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Read the latest student news from the School of Engineering

Engineering Graduate Prepares to Teach, Wins AFCEA STEM Teachers Scholarship

Engineering Graduate Prepares to Teach, Wins AFCEA STEM Teachers Scholarship

Sarah Sams shows off her award for the AFCEA STEM Teachers for America's Future Scholarship

OXFORD, Miss. - With a bachelor's degree in engineering, Sarah Sams is not the typical teacher candidate.

"I originally planned to be a civil engineer, but now I cannot imagine leaving the classroom," said the Jackson native, who graduated from the University of Mississippi School of Engineering in May and enrolled this fall as a graduate student in the School of Education.

Advancing the university's efforts to improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, Sams has been awarded the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association's STEM Teachers for America's Future Scholarship for pursuing a graduate degree with plans to teach a STEM subject at a U.S. middle or secondary school.

"I am so excited that Sarah will be able to take part in the professional learning community that has been created at the Center for Mathematics and Science Education while she is pursuing her Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction degree that will lead to teacher certification," said Alice Steimle, associate director of CMSE. "She will have the opportunity to continue to grow professionally, which will directly impact her future work as a teacher of STEM. Sarah is an excellent recipient of the scholarship."

Besides the $5,000 scholarship, as a graduating AFCEA STEM Scholar, Sams will receive a $1,000 AFCEA Science Teaching Tool grant each year for three years if she continues to teach a STEM subject.

Future teachers like Sams will also be able to use these grants to fund hardware and software, other classroom tools, field trips, STEM-focused clubs and other activities.

The scholarships were made possible by contributions from Booz Allen Hamilton, Terremark Worldwide, AFCEA International and several of AFCEA's regional chapters.

Sams refers to a presentation by John O'Haver, professor of chemical engineering and CMSE director, in one of her senior engineering leadership classes for inspiring her to pursue teaching.

"(O'Haver) was a high school teacher for many years and later decided to go back to school to obtain his engineering degree," she said. "He has had such an impact on so many of his students, and that day, I knew I was not meant to be an engineer; I was meant to be a teacher."

The CMSE aims to improve mathematics and science education in Mississippi by fostering interaction between academic and K-12 education communities, supporting the implementation of research-based methods in the classroom and promoting interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

For more information about programs in the CMSE, go to

For more information about the University of Mississippi's Innovations in STEM Education Initiative, go to

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New geological engineering alumna reflects on past, eyes bright future

New geological engineering alumna reflects on past, eyes bright future

As president of the 2012 senior class at the University of Mississippi, Toran Dean addressed thousands gathered for annual commencement exercises. Her brief-but-stirring remarks summarized years of growth that continue as she embarks from her alma mater.

"I decided to come to Ole Miss because of the atmosphere," said the Hattiesburg native who earned a bachelor's degree in geology and geological engineering. "It truly was a home away from home. It was comforting to know that no matter how large the university was, it was still small, and I would always see a familiar face on campus, whether it was friends or staff."

Dean's expectations completely changed - in a good way - once she attended the university.

"Ole Miss was so much more than just a home away from home," Dean said. "It became a lifestyle. It taught so many life lessons when it came to hard work, hospitality and responsibility."While maintaining a respectable grade-point average in a rigorous major, Dean also was heavily involved in extracurricular activities. The 2012 UM Hall of Fame honoree also served the ASB as a senator, director of student services and external legislation monitor. She was public relations chair of the Engineering Student Body and a two-time officer of the Geological Society. A Luckyday Scholar, she held an Engineering Ambassador Scholarship and Academic Excellence Scholarship.

Dean belonged to the Black Student Union and was director of policy for One Mississippi. A member of the Chancellor's Standing Committee-Student Services, she has been an orientation leader and a mentor in the School of Engineering and with Freshman Focus and EDHE, UM's freshman-year-experience program.

Her volunteer efforts have been recognized with a President's Volunteer Service Award and include work with the San Mateo Empowerment Project, a road-building effort that Ole Miss students support in Belize. Her other service includes work with the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, Chicago Cares and N.R. Burger Middle School Beta Club.

"The accomplishment I am most proud of is one that didn't receive any awards," Dean said. "I think that it is simply an accomplishment not to lose who you truly are when you come to college. It is something that I tried my best not to do while receiving awards or while others may have sung my praises.

"Truly, evaluating my growth by my personal morals and standards and not by others was one of the greatest accomplishments because it was the realization that once I leave the university, no matter how successful I was, there will always be someone just as successful. How humble are others in those successes will make all the difference (between me and them)."

Among the Ole Miss faculty members who truly influenced Dean is Cathy Grace.

"She is the last person you would pick out in a crowd as a college professor, not just because of her Hawaiian shirts and visor, but because of her willingness to go above and beyond to truly get to know her students," Dean said. "I can say the same about so many professors in the geological engineering department, but Cathy not only has the reputation in the department but [also] around campus."

Specifically, Dean credited Grace with teaching her to prioritize.

"In my sophomore year, Cathy taught me it was school first and everything else second. It's a concept that seems simple but also something that I - along with many other students - struggled with. Whenever my schedule got a little crazy, Cathy taught me that success comes with the right priorities. That made my schedule a little less crazy."

Dean's short-term plans are to travel and enjoy interests that she hasn't had time for in the past four years or that she won't have time for once she has to settle down.

"My long-term plans are to work in water resources," Dean said. "I would really like to start a nonprofit [organization], bringing potable water to communities in need domestically as well as internationally. We all hear stories about villages in Africa or South America not having clean drinking water, but there are also communities two hours away in the Mississippi Delta that may not have that same necessity. Hopefully, my degree in geological engineering will help me out with that goal."

Dean continues to receive praise from engineering staff and faculty for her commencement address.

"Her speech at the commencement as president of the senior class was outstanding," Dean Alex Cheng said. "We are proud of Toran, but I don't think the School of Engineering can take the full credit. It is the Ole Miss liberal arts environment that allows the student with such capability and motivation to grow like that."

Marni Kendricks, assistant dean of the engineering school, agreed.

"It was indeed exceptional," Kendricks said. "Toran's a good success story. She has ambitious plans following graduation too."

Dean is the daughter of Allen and Merlissis Dean of Hattiesburg. Watch full commencement speech here.

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Student Chosen as Goldwater Scholar

Senior Honors Student Named UM's 13th Goldwater Scholar

OXFORD, Miss. - Honors student Dana Nicole "Nikki" Reinemann has been named the University of Mississippi's 13th Barry M. Goldwater Scholar.

The Ole Miss senior from Batesville is the tenth UM student to receive the prestigious award since 1998 and the fifth in the past seven years. Reinemann is first author of the paper "Vibrational Spectroscopy of N-Methyliminodiacetic Acid (MIDA)-Protected Boronate Ester: Assignment of the B-N Dative Bond Stretching Frequency," published in and featured on the cover of the Journal for Physical Chemistry A. She was a NASA Academy research associate in the Environmental Control and Life Support Systems branch of Marshall Space Flight Center in 2010.

"This will allow me to finish another degree with the funding received from the award," said Reinemann, who is pursuing a double major. "Having the B.S. in chemistry along with the B.S. in chemical engineering will better prepare me for various graduate school options and allow me to be more versatile in industry. I feel very honored, humbled and am very thankful for their recognition."

Reinemann expects to complete her degrees in May 2013. Following graduation, she plans to pursue a doctorate in chemical engineering so she can conduct research in chemical and environmental engineering for a government agency or company.

Reinemann credits Ole Miss faculty and staff across many disciplines for giving her a solid foundation for her future career path.

"I could not have received this award without support from both the chemical engineering and chemistry departments," she said. "My research adviser, Dr. Nathan Hammer in the chemistry department, has offered me opportunities that not many undergraduates would normally receive. He offered me a position in his lab just after having him for freshman chemistry. He allowed me to develop my own project and perform worthwhile work. This has led to various conference trips, a publication and, now, the Goldwater. I am very thankful to him as well as my lab mates for their help and support."

Reinemann also acknowledges the role of her family in her achievements.

"I could not imagine being where I am today without the unconditional support of my parents, sister and little boy," she said.

Faculty members in Reinemann's major fields of study boast of her academic achievements and dedication.

"I have had the privilege to mentor Nikki from her first day in college," said Hammer, assistant professor of chemistry. "She is among the top students I have instructed in Freshman Chemistry 105 and 106, and because of her dedication and unique aptitude in chemistry I recruited her to work in my research group.

"From day one in the lab, her natural abilities to perform high level science were evident. She developed her research project on her own without any assistance and has operated on the level of a graduate student for the past few years. She's a brilliant young scientist who has a bright future ahead of her. Her success is due not only to her intelligence and aptitude for science, but also her unparalleled work ethic."

"(She's) quietly awesome," said John O'Haver, professor and associate dean of chemical engineering.

"She makes her fellow students look good. She makes the faculty and department look good. And she makes Ole Miss look good," said Clint Williford, chair and associate professor of chemical engineering. "Nikki is not a big talker; she's a big doer."

Charles Hussey, chair and professor of chemistry, echoed those sentiments.

"Nikki is a multidimensional, exceptionally talented student," Hussey said. "She sees and understands concepts that most of her peers may never understand. We are very lucky that she chose to seek a degree in chemistry with us. She is destined for a great career in science or engineering, if she chooses that path."

A fourth-year student in the university's Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Reinemann is also a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Tau Beta Pi, the American Institute for Chemical Engineers and American Chemical Society. Conducting research under the supervision of Hammer, she has presented at the 242nd national meeting of the American Chemical Society and the 41st International Conference on Environmental Systems of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronauts.

Her extracurricular activities include serving in the Society of Women Engineers and the university's chapter of Engineers Without Borders.

Reinemann has also won numerous outstanding student awards, including the Outstanding Physical Chemistry Student. She is a member of the Pride of the South Marching Band and Ole Miss Symphonic Band.

She is the daughter of George and Teresa Reinemann of Batesville.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was created in 1986 to honor U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater. The purpose of the program is "to alleviate a critical current and future shortage of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers." The scholarship seeks to encourage talented student researchers in those fields to prepare for and enter careers as research scientists.

Students apply in their sophomore or junior year. The scholarship provides up to $7,500 per remaining undergraduate year to assist with the recipient's tuition, fees, books, and room and board. This year the Goldwater Foundation named 282 scholars from a field of 1,123 applications.

Students interested in pursuing the Goldwater Scholarship can contact Andrus Ashoo (, who serves as the university's Goldwater representative. The Office of National Scholarship Advisement conducts workshops each semester to introduce students to major national scholarships. Go to for more information.

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Student Chosen as Fulbright Scholar

Engineering Student Turns Love of Cars into Fulbright Scholarship to Germany

OXFORD, Miss. - Playing with cars in the front yard as a child has led a University of Mississippi student to study engineering and be chosen as a Fulbright Scholar to continue his interests.

Martin Ducote, a Corinth native who calls Oxford home, always knew he wanted to do something related to engineering. His father, an amateur mechanic, taught his son everything about each component of the engine compartment and how each system affected the running of the entire engine. From there, it is easy to see the trajectory of Ducote's decisions.

As a mechanical engineering major in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and a German Language Initiative student, Ducote's Fulbright project will take him to Germany, where he will study automotive engineering at the Institut für Fahrzeugsystemtechnik , or FAST, at Karlsruhe Institut für Technologie, or KIT. "I had studied with the German Language Initiative program one summer and I knew I wanted to go back to Germany," said Ducote, who graduated May 12 from Ole Miss. "Eventually, I wanted to work with the auto industry there; that's why I learned the language. Andrus Ashoo encouraged me to apply for the Fulbright, and it worked out perfectly."

FAST works to teach students a deeper understanding of vehicle systems and to provide more efficient, safer and luxurious automobiles, which fits with well with Ducote's goal of one day designing parts for an automotive company. One of Europe's leading institutions in the field of composite manufacturing, KIT is the perfect place for him to continue his work toward that goal.

The Fulbright offers fellowships for U.S. graduating college seniors, graduate students, young professionals and artists to study, conduct research or be an English teaching assistant abroad for one academic year.

"Ole Miss has been great," Ducote said. "I like the size of the School of Engineering and being in the Honors College here. I also like how the engineering school has a liberal arts feel; there is a lot of writing involved and there are smaller class sizes."

His research interests are in the field of composite materials and manufacturing, which is something he developed during his internship with GE Aviation in Batesville last year.

"My friend Omar Hamid told me about the GE internship opportunity, and it was awesome," Ducote said. "I worked there for about six months, and it's what got me interested in composites and that is the basis for my Fulbright and my honors college thesis."

Ducote has distinguished himself as an outstanding student as he has pursued German language studies in addition to his engineering courses, said Ellen Lackey, professor of mechanical engineering.

"Martin is especially well-prepared to quickly adapt to and integrate with the new social and cultural environments he will experience in this program," Lackey said. "He is very outgoing, and it is evident that he enjoys interacting with a variety of people. He will be an excellent representative of the United States."

A.M. Rajendran, chair of the mechanical engineering department, is equally impressed with his student.

"As the former chief scientist at the U.S. Army Research Office in Durham, N.C., and as a person who had worked with Army generals during 2000-2008, I am a firm believer of discipline, hard work, trust and integrity," Rajendran said. "Martin Ducote is an exemplary student who indeed exhibits all these characteristics or qualities. In my opinion, his successful internship experience has prepared him to learn engineering and industry related concepts and to exhibit leadership skills outside a university campus."

Ducote is also a member of Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honors Society, for which he served as president, and he helped with the Togo Water Purification Project for Engineers without Borders. He enjoys tennis and running as hobbies.

After his year in Germany, Ducote plans to attend Michigan State University to work in the composite vehicle research center and possibly earn a master's degree in mechanical engineering.

Ducote is the university's 10th Fulbright U.S. Student Award winner since 2000. Last year, Deeneaus Polk won a Fulbright to teach English in Frankfurt at Hans-Böckler-Schule.

Established in 1946, the Fulbright U.S. Student Award Program is funded by the U.S. government and designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Each year, the program sends approximately 1,700 recent graduates or graduate students to one of over 155 countries to study, teach, conduct research and to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

Students interested in applying for the Fulbright U.S. Student Award are encouraged to contact Andrus Ashoo, the Fulbright program adviser of the Office of National Scholarship Advisement.

To learn more about the Fulbright Program, visit

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Students of the Month- May

Students of the Month: Matthew Herring and Kelly Dick

The Engineering Students of the Month for May 2012 are Matthew Herring and Kelly Dick.

Name: Matthew Herring

Matthew Herring is working to make a positive impact on the university, the electrical engineering profession and society. He has served the school as an orientation counselor for several years and has been a leader in student professional and honor societies. He was a coauthor of "Development of the MissSAT Pico-Satellite," presented at the Mid-South Annual Engineering and Sciences Conference, and he has worked for the school as a student assistant network administrator and for Miltec Research and Technology as an embedded engineer intern.

Hometown: Oxford

Area of Study: Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering with an emphasis in computer and RF & wireless engineering

Classification: Senior

Hobby: Robotics

What qualities do you believe a successful engineer should possess?

"In my opinion, successful engineers or scientists are first and foremost professional and honest. If they are not professional or honest, then it would be difficult to entrust them with any type of project to work on. Professionalism is a key role to being successful in any type of field one chooses to go in. Successful engineers or scientists also have to be reliable, dependable and personable. They need to be able to clearly communicate their ideas, thoughts and criticisms with others effectively."

What are your plans after graduation?

"After graduation, I plan on getting a job with a public, private or government entity doing electrical engineering and/or software engineering and development work. I also have aspirations to get a master's degree in electrical and/or computer engineering from an accredited school after working a couple of years in the industry."

What advice would you give to freshmen interested in majoring in electrical engineering?

"My advice to freshmen would be to never ever give up, even if you do not think you are going to make it. I know that engineering can be hard, no matter what discipline you choose to study, along with balancing other aspects of your life, but if you are willing to put forth great effort in everything you do, then I assure you that you will be rewarded. I have to say the secret to my success here at Ole Miss was that I never gave up. I kept on pushing forward no matter how bad things were around me."

Why did you become interested in electrical engineering?

"To be honest, I sort of 'fell' into electrical engineering. I knew that, even when I was little, I wanted to be an engineer. The engineer I wanted to be back then was a locomotive engineer, not an actual engineer as I am today. The day of my freshman orientation I was actually signed up as a chemical engineering student. I had previously taken courses from the university and the School of Engineering during my senior year of high school through the Summer College program. I took ENGR 100, which introduces students to all the different branches of engineering that the university offers to its students. I was particularly interested in electrical and mechanical but was still on the fence about these two areas until the day of orientation. When I signed up for the advising period for the electrical and mechanical departments, it just so happened that the electrical appointment was first. Once I met with Dr. Richard Gordon and we talked about electrical engineering, it just seemed to be a better fit to me than mechanical. After that day, I was declared electrical, and I haven't looked back since. I have to say it was probably one of the luckiest accidents of my life."

Name: Kelly Elizabeth Dick

Kelly Elizabeth Dick is known for her eye for detail in lab and field work, and her upbeat personality, said Joel Kuszmaul, chair and associate professor of the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering.

"She had very strong observational skills, which are very important in geology," Kuszmaul said. "Kelly was also unusually strong in group work in the lab or field, helping others when she had already mastered topics."

Hometown: Hitchcock, Texas

Area of Study: Geology

Classification: Senior

How did you become interested in geology?

"I have wanted to be a geologist for as long as I can remember. My love for this field started when I found out that my father studied geophysics at Stanford, and that three of my grandparents studied geology or engineering. My grandmother was one of the first women in the geology program at the University of Texas, and my grandfather studied electrical engineering at Harvard and then received his master's at Stanford. I have received a lot of guidance from them, as well as support and understanding."

What does it take to be a great scientist?

"Some qualities of a successful scientist are the willingness to learn, as well as open-mindedness and economic viability. Other qualities to be successful are optimism, open communication and hindsight. Professionalism plays a role in being successful by having good ethics, honesty and loyalty to your employer."

What are some helpful tips for the freshman class entering the School of Engineering?

"You do not have to be brilliant to do well. It takes hard work and a lot of extra time outside the classroom. Pay attention in your classes because you can learn a lot in the classroom. Also, be willing to talk to your professors and ask them questions because they want to help and have their students succeed in the School of Engineering. If you study hard and listen in class, you can end up making good grades and even excel in your classes by understanding the material. You can learn any subject by hard work and dedication."

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Student of the Month- February

Student of the Month: Elizabeth Stewart

The Engineering Student of the Month for February 2012 is Elizabeth Stewart.

Elizabeth is an excellent example of a student that has a passion for engineering, but also has a wide range of interests outside of her chosen field. In addition to her outstanding accomplishments in the classroom, Elizabeth is also an active leader in student organizations. She currently serves as the student director for the School of Engineering Ambassador program and also serves as the Public Relations officer for the Engineering Student Body.

