Category Archives: Manufacturing

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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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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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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West Point’s Hwy 45 Corridor Thriving

West Point’s Hwy 45 Corridor Thriving

WEST POINT, Miss. (Courtesy of WTVA)

Ever since Yokohama opened for business on the North side of town in 2015, the area’s South side along Hwy 45 has been booming, reports Lisa Klutts, the director of The Community Development Growth Alliance. She says that more business openings are on the way: “Burger King opened just under a year ago, Express Lube opened just recently and Love’s truck stop with Arby’s will be opening in May.”

The Growth Alliance said  that Burger King on Highway 45 surmounted national record sales on its opening day. “It seems like a pretty good business move to me, if they’re in it to make money,” said driver David Nelson.

The Growth Alliance said they watch trends to see if businesses are expanding in the state. “We would like to see more shoe stores or clothing stores,” said Klutts. There are currently no public plans to bring such stores to the area (yet), but, at the city grows and the Golden Triangle becomes more and more attractive to big business, who knows what the future may hold…?

All we know is, that’s good for the Golden Triangle, and that’s Good for Business!

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Ceco MBS Property Sold to Grandview Investments

Ceco MBS Property Sold to Grandview Investments

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Ceco Metal Building Systems, which has operated a support office on Hwy 45, recently sold its property to Grandview Investments, LLC, after a year or more on the market. Ceco Operations Manager Gregg Smith has stated that Ceco will maintain a presence on the property, leasing the space from Grandview, while determining where locally to move its operations offices.

“We built metal buildings here for a number of years,” he said. “Back in 2008 or 2009 when the economy hit (recession), this location — the plant — was closed down. We’ve had a full operation staff here since then of around 50 or 60 employees. We’ve got full operations — customer service, engineering, estimating, drafting, purchasing, field service. There’s still a large group of people here that supports the operations of Ceco Building Systems . . . Our full intention is to be here in this area,” he said. “We just don’t need 329,000 square feet of space to do the operations side of the business.”

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New Process Steel Expansion Slated to Add Fifty Jobs

New Process Steel Expansion Slated to Add Fifty Jobs

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Joe Max Higgins, left, and Harry Sanders

During a recent board meeting, Board of Supervisors President Harry Sanders confirmed that New Process Steel will start on its new expansion on the Steel Dynamics campus soon. Two loan resolutions were approved for the project on Monday – in addition to the approximately $1.7 million in grants and loans for the $7.5 million steel processing facility which were approved last month. In addition, it is expected that the project will require $750 thousand in Development Infrastructure Program grants from the Mississippi Development Authority for road improvements, and up to $1 million in a state loan to pay for a rail spur from the railway near the SDI campus.

“This just goes to show that Columbus is a good place for industry,” Sanders said. “It’s great that we can have some expansion from people who are already here. Most of the emphasis is on getting new people and new industry, but this is an older industry that’s been here and evidently they’re real happy with what’s here and they decided to expand their operation.”

The Board also discussed, and temporarily tabled, a proposal to hire former CLRA Executive Director as the county’s interim recreation manager. The matter will be taken up in their next regular meeting, once they are able to formulate a proper job description for the position.

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SDI Paint Facility in Columbus Now Open for Business

SDI Paint Facility in Columbus Now Open for Business

“The opening of this new paint facility is a significant milestone for Steel Dynamics and the people of the Golden Triangle region, as it represents the company’s commitment to doing business in Lowndes County and creating jobs for the area’s workforce,” Governor Bryant said.

“The Paint Line project will improve the Columbus Flat Roll Division’s competitiveness and sustainability in our steel markets,” said Madhu Ranade, vice president and general manager of Steel Dynamics, Flat Roll Group, Columbus Division. “We’re grateful to the state of Mississippi, MDA, Lowndes County, TVA and ARC for their continued partnership as we expand in Columbus.”

The Mississippi Development Authority helped with infrastructure improvements, rail construction and workforce training. The Tennessee Valley Authority, Appalachian Regional Commission and the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors also provided assistance for the project.

“Sustainable growth in economic development is achievable in our state when all levels of government work together to create a business environment in which companies can achieve their goals,” said MDA Executive Director Glenn McCullough, Jr. “MDA congratulates SDI and our partners at the Golden Triangle Development LINK, Lowndes County, TVA, ARC and the Lowndes County Industrial Development Authority on this momentous occasion.”

The facility’s new paint line has an annual coating capacity of 250,000 tons.

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LC Supervisors Have Approved Funding for Job Development at Steel Dynamics’ Industrial Park

LC Supervisors Have Approved Funding for Job Development at Steel Dynamics’ Industrial Park

LOWNDES COUNTY – Courtesy of The Dispatch

GTR LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins reports that Lowndes County supervisors unanimously approved more than $1.7 million in grants and loans for a company to build a $7.5 million new facility on the Steel Dynamics, Inc. campus at the industrial park west of Columbus. Some further funding will be required, but this gets the ball rolling in a major way, and opens the door to new facilities (including a railroad spur) which should provide at least fifty local jobs.

Joe Max Higgins, left, and Harry Sanders

“They need to ship out product by rail,” Higgins said. “And there needs to be an improved road to where they can do truck deliveries out as well . . .  The steel’s made on campus, so it’s just taken up there and processed,” he added. “But then it will go out by train to those customers who want train delivery or by truck for those of them who want trucking.”

“[The new company will] basically take steel that SDI makes and further process it into what I understand is a consumer product,” Higgins said. “It’s about a $7.5 million investment that’ll create 50 jobs, and I think that’s (the job count) a conservative number — I think it could go higher . . . It’s not a Steel Dynamics project, but it’s a result of Steel Dynamics being here,” Higgins went on to say. “Quite frankly, it’s a result of the new paint line that they’re fixing to put online. This is probably the first new business that you can directly attribute to the new paint line.”

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Navistar Lands New Contract, Will Keep Them Working Through 2019

Navistar Lands New Contract, Will Keep Them Working Through 2019

PRESS RELEASE – Courtesy of WCBI

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and Representative Trent Kelly (R-Miss.) today announced a $440 million U.S. Army contract for work to be done at the Navistar facility in West Point.

Under the contract, Navistar workers in West Point would reset and upgrade 1,085 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) MaxxPro Excess Defense Article vehicles and associated accessories for the United Arab Emirates.  The contract has been approved through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales process.

“This contract will support an important Middle East ally, which serves our U.S. security interests,” said Cochran, chairman of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.  “I’m pleased that the excellent workmanship of Mississippians in the Golden Triangle will be an essential part of this effort.”

“Our state’s skilled workforce has become a trusted partner in advancing our nation’s defense, and this contract further proves that,” said Wicker.  “This is great news for West Point and the entire state of Mississippi.  I am pleased the U.S. Army has recognized the high quality of the work being done in our state.”

“At a time when there are rising threats around the world, our allies have never been more important,” Kelly said.  “It is great to see our hardworking First District Mississippians support our friends in the United Arab Emirates through this contract.”

The contract is expected to be completed in March 2019.

See video here.

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