From automotive science in the north — at the Mississippi State University (MSU) Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems (CAVS), specifically — to rocket science in the southern part of the state, Mississippi is where innovation has long been designed, tested and applied to processes in existing and emerging industries.
The John C. Stennis Space Center in Hancock County is where NASA recently completed testing of a key component of its Space Launch System rocket. And it's where researchers this year developed a remote sensing toolkit, the NASA Platform for Autonomous Systems (NPAS), based on a commercial software platform, that will streamline the design and testing of safety-critical autonomous systems. The best part is that it can be deployed across a range of industries. Stennis is partnering with Fed Tech, a custom manufacturer, to introduce the NPAS toolkit to a wider market. Fed Tech works with a range of research-and-development institutions and agencies such as NASA to help commercialize new technologies.
CAVS, at MSU in Starkville, and a CAVS Extension facility in Canton, near Nissan's 6,500-employee plant, have generated more than $6 billion in economic impact since it was founded in 2002. Besides automotive research, MSU is a leader on federal unmanned aerial systems research and testing. It also houses one of the nation's premier university flight research facilities, Raspet Flight Research Laboratory, established in 1948. The Lab covers the gamut of aerospace-related research, including flight vehicle development and testing, unmanned aircraft systems research, development, test and evaluation, and advanced composite materials development and fabrication.
"All eight public universities in Mississippi and the University of Mississippi Medical Center play an integral role in economic development efforts," notes Glenn Boyce, Commissioner of Higher Education, Mississippi Public Universities. "Our universities address a variety of needs, including conducting research, providing graduates with the skills needed, and providing professional growth programs."
The Mississippi Business Engagement Network was formed in 2016 to serve as a portal to the R&D and other assets housed within state universities and to provide both existing and prospective businesses in Mississippi with an easy way to access these resources. Network collaborators include Mississippi Development Authority (MDA), Mississippi Economic Council (MEC), Mississippi Economic Development Council (MEDC), the Mississippi Research Consortium (MRC) which includes Jackson State University (JSU), Mississippi State University (MSU), University of Mississippi (UM), University of Southern Mississippi (USM) and the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning. "Site selectors often ask if there are research capabilities available to assure prospective business leaders that Mississippi can support their research needs," Boyce relates. In 2017, "Mississippi Public Universities received $420.7 million in external research funding, which supported 2,407 projects."
Mississippi State University is among the National Science Foundation's Top 100 research universities and ranks in the Top 10 nationally in agriculture-related research, a position it has held for nearly two decades. Its High Performance Computing Collaboratory (HPC2) provides an advanced computing infrastructure that includes high-performance computing systems, a fully immersive 3-D scientific visualization system, high performance storage systems, a large capacity archival system and high-bandwidth networking. This enables the university to provide support of computational modeling of materials, advanced power systems, and human factors research. The Collaboratory is a coalition of 11 centers and institutes within the university.
"Attracting new business and industry to Mississippi and supporting existing businesses so they can grow and thrive takes the diligent efforts of many working together," says Boyce. "We all benefit when these efforts are successful, so we must all join hands whenever we can. Mississippi Public Universities stand steadfast to support economic development and fulfill the needs of business and industry whenever and wherever possible."