Name: Elizabeth Stewart

Hometown: Duluth, Georgia

Area of Study: Geological Engineering (Major) and Italian (Minor)

Classification: Senior

Favorite Hobby: Doing musicals at Panola Playhouse in Sardis - last spring I was honored to have the lead in "Hairspray" and more recently the female lead in "Little Shop of Horrors".

Why did you choose engineering?

I chose Engineering because I wanted a major that would challenge me and give me a wide range of opportunities when I graduate. I chose Geological Engineering specifically because I love being outdoors. I wanted a major that would take me outside the office and give me opportunities all over the world.

What do you plan to do when you graduate from Ole Miss?

When I graduate, I would like to find a job that will allow me to travel, and possibly live, all over the world. My first choice would be to live in Italy since I have a minor in Italian language and Italy is one of my favorite places in the world. I am open to any type of Geological Engineering job and am looking forward to wherever and whatever direction this major takes me!

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Students of the Month- March

Students of the Month: Sarah Farris and Austen Cain

The Engineering Students of the Month for March 2012 are Sarah Farris and Austen Cain.

Name: Sarah Farris

Sarah Farris was chosen for an Outstanding Engineering Senior Award in the electrical engineering department for her outstanding academic performance, her student leadership and the diverse nature of her academic program.

Hometown: Hendersonville, Tenn.

Area of Study: Electrical Engineering

Minor: Cinema

Classification: Senior

What piqued your interest in engineering?

"I knew for many years before college that I would most likely get a degree in some kind of engineering. I liked science, math and solving puzzles too much for me to confidently choose anything else. My dream is to be an engineer in the entertainment industry. Almost everything these days requires some sort of electrical design, whether it is a theme park ride or a new 3-D camera."

Why did you choose engineering?

"I became an engineer because I wanted to be a problem-solver. A successful engineer or scientist will always be seeking new solutions to the problems presented to them by society and their line of work. A successful engineer must have the ability to think outside of the box, to take an old problem and see it in a new light to produce a better solution."

What do you plan to do when you graduate from Ole Miss?

"My plans after graduation are to get a job in the engineering field. My dream is to find an engineering job, possibly in the entertainment industry, where I can combine my engineering skills and my love for storytelling."

Name: Austen Cain

Austen was always a solid student in geological engineering, but he seems to have grown stronger semester by semester. He won a national scholarship to take the required five-week field course in South Dakota in summer 2011. As his courses have progressed, he continues to excel.

Hometown: Ringgold, Ga.

Area of Study: Geological Engineering

Classification: Senior

Hobbies: Hiking, sports, hunting, fishing, cooking

What piqued your interest in engineering?

"Throughout my entire life, my family has been vacationing to the U.S. national parks and numerous other areas with magnificent geological formations. These vacations sparked my interest in geology as a child. I remember being 8 years old, just staring at the Grand Canyon and struggling to understand how something so magnificent was formed by the Earth. This was a breathtaking moment in my life."

Why did you choose engineering?

"Rapid developments in science and technology and the number of challenges they present inspired me to choose engineering as a profession."

What do you plan to do when you graduate from Ole Miss?

"I [plan to attend graduate school and acquire] a master's degree in petroleum engineering. I've applied to the University of Oklahoma, University of West Virginia and University of Louisiana at Lafayette. I became interested in petroleum engineering because of a class I took, taught by Walter Guidroz, a BP employee."

Do you have advice for potential engineering students?

"Quality engineering students possess academic excellence, leadership qualities and willingness to give it their all. Incoming engineering students will want to stand out. Outside the classroom, they will need to be very active by taking part in leadership roles, groups, clubs, social organizations, athletics, etc. These qualities show professionalism and are very important for someone aspiring to be a leader one day."

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Students of the Month- April

Students of the Month: Nikki Reinemann and Tracey Sisco

The Engineering Students of the Month for April 2012 are Nikki Reinemann and Tracey Sisco.

Name: Nikki Reinemann

Nikki Reinemann, 2012 Goldwater Scholar, is exemplary among her peers. She demonstrates a positive attitude, competence and concern, and has earned the respect of the faculty and fellow students. She worked as a research assistant, conducting original work published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry. She also worked as a NASA Marshall Space Flight Center academy intern.

Hometown: Batesville, Miss.

Area of Study: Chemical engineering, chemistry

Classification: Senior

Hobbies: Playing the trumpet, camping, traveling and spending time with family

What piqued your interest in engineering?

"Through my involvement in a variety of activities during high school, I discovered that I find the sciences very interesting and fulfilling. After taking advanced chemistry and mathematics courses, I began to look at careers that would involve these skills. Chemical engineering piqued my interest because of the combination of utilizing fundamental science and making it applicable to society."

What's the most important quality to possess to be a successful engineer/engineering student?

"Work ethic is the key to being a successful scientist or engineer. [Some people] might be smart enough for the job, but if they are not willing to put their all into their work, they will eventually fail. Conversely, a good work ethic can help if [they] might be somewhat slow in understanding some concepts. They will at least have the gumption to do whatever it takes to get the job done. This integrity not only leads to the job getting done but [also] getting it done well."

What do you plan to do after you graduate from Ole Miss?

"I plan to finish my B.S. in chemistry [and then go to] graduate school to obtain a Ph.D. in chemical engineering with a research focus in energy innovation. I have always wanted to assume a position where I could change the world for the better. I felt that a career in STEM, specifically engineering, is an excellent way to accomplish that goal."

Name: Tracey Sisco

The independent work Tracey Sisco has performed under the supervision of her faculty adviser, Christiane Surbeck, has been accepted for inclusion at the World Environmental and Water Resources Conference of the American Society of Civil Engineering and submitted for publication in a related professional journal. Sisco is driven by an intense desire to help people as demonstrated by her work in a summer internship that included a visit to earthquake-damaged Haiti to help design an orphanage there, as well as by her design work in support of an Engineering Without Borders project in Togo, Africa, as well as many local projects.

Hometown: Pontotoc, Miss.

Area of Study: Civil engineering

Classification: Senior

Hobbies: Traveling, art, kayaking, hiking and disc golf

What piqued your interest in engineering?

"As I began to take civil classes, I discovered I particularly enjoyed those focused on water and the environment. Around the same time, I became involved with Engineers Without Borders and discovered engineering can be used to help many people in the world, such as those without access to clean water or sanitation. Through my years of study, I have seen how civil engineering provides services to society that are essential, which has been a source of motivation for me."

What is your advice for potential engineering students?

"If I were given the opportunity to address the incoming freshman class in the School of Engineering, I would share with them the favorite phrase of one of my mentors: "Have adventures." One of the unique and wonderful aspects of college is finding where your skills and passions meet. Opportunities for college students are available in abundance, and I have experienced great rewards by exploring those that interested me."

What do you plan to do after you graduate from Ole Miss?

"After graduation, I plan to go to work full time. I also have a passion for using engineering to serve those less fortunate, particularly in addressing the problem of clean-water scarcity in many developing countries, and so I plan to continue volunteering and using my skills as an engineer in that manner as well. It's possible that one day I may even live overseas and use engineering as a part of full-time missions."

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Engineering Piques Interests of Elementary Students

Chemistry, Arts and Engineering Pique Interests of Dundee Elementary Students

OXFORD, Miss. - Several dozen students from a Delta school got an up-close-and-personal look at the arts and hard sciences programs at the University of Mississippi this week.

Third-, fourth- and fifth-graders from Dundee Elementary School in Tunica County visited the Oxford campus Wednesday (Nov. 30) as guests of the university's Center for Excellence in Literary Instruction. The 78 students toured the football Indoor Practice Facility (where they took a run on to the field), the Lyceum, Civil Rights Monument, J.D. Williams Library, Department of Chemistry and the Center for Manufacturing Excellence. They also met Chancellor Dan Jones and Provost Morris Stocks, as well as other UM faculty and staff.

"This was the first time many of these children ever set foot on a college or university campus," said Ashley Parker, UM instructor of curriculum and instruction. "These students are bright enough to successfully pursue professions in the hard sciences, but they first have to be made aware of what is available to them in terms of educational opportunities here."

From the moment they set foot on the grounds until they boarded school buses for the return trip home, the students, ages 9 to 11, were mesmerized.

"I'm already thinking about coming to Ole Miss," said Makayla Carlisle, a 10-year-old fourth-grader. "The buildings are so beautiful, especially the science lab and the library. When I grow up, I want to come here and stay until I get married. I also want to become a teacher and a professional medical doctor."

"I'm thinking about becoming either a professional football or basketball player," said William Smith, another fourth-grader. "I like seeing the laboratory where they froze a banana and a balloon (using liquid nitrogen). The pictures I saw in the library were nice, too."

At the Center for Manufacturing Excellence, students were divided into three teams and challenged to put together a puzzle in 10 minutes or less. Although they remained polite, they were also enthusiastic and competitive about completing the puzzle first in order to win a prize.

"We wanted to show them in the simplest way possible how manufacturing works," said Ryan Miller, CME project manager. "They had fun, but they also had to use teamwork, creativity, strategy, problem-solving and communications skills in order to be successful. That's all a part of what we're about here and in the manufacturing industry."

Besides the tour, students enjoyed a picnic lunch in the School of Education, compliments of Dean David Rock.

CELI personnel have worked with Dundee Elementary in Tunica County for three years. Parker and colleague Tamara Hillmer deliver professional development, work with the school's literacy leadership team and mentor about 10 teachers.

Through teamwork, strategic planning and a concentrated effort to improve, Dundee moved up in the rankings this year, making it one of 65 Star schools in the state and the only one in the Mississippi Delta. MDE officials annually evaluate K-12 school systems throughout the state. Rising to higher expectations for student achievement, all teachers in grades 3-5 exceeded the state average on the MCT 2 tests in language arts and math. Three teachers achieved Star performing status for having a Quality of Distribution Index score of 200 and above.

"It is very affirming to know that we have played some small part in changing children's lives because we know what happens to children who are not academically successful in the foundational early years," said Angela Rutherford, UM associate professor of curriculum and instruction and CELI director. "They become statistics of dropout, crime and low wages, and low life expectancy. We love our work at Dundee and are so excited about our continued work."

For more information about CELI, go to

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Student Wins Scholarship

Student Wins Scholarship from Solar Cell Manufacturer

OXFORD, Miss. - A University of Mississippi engineering student from Natchez is the recipient of a scholarship from a California-based solar cell manufacturing firm.

Joanna David, a junior majoring in chemical engineering with an emphasis in environmental engineering, applied for the Twin Creeks Technologies scholarship and has been awarded a full year's tuition. Recently, the firm completed the initial phase of its new solar panel production facility in Senatobia.

"In receiving the scholarship, I was invited to attend the Twin Creeks ribbon-cutting ceremony," David said. "Touring the facility allowed me to see firsthand how innovative and incredible this company is, and it made me feel extremely honored to be recognized by them."

Also a member of the UM Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, David said the scholarship has been an indescribable blessing."I am currently working on my honors college thesis under the direction of Dr. Cristiane Surbeck, and we are working to improve methods used to disinfect water through exposure to sunlight," David said. "Through my research, I have really been able to see the 'big picture.' My decision to come to Ole Miss and pursue a chemical engineering degree now makes perfect sense, and I have gained a greater awareness of the plans God has for each one of us."

The Twin Creeks Technologies South East scholarship program, which began this year, is designed to assist college students who demonstrate superior academic ability, achievement and leadership capabilities in engineering, mathematics, material science or any relevant subject matter.

David, daughter of Jerry and Joan David, had to write a 500-word paper on the relevance and impact of alternative energy and how her contribution in this area can make a difference.

"My newfound understanding of natural resources has led me to analyze our country's consumption of these resources, as well as the impact our daily usage has on creation and the environment," she wrote. "My awareness of these effects has motivated me to continue pursuing a degree in chemical engineering with an emphasis in environmental engineering in anticipation of using my knowledge to educate the general public of these issues."

The School of Engineering is excited about the partnership with Twin Creeks Technologies, said Scott Kilpatrick, assistant to the dean. One Ole Miss engineering graduate is on staff at Twin Creeks, and Kilpatrick said he hopes to expand those opportunities in the future.

"We are very thankful for the new Twin Creeks Technologies scholarship program," he said. "Considering our current economic environment, it is certainly crucial that as a nation we encourage more outstanding students to pursue engineering careers. Twin Creeks Technologies is meeting that challenge by providing scholarship funds, which will support the academic needs of some of Mississippi's most talented future engineers."

Twin Creeks Technologies was founded in 2008. Headquartered in San Jose, Calif., the venture-backed solar technology company has a portfolio of more than 60 patent applications and operates engineering and manufacturing locations in San Jose and Danvers, Mass.

The Senatobia plant, started in April 2010, will create 500 jobs in two phases over a five-year period and represents a corporate investment of $175 million. The factory's opening marked the successful entry of the high-growth renewable energy business into northern Mississippi, producing American-made solar panels only 12 months after breaking ground.

For more information on the UM School of Engineering, visit

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Brazilian Faculty, Students Make Connection

UM Brazilian Faculty, Students Make Engineering Connection

OXFORD, Miss. - Cristiane Surbeck and Laís Simões Teixeira came to the University of Mississippi at different times, but the Brazilians have found common ground in the UM School of Engineering.

Surbeck joined the civil engineering faculty as an assistant professor of civil engineering in 2007. She teaches environmental water and resources engineering, and her research ranges from treatment of polluted waters to characterizing sources of water pollution.

Teixeira came to campus this fall as a senior civil engineering major and Study Abroad student. She is the first student from Brazil to come under a U.S. Department of Education grant for a "U.S.-Brazil Consortium for Sustainable Drinking Water Studies."

The three-year project, overseen by Surbeck, provides opportunities for American and Brazilian undergraduate and graduate students in engineering, natural sciences, social sciences and business to add a thematically focused, multidisciplinary, international dimension to their academic training.

"The Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla is the lead U.S. university," Surbeck said. "The University of Mississippi is the other U.S. partner in the consortium. The lead university in Brazil is the Universidade Federal do Ceará in Fortaleza and the second is Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro."

The program permits students from each participating university to study one semester at another consortium university as an exchange student. This study abroad program is funded by the FIPSE-CAPES program, jointly administered by the U.S. Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, or FIPSE, and the Brazilian Ministry of Education, known as CAPES.

The U.S.-Brazil Consortium for Sustainable Water Studies project will help participants form a successful international alliance by understanding educational, technical, cultural and language differences between the two countries, said Surbeck, who earned her master's and doctoral degrees at the University of California at Irvine.

Two UM students are scheduled to attend Brazilian universities during the spring 2012 semester.

"I'm really excited because I knew that universities here are really different than back home," said Teixeira, a senior civil engineering major at UFC. "I was a little bit afraid because it was a completely different experience; now, I'm really glad I came."

Oxford is much smaller and calmer than Teixeira's hometown of Fortaleza, which has about 2.5 million residents.

"Here, we are completely immersed in a university environment," she said. "Almost everything is about Ole Miss. Back home, I live in such a big city. Life is busy and stressful."

At UM, Teixeira is taking three engineering courses and another in English as a foreign language. She is receiving a "hands-on" experience in Surbeck's class.

"The information she is gaining would prove most useful should she ever go to work in a water treatment plant," Surbeck said.

"I'm going back to Brazil by the end of this semester and I'm going to finish my courses there," Teixeira said. "I'll be graduated by the end of next year. I'm still not sure about what I'm going to do after graduation."

For more information about UM's Department of Civil Engineering, go to or call 662-915-7191.

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Freshman Twin Brothers

Freshman Twin Brothers Continue Family Legacy in Ole Miss Engineering, Athletics

OXFORD, Miss. - Scott and Marni Kendricks always hoped that their twin sons, Sam and Tom, would one day attend the University of Mississippi as they did decades earlier. What the couple didn't anticipate is that each of the brothers would enter his parents' alma mater with stellar achievements in academics and athletics.

The 18-year-old brothers graduated from Oxford High School in May. Sam set school and state records in pole-vaulting, earning honors as the Gatorade Mississippi Boys Athlete of the Year and Mr. Track and Field in Mississippi. Tom won the Robert Youngblood Award for having the most varsity letters of any graduating senior in track, cross country and soccer during his high school tenure. "We are thrilled that our boys will be continuing the family legacy in engineering and in athletics," said Marni Kendricks, assistant dean in the School of Engineering. She is the daughter of Jim Reeves, who was assistant director of UM's National Food Services Management Institute and business manager for the UM Foundation Barksdale Reading Institute before his retirement.

"I think that this is exactly the right fit for each of them to earn their degrees and launch successful career paths."

A champion high school runner and founding member of the Ole Miss track program under coach Joe Walker, Scott Kendricks has been coaching OHS teams for years. "I am particularly pleased that Sam will now be coached by Joe Walker, who also coached me so many years ago," he said.

Both brothers said they are eager to begin their engineering studies.

"I've visited several other universities, but for me, Ole Miss is still the best," said Sam, a general engineering major, Army ROTC student and athletics scholar. "Ole Miss is whatever you make it to be. I'm going to spend a lot of my time here between ROTC and the track team."

"I feel like engineering is the major I've been guided to my whole life," said Tom, a mechanical engineering major, European Aeronautic Defense and Space North America scholar and co-op intern in the university's National Center for Physical Acoustics. "I love Oxford, and Ole Miss is a great school from which to earn a degree."

Both Sam and Tom will take a required engineering graphics course taught by their mother, who is known to be rigorous in the classroom.

"We had Dad for our coach for six years, so we should be able to take instruction from Mom for a semester," Sam said with a laugh.

Coaching his own sons to athletics success was a challenge, Scott Kendricks said.

"It was pretty normal the first four years, but the last two years, Sam got really good at what he does," he said. "I had to upgrade my own coaching techniques just to match his abilities. I never imagined that he would become this great in the sport."

Already envisioning their post-university careers, Sam hopes to become a civil engineering in the U.S. Army, and Tom's goal is to work as a mechanical engineer for EADS.

Such divergent choices are par for the course for the twins, their father said.

"They've always been very different from one another," Scott Kendricks said. "They shared a bedroom, a bathroom and a birthday, and that's about it."

For more information about engineering programs at UM, go to

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Olympiad Championship

Doctoral student coaches team to 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 or Susan Drummond at For more information about the UM School of Engineering, visit For details about the National Science Olympiad, visit

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Second Prize in National Competition

Chemical Engineering Students Win Second Prize in National Competition

Jonathan Jones, Brittany Quigley and David Quigley, chemical engineering students at the University of Mississippi, recently won second prize in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers' 2011 Student Design Competition.

The students won in the Team Category where they were asked to design a Gas to Liquids Plant preliminary design package. They competed against dozens of chemical engineering programs across the nation who put forward one solution to the design problem.

Each year, chemical engineers from a designated company devise and judge a student contest problem that typifies a real chemical engineering design situation. The problem's solution requires a wide range of skills in calculation and evaluation of both technical data and economic factors.

