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."