MSU Holds Bulldog Bytes Camp to Help Encourage Young Women in STEM Study

The Dispatch – COLUMBUS

MSU is sponsoring their free Bulldog Bytes camp this week, with the help of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Columbus. The all-female summer camp is intended to bring in school-age girls who are interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. So far, 23 3rd~5th-grade girls are participating in the camp, where they are learning more about computer programming, problem-solving and cyber safety.

“The goal is to light a pathway for women in the state,” Sarah Lee, MSU computer science professor and director of the day camp said. “I think if you can engage them at an early age, they get that spark that ‘this is really cool. I like technology. I’m comfortable with it, and I can make this robot do things’ . . . It’s really problem-solving because programming is problem-solving,” Lee continued. “They’re learning to give commands to the robot … they’re learning the algorithmic (language).”

Campers are learning and implementing a programming language called “Snap!” to control their own “Finch” robots.

The purpose of the camp is ” . . . to teach these young women to be safe online, and to hopefully spark some interest in computer science and cyber security, so that they’ll go on to other programs and later to study it in school,” Lee said.

Winter Dismuke and Taylor Hairston, both 9, use algorithms to program a computer to command their Finch robots during STEM camp at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Columbus on Monday. Winter is the daughter of Shelia and Reginald Cullen. Taylor is the daughter of Nikki Mays and David Hairston. Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff

Litnay Lineberry, an MSU student pursuing a PhD in computer science with a focus in K-12 STEM education, has held a major role in bringing the project to life, setting up activities and preparing material for the students to use. “It’s good to see all these kids, young females, interested and engaged in robotics and what we’re teaching them here,” Lineberry said. “What Dr. Lee is doing here is really reaching a lot of kids that may not (otherwise) have this opportunity.”

According to statistics from the National Center for Women and Information Technology, women make up only about 26 percent of the computer science workforce, even though roughly half of the United States population is female. “If males are the only ones developing new technology,” Lee said, “then we’re missing out on half of the creativity and innovation that could come from having the other half of the population at the table.”

She believes that one way to help bring parity to the industry is to catch girls’ interest early in life: “If you try to reach young women once they’re already in high school, it’s really too late,” Lee said. “They’ve already formed the ideas about what they can and can’t do or about what they want to do or don’t want to do. These elementary girls catch on really fast, faster than some of the older ones. . . For (these young girls) to be out here programming these robots to do something, it’s not a threatening environment, and that’s one reason we have the gender specific — so that they can learn and don’t feel like they have to impress the guys,” she went on to say. “One thing that I’ve noticed, too, is the guys will try to do it for them if we have the mixed-gender environment.

“It’s important that you keep them engaged. We can’t just have a summer camp, and then they go home, and there’s never anything else,” Lee said. “They come to this. We make sure they know about other things that we’re having so they can come to (events) throughout high school and then when entering college.”


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EMCC To Offer State’s First E-Commerce Tech Program

EMCC To Offer State’s First E-Commerce Tech Program


East Mississippi Community College has announced that they have succeeded in becoming he first college in Mississippi to offer an E-Commerce Technology program, which will begin this Fall. Registration for the program is already under way, and the first classes (both in-person and online) will be held in August.

“One of our goals at EMCC is to ensure that our course offerings reflect marketplace demands,” EMCC Associate Dean of Instruction Dr. Melanie Sanders said. “Given that the impact of E-Commerce is being felt across the global economy, we felt that the time was right to offer a program that would help our students capitalize on this growing industry.”

“We will offer a prestigious one-year certificate for business graduates that can be completed in two semesters online,” EMCC Marketing instructor Dr. Joshua Carroll said. “This is perfect for graduates with a master’s degree who are looking for certification in E-Commerce.

“Since the classes are available online, one of the benefits of the certificate is that it can be offered internationally. Students who live in Zimbabwe, China or India will be able to complete the course and learn how to market their internet-based businesses in the U.S.”


“The demand for these jobs is already here,” Carroll said.

To be accepted into the program, students must earn a 13 composite score on the ACT test or the equivalent on the Accuplacer test.

Prospective students can apply online at For more information about the program, call Carroll (662) 243-1943 or email him at

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MSU’s Unmanned Aviation Program is Flying High

MSU’s Unmanned Aviation Program is Flying High

MSU Ag Drone (courtesy photo, MDA/Mississippi Works)

Courtesy of MDA/Mississippi Works

Unmanned flying drones have become more complex, and more popular, over the past several years, and Mississippi is now leading the push to develop better and better units. The FAA has named Mississippi State as the home of the Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems, making it *the* place to be for research of this kind. Mississippi’s will be working with the Center of Excellence is to help introduce UAV and UAS technologies to our nation and to the world in a safe, responsible manner. MSU collaborates with ASSURE (Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence), which is made up of over 20 research universities from around the world and industry partners.