This is the third year that the University of Mississippi participated in the competition. In 2009, the student team won first place nationally.

The School of Engineering and provost sent the department and team letters of congratulations with a mention in the provost's "Points of Pride" report.

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Brazilian Women's Soccer Player

Brazilian Women's Soccer Player Enjoys Success as Civil Engineering Major at UM

Rafaelle Souza understands the importance of setting and attaining goals. From her modest beginnings in her hometown of Salvador, Brazil, the 20-year-old became a major player on her country's national women's soccer team, which played in the World Cup championship.

But after grueling touring schedules interfered with Souza's education at the Universidade Do Estado Da Bahia, she began exploring opportunities to pursue her studies while remaining a star athlete. Her interest in civil engineering brought Souza to the University of Mississippi, where she has managed to both excel in her studies and on the soccer field.

"I came to Ole Miss because of the opportunity it provided me to both study engineering and to play soccer," Souza said. "I couldn't do both in Brazil, but here I can."

Coming from a city of 3 million people in South America to a much smaller town in the southern United States has been a challenge for Souza. Among the biggest of these challenges has been learning and mastering English as a second language. Though still perfecting her speech, the sophomore has passed the TOEFL exam, allowing her to enroll in required coursework for her degree and thus be eligible by the National Collegiate Athletic Association rules to participate in sporting events.

"I'm still learning how to express my opinions in English," Souza said with a smile. "I speak well enough to communicate with my teammates and have good relationships with them."

While Souza has played against soccer teams from all over the world without injury, she endured her first in an Ole Miss match against the University of Tennessee this fall.

"We were ahead 3-0 when I got hurt and had to stay on the sidelines the entire second half. Tennessee then came back and beat us 4-3," Souza said. "I hate being injured and I hate having to ice my leg in physical therapy. I'm from Brazil!"

Souza's resilience has made quite an impression upon those around her, said Marni Kendricks, assistant dean of the engineering school and adviser for general engineering students, including Souza.

"Rafa has lots of perserverance, intelligence and dedication under pressure," Kendricks said. "Being an athlete shows she knows how to manage her time and a necessary level of self-discipline to succeed. I think her international experience is also a tremendous asset which will allow her to take advantage of the many opportunities - domestically and globally - for engineers."

While Souza's first loves are soccer and engineering, she also enjoys playing video games and talking with family and friends back home via Facebook and Skype.

"I want to be a civil engineer because I love math, physics and architecture," Souza said. "In Brazil, both soccer and engineering are mostly men's territory, but I love the challenge."

"Having a degree from Ole Miss will be awesome. My family would never have been able to afford sending me to a big university outside of Brazil. Only here would I have such a wonderful opportunity to play soccer and earn my degree at the same time."

For more information, visit UM's Department of Civil Engineering or call 662-915-7191.

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TREE Program

TREE Program Donates Recycled Computers to Smithville Schools

OXFORD, Miss. - When a tornado ravaged Smithville on the afternoon of April 27, among the properties heavily damaged was the Smithville School campus. When students return in August, they'll attend classes in 43 mobile trailers while the K-12 school is rebuilt.

The portable classrooms are a temporary measure, but the school will be outfitted with much-needed computers, thanks to the Technology Recycling to Enhance Education program at the University of Mississippi.

UM students and faculty members plan to deliver 24 computers to the Monroe County School District office in Amory at 10 a.m. Tuesday (July 5). The units were collected from across the Ole Miss campus, cleaned and refurbished for distribution to public K-12 schools. TREE previously provided computers for students at Water Valley and West Tallahatchie high schools.

"After hearing about the situation, our students all wanted to do something to help them rebuild their program," said Dawn Wilkins, associate professor of computer and information science and faculty adviser of the UM chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery. "As it turned out, their technical person said even if they were able to salvage their own computers, they would still want our refurbished ones because they were newer than theirs. The whole thing was serendipitous."

The UM Physical Plant Department is providing vans to transport the computers to their new home in Smithville.

"The university becomes involved with other communities whenever a disaster strikes in order to assist them in their own recovery efforts," said Russ Buchholz, acting associate physical plant director. "When the request came for this particular effort, the response from our department was to provide the vans."

Once UM students deliver the computers, they will be kept in a storage facility for distribution this fall, Wilkins said.

"Right now, all we have is the promise of land upon which to place the trailers temporarily while new construction is being built on the original school site," said Alan Pearson, Monroe County School District technology director. "It could be a year or more before we have permanent facilities completed, but we're going to use the computers wherever we can in the meantime."

TREE is a joint effort among the Ole Miss ACM chapter, CIS faculty and the Office of Information Technology. The project was conceived by CIS faculty members, senior computer and information science major Brett Ladner and Scotty Polston, CIS network administrator. Its threefold goals are: to reduce the waste of usable electronic equipment at Ole Miss, to support education in the state and to provide ACM students with hands-on experience.

"TREE helps us to help other people," said Robert DeCurtins, a native of Olive Branch and chapter vice president. "A lot of schools have outdated equipment. Quality equipment is very important. What we provide the schools is usually newer and better than what they have. It's another way for us to give back to the community."

Pamela B. Lawhead, retired CIS associate professor, said she is proud of the cooperative effort and is awed by the amount of work students are willing to invest in TREE.

"Computer science students have very rigorous schedules, and to see them going the extra mile to clean and refurbish these computers for public schools is simply amazing," said Lawhead, who was also director of the university's Institute for Advanced Education in Geospatial Sciences.

Wilkins agreed. "TREE is a zero-budget operation and is labor-intensive, but our students are determined and dedicated to use their time and skills doing something very few people can do," she said.

ACM members have established a website,, to help others learn about TREE. At the website, faculty, staff and departments can transfer computing equipment to be cleaned and refurbished. Public schools also can use the site to request the refurbished computers.

"TREE is just another opportunity for us to provide service, but this time we're extending it to the entire state," Ladner said.

For more information, email

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Engineers Without Borders Scholar

Ole Miss Student Selected as Prestigious Engineers Without Borders Scholar

OXFORD, Miss. - Of all the things Pablo Mariaca received during the Christmas holidays, nothing topped the e-mail message notifying him he had been named a 2011 CH2M Hill Engineers Without Borders-USA Scholarship recipient.

"I still can't believe it," said the University of Mississippi senior civil engineering and economics major from La Paz, Bolivia. "I am very humbled by it. I'm thankful for the School of Engineering and its commitment to EWB, for our chapter and for all the opportunities I've had by being involved with EWB-USA. I'm so happy!"

Mariaca is among 12 recipients of the coveted award, which recognizes students' dedication to academic excellence, use of technical skills to improve living conditions in impoverished Third World countries, and proven leadership ability. More than 80 candidates applied to the program.

"I learned about the scholarship through a newsletter sent by EWB-USA that Dr. Chen periodically forwards to our chapter," Mariaca said. "The application consisted of two letters of recommendation, a transcript, an application form and one essay describing how my involvement with EWB-USA has prepared me for a professional engineering career and made me a better engineer."

Engineering faculty and administration are equally excited about Mariaca's honor.

"Pablo's winning the very competitive award reflects his passions not only for excellent academic records and self-enrichment, but also for the people around him and those in the world," said Wei-Yin Chen, professor of chemical engineering and faculty adviser for the EWB-Ole Miss Chapter. "I am happy to see that our EWB chapter has provided an opportunity for our students to stretch their characters for success."

"We are proud of Pablo, who, like many other engineering students, has strong leadership, character and a commitment to serve," said engineering Dean Alex Cheng. "The School of Engineering works closely with the Engineers Without Borders Chapter to provide the leadership, service and global opportunities to our students."

Mariaca is project coordinator of UM's EWB chapter. He was a delegate to the EWB-USA Southeast Regional workshop in Miami in October 2009 and the international conference in Denver last spring.

"Our first EWB-Ole Miss project consists of a small drinking water treatment facility in a village in Togo (western Africa)," he said. "We are planning to have an assessment trip during spring break or early summer."

EWB-USA is a nonprofit humanitarian organization established to partner with developing communities worldwide to improve quality of life. The partnerships involve implementing sustainable engineering projects while involving and training internationally responsible engineers and engineering students.

For more information about Engineers Without Borders-USA, visit For more information about the UM School of Engineering, visit or call 662-915-7407.

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Student Recycling Sorter

Student recycling sorter selected as one of best

A three-member student team from The University of Mississippi was one of the finalists in the 2010 American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Student Design Competition.

The 2010 competition, "Earth Saver: Autonomous Material Sorter," required participating teams to design, build and test an autonomous system capable of accurately sorting common recyclable materials into distinct waste containers."We spent about 150 hours in the design and construction of the sorter," said Andrew Walker, who worked with fellow students Bert Welch and Garret Stone on the project. "It was a learning experience for us to take control of the design process and produce a functional product, where almost none of our original ideas was used. We gained firsthand knowledge of how some things that seem best, in theory, are not practical for an efficient project."

The team's sorter worked by eliminating each material by its distinct physical properties.

"First, the glass, being the most dense, fell through plastic bristles we fashioned from a broom," Walker said. "Then the tin cans were removed by a rotating magnetic drum because they were the only ferrous materials. The plastic and aluminum containers were then separated by their size."

The group worked on its original design during the 2009 fall semester as a class project for Dr. Raju Mantena, professor of mechanical engineering. The three then began the assembly of the material sorter as their capstone project the following semester for Dr. Jagdish Sharma's senior design class. Their sorter was selected as the best senior design project for the class as well as for the entire school.

"In the fall semester, all senior mechanical engineering students are challenged in the ME 427 Kinematics class to work, in groups of three, on conceptual designs for the annual ASME Student Design Competition," Mantena said. "A faculty panel selects one or two groups that have the opportunity to build proof-of-concept prototypes in the following spring semester ME 438 Capstone Design Class and represent Ole Miss in the ASME Regional Student Conference held in March/April of each year. It is hard work but well worth the experience. All mechanical engineering students also get to go to the regional conference, to cheer our team and see how the students from other schools perform."

In the 2010 ASME competition, the UM team placed second in its district after the team from the South Dakota School for Mines and Technology. Walker said the UM team was named a finalist because about 30 teams, an unusually high number, competed in the district competition. Because of scheduling conflicts, Walker, Welch and Stone did not attend the competition finals, held Nov. 14 at the 2010 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The other universities that made it to the competition finals were California State University at Fresno, Carnegie Mellon University, Grand Valley State University, McGill University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Oregon State University, the University of Alabama, the University of Tennessee and Western Kentucky University, as well as the Lebanese American University in Beirut, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and Yeditepe University in Turkey. Texas's LeTourneau University had two teams entered in the competition.

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Hot Rod

Engineering Student Modifies Hot Rod, Fulfills Dream of Racing at Bonneville

OXFORD, Miss. - Jeffrey Ferguson never thought he would race on the legendary Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.

He also never thought he would set a land speed record at the 62nd Bonneville Salt Flats Speed Week late this summer, but that's what the 23-year-old Olive Branch native did.

"It was the most surreal experience in my life. I felt like I was in a movie," said Ferguson, a junior mechanical engineering major at the University of Mississippi.

Ferguson has been salvaging and modifying old cars since he was a young child.

"I've been around them since I was a baby," said Ferguson, the son of Jeff and Lori Ferguson of Olive Branch. "My dad restores hot rods, and I discovered I had an interest and passion for them, too. I love to modify and build engines with my hands."

Ferguson started welding at age 12 and moved quickly to building and later racing hot rods.

After seeing "The World's Fastest Indian," a 2005 film based on Burt Munro's quest to race his modified Indian Scout motorcycle in the Bonneville Speedway, Ferguson was determined to have one of his modified cars featured at Bonneville, too. Munro, a motorcycle racer from New Zealand, eventually won numerous land speed records in the 1950s and '60s, many of which have not been broken.

Ferguson said he admired Munro's tenacity and drive to accomplish his ultimate goal.

"I remember thinking, 'That's the person I want to be,'" he said. "At the time, going to college did not factor into my plans."

Immediately after high school, Ferguson started working at a fabrication company, but he quickly grew bored, moved to modifying computers and later switched to airplanes.

But, at age 20, Ferguson found himself reconsidering college when a friend transferred to Ole Miss to study engineering. Ferguson got excited and also decided to give Ole Miss a try.

He said his decision paid off.

"My desire to build hot rods is why I decided to study mechanical engineering. It seemed like the perfect match," Ferguson said. "But, I've gotten so much more from being here. Studying engineering has shown me how cars and engines work. Before, I just knew what I knew. I would build it, and it worked. But now I understand the cause and effect of what I build."

Ferguson's new understanding of aerodynamics, statics, graphics and other core engineering subjects, as well as his innate ability, led him to the Bonneville Speedway in August with friend George "Bucky" Gallimore, a radiologist in Memphis and former drag car racer.

Gallimore recently had purchased a 1979 Trans Am on eBay and gave Ferguson an all-access pass to work his magic.

"I've been racing for 30 years, and going to Bonneville is a dream of all racers," Gallimore said. "Jeffrey is a good kid and really talented. He did the roll cage and rear suspension for the racer, and I swapped the motor."

It took the duo a year to modify the racer, and in May 2010, the "Buckwheat Racing Team" was ready for its first race in Maxon, N.C. By August, the two traveled 32 hours nonstop to Booneville Speedway in Wendover, Utah.

"That was a long drive. We asked ourselves at several points, 'Are we having fun yet?'" Ferguson said.

In Utah, Ferguson and Gallimore worked their way up to an AA license, which meant they could race up to 300 miles per hour. After making a record backup run at 249 miles per hour, they were named official members of the Bonneville 200 MPH Club.

"We were blown away when we received our red caps after joining the club. It's an honor. There are more people who have climbed Mount Everest than who are in the 200 MPH Club," Ferguson said.

So, what's next for Ferguson?

The Ole Miss student is trying to get a scholarship from the Southern California Timing Association. He found out about the scholarship during the race.

"I'm determined to finish my engineering degree," Ferguson said. "I'm so proud I decided to come here. I have a new understanding of so much. I'm thinking more about my future now. Before coming to Ole Miss, I just wanted a job. Now, I'm thinking of starting my own business-JF Hotrods. Yeah, that sounds great."

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Graduate Course Applies Knowledge

Graduate Course Lets Engineering Students Apply Knowledge to Real-World Problems

OXFORD, Miss. - When Shannon Wilson, a University of Mississippi graduate student from Fairfax Station, Va., signed up for a course in Service Learning in Water and Sanitation Engineering last fall, she didn't know what to expect.

But the environmental engineering major had heard that the class, taught by Cristiane Queiroz Surbeck, would give her a chance to apply her classroom learning to the real world.

Wilson and her nine classmates did, in fact, get to apply their understanding of fluid mechanics and environmental engineering in Surbeck's class, but they also got a chance to learn skills necessary to help communities in need of clean water.

"I'm sure many of the students wondered what a service learning class meant," said Surbeck, who designed the course curriculum. "Service learning simply combines academic classroom knowledge with meaningful service for needy communities."

That's why Surbeck partnered with Living Waters for the World and Clean Water U to provide her students with practical knowledge of water systems and to teach them how to "improve drinking-water treatment systems to be taken to poor communities, both in the U.S and abroad."

The fall course required students to actively work at Clean Water U, which is located at Camp Hopewell and Conference Center outside Oxford. Clean Water U is a simulation experience designed to equip mission teams with the skills necessary to install clean-water systems provided by Living Waters for the World.

"This course had great personal meaning to me - it was my first hands-on experience working with water treatment equipment," Wilson said. "I also learned how to be in a leadership role without being overbearing. This was more than a regular engineering class."

"Even our lab discussions centered on how to improve present day water systems or how to provide our new knowledge and skills to needy communities. I gained priceless knowledge," she said.

Surbeck said she did everything possible to make this course happen because students "learn best and most deeply by taking knowledge from the classroom and applying it to something they can relate to."

"The service the students provided was in-depth," she said. "They tested the efficacy of the water treatment system and used their abilities to do something important for someone else."

For more information on Service Learning in Water and Sanitation Engineering, contact Surbeck at For more information on engineering programs at UM, go to

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Roundtable Series

Roundtable Series to Address Women's Retention in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Careers

OXFORD, Miss. - Women's retention in careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics is the focus of five free, public programs this spring at the University of Mississippi.

Each program in the series, "Roundtable Mentoring and Student Retention: What Women Need to Know to Survive and Succeed in STEM Careers," is scheduled 6-7:30 p.m. in Johnson Commons Ballroom in conjunction with a dinner, and reservations are required. Contact the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies at 662-915-5916 or

Meeting dates and topics are as follows:
Feb. 4 - "Women in STEM" (RSVP by noon Feb. 2)
Feb. 16 - "Career Options in STEM" (RSVP by Feb. 9)
March 9 - "Career vs. Home: A False Dichotomy" (RSVP by March 2)
April 6 - "Does Gender Bias in the Workplace Exist?" (RSVP by March 30)
April 22 - "Answers to All the Questions You Did Not Ask But Wanted To" (RSVP by April 15).

The series, sponsored by UM's female science faculty and the Isom Center, is funded by a grant from the American Association of University Women Campus Action Program.

"Representation of women in STEM careers is disproportionate to the number of women entering undergraduate studies in STEM fields," said Mary Carruth, Isom Center director. "Female representation falls precipitously as females move through the training and career pipeline."

The primary goals of the STEM roundtables are to enhance camaraderie among female STEM students, provide informal mentoring between faculty and students and facilitate discussion of difficult issues that may preclude a student from remaining in a STEM discipline, and start a student affiliate chapter of the AAUW, Carruth said.

Warigia Bowman, assistant professor of public policy leadership, and Tamar Goulet, associate professor of biology, are the principal investigators of the project. The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs and the College of Liberal Arts matched this grant.

"The Isom Center is delighted to partner with the American Association of University Women to encourage UM women to pursue and stay in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics," Carruth said. "The AAUW has documented the unfortunate shortage of girls and women preparing to work in STEM careers in its research reports, AAUW's Tech Savvy (2000) and Women at Work (2003). Its forthcoming report on women in STEM will be released later this spring in time for us to share its findings at the roundtables."

The Isom Center for Women was established at UM in 1981 to advocate for women and to educate the campus and community about diverse women's and gender issues. The center houses the gender studies program and sponsors programming. UM has provided educational opportunities for women longer than any other state university in the South. When the university opened its doors to women in 1882, 11 women registered for classes. Women constitute more than half the student body.

For more information or to request assistance related to a disability, contact the Isom Center at 662-915-5916 or To learn more, visit

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E-Week Helps Students 'See the Engineer' Within Themselves

OXFORD, Miss. - Engineering students at the University of Mississippi are using the creative side of their brains to increase enrollment.

National Engineers Week, known on campus as "E-Week," is set for next week (Feb. 14-19). The annual series of daily campus activities is aimed at creating an awareness of engineering throughout the community and introducing the degree and profession to middle and high school students in Mississippi and to Ole Miss students who are undecided about a major.

