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10/28/2021 - Jackson, Miss.

Last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics published their annual report, Projected openings in occupations that require a college degree. In the report, BLS noted the top 10 fastest-growing occupations in the computer and engineering sector.

Nine of the 10 require a bachelor's degree. The fastest growing occupation in the sector, software developers and software quality assurance analysts and testers, is projected to have 189,200 annual openings between 2020 and 2030, with a median annual wage of $110,140. The other occupations listed are projected to have openings ranging from 13,900 to 47,500 annual openings between 2020 and 2030, with median annual wages ranging from $65,450 to 103,590.

Mississippi Public Universities are preparing students to enter these career fields and many others with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics degrees. The universities also support these sectors through research that will advance the fields and solve some of the world's most pressing problems.

Mississippi State University, the University of Mississippi and The University of Southern Mississippi are among only 2.7 percent of universities in the U.S. that hold the Carnegie Foundation R1-Very High Research Activity designation.

Mississippi State University's Swalm School of Chemical Engineering offers an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering, a world that deals with the chemical and physical processes used to develop and make products. Students who enroll in this program usually have a strong interest in applying chemistry and math to make processes and products to improve all aspects of human life. Without question, chemical engineers are making major contributions to the technological infrastructure of modern society through careers in industries such as chemicals, oil and gas, alternative energy, environment, food, biomedicine and pharmaceuticals, electronics, materials, and pulp and paper. Master's and doctoral degrees are also offered.

Offered in MSU's Bagley College of Engineering, mechanical engineering is the application of science and mathematics to the design, development, and operation of mechanical and energy systems. Examples of these systems include mechanical machines from simple linkages and gears to complex automated robots and energy machines from basic water pumps to high-performance jet engines. Since the range of applications is so broad, virtually all industries employ mechanical engineers in various capacities. Some of the major areas for employment are the manufacturing, chemical, paper, aerospace, utility, construction, transportation, petroleum, electronics, and computer industries. In addition to a strong foundation in the sciences, mechanical engineers must develop speaking and writing skills and spend much of their time creating complex design processes.

The undergraduate major in forestry at MSU is a science-based program leading to a bachelor of science degree. The forestry major provides a hands-on, experiential learning environment, equipping students to have skills and knowledge to manage renewable natural resources. Graduates are qualified to become a Registered Forester after successfully completing the exam of the Board of Registration for Foresters in Mississippi. Graduates are also qualified to become Society of American Forester Certified Foresters by successfully completing an exam. This major is accredited by the Society of American Foresters, and MSU is the only university in Mississippi offering this four-year degree.

MSU's sustainable bioproducts major is a multidisciplinary program, which encompasses wood and non-wood composites and other contemporary engineered products, as well as lumber, chemicals, fuels, medicines and much more. Many products are derived from wood, making it a top renewable resource. The curriculum prepares students to work in the forest products field, finding new ways to extend forest and natural resources by utilizing relatively low value trees and agricultural residues. Graduates will have a strong foundation in products, manufacturing, sales, trading and fundamental aspects of timber-derived products, materials, and structures.

As the largest among North American universities, MSU's high voltage laboratory supports industry and utility needs while providing a state-of-the-art learning facility for students. In addition to serving as an education and research center, the lab test and evaluates new high voltage products, equipment, and materials for a range of industries. It also offers seminars for students and faculty, short courses for engineers, graduate assistantships for high voltage research and support for undergraduate research. It's even been used to recreate lightning strikes and other electrical phenomena for the "Strange Evidence" series on Science Channel and The Weather Channel.

MSU researchers are developing antidotes designed to defeat harmful nerve agents and prevent brain damage and other serious side effects of chemical exposure. Once approved, the antidote would be added to the Strategic National Stockpile of protective drugs and devices that is maintained by the Department of Health and Human Services to assist the public in the event of emergencies, such as terrorist attacks or accidents with these threat chemicals.

Mississippi Valley State University Department of Mathematics, Computer and Information Sciences values and promotes excellence in its central mission of teaching. The Program encourages and supports creating and nurturing an atmosphere where major and service courses are designed to train mathematicians, computer scientists, and other students to enter careers in business, industry, research, and education. The departments offer undergraduate degrees in computer sciences, mathematics, mathematics education.