The applications of this technology are myriad, and its potential economic impact on the state and nation are expected to be both far-reaching and very significant.Over one hundred aerospace companies have chosen to hedge their bets with the state of Mississippi, including international industry leaders such as Aurora Flight Sciences, Northrop Grumman, Stark Aerospace, and many more.The state’s competitive edge in aerospace brought them here; the expertise and drive of the people who work with and for them in Mississippi has kept them here.

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MDA Praises Golden Triangle Region for Industrial Growth

MDA Praises Golden Triangle Region for Industrial Growth

The Dispatch – Columbus

Mississippi Development Authority Director Glenn McCullough, left, visits with Columbus Rotary Club member Tango Moore after speaking at the club’s meeting at Lion Hills Center on Tuesday. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff

Mississippi Development Authority Executive Director Glenn McCullough recently gave a presentation to the Columbus Rotary Club, extolling the Golden Triangle Region’s virtues as an increasingly attractive place to do business, especially for industrial concerns. He spoke of the economic growth brought about due to large companies such as Yokohama, Toyota, Nissan, Steel Dynamics, and Plum Creek, to name a few. He also expressed his appreciation for all of the GTR communities’ working together to make the area a more successful place for everyone: “When it comes to economic development — when it comes to community development and leadership, we are all on the same team,” McCullough said. “We are not big enough to fight when it comes to building our communities. We, as leaders, need to look across the state of Mississippi and see the state of Mississippi not just compete, but win. You’ve been doing that.”

McCullough also addressed the room with regards to workforce training, which he said is an important factor for the future of the state and its economic growth. The State of Mississippi has committed $50 million toward such efforts, which includes funds for the state’s community college system. He mentioned the planned Communiversity, in particular, which is currently under construction near PACCAR: “You’ll have a facility and some people at the Communiversity that will give the Golden Triangle something no other part of the Southeast has,” he said. “…It is so important –Mississippi needs to make sure that people understand around the world (that if) you want to produce a product or service in Mississippi, our people are the best.”

McCullough went on to say that the state has other advantages, as well; he said the state is a top-10 state for business costs, permitting speed, competitive labor costs, automotive manufacturing strength and other categories.

Despite this, he also acknowledged that the state faces competition from other states (especially those nearest to us) in this regard, and that we need to continue to improve how we are perceived by those in the outside world: “Sometimes Mississippi’s perception is not want we want it to be, which is why tourism is so important.”

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Historic Home Restorer Speaks Up About Why He Does What He Does


Many older homes, such as Antebellum and Victorian houses, that have been around for a long time have fallen into disrepair simply due to not having anyone there to take care of them; often, the owners have either moving on to other homes, or have otherwise become incapable of maintaining them properly. Many folks would love to see them restored, but not everyone can do so. Starkville’s Buddy Sanders is one man who is making a difference in his own 1920’s Starkville home.

“Everyone wants a nice looking home, something that’s unique, and for someone that lives in a historic home such as myself, it’s just a matter of pride and a matter of, just essentially liking the history of a community,” says historic homeowner, Buddy Sanders.

Historic Homeowner Buddy Sanders (WCBI)

“One day, some of these people that own these homes, their children will come back here and will want to see where their parents, their grandparents lived and it’s no longer here,” says Starkville resident, Faye Turner.

“If somebody don’t want it torn down, then they need to buy it, they need to preserve it, but I think they should be preserved and there is federal money and grant money out there to preserve them,” says Starkville resident, John Fondren.

The fact that construction materials and techniques change over time makes a difference, too:  “The character of the neighborhood and the structure itself. There’s generally an architectural style and materials and designs that are just unique to that structure,” says Sanders.

Sanders purchased a 90-year-old home more than a year ago; he plans on spending around $11 thousand on renovations.

“Restoring the original hardwood floors, essentially replacing the wood with materials that are alike on the home. Returning the color to a color of the house that would be typical of something that was built in the 20’s, along with doors and windows.”

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Long-Running Kerr-McGee Lawsuit Bears Fruit

Long-Running Kerr-McGee Lawsuit Bears Fruit

Pastor Steve Jamison (courtesy WCBI)

COLUMBUS, Miss.(WCBI)— People of Columbus who were affected by toxic Creosote seepage from the former Kerr-McGee Chemical Corporation’s plant are now beginning to receive settlements from a class-action lawsuit that was filed about fifteen years ago, around the time of the plant’s closing. KMCC agreed to settle the lawsuit, and has agreed to pay a sum of over five billion dollars in total.

“Getting the plant closed down was crucial. I saw the plant as a source for all this disease and all this death,” said Maranatha Faith Center Pastor Steve Jamison.