"Across the country, engineering enrollment is way down," said Lyndsey Freeny of Vicksburg, Engineering Student Body president. "This is our creative effort to get it revved up again."

Engineering Day on Feb. 26 is the culmination of the monthlong observance. Co-sponsored by the School of Engineering, the Division of Outreach and Continuing Education, and the Center for Mathematics and Science Education, the event brings more than 150 high school students from across Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama for a full day of interacting with engineering students, taking individual and team math, science and engineering tests, and participating in a water tower model-earthquake simulation competition.

Scheduled events include:
Feb. 15 - The Association for Computing Machinery and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers are sponsoring the ESB luncheon and competitions.
Feb. 16 - The American Institute of Chemical Engineers is providing lunch for engineering students, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers sponsors a paper airplane competition.
Feb. 17 - The American Society of Civil Engineers and the Geology Club are providing lunch and organizing a scavenger hunt for engineering students.
Feb. 18 - The Engineering Career Fair brings industry professionals to Carrier Hall for interviews with engineering students seeking internships, co-op positions, and employment opportunities. The Society of Women Engineers hosts the Mr. Engineer 2010 Competition at 7 p.m. in Anderson Auditorium. Admission is free.
Feb. 20 - Engineering faculty, staff and students facilitate the annual North Mississippi Region MathCounts for middle school students.
Feb. 22 - The American Society for Civil Engineers is hosting the North Mississippi ASCE meeting at the Inn at Ole Miss starting at 6:30 p.m. It features a four-speaker panel, New Orleans-style buffet and a raffle for a signed football and basketball. Admission is $5 for students.
Feb. 26 - The Society of Women Engineers is hosting its annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day for high school girls.

Marni Kendricks, assistant to the dean, and the UM Career Center are coordinating the Career Fair. Maxine Woolsey, educational outreach specialist, and April Kilpatrick, CMSE outreach specialist, are coordinating the middle and high school competitions.

"The engineering students that help facilitate the competitions are true ambassadors for the school," Woolsey said. "They grade tests, judge projects and interact with the secondary school students and teachers."

"Through outreaches such as E-Week, MathCounts and Engineering Day, we anticipate increasing the School of Engineering's enrollment year by year," Kendricks said. "We want to introduce engineering as a degree and a career to more Mississippi secondary school students serious about their futures. We want to expose more students to this amazing field."

For more information about the School of Engineering, call 662-915-5780 or visit

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CMSE Raises Bar

Center for Mathematics and Science Education Aims to Raise the Bar in Math and Science Achievement

OXFORD, Miss. - American 15-year-olds lag behind their peers in 31 countries in math proficiency, and in science, the nation's eighth-graders' test scores trail those of eight countries, a 2009 U.S. Department of Education report concluded.

"Even worse, that standing is falling," said John O'Haver, a University of Mississippi chemical engineering professor and director of the UM Center for Mathematics and Science Education.

And just as America has fallen behind much of the developed world in math and science achievement, Mississippi ranks dead last nationally in these areas. The state's universities have produced only 20 bachelor's degrees in math education over the last two years and only a handful of doctoral degrees over the past four decades.

To address the problem, CMSE is a using six-year grant from the Hearin Foundation to provide doctoral candidates a $20,000 annual stipend, nearly double the amount of any other stipend on campus. The goal is to improve both math and science education across the Magnolia State and help build a better pipeline for a more technical workforce.

"Our society is becoming more and more technologically advanced," said Julie James, former North Pontotoc High School math teacher. "As teachers, we are preparing students for jobs that don't even exist yet. Problem-solving and logical thinking skills will be in high demand."

James is one of nine doctoral students on scholarship through the CMSE program. The New Albany native, who was a public school teacher for five years, believes a doctoral degree will allow her to better train future teachers.

"I have children of my own in public school," James said. "My goal is to help Mississippi teachers learn how they can tap into our students' potential."

Eighth-graders in Chinese Taipei, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan all rank above their American peers in mathematics, and eighth-graders in Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Korea, England, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and the Russian Federation also outscore American students in science.

"If we cease to be competitive in education, then we will cease to be competitive as a nation," O'Haver said.

But he is optimistic because CMSE students genuinely seem to care about the state of education.

"Our students have a passion," he said. "They want to make a difference."

For UM physics graduate Carl Dewitt, pursuing his doctoral degree would be impossible without the center's support.

"The CMSE has been tremendously helpful in the continuation of my education," said the 28-year-old Amory native. "They are providing me with the resources and experiences needed to be a better professional. I am truly grateful."

Raising math and science achievement standards can have far-reaching benefits, Dewitt said. For example, physics research, which incorporates mathematics and science, has produced great achievements, ranging from new cancer therapies to ways of monitoring nuclear nonproliferation.

"Current middle and high school students will be the designers and producers of the greatest devices the world has ever seen," Dewitt said. "If America cannot raise its standings, then one day we will be working for India and China."

Established in 2006 under the auspices of the UM School of Engineering, CMSE works to improve mathematics and science education in Mississippi through a comprehensive program of outreach, training, teacher certification and scholarships. For more information about CMSE, visit

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Research Student Attends Event

Doctoral Research Student to Attend International Event with Nobel Laureates

OXFORD, Miss. - When 62 Nobel laureates from around the world gather this summer in the historic city of Lindau, Germany, a University of Mississippi student plans to be there.

Chemistry graduate student Shana Stoddard of Louisville, Ky., is among 77 young U.S. researchers chosen to participate in the 60th Lindau Meeting. Laureates in chemistry, physics and physiology/medicine convene June 27-July 2 to lecture and meet with some 500 students from around the world.

Stoddard, who specializes in biochemical research, said she was shocked to hear that she had been selected.

"My first thoughts - I don't actually remember," she said. "I do remember thanking God and being totally overwhelmed with emotion. I was extremely humbled."

The laureates speak on the topic of their choice in the mornings and participate in less formal, small-group discussions with students in the afternoons and some evenings.

"I hope to gain valuable insight on how to make contributions that will benefit society," said Stoddard, who expects to soon have her second research paper published in a professional journal.

"It is one thing to do research that gets published and create new information; it is another thing to do research that generates positive change in peoples' lives. That's what I hope to learn from these Nobel laureates."

Stoddard's research focuses on developing specific inhibitors for carboxylesterase, an enzyme that catalyzes chemical reactions, as in activation of the colorectal cancer drug Camptosar. At least two carboxylesterases are present in humans, one in the liver and another in the small intestine, both of which can activate the drug.

"We know that a side effect, severe delayed diarrhea, associated with Camptosar happens because the carboxylesterase enzyme in the small intestine activates a very large percentage of the drug very fast compared to the liver carboxylesterase enzyme," Stoddard explained. "The importance of developing specific inhibitors for carboxylesterase is to control which enzyme activates the drug. The end goal is to develop a drug that could be given at the same time as Camptosar and would eliminate the side effect."

On track to receive her doctorate at UM in 2012, Stoddard is sponsored at Lindau by the Oak Ridge Associated Universities, a consortium of U.S. universities headquartered in Oak Ridge, Tenn. ORAU administers a broad range of internships, scholarships, fellowships and research programs.

Her application to ORAU included a nomination letter from her UM research adviser, Randy Wadkins, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry. Lauding Shana for being selected, Wadkins said one attribute that strengthened her application is that "she sets herself apart because she is able to grasp the big picture of her research."

"She expressed this in a very eloquent application letter that wove her current research effort into a much larger web of science. I suspect the selection committee was as impressed by this as I was."

Alice Clark, UM vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs, said, "This will be an extraordinary personal and professional opportunity for Ms. Stoddard - and a privilege for the university to have a participant in this significant global dialog."

Stoddard first came to UM in 2008 after Wadkins recruited her as a participant in UM's summer research program Alliance for Graduate Education in Mississippi. The purpose of AGEM is to increase the number of students from under-represented minorities who enter science, mathematics and engineering graduate programs at the consortium institutions.

After a successful summer, Stoddard decided to enter UM's doctoral program in chemistry. She was engaged in research as an undergraduate at Prairie View A&M University in Texas, where she completed her bachelor's degree. Since coming to UM, she has co-authored one research paper, which was published last year in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, and her second is being submitted to the Journal of Pesticide Science this month.

"Shana's work to date has been mostly computational in nature, but she is also beginning a biochemistry project that involves isolation of an enzyme from a fungus," Wadkins said. "She is excited about the combined use of cutting-edge computer simulation and wet - even messy - biochemistry."

Stoddard's dream, though, is "to fix paralysis." She began this focus in high school after one of her best friends was paralyzed as a result of corrective surgery for scoliosis.

"There is a very important connection between my dream and my current research, which is equipping me to understand how to develop enzyme inhibitors through various techniques," she said. "I can take all of the tools I learn from this project and apply them to other biological systems."

Only days after learning she had won the trip to Germany, Stoddard received word that she is among 50 of the 500 students at Lindau chosen for a fellowship to attend the Euroscience Open Forum in Torino, Italy, July 2-7. The program "Lindau Fellows go ESOF" by the Robert Bosch Foundation, encourages young scientists to share their experience and participate in debates.

Wadkins said he is "always trying to give students an opportunity to meet prominent scientists." In that effort, his StudyUSA course is offered during May Intersession 2010 and includes visits to leading research facilities in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. For more information, visit

Funding for Stoddard's research comes from the National Science Foundation's EPSCoR program for Mississippi:

For more information on chemistry programs at UM, visit

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Youngsters Win Engineering Awards

Big Things Come in Small Packages: Two Local Youngsters Win Engineering Awards

OXFORD, Miss. - Talmadge Lewis is only 7 years old, but thanks to a recent competition at the University of Mississippi, he may already be looking years ahead to a career as a robotics engineer.

Lewis was one of two elementary school students from Oxford to receive medals at UM's 23rd annual Excellence in Engineering Awards last week. He and Mary Charles Kendricks, 10, received top honors in the Class 1 and 2 divisions, respectively, for their creative projects entered in the annual Region 7 Science and Engineering Fair.

"We did the best we could do," said Lewis, a second-grader at Oxford University School. He designed and built a robot that simulates combing hair. The idea came after he found one of his grandmother's bobby pins on a bathroom floor. Lewis used LEGO Mindstorm kits to create and test variations of his robot before coming up with his medal-winning entry.

"Because we arrived late, I won fifth place in the science fair, but I still won the Excellence in Engineering Award," he said. "That's pretty cool."

Normally, the awards have been presented only to high school students who have excelled in the areas of science related to engineering or computer science. This is the first year the competition was opened to elementary school students as well.

"In order to increase student interest in math, science and engineering, we must plant a seed at an early stage," said Scott Kilpatrick, assistant to the engineering dean and presenter of the awards. "We want each student to know that we see the engineer in them, no matter what their age may be."

Recipients of these awards receive either plaques or medals during each of the seven regional Mississippi Science and Engineering Fairs and the State Science and Engineering Fair, which is hosted on a rotating schedule.

"I feel like I'm the luckiest girl in the world," said Kendricks, a fourth-grader at Della Davidson Elementary. She designed and conducted an experiment to test the strength and longevity of columns made of paper in cold, humid and room temperatures. She topped the columns with weights to test their strength.

"The columns stood 12 days in the cold environment, four days in the room temperature and only an hour in the humid environment," she said.

Other local winners included Dora Chen, a sophomore at Oxford High School.

Students are appreciative of the opportunity to discuss their projects with Ole Miss engineers and excited to earn the awards, said Maxine Woolsey, UM engineering education outreach specialist. "It is a great opportunity to recognize students who are involved in engineering projects."

"It is always a delight to serve as a judge in the science fair," said John O'Haver, associate engineering dean and professor of chemical engineering. "When you look at the variety of students, the variety of projects and the obvious enthusiasm that students have for their work, it is exciting. The depth and complexity of some of the projects is amazing."

Both winners' parents said they are thrilled to see their children taking an interest and being encouraged in engineering at such a young age.

"Mary Charles loves to get involved in math and science experiments, competitions, investigations and - I'm proud to say - creative engineering projects," said Marni Kendricks, assistant to the engineering school dean and Mary Charles' mother. "Her grandmother was a career science teacher, I'm an engineer and my father, Jim Reeves, is a mathematics guru. I guess you could say science fair is kind of a family tradition."

"I think it's really wonderful that the Ole Miss School of Engineering takes such an interest in students at my son's age," said Pauline Lewis, an Oxford attorney and mother of Talmadge. "This was all his idea and he wanted a medal so bad. I'm extremely happy for him."

Future engineering dreams withstanding, the Kendricks and Lewis children only know they are still happy about having won awards last weekend.

"I'm kind of thinking about becoming an engineer, but I'm also thinking about becoming a veterinarian," Mary Charles Kendricks said.

"My mommy's brother was a robotics engineer at NASA," Talmadge Lewis said. "So I think it would be kind of cool to be one, too."

Jeffrey Roux, former chair and retired professor of mechanical engineering, originated the Ole Miss Excellence in Engineering Awards program more than 20 years ago. Since then, Ole Miss engineering faculty members have served as judges at each of the regional fairs and at the state level.

For more about the School of Engineering, go to or call 662-915-7407.

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Engineering Camps

Students Encouraged to Participate in Engineering, Manufacturing Camps

OXFORD, Miss. - High school students who enjoy solving problems and learning how things work are encouraged to apply for summer engineering and manufacturing camps at the University of Mississippi.

The one-week overnight camp provides students in grades 9 through 11 with an opportunity to learn and experience the engineering and manufacturing fields. Two camps will be held: one June 13-18 and another June 20-25.

"The Engineering and Manufacturing Camp promises to be an engaging and exciting experience," said April Kilpatrick, outreach coordinator for the UM Center for Mathematics and Science Education. "The campers will be introduced to engineering concepts, do hands-on activities and take two field trips to manufacturing plants in Mississippi to see real-world applications of engineering."

Interested students can submit a completed application to CMSE no later than April 30. Applications will be reviewed and campers will be selected and notified by early June. Once accepted, campers must submit a $50 reservation fee. However, scholarships are available for those who qualify and need assistance.

"The CME is committed to creating innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders for the modern manufacturing industry," said Ryan Miller, project manager for the Center for Manufacturing Excellence. "The camp is a great opportunity for students who are interested in learning about careers that will challenge them and provide intellectual and personal satisfaction."

The experiences give students a chance to view manufacturing as a career option where their minds and creativity are not only needed but valued, said Carl Dewitt, a CMSE graduate fellow who assisted with the camps last year.

"I would hope that the students who come to engineering camp will one day be instrumental in keeping manufacturing thriving here in Mississippi," Dewitt said.

"We want to let students know that we 'see the engineer in you,'" Kilpatrick said.

Hosted by the CMSE and the Center for Manufacturing Excellence, the weeklong events are designed to expose participants to the latest in engineering software, equipment and instruction. Several Ole Miss engineering faculty members lead the sessions.

For applications or more information, call April Kilpatrick at 662-915-6621 or e-mail

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Trebuchet Competition

High School, Middle School Students Sling Their Way to Victory in Trebuchet Competition

OXFORD, Miss. - Normally tennis balls volley back and forth on the court, but Thursday afternoon, they were being catapulted in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium at the University of Mississippi.

The School of Engineering hosted the fourth-annual Gravity-Driven Catapult (Trebuchet) Hurling Competition. Middle and high school students from across Mississippi were invited to design and construct trebuchets and bring them to campus to test their engineering skills. Trebuchets, which originated as medieval engines of war, use a counterweight to propel projectiles at targets.

In the UM competition, students designed and constructed trebuchets of metal, wood and PVC to hurl fluorescent tennis balls across the field. Registering for the event were 11 teams representing nine schools: Paul D. Armstrong Middle School of Starkville, Charleston High School, French Camp Academy, Leflore County Vocational-Technical School, Northwest Rankin High School, Oxford High School, Saltillo High School, South Panola High School and Starkville High School.

Engineers from the Mississippi Department of Transportation's Batesville office and GE Aviation weighed and measured the catapults to make sure specifications were met. Catapults not meeting specs either had to be modified or were penalized points for not meeting the criteria.

"It would be difficult to disqualify a team of students that has put so much effort and time into constructing a trebuchet," said Maxine Woolsey, educational outreach specialist in the School of Engineering and coordinator of the event. "I would rather see engineering in action as the students redesign and modify their hurling machine to fall within the requirements."

Ole Miss engineering students and Oxford High School physics teacher Jim Reidy engineered a moving wall that extended 35 feet high, using PVC pipe, paint poles, a net, rope and a lot of duct tape. The engineering students measured the distance and height of each throw and calculated scores.

"There were some very well-designed trebuchets, and we saw some record performances for the competition," said Alissa Carroll, a senior mechanical engineering major from Kingwood, Texas, who has volunteered to help with the competition since its inception. "It's always exciting to see these high school and middle school students see the engineer within themselves."

First-, second- and third-place trophies were presented in the categories of accuracy, design, distance, height and cost efficiency. The Cost Efficiency Award, in keeping with the "green movement," was created this year to reward teams building trebuchets with the lowest cost per foot of hurling distance.

Scores for all participants ranged from 52 cents to $3.28 per foot. Trophies went to students from French Camp Academy, Northwest Rankin High School, Armstrong Middle School and Starkville High School.

Josh Parkerson, a senior at French Camp Academy, said he plans to study chemical engineering at Ole Miss this fall.

"I started entering the trebuchet competition three years ago because it looked like it would be fun," Parkerson said. "It is fun, but it is also challenging. I received a lot of encouragement from my older brother, Joey, who graduated from Ole Miss last year."

Before the day's final competitive event, participants faced off in preliminaries and made adjustments to their catapults. Sometimes, the machines broke during this process.

"It is impressive to see the tools come out and students making repairs to get their machine up and hurling again," Woolsey said."That is what the engineering experience is all about."

Armstrong Middle School took home four trophies, including two for first in both cost efficiency and accuracy. French Camp Academy and Northwest Rankin High School were first-place winners in design and distance, respectively. Starkville High School won first place in height.

Second-place winners were Starkville in distance, accuracy and cost efficiency categories, Armstrong in height and Northwest Rankin in design. Placing third were Armstrong in distance, Starkville in cost efficiency, height and design, and French Camp in accuracy.

Much of the event's success stems from the interaction between high school students and UM engineering students, she said.

Matt Herring, a sophomore electrical engineering major from Oxford, believes the catapult project encourages students to think and use the engineering design process.

"It is a good introduction to engineering and gives the students opportunities to design and construct catapults with basic specifications," Herring said. "Then they get to bring that catapult to the Ole Miss football stadium to test it."

In medieval times, trebuchets were more accurate than other catapults, which used tension or torsion to fire projectiles. In modern times, trebuchets have become popular devices for hurling pumpkins, frozen turkeys or even junk cars in light-spirited competitions.

Sponsors for the competition included the UM School of Engineering, Mississippi Engineering Society, GE Aviation, MDOT, Center for Math and Science Education, University Sporting Goods and The Trophy Shop.

