card. But UM engineering graduate Walter Guidroz decided to go further, offering his time and professional experiences to better prepare future graduates for the job market.

Guidroz, who earned his master's degree in engineering science in 1981, has returned to campus every other week this spring to teach Special Topics in Petroleum Geology (Engr 591).

"I've always been interested in giving something back to the university," said Guidroz, who also holds a bachelor's degree from Nicholls State University and a doctorate in oceanography from LSU. "Also, teaching is something that I've always been interested in, and this is a great way to assess whether I'd like to go further in that direction. I feel that because I've been in the business world and done a lot of things in geology, I can show my students that there's a lot of ways you can use your training and knowledge. That can be very valuable."

Guidroz worked for Amoco from 1981 until the company merged with BP in 1999. He was laid off after the merger and took the opportunity to go back to school, earning an MBA from the University of Texas. In 2001, he was offered a job as a staff geologist back at BP and has been with the company since.

His class has proven quite popular with students, said Joel Kuszmaul, chair of geology and geological engineering.

"The students are flocking to his classes and loving the real-world experience and teaching they are getting," Kuszmaul said. Guidroz's industry-specific knowledge and experiences have been very enlightening, said Scott Peacock, a senior geological engineering major from Madison.

"He'll bring things to class and say, 'Here's something that I came across on a project. I want you to interpret it and tell me what you see in it.'" Peacock said. "And then he'll tell us what he saw in it and how he used it in his real job. It's those kinds of things that make this class more geared toward petroleum engineering than a lot of our other classes, which are more general."

The extra time Guidroz has spent working with his students has helped Peacock prepare to enter the job market after graduation in May, he said.

"He used his own time to set up mock interviews for us one weekend," Peacock said. "He showed us what a BP interview would feel like, and he gave all of us feedback on how we did and even gave us some questions that we can ask prospective employers to get a better feel for whether a job is right for us."

The students, on the other hand, have helped give their teacher new insights and energy about his field.

"They're very energetic," Guidroz said. "I marvel at the energy level and also the dedication they have to explore things and complete projects. They definitely take their work seriously."