Creosote has often been used in the past for uses such as preserving railroad ties and other wooden products intended to last for many years, as a preservative. The chemical itself has proven to be toxic to humans and other animals when it seeps into the water table.

Jamison was exposed when he was working to expand his church on 14th Ave North, not far from the plant; he says that working in a ditch there gave him health problems for life: “When I came out of the ditch, I had a blood pressure that was so high, I had to take two pills, four times a day, to control it. I learned that my kidneys dropped in function, to almost a third of their normal function. At that point, I realized whatever it was, was deadly and dangerous,” said Jamison. He went on to say, “In Memphis Town, people were dying from cancers in clusters. Whole homes being wiped out. Whole families just die with the same thing. People had uncontrollable kidney disease and other things that can be related to Creosote.”

“All in all it was worth it. If I had to do it again, I would do it again. In the process I had a heart attack and my kidney failed. I’m yet grateful that God allowed me to stay here to see it done,” said Jamison.

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Palmer Home Hires Local for New Director of Development

Columbus – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Palmer Home for Children, Christian organization which offers education and shelter to children in need, has hired Columbus native Meryl Fisackerly as director of development at the regional children’s home.  In this role, her main role will be to handle relationships with donors and put together fundraisers.

“I’m very excited about this opportunity,” Fisackerly said. “I’m so far loving the job. Everyone there is great. I’m looking forward to getting involved in the community and establishing who Palmer is and what we’re about. … It’s a fabulous organization and everybody needs to know about it.”

PH spokespeople said that she has experience in both retail and commercial sales, and that she is deeply engaged with the community, making her a great asset,

“Meryl is one of those rare find,” Vice President of Engagement Sarah Hollis said. “She is integrated in the Golden Triangle community personally, professionally and through civic involvement, including tutoring children at Palmer Home. Meryl embodies our mission and will be vital to engaging this community to fulfill our call to care for vulnerable children.”

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Zoning Approved for Starkville Industrial Park

STARKVILLE – Courtesy of The DIspatch

Circuit Judge James Kitchens recently affirmed a recent zoning change for a proposed 360-acre industrial park near Hwy 182 & Hwy 389. Starkville aldermen had previously re-zoned the parcel in question as appropriate for Manufacturing, but that decision was challenged by LMK LLC, Bettye Bell, Mary S. Bell, Margaret Copeland and Laura B. White. Judge Kitchens said that these appellants were unable to meet their burden “to show that the decision was invalid.”

As such, GTR LINK plans to go ahead and seek funding to the tune of $14 million that had been pledged by the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors and Starkville Board of Aldermen.

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State Lawmakers and Businessmen Cruise Down the Tenn-Tomm [video]

State Lawmakers and Businessmen Cruise Down the Tenn-Tomm


Courtesy photo

The Tenn-Tom Waterway Development Authority invited business leaders and lawmakers for a ride on Friday morning, taking them on a leisurely cruise down the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway. The Army Corps of Engineers hosted the event; they used the time to showcase industries and businesses that depend on the Waterway, and emphasized its value as a promoter of economic development.

“When you get right down to it, it generates revenue for the cities, the counties, and the state. But more than that, it’s people who have jobs that work at these businesses and industry, and it’s all about their quality of life,” says Tenn-Tom Waterway Administrator, Mitch Mays.

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SOCSD Breaks Ground on Partnership School

SOCSD Breaks Ground on Partnership School

Mississippi State, Starkville Oktibbeha School District and statewide officials broke ground Wednesday on the new SOCSD Partnership School at MSU. Photo by: Russ Houston

The Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District broke ground on its new Partnership School Wednesday morning near Hwy 182 & George Perry Blvd. Once construction is complete, the $27.5 million facility will serve all SOCSD sixth and seventh grade students, and also act as a laboratory for the Mississippi State University College of Education. SOCSD has contributed $12.5 million toward the project; the state of Mississippi has given another $10 million, in addition to MSU’s $5 million plus the land the school will be built on.

“This was a challenge,” said School Board President Keith Coble. “It took a lot of leadership on all sides to make this happen, the university, the school district, the state legislature, a lot of cooperation. In the end people made this happen. If we had not had these people I don’t think it would have happened.”

Courtesy Photo

“This wouldn’t have happened without collaboration and true partnering,” MSU President Mark Keenum said. “There’s no way the Starkville-Oktibbeha School District could do this on their own. We had to work together in tandem . . . I think you’re going to see a great deal of interest, and who knows, we may see other schools like this in other areas of our state or across the country.”
Dirt work at the site is set to begin at once, as the school board’ has approval of a $2,493,903 bid from the Tremont-based Cademy Construction, LLC, at its last meeting. Completion is projected for January 2019.

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