For more information about the School of Engineering, visit

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Commencement Address

Former Governor, U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus to Deliver Commencement Address

OXFORD, Miss. - U.S. Secretary of the Navy Raymond E. Mabus Jr. returns to his alma mater May 8 to deliver the University of Mississippi's 157th commencement address.

Mabus, who served as Mississippi governor from 1988 to 1992 and was U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1994 to 1996, speaks to graduating students and their families at 9 a.m. in the Grove. This year's graduating class includes some 2,800 candidates for undergraduate and graduate degrees.

"We have a tradition of bringing nationally and internationally renowned leaders to campus for our commencement addresses, and this year we are honored to bring one of our own back to Ole Miss," Chancellor Dan Jones said. "Ray Mabus has helped shape state, national and international policies for more than 25 years, and he is also an adept businessman and a sharp legal mind. His observations on the world should provide valuable insights for everyone."

Recipients of doctor of philosophy degrees are to be hooded by their major professors in a 7:30 p.m. ceremony May 7 in the Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

A shuttle service for handicapped visitors is to be provided Saturday before the main ceremony. Shuttles will pick up people needing assistance at the planters in front of Coulter Hall on University Avenue, and take them to the seating area for the main ceremony. (Wheelchairs, if needed, must be provided by families.) Visitors needing assistance after the ceremony should tell their driver.

In case of rain, the ceremony will be moved to Tad Smith Coliseum. (If the weather is threatening, a decision on moving the ceremony indoors will be made by 8 a.m. and announced through media outlets and the UM website.)

Following the main ceremony, individual schools and the College of Liberal Arts hold ceremonies at various times and locations to present baccalaureate, master's, doctor of pharmacy and juris doctor degrees and awards. The schedule is as follows:
College of Liberal Arts master's degrees - 11 a.m., Fulton Chapel
School of Accountancy - Ford Center, 11 a.m.
School of Applied Sciences - Indoor Practice Facility, 11 a.m.
School of Business Administration - Tad Smith Coliseum, 11 a.m.
School of Engineering - Lyceum Circle, 11 a.m.
School of Education - Grove, 11 a.m.
School of Law - Grove, 11 a.m.
School of Pharmacy - Indoor Practice Facility, 2 p.m.
College of Liberal Arts and Meek School of Journalism and New Media - Tad Smith Coliseum, 2 p.m.

In case of rain, the College of Liberal Arts master's degree ceremony will be moved to 11 a.m. in Nutt Auditorium. The School of Education ceremony will be moved to 2:30 p.m. in the Indoor Practice Facility; Engineering, 11 a.m. in Fulton Chapel; Law, 1:30 p.m. in the Ford Center; and Pharmacy, 5 p.m. in Tad Smith Coliseum.

Mabus, a native of Ackerman, earned a bachelor's degree in English and political science from UM, a master's degree in political science from Johns Hopkins University and a law degree from Harvard Law School. He served as a U.S. Navy surface warfare officer aboard the cruiser USS Little Rock and later worked as a law clerk in the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

He was elected state auditor in 1983, and during his term participated in a huge FBI sting operation that recovered millions in misspent or stolen public funds. As the youngest Mississippi governor in more than 100 years, he stressed education and job creation. He oversaw the passage of Better Education for Success Tomorrow, one of the most comprehensive education reform programs in America, and was named one of Fortune magazine's top 10 education governors.

During his tenure as ambassador, a crisis with Iraq was averted and Saudi Arabia officially abandoned a boycott of American businesses that trade with Israel. He also was chairman and CEO of Foamex International Inc., a manufacturer of flexible polyurethane foam and foam products, which he led out of bankruptcy in less than nine months, paying all creditors in full and saving equity.

As secretary of the Navy, he leads the Navy and Marine Corps and is responsible for an annual budget of more than $150 billion and almost 900,000 people.

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Business Plan Competition

Business Plan Competition Adds New Category, Attracts Innovators

OXFORD, Miss. - The University of Mississippi Business Plan Competition is bringing sexy back.

Besides rewarding best new business plan and best new business concept, this year's competition also featured a best new mobile phone application. Telecommunications company Cellular South approached the UM School of Business Administration about adding the Android smart phone app to the annual competition.

"The smart-phone app category adds a sexy component to the competition," said Bethany Cooper, director of corporate relations and MBA services for the business school. "Cellular South wants students to develop apps as they are hoping to grow the market of their android phones among the college-aged demographic."

The smart-phone competition, which sought app concepts with business plans, not the actual programming code, enabled the competition to expand, attracting computer science and management information systems students to the competition, Cooper said. The winner received a $5,000 award from Cellular South.

The winner was Alyssa Klein, a senior marketing major from Mandeville, La., for her Motorola Android's new Hot Spot application, which gives users something to do in their leisure time.

"Hot Spot allows users immediate access to everything that is going on around them based upon location and preferences," Klein said. "For instance, users searching for the best drink specials in their area will be provided with a convenient and thorough list of the nightly specials at all of their local bars. Users searching for live music will be given a compilation of every concert at every venue in their desired area, and so on and so forth."

The award for best new business plan - also for $5,000 - went to Jack Smothers' plan for, a Web-based personnel selection service and human resources consulting company.

"We offer a variety of Web-administered tests that are customized to the preferences of our clients," said Smothers, a doctoral student studying management from Huntingdon, Tenn. "Our various scales measure integrity, reliability, dependability, achievement, motivation, teamwork orientation, customer-service orientation, salesperson potential, work endurance and work drive. Based on these tests, we make hiring recommendations to predict which job applicants are most likely to become outstanding employees and which will likely be detrimental to a firm's performance."

Sam Savage received the third $5,000 prize for best new business concept. Savage, a Juris Doctor-MBA candidate, was excited to line his pockets with some "green" by going green with a line of waterless automobile-cleaning products.

"The name of my company is H2Oconserv LLC, and we produce a line of soy-based, biodegradable and nontoxic automotive-detailing products," said Savage of Mobile, Ala. "Two of these products are completely waterless, while the third only uses one gallon of water per wash."

Touted as solving the hassle and constraints associated with traditional car washing, the products not only protect the fragility of our ecosystem by conserving water, but they also offer superior cleaning performance, Savage said.

The prizes for best new business plan and best new business concept were sponsored by the Self Foundation. Finalists pitched their plans April 23, and the winners were announced that day at an entrepreneurial reception sponsored by the Mississippi Small Business Development Center.

Aside from the prize money, the competition also offers a great opportunity to connect with real investors and expand entrepreneurial abilities, Savage said. The sentiment is exactly what business school Dean Ken Cyree envisions.

"Even the students who don't win, I think the real benefit is it forces students to think about their plans carefully and flesh out their ideas," Cyree said. "They also receive valuable experience in pitching their ideas to business professionals for funding, marketing and general concepts. Everything we do in the competition is designed to help the students sharpen their thinking and business skills."

Although the competition is open to any UM student, most of the entries are submitted by business and engineering students.

Students from diverse disciplines, ranging from physics to pharmacy, also submit plans.

Judging of the business plans involves nine categories, including the business description, market opportunities and size, competitive advantage, financial highlights and use of proceeds, to name a few. One judge, Gwin Scott, president of EmergeMemphis and 1987 UM graduate, said he looks for individuals who have products or services that are differentiated and compelling.

"When pitching an idea, I want someone who can articulate his or her idea in a simple way and at the same time speak with conviction and determination on why the idea is so great," Scott said. "A team that has done its homework and research to confidently convey why there is a need for what it is presenting will separate itself as a winner."

"This competition is so inspiring," Cooper said. "It's one of my favorite events in the business school because there's so much energy, hope and promise. We ultimately want the students to be successful, and I'm excited knowing that we're helping give them the tools to do that."

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2010 Taylor Medal Designees

The University of Mississippi Spring 2010 Marcus Elvis Taylor Memorial Medal Designees

The University of Mississippi
Spring 2010 Marcus Elvis Taylor Memorial Medal Designees
Fifty-nine University of Mississippi students were awarded Marcus Elvis Taylor Memorial Medals during annual spring Honors Day Convocation. Taylor Medals, the university's highest academic award, recognize no more than 1 percent of the student body for meritorious scholarship and deportment. Recipients of the award must have at least a 3.90 grade-point average.

Corey Ryan Abdeen- Madison, MS
Andrew Walker Alderman- Madison, MS
William Chadwick Armstrong- Hattiesburg, MS
Joseph Merrill Bateman- Madison, MS
Samuel Paul Bolen- Madison, MS
Mary Erin Callahan- Ocean Springs, MS
Brittany Ann Carstens- Ocean Springs, MS
John Tyler Clemons- Oxford, MS
Lauren Elizabeth DeLap- Greenville, MS
Billy Mendoza Forrest- Randolph, MS
Madison Rebekah Halbrook- Ruston, LA
Halley Anne Hargrave- Amarillo, TX
Stewart Jennings Hood- Jackson, MS
Holly Sarah Hosford- Jackson, MS
Jonathan Corwin Hughes- Madison, MS
Elizabeth Jayne Joseph- Clinton, MS
Charles Landon Kidd- Pontotoc, MS
James Kenneth McGraw- Oxford, MS
Laura June McMeekin- Bartlett, TN
Elena Lee McPherson- Tupelo, MS
Christopher Lynn Melton- Bruce, MS
Ryan James Parsons- Hattiesburg, MS
Brandon Michael Phillips- Pascagoula, MS
Lillian Nicole Rogers- Hattiesburg, MS
Igor Shkilko- University, MS
Matthew Judson Stephenson- Madison, MS
Lucy Katherine Weber- Madison, MS
McDaniel Drake Wicker- Tupelo, MS

Robert Pratt Dunlap- Batesville, MS
Blair Karisa Harden- Brandon, MS
Margaret Grace Joyner- Brandon, MS
Lauren Elizabeth Williams- Danville, CA

Molly Collins Cox- Batesville, MS
Blair Stevens Harris- Collierville, TN
Katie Alexis Jackson- Hazlehurst, MS
Kelly Christine Losson- St. Joseph, MO
Sarah Claire Parker- Hattiesburg, MS

Jane-Claire Marietta Baker- Madison, MS
Hannah Sayle Flint- Jackson, MS
Emily Jane Laird- Columbus, MS
Christine Marie Sims- Madison, MS

Amy Leigh Boterf- Tupelo, MS
Allison Marie Mauney- Southaven, MS
Angela Kay Mauney- Southaven, MS
Megan Nicole Milton- Nesbit, MS

Christina Leigh Bonnington- Houston, MS
Alissa Elaine Carroll- Kingwood, TX
Scott Sumner Haltom- Ridgeland, MS
Jesse Stewart Pinion- Tula, MS
Safa Kanan Hadi Salman- Cairo Egypt

Sally Kathryn Hazard- Jackson, MS
Evgeny (Eugene) Olegovich Lukienko- Oxford, MS
Katerina Elaine Pappas- Tupelo, MS
Matthew James Pfau- Cape Girardeua, MO

Haley Elise Crosby- Jackson, MS
Katie Nicole Eubanks- Madison, MS
Sally Elizabeth Nicely- Mableton, GA
Alicia Elizabeth Ragsdale- St. Louis, MO

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CME Engineering Camps

CME Engineering Camps Surprise Students, Secure Future Employees for State's Manufacturing Industry

OXFORD, Miss. - Before Luke Ponce attended an engineering camp at the University of Mississippi, he fully expected the experience to be "nerdy."

Then he and fellow campers visited the GE Aviation plant in Batesville and the Viking Range factory in Greenwood. Ponce also got to use ProEngineer software to print a 3-D model of a wrench he designed.

"This is awesome!" said the Olive Branch High School sophomore. "I was totally surprised by how cool it all is."

Ponce was among 20 high school students participating in one of two weeklong camps sponsored by the UM Center for Manufacturing Excellence. Hailing from 20 different high schools scattered from the Gulf Coast to Tennessee and Kentucky, the group also represented diverse ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds.

"These camps were created to introduce students to all of the concepts involved in manufacturing," said Ryan Miller, CME programs manager. "We're seeking to instill an understanding and passion in them while dispelling notions that manufacturing is just assembly lines in factories."

Working in teams, students designed, constructed and tested skateboards made from differing materials.

"Using glass and carbon fiber, the students saw firsthand the lean-production manufacturing process, which seeks to increase efficiency and decrease wastes," said James Vaughan, F.A.P. Barnard Professor of Mechanical Engineering and CME director.

"While they're having a great time, they are also learning to develop a sense of teamwork, a philosophy not only important in manufacturing, but which is also vital to success in life."

Such life lessons are not going unnoticed by campers such as Alexis Keyes. While her career goal is to become a neonatal surgeon, the Petal High School junior said she recognizes and appreciates the role engineering and manufacturing play in all facets of society.

"Being a part of this experience is teaching me discipline," Keyes said. "I also see now that manufacturing and engineering have an important part in everyday life."

CME staff and faculty members are committed to exposing the public to the many and various opportunities that exist in manufacturing, particularly those within Mississippi, Miller said.

"There are very high-tech, creative industries right here in the state, both locally grown and global," he said. "The CME is positioning Mississippi in manufacturing and professional development. We also wish to attract outside companies to consider locating plants here. People are hungry to work and have a 'can-do' spirit. Our people are our state's best resource."

The purpose of these far-reaching programs is to involve students from the time they start school in Mississippi until they reach enrollment age for the CME, Vaughan said. Once enrolled at the university, students will have access to programs that involve them in manufacturing industries and prepare them for employment.

"Follow-up programs also are being developed to continue training and provide new skill sets to the work force," Vaughan said. "Through these programs, the CME hopes to influence manufacturing from the start of a person's work in school to the end of their employment in the industry by providing training and education at all levels promoting continuous improvement."

Ponce said he is sold on both working in manufacturing and staying in Mississippi to work.

"After what I saw and heard at GE Aviation, I'm really excited about all of the job opportunities here in the state," Ponce said. "I definitely plan to attend engineering camp again next summer, and I'm going to recommend it to all of my friends."

For more information about the Center for Manufacturing Excellence, visit

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BASS Scholars Complete Program

Inaugural BASS Scholars Complete Summer Program

OXFORD, Miss. - Participants in the inaugural Henry E. Bass Basic Acoustics Summer School, or BASS, at the University of Mississippi will present results of their research projects Thursday (July 29) at the National Center for Physical Acoustics.

The students spent two months contributing to current NCPA research projects in ultrasound and aeroacoustics.

Presenters and their topics are Amanda Gamble of Tupelo, measurement of sheer waves in wormlike micellar medium; Wesley Henderson of Ruston, La., fluid-induced vibration of flexible wing surfaces; Ryan Lee Melvin, of Jasper, Ala., angular spectrum simulations of ultrasonic fields; and Saheed Olanigan, of Oxford, schleiren visualization of acoustic pressure distribution.

Gamble graduated from UM in May 2010, with a bachelor's degree in physics. Henderson is majoring in civil engineering at Louisiana Tech, with plans to graduate in fall 2011. Melvin attends Birmingham-Southern College, majoring in physics and religion-philosophy, with plans to graduate in May 2011. Olanigan is a junior physics major at UM, with plans to graduate in spring 2011.

The purpose of BASS, founded this year in memory of former NCPA Director Henry Bass, is to bring together undergraduate students with distinguished research scientists to explore a variety of subjects in physical acoustics and engineering. BASS gives students opportunities to work with experts, equipment and facilities they might not ordinarily encounter in their undergraduate experience. All four of this year's scholars plan to pursue higher-level graduate degrees after completing their undergraduate studies.

Since 1989, the Jamie Whitten National Center for Physical Acoustics at the University of Mississippi has served as a premier resource in such areas as infrasound, ultrasound, aeroacoustics and atmospheric acoustics, focusing on excellence in research, education and technology transfer.

For more information on programs at NCPA, go to

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Students Receive Honors Scholarships

21 Exceptional Students Receive Scholarships from Honors College, Special Academic Opportunities

OXFORD, Miss. - Fourteen students from Mississippi, two each from Alabama and Tennessee, and one each from Illinois, Wisconsin and Canada enter the University of Mississippi this fall on prestigious scholarships as members of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.

Providing $32,000 each, the McDonnell Barksdale Honors Scholarships, Donald S. Pichitino Scholarships and Harold Parker Memorial Scholarships attract exceptional students to Ole Miss to experience special academic opportunities at the Honors College.

"Ole Miss has one of the top three honors colleges in the nation and a campus rooted in traditional Southern values. To grow intellectually and socially in such an environment will be an experience like no other," said Barksdale Honors Scholarship recipient Samra Blake Ward of Meridian.

Pichitino Scholarship recipient Kevin Gordon Scott of Crystal Lake, Ill., said, "I chose to attend Ole Miss because the professors and staff truly seem to care about my future, in both the professional and social world. They helped me to mold a unique program in the international studies major that meshed perfectly with my interests and goals of working in foreign policy.

"I was attracted to the Honors College because of the opportunity to work with and get to know some of the brightest students in the country. That, combined with the dedication of the HC staff to really challenge its students, presented a chance that I simply could not pass up."

Established in 1997 through a gift from alumni Jim and Sally Barksdale, the college provides undergraduate students from all disciplines with a vibrant center of academic excellence, merging intellectual rigor with public service, to help them become outstanding in their fields and engaged citizens of society.

During their freshman year, the students enroll in the Honors College interdisciplinary courses, which expose them to critical thinking in the arts, sciences and humanities. They also enroll in honors sections of courses across disciplines to fulfill hours in their majors or to meet general academic requirements.

As early as their freshman year, students have the opportunity to do research, which produces an honor's thesis in the student's senior year.

The incoming group of scholars, posting an ACT average of 32.4 and average GPA of 3.96, includes seven National Merit Finalists.

In addition to Ward, other recipients of the McDonnell Barksdale Honors Scholarships are Kaitlyn Elizabeth Barnes of Jackson, Katrina Marie Briscoe of Oxford, Morgan Elizabeth Davis of Jackson, Ashli Elizabeth Fitzpatrick of Hattiesburg, Nathan Daniel Ford of Starkville, Mary Morgan Gladney of Olive Branch, Austin Edward Lavinghouse of Ocean Springs, Hadley Jo Pearson of Nesbit, Charles Thomas Pritchard of Pass Christian, James Landin Smith of Madison, Yi Wei of Starkville and Mallory Beatrice White of Sandersville.

Besides Scott, recipients of the Donald S. Pichitino Scholarships are Cipriano Louis Apicelli of Kenosha, Wisc., Cara Madeleine Thorne of Toronto, Byron Charles Head of Nashville, Tenn., Alaina Brooke King of Corinth and Rachel Lisbeth Saliba of Dothan, Ala.

