How does the Center for Manufacturing Excellence at Ole Miss support advanced manufacturing in Mississippi?
The CME is just one example of the educational, research, and service programs at Ole Miss that directly support existing business and industry in Mississippi, while also supporting initiatives to bring more business and more jobs to our state. The CME works closely with Mississippi’s manufacturing industry through an advisory board that includes executives from Toyota and GE Aviation’s plants near Oxford, as well as executives from other companies throughout the state.
The CME provides a unique opportunity for students to learn from experts in our highly ranked schools of engineering, accounting, and business, rather than studying in just one of the schools. A customized curriculum blends classes with the greatest benefit to a career in manufacturing and gives special focus to developing the skills needed for management and leadership. In addition to classroom learning, students enjoy opportunities for internships and other extended learning activities.
The CME curriculum produces a uniquely well-rounded professional workforce. In much the same way, our biomedical programs produce a professional workforce for the healthcare sector, and our law, business, and accountancy programs produce the professionals needed to support many different types of organizations.
What are some of the major scientific, agricultural or manufacturing breakthroughs that have been discovered or developed at Ole Miss?
Our researchers are making discoveries that range from our most basic understanding of the universe to improving public health to safeguarding our national infrastructure and enhancing manufacturing processes.
At the medical center, researchers have created HumMod, the most complete mathematical model of human physiology ever created. We are also having significant breakthroughs in treating major diseases. We have developed a newly patented technology for non-invasive diagnosis of liver cirrhosis by CT scan. We achieved a very significant milestone in pediatric AIDS research through the treatment of a baby who achieved full remission for more than two years in the absence of treatment.
Scientists in our National Center for Natural Products research have discovered over 100 new cannabinoids and developed several novel drug delivery systems for cannabinoids. The Center is also well known for its pioneering work to understand the science behind botanical dietary supplements (herbal products) and is the nation’s only FDA-designated Center for Excellence in this area. A team of NCNPR scientists and USDA scientists, co-located in the Center, also discovered the health benefits of one of the compounds found in blueberries, which won a Federal Laboratory Consortium 2014 Excellence in Technology Transfer Award and led to a commercial product.
Scientists in our National Center for Natural Products Research (“NCNPR”) and the Department of Pharmaceutics and Drug Delivery have discovered over 100 new cannabinoids and developed several novel drug delivery systems for cannabinoids. The NCNPR is internationally known for its pioneering work to understand the science behind botanical dietary supplements (herbal products) and is the nation’s only FDA-designated Center for Excellence in this area. The NCNPR employs about 120 researchers and support staff and will open a new 110,000 sq. ft. research facility in 2015 that will house approximately 100 additional employees.
A team of School of Pharmacy scientists and USDA scientists, co-located at the university, also discovered the health benefits of one of the compounds found in blueberries. The transfer of this technology to a commercial partner won a Federal Laboratory Consortium 2014 Excellence in Technology Transfer Award and led to a successful commercial product. This collaboration continues to yield some exciting discoveries, including preliminary findings from a laboratory study at our medical center that suggests that this same compound may slow or even prevent the growth of prostate cancer cells.
Research in our Pii Center for Pharmaceutical Technology has led to the development of new drug delivery systems based on hot melt extrusion, which will shape the future of pharmaceutical manufacturing. The center, in collaboration with more than a dozen industry partners, offers a tri-annual professional development program on advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing.
Another exciting development came from a team of researchers with expertise in communication sciences, neurology, and electrical engineering. They invented a potentially groundbreaking stuttering treatment device that uses tactile feedback. The device rests on the speaker’s throat and communicates feedback to a skin stimulator. The technology has been licensed to a Mississippi-based company, HTG Medical Devices LLC, for development.
Researchers in physical acoustics have developed infrasound sensors that detect the acoustic signal created by clandestine nuclear weapon tests. The technology has been licensed to a Mississippi-based company, Hyperion Technology Group Inc., for manufacturing and distribution. In engineering research, a team from UM developed a pre-eminent and widely used emergency-planning software called DSS-WISE (Decision Support System for Water Infrastructure Security). The software is designed for water infrastructure safety studies and can be used to simulate dam/levee breach floods, fluvial floods, storm/tidal surges, landslide waves, and their consequences.