Recipients of the Harold Parker Memorial Scholarships are Stacy Nicole Wolff of Memphis, Tenn., and Sarah Price Wright of Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Barnes, a National Merit Finalist, is a graduate of Murrah High School with a 4.30 weighted grade-point average. An AP scholar with honors and member of the National Honor Society, she was chosen among Portico's "25 Students Who Will Change the World." Her service included work with Youth Leadership Jackson and the Civil Rights Civil Liberties Club. She is interested in studying the classics, and she hopes to teach in the Mississippi Teacher Corps. Her long-term goal is to attend law school and pursue an international career.

Briscoe finished No. 1 in her class of 146 at Lafayette High School. Recipient of the Duke of Edinburgh's Young American Challenge Award, she won six class awards and the Scholar-Athlete Award. She was an officer in several organizations, including Key Club, Mu Alpha Theta and National Honor Society. She participated in the 2009 Lott Leadership Institute at Ole Miss. Her volunteer service included church mission trips and work with the Humane Society, Salvation Army and Relay for Life. While she is undecided on a major, her main interests are education and business.

Davis graduated from Saint Andrews Episcopal School, with a 4.02 weighted GPA. She belonged to the National Honor Society and was named a National Achievement Outstanding Participant. Her service projects included working as a volunteer in Ghana and assisting youth as a Trendsetters Reading and Mentoring Teen. She plans to major in chemistry and minor in Spanish, in preparation for medical school to become either an emergency room physician or pediatrician.

Fitzpatrick graduated first in her class of 17 at Sacred Heart Catholic High School. A two-time National Latin Exam Silver Medalist, she was named Mock Trial State Champion during her junior year and Most Valuable Attorney in Regional Mock Trial for two years. Her volunteer work included Saint Vincent de Paul Food Distribution, Christian Services Angel Food Project and Habitat for Humanity. She is interested in studying chemistry and biochemistry, with plans to continue a family tradition of entering the medical profession.

Ford graduated from Starkville High School, where he ranked No. 1 among 198 students. A delegate to Mississippi Boys State and member of the National Honor Society, he made a perfect score on the Advanced Placement European History Exam. He performed in the All-Star Cast of the Mississippi Theatre Association's Theatre for Children and as a member of the Mississippi All-State High School Honor Choir. He helped raise money for the charities Invisible Children and Operation Smile, and his Eagle Scout service projects included constructing handicapped-accessible voting booths and hunting blinds. He is interested in musical theatre and a possible career in stage performance.

Gladney, a National Merit Finalist, graduated from Southern Baptist Educational Center, where she ranked No. 1 among 103 students. She belonged to the National Honor Society and was a two-year National Spanish Exam Silver Medalist. She made a perfect score on the Advanced Placement English Exam. Her service included volunteering for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life and the local Thrift Store and Food Bank. Her high school Spanish II teacher inspired her to pursue mastering the Spanish language, as well as studying Latin American culture and society.

A National Merit Finalist, Lavinghouse graduated No. 2 in a class of 397 at Ocean Springs High School. He was a STAR Student and member of the National Honor Society. He received an AP Scholar Award and placed first in the Mu Alpha Theta Discrete Mathematics Written Competition. He did volunteer work with the Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center and was a founding member of the OSHS Ambassadors, assisting people with special needs. He plans to study a variety of subjects on his way to completing a master's degree in astrophysics. His dream is to work at the Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Pearson, a National Merit Finalist, graduated first in her class of 200 at Olive Branch High School. An AP scholar with honors, she was recognized for academic achievement in AP biology, pre-AP English, algebra II and chemistry. A member of the National Honor Society, she placed first in Individual Award in Algebra II at Blue Mountain College's Math and Science Tournament and received High Ranking at Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science Mathematics Tournament. Her service included volunteering for the American Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity. She plans a career in the medical field, probably as a psychiatrist.

A National Merit Finalist, Pritchard graduated first in his class of 73 at Saint Stanislaus College Prep. He attained the distinction of maxima cum laude on the National Latin Exam in both Latin I and Latin II. A Mississippi Governor's School Scholar, he placed second in the State Math and Science Competition Quiz Bowl and was named his school's Wendy's Heisman Scholar-Athlete. His volunteer service included working with the mentally challenged at the South Mississippi Regional Center and building houses for Katrina victims. He plans to major in either history or biology with a pre-med emphasis, in preparation for a career as a dermatologist or family physician.

A National Merit Finalist and STAR Student, Smith graduated from Madison Central High School with a weighted GPA of 3.9. He won the World Scholar's Cup-National Silver Medal in both debate and literature. He attained the distinction of maxima cum laude on the National Latin Exam, and he won the Gold Medal in Latin in State Junior Classical League Competition. He was named Outstanding Participant in United Nations Global Debate. His service included volunteering for Toys for Tots, Make-A-Wish and local mentoring and tutoring programs. While he has not decided on a course of study, his major academic interests include psychology, English and foreign languages.

Ward ranked No. 3 in her class of 388 at Meridian High School, where she won the French II Award, Ameila Graeser English Award and Jerry Reynolds History Award. An Academic Team Medalist, she was a regional Science Fair winner and Voice of Democracy Essay district winner. Winner of the Meridian Star Excellence in Journalism Award, she was her school's delegate to both the Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership Conference and Girls State. Her service included work with Relay for Life, Salvation Army, and the Boys and Girls Club. Her observations of how students process and retain information have inspired her to double major in psychology and English, then teach or become a school counselor. Ultimately, she plans to continue her studies to become a cognitive psychologist.

Wei graduated from Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science with a 4.0 GPA. She made the Straight 'A' Honor Roll all four years of high school. She was a finalist for the QuestBridge National College Match program, a semifinalist in the State Science Bowl and member of the MSMS Math and Science Day First-Place Team. Her volunteer efforts included work as a tour guide for a local history preservation cemetery and fundraiser for the March of Dimes. She is interested in enrolling in UM's Croft Institute for International Studies. Her academic interests range from pharmacy and nutrition to business, psychology and international studies.

White graduated from Northeast Jones High School, where she finished first in her class of 133. A STAR Student and HOBY Ambassador, she won the John W. Harris National Leadership Award and was a first-place winner in the State Future Business Leaders of America public speaking competition and business leader competition. She volunteered for the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, Special Olympics and more. Her experience as a volunteer has inspired her to seek a career of service to others. She plans to study pharmacy.

Apicelli ranked No. 1 among 188 students in his graduating class at Indian Trail Academy. A member of the National Honor Society, he served on the Student Council and was a three-year participant in both the Academic Decathlon and Science Olympiad. An Eagle Scout, his service activities included work with the Boy Scouts, Stepping Stones (mentoring) and Safe Harbor Animal Shelter. In preparation for a career as a physician, he plans to major in the biological sciences with a pre-med emphasis.

Scott graduated first in his class of 335 at Crystal Lake Central High School, where he received the AP Scholar Award with Distinction. A member of the National Honor Society, he served two years as an officer on the CLCHS Student Body. He represented his school at the World Youth Science and Engineering Competition and was named to the All-County Honors Band. He was a volunteer with Public Action to Deliver Shelter and Community Beach Cleanup, among other service projects. He is considering a career in forensic science but is also interested in sociology and criminal justice.

Thorne finished first in her class of 357 at Woburn Collegiate School. She received the Academic Proficiency Award three years for highest GPA, and she served two years as an officer on the Athletic Council. Her community service included work with the Youth Philanthropy Initiative, Breakfast Club and Girl Impact in partnership with UNICEF's Kenyan Girl's Scholarship Fund. She plans to major in exercise science with a pre-med emphasis, preparing to realize her dream of becoming a doctor specializing in sports medicine.

A National Merit Finalist, Head graduated from Martin L. King Academic Magnet School in Nashville with a 4.0 GPA. He won the Outstanding Delegate Award at the Tennessee Model UN Conference. A member of the National Honor Society, he received the English Award. His community service included work with Y-CAP/YMCA, Mt. T.O.P. summer mission and Community Cares Fellowship. He is interested in studying at UM's Croft Institute in preparation for a career dedicated to working in a Latin American country helping to make life better for its people.

King graduated from the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science in Columbus with a 4.0 GPA and recognition as a "Top Five" student in all of her courses. She made a perfect score on the Mississippi Algebra Exam and was editor of the MSMS newspaper, The Vision. Her service activities included tutoring children and helping with a toy drive at the Lighthouse Foundation, Katrina cleanup and working at a soup kitchen in New York City. She plans to major in biology with a pre-med emphasis, then attend medical school. Her dream is to become a pediatric oncologist at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Saliba graduated from Houston Academy, with a weighted GPA of 4.11. She attained Superior Academic Excellence in chorus, and anatomy and physiology. She was a Furman Scholar, National Young Leaders Conference Caucus Delegate and member of the Alabama Honor Choir. She belonged to the National Honor Society and served on the school yearbook/newsletter staff. Her community service included work with the Salvation Army, Wiregrass Food Bank, Dothan Rescue Mission and Head Start. She plans to study music education.

Wolff finished second in her class of 285 at Bartlett High School. She was nominated for Academic All-Star and was a "Top Ten" student all four years of high school. A member of the National Honor Society, Key Club and Beta Club, she placed in two Science Olympiad events. Her service included volunteering at her local public library, Memphis Zoo and Big Brothers/Big Sisters. In pursuit of her dream for a career in medical research, she plans a double major in biology and chemistry.

Wright graduated from Holy Spirit High School with a 4.2 weighted GPA. She received the Hugh O'Brien Leadership Award and attained magna cum laude distinction on the National Latin Exam. A member of her school's Academic Team, she was a member of the Art Club and president of the Latin Club. She served on the Mayor's Youth Council and volunteered as a member of the Tuscaloosa Civinettes, a local service organization for high school girls. In preparation for an international career, she plans to focus her undergraduate studies on foreign languages and linguistics. Her choices for graduate school include medicine, business or seminary.

For more information about the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, visit

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Art Major Earns Credit at Ireland

Art Major Earns Academic Credit at Art and Design School in Belfast, Ireland

OXFORD, Miss. - Kristen Vise of Jackson, a junior studio art major at the University of Mississippi, returns to the Oxford campus this month after studying during the spring semester at Ulster University School of Art and Design in Belfast, Ireland, and traveling throughout Europe this summer.

"Studying at the university and living in Belfast, a big city with an interesting history, provided the opportunity for me to grow as a person, a designer and a member of society," she said. "I took full advantage of the opportunity presented, and, for me personally, growth in these areas is what college should be about."

Through an arrangement between UM's Study Abroad Office and Ulster, Vise earned 15 hours of academic credit toward her UM degree. Her courses included corporate and advertising design, research and writing for design, and design for communication. A highlight of her trip was getting to know her fellow students.

"The students studying Design for Visual Communications were friendly, hard-working and excited about design," she said. "The class of around 50 students study together for three years in their design concentration and get to know each other quite well.

"My classes there were much different from my classes at Ole Miss, because they meet only once a week and are intensive on that day. They were challenging, but I learned a lot."

Vise also traveled extensively during the semester, then stayed the summer to see more of Europe before returning home in early August.

"I traveled to Madrid for New Year's Eve, Brussels to visit an Ole Miss roommate, Marseille to visit an Ole Miss friend, and to Paris and Barcelona alone," she said. She also visited Germany, Austria, Croatia, Italy and the Czech Republic.

Vise is a member of UM's Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, which along with "the good price and the town of Oxford" swayed her to attend Ole Miss. The Honors College provides undergraduate students from all disciplines with a vibrant center of academic excellence, merging intellectual rigor with public service.

"My educational experience so far has been diverse," she said. "I started as a biology major and took two art classes my freshmen year. The next year, I started minors in political science and Russian, and took a lot of studio art classes. As a junior, I decided to focus intensely on studio arts and applied for the Bachelor of Fine Arts program. And now, I'm design and fine arts hardcore.

"I've had some excellent professors in and outside of my major."

She is slated to complete her bachelor's degree in December 2011. After graduation, she plans to either continue her studies or begin professional work.

"I will use design to intelligently, creatively and innovatively solve problems for clients," she said. "I am especially interested in areas where design and other disciplines such as science, business, sociology, architecture and engineering overlap."

Vise was among 109 Ole Miss students participating in UM Study Abroad programs this spring. Each year, the Study Abroad Office sends around 600 students abroad offering programs in more than 80 countries covering Latin America, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa.

A 2007 graduate of Jackson Academy, Vise is the daughter of Susan and Tim Dean, and Tommy Vise.

For more information on UM Study Abroad, visit To learn more about the Honors College, see or the Department of Art at

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Enrollment Record at UM

More than 19,500 Students Set Enrollment Record at UM

OXFORD, Miss. - Amanda Hardwick had acceptance letters from Tulane University, Auburn University and the universities of Alabama and Georgia, but the biochemistry major from Hattiesburg chose the University of Mississippi, where she is part of a record-shattering freshman class this fall.

"Ole Miss had a better environment, better scholarships and learning opportunities, and was in closer proximity to my hometown," said Hardwick, who enrolled in the university's Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. "There are so many opportunities for community service here, which really excites me. The Honors College and campus in general are also more inviting than other schools."

Hardwick is among 3,089 new freshmen on campus, an astounding 19.9 percent increase over last fall. Among them are 34 National Merit and National Achievement finalists, and five National Merit and National Achievement semifinalists.

Preliminary enrollment figures show UM's total unduplicated headcount on all its campuses is 19,536, another record. That's 1,192 students more than last fall, a 6.5 percent increase.

"The most exciting thing about our large enrollment increase is that more and more students have the opportunity to experience amazing at the University of Mississippi," Chancellor Dan Jones said. "Students come to Ole Miss to transform their lives. We are thrilled that more students are choosing to do this."

The number of students choosing to return to campus after their freshman year also has increased, climbing from 78.3 percent two years ago to 83.1 percent this year.

"While we are excited about new students, we are just as excited about the increased retention rate," Jones said. "More students finding success in their freshman year means more sophomores and ultimately more graduates."

The Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College has enrolled 900 students, up from 860 last fall. Among them are a record 288 freshmen, who come from 20 states and four foreign countries and have an average ACT score of 30.2.

Honors College applications were up 50 percent this fall over 2009, said John Samonds, the college's associate dean. "We accepted 25 percent more applicants than we originally planned," he said.

One of those new honors students is classics major Kaitlyn Barnes of Jackson, who chose UM over offers from Davidson College and the University of Florida.

"Ole Miss is a great fit for me," she said. "I was really looking to attend a large public school offering many academic opportunities. The SMBHC, the Residential College, the strong classics department and the Croft Institute (for International Studies), of which I am considering becoming a student, were just a few things that attracted me to Ole Miss.

"I was also invited to intern at the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, with which I've done a lot of work over the past couple of years. And, of course, I wanted to be part of a passionately spirited community."

A new incentive for talented students is the Provost Scholars program, which offers seminars and other benefits for students who have demonstrated high academic achievement. The inaugural class includes more than 350 students, with an average GPA of 3.69 and average ACT of 28.

Another new program is the Center for Manufacturing Excellence, which opens this fall with an inaugural class of 27 freshmen. The new program, established with funding from Toyota Motor Co., focuses on the latest concepts in manufacturing, incorporating elements from the university's schools of Engineering, Accountancy and Business Administration, and the College of Liberal Arts.

It was the critical factor that attracted Ethan Veazey of Ridgeland to Ole Miss.

"The CME attracted me because it provides an innovative approach to combining engineering and business that is not available in other programs or schools," he said. "The CME manufacturing facility will provide hands-on experience that will distinguish me from my competitors in the job market, and the contacts I make with the CME advisory board will provide invaluable networking opportunities."

UM requires its freshmen to live in residence halls, and the opening last month of the 332-bed Luckyday Residential College was a key in allowing enrollment to increase so dramatically. The university also purchased the 432-bed Campus Walk apartment complex for student housing.

Besides new residence halls, the university also offers new dining options for students this fall.

The Student Union food court has been completely remodeled and a new Subway Sandwiches, the nation's first Subway to be built with a new design, is open on the fourth floor of the Union.

Dillon Mooney, a sophomore pre-med major from Laurel, said he enjoys the atmosphere and variety of the food court.

"I like how commercial it is. It's not like a cafeteria," he said. "It has more of a going-out restaurant feel. And, if you want home cooking, you can go to the Magnolia Kitchen, like I just did today."

A record 2,469 students are enrolled at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. That's an increase of 57 students (2.4 percent) over last fall, with the largest increases coming in the School of Medicine (6 percent) and Graduate Medical Education programs (14 percent), said Tom Fortner, the Medical Center's chief public affairs and communications officer.

The Ole Miss student body also includes 14,154 undergraduates, 2,104 graduate students, 519 law students and 290 students in the Doctor of Pharmacy program.

Enrollment remains strong on the Tupelo campus, where 816 students are enrolled this year, and is growing at satellite campuses in Southaven (up 1 percent), where 966 students are enrolled, and Booneville (up 10.1 percent), where 98 students are enrolled.

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Supercomputing Center

Supercomputing Center Helps Prepare Students for STEM Careers

OXFORD, Miss. - With a looming national shortage of professionals in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the Mississippi Center for Supercomputer Research at the University of Mississippi is reaching out to teach high school students how supercomputers help advance science.

"We have an extreme national need to prepare the next generation of simulation scientists," said Jason Hale, MCSR interim director. "We want to be engaged in that effort to help young people in Mississippi be more competitive."

The center already has helped Rosalie Doerksen, a 14-year-old Oxford High School sophomore. The first high school student in the state to use MCSR resources, Doerksen, as a freshman last year, employed the free supercomputing capabilities at MCSR to perform detailed calculations for her science fair project.

"Overall, I had a positive experience," Doerksen said. "I benefited greatly from the supercomputer training I received in preparation for my research."

A participant in the 2010 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair this summer, Doerksen completed a project examining how a newly discovered bowl-shaped molecule might be employed to more efficiently trap carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This technology may be an important part of efforts to reduce global warming.

"The supercomputers helped me to determine other possible lower energy conformations of this molecule," said Doerksen, whose favorite field of science is chemistry. "The research was intriguing, and it could have the potential of assisting in carbon sequestration."

Doerksen's science fair entry, "Computational Optimization of Carbon Dioxide Capture," won the Oxford High School competition in the chemistry category. She went on to win the Best of Fair prize at the regional fair, the ASM Materials Education Foundation's Most Outstanding Exhibit in Materials Science award and the U.S. Air Force Certificate of Achievement award. The regional win qualified her for the international competition in May in San Jose, Calif. There, Doerksen competed against more than 300 students in the chemistry category.

High-performance computers contain hundreds, even thousands, of central processing units, or CPUs, allowing for thousands of operations to be conducted simultaneously. Those operations can require as little as a few hours or up to several months to complete, depending on the computations.

"My calculations took about a week, 145 hours, to be exact." Doerksen said. But that's if you're counting hours by a clock on the wall. Since her one calculation was spread over two processors, it actually consumed 290 computational hours.

Last year, 37,000 such calculations requiring 3.7 million computational hours were conducted at MCSR, including quite a few molecular simulations similar to Doerksen's.

"These scientists are doing fantastically complex things," said Brian Hopkins, an MCSR user consultant. "Rosalie is calculating chemical properties using a form of the molecular Schrodinger equation that can take thousands and thousands of CPU-hours to solve."

Besides getting hands-on supercomputing experience, Doerksen gained insight into the importance of MCSR's goal to better train her peers. If America wants to become more energy-independent, advance technology, help prevent climate change and save lives through medical research, then government and educators must encourage students to pursue careers in these areas, she said.

"The current youth soon will be the leaders of this nation," said Doerksen, who is interested in a career in medicine.

Mississippi is well-equipped to help educate the next generation of simulation scientists. The state ranks in the top 10 nationally for supercomputing, with shared facilities at UM, the Stennis Space Center, Mississippi State University and the Engineering Research Development Center in Vicksburg.

Supercomputers are used for calculation-intensive tasks, such as problems involving quantum physics, weather forecasting, climate research, molecular modeling of chemical compounds and physical simulations of nuclear weapon detonations.

"As a shared facility, MCSR creates economies of scale across the entire Mississippi research enterprise," Hale said. "Faculty and student scientists statewide can run their simulations for free at MCSR, without the hassle and expense of maintaining their own supercomputers. This not only saves each institution money; it buys Mississippi scientists extra time to discover and compete."

Supporting nearly $13 million in active research grants, MCSR systems are used for research in chemistry and biochemistry, economics and finance, bioinformatics, operations research and management science, physics, civil engineering and computational fluid dynamics.

MCSR personnel are available to work with other high school students to teach them the value of research computation, promote STEM careers and help them use the center's supercomputing resources. For more information, contact Jason Hale at 662-915-3922 or visit

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Study Abroad Fair

Fall 2010 Study Abroad Fair Opens Students' Eyes to Possibilities

OXFORD, Miss - Representatives of universities spanning six continents packed the lobby of the Ole Miss Student Union recently for the Fall 2010 Study Abroad Fair.

The Study Abroad Fair provides students the chance to meet with representatives from international universities and organizations who serve as exchange partners with the University of Mississippi. UM students can gain more information about studying abroad in their countries and in their academic areas of interest.

Susan Oliphant, director of the Study Abroad program, said she was pleased with the student turnout and with the interest shown in academic as well as internship opportunities in other countries.

"The Study Abroad Fair prompts students to consider spending a semester in a different country," Oliphant said. "They begin to realize that studying abroad is a viable inclusion to their degree programs and their resumes. There are seldom students who cannot find some way to study abroad regardless of their major or financial situation.

"The sooner students learn about the Study Abroad opportunities available to them, the better. They can then begin working with their academic and Study Abroad advisers to plan their study abroad experiences."

In addition to having the opportunity to visit with representatives from exchange programs, students had the chance to meet with representatives from affiliate programs and UM faculty-led programs, Study Abroad Fair coordinator Blair McElroy said.

"Faculty presented their Wintersession programs, and our current exchange students presented their home universities to UM students," McElroy said. "Students learned about short-term programs, semester programs, and even master's programs in foreign countries - the opportunities are endless due to the partnerships the University of Mississippi has throughout the world."

Stuart Hurt, student assistant for Study Abroad, said he believes the fair provides the most suitable setting for students to meet with advisers and representatives.

"We're talking to students, showing them what we can offer through Ole Miss and the opportunities they have," Hurt said. "This is a great venue to interact with students outside the office. It's a little more informal, and I think students are more willing to ask questions they would be scared to ask during a formal appointment."

One of the booths featured information about German universities that partner with UM. Studying in Europe as well as in America allows students to learn different approaches toward instruction, said Sebastian Dowidat , a University of Osnabruck alumnus and Ole Miss MBA student.

"We are all in the same boat; we're all trying to get a degree somewhere in some area," Dowidat said. "We take a totally different approach toward education in general, not only in Germany, but also in Europe. Studying at one of our universities allows students to gain another perspective on issues such as business and international relations."

Stephanie Niven, head of International Office West at University of Stirling, said studying abroad provides life-changing experiences and opportunities for students.

"It would be really nice to open students' minds to the opportunities of studying abroad for a semester," Niven said. "It can be a real life-changing experience to live in a different place for four weeks, eight weeks, a semester or a year.

"It gives you the chance to really learn about another culture and meet with students from all different backgrounds. It allows you to experience a different side of life, and it's something that can stay with you for the rest of your life."

Junior engineering major Jim Mosier said visiting the booths allowed him to get more information and literature on the countries he was most interested in visiting.

"I've always been interested in studying abroad in Greece or Australia," Mosier said. "The fair has given me a chance to get some more information on those countries and the universities there that share my academic interests."

McElroy believes that based upon increased student interest and presence in the Office of Study Abroad, this fall's fair was the most successful thus far.

"More students attended this semester's fair than any previous fair, and the Study Abroad office has been extremely busy since the fair," McElroy said.

Oliphant says the fair is just one of many ways Ole Miss students can learn about the benefits of studying abroad and hopes they apply to punch their plane tickets.

"The advice I give all students is to plan early and keep your grades up," Oliphant said. "We want to send everybody abroad. We've got everything from exchange partners overseas to big American organizations to our own faculty. We have every continent except Antarctica represented, and we're working on that one."

For more information on UM Study Abroad, visit

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CME Opens with 27 Students

Center for Manufacturing Excellence Opens with 27 Students

OXFORD, Miss. - Future innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders for the modern manufacturing industry have begun taking classes in the flagship Center for Manufacturing Excellence at the University of Mississippi.

The center's inaugural class, which recently met for the first of its weekly meetings, includes 27 freshmen from nine states.

"The CME is service-centered," said Ryan Miller, programs manager. "I have explained to our students that they need to remember that manufacturing touches everyone's lives in multiple ways. It is service-driven."

With this in mind, students who are grouped into CME teams prepare both inside and away from the classroom. How they interact with other students through extracurricular activities has the potential of enriching the lives of the state, region and country, Miller said.

"That begins here with how our students serve their classmates," he said.

The message has not fallen upon deaf ears. Ethan Veazey of Ridgeland said the program's small size allows for more individual attention from professors and a better opportunity to create friendships and work as a team with classmates.

"The CME attracted me because it provides an innovative approach to combining engineering and business that is not available in other programs or schools," Veazey said.

The CME also was a deciding factor for Katherine Borgmeyer of St. Charles, Mo.

"It completely sold me on attending the University of Mississippi," Borgmeyer said. "I visited a lot of good schools but none offered such a comprehensive program. The facility itself will be terrific and the idea that a student in this program will not only learn the production process, but all the steps that go into bringing that product to fruition, is incredible."

The university and the state of Mississippi created the CME, a center unique in its educational focus on undergraduate manufacturing education. The program brings together the schools of Engineering, Business Administration and Accountancy to provide students with technical skills involved in successful manufacturing along with an understanding of accounting, communication, human resources, leadership, management and marketing.

James Vaughan, the center's director, said he has great expectations for students admitted into the program.

"The CME is placing a heavy responsibility on our first incoming freshman class to become the movers and shakers of industry after graduation," Vaughan said. "These students will be charged with the task of transferring this set of knowledge and experience into the manufacturing society once they leave the university. We hope to help develop the 'disruptive' leaders for the next generation."

Both Borgmeyer and Veazey said they are assured of reaching their goals.

"I will learn not only from textbooks, but from real-life situations," Borgmeyer said. "This exposure will be invaluable in my search for a career in manufacturing."

"The CME manufacturing facility will provide hands-on experience that will distinguish me from my competitors in the job market," Veazey said. "The contacts I make with the CME advisory board will provide important networking opportunities."

For more information about the CME, go to or call 662-915-2632.

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CME Begins Classes

WREG: Manufacturing Center Begins Classes

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - The Center for Manufacturing Excellence at the University of Mississippi has begun operations with an initial class of 27 freshmen.

The center's inaugural class, which recently convened for the first of its weekly meetings, includes 27 freshmen from nine states.

Students are grouped into teams and focus on engineering, business administration and accounting to develop technical skills for manufacturing including communication, human resource management, leadership and marketing.

James Vaughan is the center's director.

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CME Training Future Leaders

Daily Journal: UM's CME Training Future Leaders

OXFORD - Future innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders for the modern manufacturing industry have begun taking classes in the flagship Center for Manufacturing Excellence at the University of Mississippi.

The center's inaugural class, which recently met for the first of its weekly meetings, includes 27 freshmen from nine states.

"The CME is service-centered," said Ryan Miller, programs manager. "I have explained to our students that they need to remember that manufacturing touches everyone's lives in multiple ways. It is service-driven."

With this in mind, students who are grouped into CME teams prepare both inside and away from the classroom. How they interact with other students through extracurricular activities has the potential of enriching the lives of the state, region and country, Miller said.

"That begins here with how our students serve their classmates," he said.

The message has not fallen upon deaf ears. Ethan Veazey of Ridgeland said the program's small size allows for more individual attention from professors and a better opportunity to create friendships and work as a team with classmates.

"The CME attracted me because it provides an innovative approach to combining engineering and business that is not available in other programs or schools," Veazey said.

The CME also was a deciding factor for Katherine Borgmeyer of St. Charles, Mo.

"It completely sold me on attending the University of Mississippi," Borgmeyer said. "I visited a lot of good schools but none offered such a comprehensive program. The facility itself will be terrific, and the idea that a student in this program will not only learn the production process, but all the steps that go into bringing that product to fruition is incredible."

The university and the state of Mississippi created the CME, a center unique in its educational focus on undergraduate manufacturing education. The program brings together the schools of engineering, business administration and accountancy to provide students with technical skills involved in successful manufacturing along with an understanding of accounting, communication, human resources, leadership, management and marketing.

James Vaughan, the center's director, said he has great expectations for students admitted into the program.

"The CME is placing a heavy responsibility on our first incoming freshman class to become the movers and shakers of industry after graduation," Vaughan said. "These students will be charged with the task of transferring this set of knowledge and experience into the manufacturing society once they leave the university. We hope to help develop the 'disruptive' leaders for the next generation."

Both Borgmeyer and Veazey said they are assured of reaching their goals.

"I will learn not only from textbooks, but from real-life situations," Borgmeyer said. "This exposure will be invaluable in my search for a career in manufacturing."

"The CME manufacturing facility will provide hands-on experience that will distinguish me from my competitors in the job market," Veazey said. "The contacts I make with the CME advisory board will provide important networking opportunities."

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ASME Design Competition

ASME Announces Finalists for Annual Student Design Competition

NEW YORK, Sept. 17, 2010 - The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) will hold its annual Student Design Competition on Sunday, November 14, 2010, in Vancouver, Canada during the 2010 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition. Fifteen teams are slated to participate in the competition, which provides student engineerings the opportunity to experience the process of solving design challenges faced by today's engineers.

An annual event, the ASME Student Design Competition provides a platform for ASME student members to present their solutions to a range of design problems. The title and theme of this year's competition is "Earth Saver: Autonomous Material Sorter" and requires participating teams to design, build and test an autonomous system capable of accurately sorting common recyclable materials into distinct waste containers. These materials include ferrous and nonferrous metals, plastics and glass.

"For students looking to enter the engineering workforce, it is imperative that they understand the types of challenges and processes faced by engineers on a daily basis," said ASME President Robert T. Simmons. "Through this competition, students have the opportunity to showcase their problem-solving skills and experience real-time engineering challenges."

The 15 student teams are from McGill University, Carnegie Mellon University, Western Kentucky University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Grand Valley State University, the University of Mississippi, California State University at Fresno, Oregon State University, the University of Alabama, the University of Tennessee, Nanyang Technological University, Lebanese American University, Yeditepe University, and LeTourneau University (which will send two teams to the competition).

The ASME Student Design Competition is just one of the many events that will be a part of the 2010 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, which also will feature technical presentations on advances in engineering research and applications. The ASME Congress will be held November 12-18, at the Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre.

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Robot Competition

Electrical engineering students prepare robot for competition

Ole Miss electrical engineering students have been assigned a challenging mission: to create the sensors and components needed for a "search-and-rescue" robot.

The students are creating the robot as part of their senior design class, taught by Elliott Hutchcraft, UM associate professor of electrical engineering.

Their robot will be entered in the IEEE Southeast Conference competition on March 17-20 in Nashville, Tenn., and they will compete against student representatives from around 50 other universities.

"The robot is supposed to be a 'search and rescue' robot," Hutchcraft said. "It is supposed to discover 'victims' in the rooms that it must navigate. The robot can sense victims using EMF (electromagnetic field) or LEDs (light-emitting diodes). When victims are located, the robot is supposed to display and speak the location of the victims on the course."

Hutchcraft said that the students have spent this semester getting the robot's sensors to work. When the students return from their winter break, their challenge will be to get all of the sensors to work together with the microcontroller.

Some students are working on proximity sensors that the robot will use to sense the walls of the course it will navigate. For testing, they have designed a victim for the robot to find: a PVC cap that contains a circuit with an electromagnetic field. Some students are working on speech sensors, and some are working on a line tracker that will read color difference. A flashing LED will mean the victim is conscious, a green LED will mean the victim is unconscious, and no LED will mean the victim is dead.

"It's a lot of programming, a lot of code," said student Nick Harris. "The challenge is actually getting [the robot] to work properly."

To help raise the funds needed to buy the parts for the robot, students Daniel Forman and Jeffrey Tannehill successfully wrote a proposal to Northrop Grumman. (Forman had worked as an intern for the company for a couple of summers.) Vicki Crockett of Northrop Grumman presented the class with a check for $1,440 in late October.

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Engineering Ambassadors

Ambassadors share experiences with prospective students

A love for science, technology, engineering and math is at the core of the student ambassadors' mission for the School of Engineering at The University of Mississippi.

"The School of Engineering ambassadors are a service-oriented group who provide a great service not only to Ole Miss but also to the youth of the state and the region," said Scott Kilpatrick, assistant to the dean of the School of Engineering. "Each year, these ambassadors are charged with several key goals, but, first and foremost, they are encouraged to engage students from all grade levels and provide information regarding the opportunities available through engineering careers," Kilpatrick said.

Engineering ambassadors spend most of their time traveling to Mississippi high schools, middle schools and elementary schools to share information on Ole Miss and, specifically, UM's School of Engineering.

But, the ambassadors do more than encourage high school students to attend Ole Miss, said Rebecca Werner, a civil engineering major and student director of the engineering ambassador group.

"A typical weekend for us may include giving tours of our various departments and the campus, but most of the time we share our experiences as students, who just happen to be engineering majors," Werner said.

Kilpatrick said providing prospective students with a glimpse of the Ole Miss experience is perhaps the ambassadors' second most important job.

"When visiting with students, our ambassadors openly share their background and involvement in a variety of activities. This undoubtedly allows prospective students to understand the amazing experiences that are possible here in the School of Engineering," Kilpatrick said.

Spenser Max Smith, a senior civil engineering major, said he became an ambassador to share his love for math and science. "When I was in high school, I figured that my interest would lead me to a career in accounting," Smith said. "Once I came to Ole Miss, I added my other interest in building and construction and came up with civil engineering. It was the best decision I've ever made, and I want to let other students know about the field."

Last year, the Ole Miss engineering ambassadors visited 15 area schools and participated in more than a dozen on-campus visits.

"The ambassadors put a great amount of preparation into developing and organizing classroom and campus visits," Kilpatrick said. "The feedback from teachers and students has been amazing. The engineering ambassadors truly serve as outstanding representatives for Ole Miss and the School of Engineering."

If you are interested in having an Ole Miss engineering ambassador visit your school, please contact Scott Kilpatrick at

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National Tau Beta Pi Laureate

Engineering Alumnus Honored as National Tau Beta Pi Laureate

OXFORD, Miss. - A 2010 University of Mississippi School of Engineering graduate has been tapped as one of five Tau Beta Pi laureates nationwide.

Tau Beta Pi, the world's largest engineering honor society, will recognize Christina Bonnington, who earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering, and the other honorees at its national convention in October. The laureates, who receive $2,500 and a commemorative plaque, are honored for excelling in areas beyond their technical majors.

"There have been only 69 laureates named since 1982 and Christina is the first from Mississippi, so it's wonderful to have someone from Ole Miss receive this recognition," said Allen Glisson, UM electrical engineering chair. "This honor is well-deserved, and we congratulate Christina on this achievement."

Cited for her achievements in the arts, Bonnington has studied ballet since she was 4, performing with troupes across the country. A founding member of the Oxford Ballet Company, Bonnington volunteered to teach at the Oxford Ballet School and spent the 2006-07 season performing professionally with Ballet Memphis.

"It's really exciting and an honor to be recognized nationally for both of my passions," Bonnington said.

A Taylor Medalist, UM's highest academic honor, Bonnington was named a 2010 UM Outstanding Senior Engineer and was inducted into Phi Kappa Phi. Also an alumna of the UM Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Bonnington served as an engineering ambassador, helping recruit potential students to Ole Miss.

A Houston, Texas, native, Bonnington lives in San Francisco, where she is working as an intern for She is continuing her ballet training and hopes to find a small dance company to work with part time.

The Tau Beta Pi Laureate Program, which exists to foster a spirit of liberal arts culture in engineering colleges, recognizes students of superior scholarship and exemplary character.

To learn more about UM's School of Engineering, visit

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Engineers Without Borders

UM Chapter of Engineers Without Borders Extends Services to Global, Local Community

OXFORD, Miss. - When a small group of University of Mississippi engineering students decided that they wanted to serve the needs of the global community last September, they had no idea so many would be willing to join them in their endeavors.

"This year we worked with the Office of Sustainability on game day recycling and regularly with Habitat for Humanity," said Rebecca Werner, a civil engineering major from Diamondhead. "The outpouring of volunteers to assist in the Habitat house displays people's cheerful willingness to serve."

From those initial projects arose the campus chapter of Engineers Without Borders-USA. And while the chapter remains committed to serving the Lafayette-Oxford-University community, its 173 members retain their original mission of going abroad in service as well.

EWB-USA is a nonprofit humanitarian organization established to partner with developing communities worldwide to improve quality of life. The partnerships involve implementing sustainable engineering projects while involving and training internationally responsible engineers and engineering students.

Werner serves as vice president of the chapter. Other officers include Matthew Rushing, president, a chemical engineering major from Ridgeland; Sarah Sams, treasurer, a civil engineering major from Jackson; Anna Hailey, secretary, a chemical engineering, Chinese and chemistry major from Muscle Shoals, Ala.; Jonathan Jones, executive coordinator, a chemical engineering major from Long Beach; Pablo Mariaca, executive officer, a civil engineering major from Bolivia; and Susie Nguyen, webmaster, a chemical engineering and biochemistry major from Oxford.

"The School of Engineering and other administrative units of our university have been giving the EWB chapter full support during its incubation period and are committed to its healthy growth in the future," said Wei-Yin Chen, professor of chemical engineering and faculty adviser for the chapter. "The UM chapter of EWB-USA will offer engineering service opportunities and cultivate lifelong learning spirits of the engineering profession. This, in turn, is expected to impact the lives of the less-privileged citizens of the world."