And a team of our physics researchers played a major role in the research and discovery of the Higgs boson, the subatomic particle thought to be responsible for all mass in the universe, discovered in 2012.
How does the University of Mississippi support the growth and development of the automotive industry in the state?
The automotive industry is an innovative, rapidly changing sector that requires a highly skilled workforce. To attract more automotive businesses and support those that have located in Mississippi already, the University of Mississippi (the state’s flagship university) developed highly specialized programs to prepare the leaders auto manufacturers need. Graduates in programs such as CME, engineering, law, management, communications, and accountancy ensure that Mississippi’s automotive industry – and other advanced manufacturing industries – will have the professional workforce they depend on to be successful. In particular, the university’s programs emphasize leadership, problem-solving skills, teamwork, global perspectives, and individual accountability. In addition, our research expertise in materials science, engineering, physics, and computer science can lead to innovations important to the automotive industry.
Our School of Education also produces the skilled teachers who educate the workforce that will sustain and grow the automotive industry in Mississippi, as well as the health care professionals who ensure a productive and healthy workforce. Also, through our Division of Outreach and Continuing Education, the university offers a wide variety of educational opportunities, including introductory courses in several manufacturing applications.
How does your University support innovation and entrepreneurship?
At a very fundamental level, the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship is a core part of our university’s culture. We are an innovative and entrepreneurial institution, and that can be seen in both our culture and our formal programs. Culturally, there’s a shared feeling around our campus that we want to be a part of transforming lives in Mississippi and the bigger world, and innovation and entrepreneurship are a key part of that goal. Formally, entrepreneurship skills are part of many of our education programs, and innovation through research is a foundational institutional mission and one of our top strategic priorities. Additionally, our Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship was established to inspire our students to create new businesses and enhance the economic value of all businesses in Mississippi. The university also administers the statewide Small Business Development Centers, which foster entrepreneurship throughout Mississippi. Insight Park is the university-affiliated research park where businesses can take full advantage of opportunities for collaborative research and academic resources, commercialize university research, and take full advantage of the human and physical resources available at the university.
What did the huge success of your University football team do for your school and its alumni this year?
The national attention generated by the success of our football team significantly increased the number of applications received this fall, but research shows that final enrollment numbers will depend more on how well our academic programs align with each student’s career interests. The quality and range of academic choices are the critical issues in turning applicants into new freshmen. And, fortunately, we offer majors in all of the leading fields of study being sought by today’s young people. We have performed extraordinarily well with enrollment for several years, with historic growth in the 2014 freshman class. Our fastest growing schools are Engineering and Journalism/Integrated Marketing Communications, though all are doing very well.
In what ways is Ole Miss changing to keep up with the rapidly changing demands of the modern workplace?
We see evidence every day that the education we provide transforms lives, and that transformation occurs because our graduates are prepared to both enter the workforce and adapt to career changes throughout their lives. To do this, the university offers multidisciplinary programs that develop both the knowledge (subject matter expertise) and the skills to use that knowledge over a lifetime (such as critical thinking, leadership, professionalism, communications, teamwork, adaptability, and STEM literacy). An important factor in the success of this approach is to seek and utilize the input of those in the workplace as we develop new programs and improve existing ones.
The Center for Manufacturing Excellence, as mentioned earlier, is a good example of this. Through the CME, the School of Engineering offers a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering -- both with an emphasis in manufacturing. Additionally, CME offers a minor in manufacturing engineering to students from the Schools of Accountancy and Business Administration. In this way, it is a unique program designed to give students both the knowledge they need immediately and the professional workforce skills that will support them throughout their careers.
What do you want your legacy to be following your tenure at Ole Miss?
Drawing on the talents of faculty, staff, students and outside resources, the university developed a 2020 strategic plan that focuses the university on academic excellence, national leadership, service, and accessibility to higher education for every student willing to do the work required for success at a leading university, regardless of income. We measure our success against specific criteria within each of these strategic areas. Our legacy will be the success we’ve achieved against these measures.