The group meets weekly to discuss upcoming challenges, including fundraising and project establishment. Members are evaluating several potential international projects in Central America, South America and Asia. By October, they plan to have chosen a project location where they will commit themselves for the next five to 10 years.

"We will have submitted a formal proposal to EWB-USA describing sustainable projects in that one community that we will have the ability to undertake," Werner said. "From this point forward, the Ole Miss EWB-USA will be assessing the community and its needs and finding appropriate solutions,"

Delegates attended the EWB-USA Southeast Regional workshop in Miami in October and the international conference in Denver over spring break.

"Our aim seemed simple: to apply classroom knowledge in a developing or underdeveloped nation, helping those who could not necessarily help themselves," Werner said. "This past year has taught us much as far as barriers to success and our unique opportunity for service as students."

While engineering students make up the majority of the chapter's membership, students from other fields of study are welcome.

"We encourage students from different majors to apply their knowledge to assist our developing a long-term relationship with a community in need," Werner said. "We utilize differing abilities to identify and permeate potential economic, ecological, cultural and political obstacles. We look to ensure ownership from the community in various projects."

Chapter members said they are deeply appreciative for all the support provided by advisers, the engineering school, Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and the entire student body.

"We hope that the foundation EWB-USA, Ole Miss has built will help pave the way for the future," Werner said.

For more information about Engineers Without Borders-USA, visit For more information about the UM School of Engineering, visit or call 662-915-7407.

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Anna Kathryn Hailey

Senior Honors Student with Triple Major Named UM's 12th Goldwater Scholar

OXFORD, Miss. - Honors student Anna Kathryn Hailey has been named the University of Mississippi's 12th Barry M. Goldwater Scholar.

The Ole Miss senior from Muscle Shoals, Ala., is the eighth UM student to receive the prestigious award since 2000. Last summer, Hailey became the university's first exchange student with the Institute for Thermal Power Engineering at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China. While there, she joined Chinese researchers in their work on carbon storage and sequestration methods.

"I was very happy and excited to learn I had received the Goldwater," said Hailey, who is pursuing a triple major in Mandarin Chinese, chemistry and chemical engineering. "This scholarship will help pay for my fifth year of college, which I need to complete my three majors. Then I hope the Goldwater will help me gain admission into graduate school so I can continue my studies."

Already with enough academic credit hours to be qualified as a senior, Hailey expects to complete requirements for her bachelor's degree with three majors in 2011. Following graduation, she said she plans to earn a doctorate in chemical engineering or environmental engineering so she can continue research on alternative energy sources.

Hailey credits Ole Miss faculty and staff across many disciplines for giving her a solid foundation for her future career path.

"I would like to thank Dr. (Debra) Young and the Honors College for encouraging me to apply for this scholarship, and Dr. (Wei-Yin) Chen, Dr. (Nathan) Hammer, Dr. (John) O'Haver, Dr. (Haidong) Wu, and the rest of the chemical engineering and chemistry departments for their unwavering support," she said. "Ole Miss has been so good to me."

Faculty members in Hailey's major fields of study boast of her academic achievements and dedication.

"Anna has distinguished herself from other students in academic performance, research accomplishment, community and professional services, vision and personality," said Chen, professor of chemical engineering and Hailey's primary mentor and research supervisor. "The Goldwater Scholarship will be an enormous encouragement to her career preparation."

"Anna has a drive to learn, a drive to understand, a drive to expand her personal boundaries," said O'Haver, associate dean of chemical engineering. "She has a very solid global perspective, which she will bring to all of her activities and make her the ideal scientist-engineer-researcher for the future."

"Anna is an exemplary student in every respect," said Clint Williford, chair and professor of chemical engineering. "She has maintained a strong GPA while pursuing a five-year, three-degree program. Through intensive study, she passed a language exam qualifying her to take engineering courses in China."

Wu, associate professor of mathematics, echoed those sentiments.

"Anna is a remarkable student who is mathematically gifted," Wu said. "I have no doubt that she has a bright future as a scientist."

A student in the university's Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Hailey is also a Taylor Medalist and member of Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi. Her extracurricular activities include serving as president of the campus chapter of Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society and as past secretary and treasurer of the Society of Women Engineers. She is the founding secretary of the university's new chapter of Engineers Without Borders.

Hailey has also been a member of Gamma Beta Phi honor society, an Associated Student Body senator and an Ole Miss Ambassador. She was a member of the Pride of the South Marching Band color guard and a volunteer assistant in UM academic competitions.

She is the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. William Hailey of Muscle Shoals.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was created in 1986 to honor U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater. The purpose of the program is "to alleviate a critical current and future shortage of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers." The scholarship seeks to encourage talented student researchers in those fields to prepare for and enter careers as research scientists.

Students apply in their sophomore or junior year. The scholarship provides up to $7,500 per remaining undergraduate year to assist with the recipient's tuition, fees, books, and room and board. This year the Goldwater Foundation named 278 scholars from a field of 1,111 applications.

For more information on the Goldwater Scholarships, go to

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Engineering Day Competition

High School Students Get Their Water Towers Shaken at Annual Engineering Day Competition

OXFORD, Miss. - Eddie King III nervously watched the plywood water tower he helped build undergo the first of three earthquake simulations. As the structure shook violently, the mandatory minimum pound of water sloshed and spilled slightly. But the model remained intact.

"Our team put a lot of time into designing and building our entry," said the senior from Lee High School in Marianna, Ark. "So we expect to win something today."

But so do the students from all the other high schools participating in the University of Mississippi's annual Engineering Day competition Friday Feb. 26). Issued the challenge of designing and constructing a model water tower at a reasonable cost, they have spent weeks preparing the entries they hope are sturdy enough to withstand increasingly stronger and longer fake tremors.

"This contest was designed to be challenging - and fun," said Maxine Woolsey, education outreach specialist in the UM School of Engineering. "The specifications were minimal to allow for creative engineering, yet the students had to keep their designs cost-efficient as well."

The shake-tower contest was a major attraction for King and his classmates.

"I was surprised at just how much preparation we had to make before starting this project," said Eric Garrett, another Lee High participant. "Before we purchased any materials, we had to create a to-scale drawing, create a budget and calculate the costs. I discovered I really like the technical aspects of engineering."

The structures all were tested on a "shake table." Water tower models sustaining little or no damage through the third simulation got an additional half-pound weight added atop the tank for each compression level.

By the second earthquake simulation's end, one or two models began to show stress points. Corinth High School's entry was not one of them.

"We're in it to win it," said Bailey Digby, a junior at Corinth High. "We gave it our best. Hopefully, that will prove to be enough when all the shaking stops and the judging ends."

More than 50 high school students from eight Mississippi schools attended Engineering Day, which was the culmination of a monthlong observance aimed at increasing enrollment by helping students "see the engineer" within themselves. The engineering school, UM Division of Outreach and Continuing Education and the Center for Mathematics and Science Education co-sponsored the gathering.

Schools emerging victorious at the end of the day included West Union Attendance Team of Union County, Ridgeland High School, Tupelo Christian Preparatory School and Corinth High School.

Earlier in the day, dozens of UM students from all six engineering departments greeted the eager prospects. Loaded with information about academic programs and careers, each UM representative sought to make a favorable and lasting impression upon the visitors. Besides the water tower model-earthquake simulation competition, students also competed in individual and team math, science and engineering tests.

The Ole Miss students succeeded in their objectives, several of the high school student agreed.

"I think Ole Miss has a really good engineering school," said Dora Chen, a junior at Oxford High School. "In the first session, I learned enough about engineering to be sure that this is really what I want to do."

Engineering Student Body Vice President Alissa Carroll, who helped coordinate National Engineers Week activities, said she is thrilled at the visitors' positive response as she was busy hosting Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day elsewhere on campus.

"The engineering students give a great deal of time and energy helping facilitate these competitions," said Carroll, a senior from Kingwood, Texas. "Seeing high school students enjoying themselves and hearing them say they're considering attending Ole Miss makes it all worthwhile."

Woolsey said she also considered Engineering Day proceedings a success.

"This is one of the most excited groups we've ever hosted," Woolsey said. "Hopefully, many of these high school students will come to Ole Miss, earn their various degrees in engineering and be able to find post-graduation employment, internship or co-op opportunities."

Already, one participant is sold on that idea.

"Whether we win the water tower competition or not, engineering is something I know that I'm passionate about," Garrett said. "I'm definitely planning on coming to Ole Miss because it has a great program, has a beautiful campus and is close to home."

For more information about the University of Mississippi School of Engineering, call 662-915-5780 or visit

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Students Study in Belize

Study Abroad Students Continue to Give in Belize

OXFORD, Miss. - When Valerie Blair, a University of Mississippi junior from Corinth, and 11 fellow Ole Miss students landed in Ambergris Caye, Belize, they didn't know what to expect. But every one of them knew why they were there: to serve school children in an impoverished area of San Mateo.

As part of the UM Study Abroad program, the students traveled with Kim Shackelford, associate professor of social work, to the town of San Pedro, a popular tourist destination. There, they taught Spanish-speaking children living on the outskirts of the island to speak and read English.

The spring break trip made such an impact on the Ole Miss group that several months later, they are still reaching out to raise money for San Mateo schoolchildren with poor eyesight. The students were eager to make a difference in the community as soon as they arrived, Shackleford said.

"I went to Belize with 12 students I didn't know and within a week, I knew they were very service-oriented," she said. "They worked hard in a difficult situation."

Blair, a nursing major, and Diamondhead native Rebecca Werner, a senior engineering major, are among the students raising money to help buy eyeglasses for needy children at Holy Cross Anglican School. Both members of Delta Gamma sorority, they are selling calendars created by Delta Gamma sister Christy Sims, a senior business administration major from Madison.

Blair and Werner said one of their main jobs during the week was to assist with screenings of students at the local eye clinic. "We asked if we could go help because Delta Gamma's philanthropy is Service for Sight, so helping at the eye clinic drew our interest," Werner said. "We didn't really have any introduction to people at all. We just told them we were there to help, asked them what we could do and told them where we were from."

The children's screenings concluded that 35 of them needed glasses, Shackelford said.

"Our students went with the children being sent to the clinic for eye exams," Shackleford said. "The students learned that even though the exam proved the children needed glasses, the parents could not afford to buy the glasses. One pair costs $40 if they use donated frames and over $120 if frames are bought new."

Blair said her experiences at the clinic prompted her to find more ways to help the children.

"Before we went on the trip, we had talked about the idea of using Service for Sight to help these kids. I thought it was neat that the opportunity arose and we jumped on it," Blair said. "It was neat how it worked out because before we left the clinic, we spoke with the director, who told us more about the funding that comes into the clinic for screenings and exams. That sparked our interest in continuing our efforts after we got back home."

Blair and Werner said some of their fondest memories of Belize are from working with the children, including Alexis, who was upset when he found out he needed glasses.

Blair persuaded Alexis that needing glasses wasn't such a bad thing.

"He wasn't thrilled about that at all," she said. "I didn't realize there was such a stigma there against glasses. When he found that out, he was sort of in denial until I put on my glasses and convinced him that there was nothing wrong with them."

Werner said volunteers are in high demand in the San Mateo community.

"One child I worked with didn't have an easy time focusing; he always got distracted," she said. "We had to make it fun for him to learn. It's a lot like what our children face here. Hiring teachers is a different process there. There is a huge need for extra help."

Blair added that the children need more individual attention.

"One-on-one time with them seemed to make a difference because they're in such big classrooms all the time, and they don't get as much individualized attention as they need," she said. "They're doing well to be enrolled in school where such a low percentage of people continue their education past the eighth grade. There's great need there, even if it's just letting someone know you care.

Shackelford said she was pleased with the effort all the students gave.

"It made them think about what service they can do and showed them that they really can make a big difference in a week's time," she said.

Blair said the appreciation of the students and parents stood out most to her.

"A girl we had spent a lot of time with that week named Irene made us a homemade card and made sure we got it before we left," she said. "It was just her thanking us over and over for being her friend and being there for her. Even though we were only able to be there for four days with her, she was incredibly thankful. For me it was seeing how grateful they are for everything."

Seeing how the residents did so much with so little gave Werner a new perspective. "It's an eye-opener to see how people who have so little have so much because they're so incredibly grateful and thankful all the time for everything," Werner said. "Just the simplest act of kindness we gave them - hanging out with them or going to play soccer with them during their break - meant the world to them. I think relationship-building is something I learned. You can go anywhere, and whether there's a language barrier or not, you can still connect with people."

The UM Study Abroad program and Shackelford have planned two more trips to Ambergris Caye: a three-week Wintersession trip that is offered as an elective social work course for all UM undergraduate and graduate students, and a service-oriented trip during spring break 2010 open to all majors. To learn about these and other programs, go to, or contact Brett Byrnes at

To learn more about contributing to Delta Gamma's Service for Sight project, contact Rebecca Werner at or visit

For more information on the Department of Social Work, go to or contact Kim Shackelford at

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Student Studies in Northern Ireland

Public Policy Leadership, Civil Engineering Student Studying in Northern Ireland

OXFORD, Miss. - Hannie "Parker" Capps of Sunflower, a senior at the University of Mississippi, is killing two birds with one stone while studying this semester at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland.

A member of UM's Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and Lott Leadership Institute, Capps is majoring in public policy leadership and civil engineering. While the two fields may seem to be opposites, Capps said she is planning to broaden her perspective in both areas.

Her study abroad is made possible through an exchange partnership with UU coordinated by the UM Study Abroad Office. This exchange allows her to take courses abroad and apply them to her UM degree as resident credit at the same tuition cost of taking classes on the Oxford campus, plus she can also use financial aid that she receives on campus to help defray her expenses. While abroad, she is slated to complete three required liberal arts courses, and she is also looking forward to traveling and enhancing her other interests.

"I would like to see as much of Europe as possible, but I hope to really get to know the cultures of Northern Ireland and Ireland," she said. "I will enjoy the experience of observing the political, cultural and religious differences, and I'm also looking forward to seeing the ancient architecture as well as the modern.

"I have visited the nearby cities of Belfast and Londonderry, and have plans to go with my roommate to visit her family in England. I've also been getting to know the area around Portstewart, the town I live in. It is so beautiful here - sometimes I just can't believe it."

Capps has completed enough academic hours for senior status at Ole Miss, but with extra coursework required to complete her double major, she plans to graduate in May 2012.

"I am really considering going to law school after I graduate," she said. "Regardless, I plan to combine civil engineering and public policy leadership in my future career."

As for her college experience so far, Capps said, "I am really enjoying my time at Ole Miss and am very grateful for the incredible opportunities that have been offered to me here. After visiting several universities throughout the South, I wouldn't have gone anywhere else."

Active in student government, she served as the Honors College ASB senator during her sophomore year. She was tapped for membership in the National Society for Collegiate Scholars and the national academic honor societies of Alpha Lambda Delta, Lambda Sigma, Tau Beta Pi, Chi Epsilon, Phi Kappa Phi and Sigma Alpha Lambda.

A graduate of Indianola Academy, Capps is the daughter of Billie Dove Parker of Sunflower.

For more information about UM Study Abroad, visit

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Students Place in Design Competition

Chemical Engineering Students Win First Place in National Design Competition

OXFORD, Miss. - Teamwork and time have turned a trio of University of Mississippi chemical engineering majors into prize-winning troubleshooters in a national student competition.

Joey Parkerson of French Camp, Christopher Turbeville of Southaven and Michael McClure of Vicksburg - all seniors last spring - took first place in the Team Division of the 2009 American Institute of Chemical Engineers National Design Contest. The UM group beat competitors from 34 other universities, including five-time champion Oklahoma State University and two-time champions Michigan State University, Northeastern University and Washington University.

Other previous winners include Mississippi State University, the University of Toledo, Columbia University and the University of Utah.

"This is a great achievement for us, the chemical engineering department, the School of Engineering and the University of Mississippi as a whole," said Parkerson, a hypergolic propulsion systems engineer for NASA's Kennedy Space Center. "It is especially rewarding for us to have won first place the very first year that we competed."

All entrants worked on the same problem: Design the highest-yielding, lowest-cost process for converting corn into butanol, a biofuel that may be used in an internal combustion engine. Butanol generally is more environmentally friendly and yields more energy than ethanol.

Teams had one month to research and complete their proposals by the May 31 deadline.

"The three of us started planning our strategy before we even knew what the problem was," said McClure, a business development manager at Desiccare in Jackson. "No one can do a project like this without making a lot of assumptions going in. Actually winning depends upon how good your assumptions are and how well you present the whole design."

From problem presentation to solution proposal submission, the UM team labored long hours, all while maintaining class schedules and extracurricular activities.

"We found this to be a very challenging experience," said Turbeville, a process engineer at ExxonMobil in Beaumont, Texas. "In addition to all the preliminary and subsequent research, we must have redesigned the draft at least 10 times in the 30 days we worked on it."

"Still, because we're such good friends, it really wasn't like working at all."

Following the trio's entry in the national competition, they submitted the same proposal in the AIChE Mid-South Regional Design Competition. Possibly a predictor of the national victory that came this fall, UM triumphed over both Mississippi State University and Christian Brothers University.

"That was the first time we won the regional competition since I've been here," Parkerson said. "Our chemical engineering program maybe smaller than our competitors, but by winning first place we're proving we're just as good or better."

"These students put an enormous amount of time into this," said Peter Sukanek, professor of chemical engineering and faculty adviser for the campus AIChE chapter. "They spent literally many hours every day, night and weekend during the 30 day-period finding the data needed and making their calculations and evaluations. Their final product is excellent and is a testament to the ability of these three individuals."

Parkerson, who is completing his final courses this semester, said he is looking forward to reuniting with Turbeville and McClure Nov. 7 at the annual AIChE Student Convention in Nashville to make their presentation and accept their $600 prize.

Though the prize money is nice, the three agree that gaining recognition for themselves and the chemical engineering department is the true reward.

"Our win wouldn't have been possible had it not been for the great instruction that we received from the faculty in our department," McClure said. "This honor is as much theirs as it is ours."

As the green movement gains momentum and the auto industry continues its shift to biofuels, a processing plant such as the proposed one may someday be built.

"Right now it's just not profitable, but who knows what the future holds?" Parkerson said. "If some company does undertake such a project, maybe our design could possibly be a springboard for their own research and construction endeavors," Parkerson said. For each year's student competition, engineers from a designated company design and judge a problem that typifies a real chemical engineering design situation. AIChE is the world's leading organization for chemical engineering professionals, with nearly 40,000 members in 93 countries.

"The competition is open to every one of the 190 departments of chemical engineering in the United States," said Richard Long, chair of the AIChE design subcommittee. "The problem's solution requires a wide range of skills in calculation and evaluation of both technical data and economic factors."

For more information about the UM Department of Chemical Engineering, visit or call 662-915-7023. For more information about the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, visit

Trio to accept award Nov. 7 in Nashville

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