Each summer, the Bioinformatics Program at Mississippi Valley State University holds a STEM-U-late Institute (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics University – Leveraging Analytical Technologies for Education). The Program is designed to allow aspiring students to explore the field of bioinformatics through the integration of mathematics, computer science, and molecular biology. In addition, STEM-U-late Scholars are introduced to the interdisciplinary nature of bioinformatics by illustrating and using scientific and computational components of bioinformatics and data mining techniques related to the Agri-/aquaculture and health.

MVSU is helping to promote STEM education by working with local school districts in underserved communities. In addition, the university unveiled a new state-of-the-art STEM Lab on campus in July to help support the Upward Bound II Program. The STEM lab will provide high school students from low-income families; and high school students from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor's degree a chance to grow and appreciate areas in the STEM disciplines.

The purpose of the lab is to expose underserved students to software that will enhance their lives and serve as a beacon of light for their future endeavors. The STEM-ULATE Lab consists of Apple computers, 3D printers, a photograph studio, a laser marker studio, and a podcast studio. The lab was funded by a Teaching Through Technology (T 3 Alliance) and NASA grant. The lab will allow the students who participate in challenging themselves to become more knowledgeable in STEM education.

Mississippi Valley State is also impacting STEM education by hosting an annual Women in Science and Technology (WIST) Conference each Spring. The WIST Organization is a student-led organization comprised of undergraduate female students majoring in STEM disciplines, designed to promote women in science and technology. These students are committed and devoted to making a difference in the scientific community. The goal of the annual conference is to show middle and high school females that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers are exciting, attainable, and rewarding and increase the awareness of STEM disciplines and MVSU.

The University of Mississippi's Center for Mathematics and Science Education (CMSE) improves mathematics and science education in Mississippi by building relationships between K-12 and university educators, promoting research-based teaching practices in the classroom and inspiring young minds to consider career possibilities in STEM fields. CMSE has provided more than 40 graduate students with graduate research fellowships while they completed master's or doctoral degrees in mathematics education, science education, elementary education or mathematics. Eighty-five percent of these graduates reside in Mississippi and are continuing to make an impact in math and science education. The center has also coordinated mathematics content courses for education majors with almost 1,600 pre-service teachers enrolled in these courses. Additionally, CMSE has helped more than 6,400 K-12 teachers – representing 513 public schools in 129 school districts across the state – expand their STEM content knowledge by engaging in CMSE professional development sessions.

The Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Mississippi prepares students for the interdisciplinary world of bioengineering, where technology and medicine meet. Biomedical Engineering students choose a track of study in Biomolecular Engineering, Biomedical Systems, or Bioinformatics. Graduates of the program can enter careers in medical device design, biotechnology, pharmaceutical research and sales, biomedical imaging, and telemedicine, among others. Biomedical Engineering also provides the skills and knowledge needed to pursue a Doctorate of Medicine (M.D.).

Researchers and graduate students from the University of Mississippi's Mississippi Mineral Resources Institute spent two weeks in the nation's capital this summer studying the Adams Mill fault to determine if it runs near several prominent landmarks. Data showing the locations and last movements of the geological faults in the D.C. area is important for understanding the geological history of the area, and providing input for a better understanding of the seismic risks in the area. The project also was important in testing how different geophysical methods could successfully reveal what lies underground in an urban environment. Funded by the U.S. Geological Survey, areas of study included the Washington Monument, Smithsonian National Zoological Park, Lincoln Memorial and Potomac Park. The trip will provide valuable research data and also gave students a unique educational and hands-on experience.

The University of Mississippi's $160 million, 202,000-square-foot Jim and Thomas Duff Center for Science and Technology Innovation will be the largest single construction project in the history of the Oxford campus and will be transformational as one of the nation's leading student-centered learning environments for STEM education.

Recent science and innovation achievements at the University of Mississippi include chemistry professor Jared Delcamp, who's exploring new materials that could unlock a sunlight-driven energy infrastructure, biologist Michel Ohmer, who is studying the resilience of amphibians through a $12.5 million NSF-funded research collaboration and engineering professor Paul Scovazzo and brother Anthony Scovazzo, who are patent holders for an MDA grant-winning dehumidification system in air conditioners that could lead to more efficient AC systems and healthier indoor environments.

The University of Southern Mississippi offers the only bachelor's degree in ocean engineering degree in Mississippi and one of only 10 programs in the nation. With easy access to the Gulf of Mexico, students in USM's ocean engineering program gain hands-on experience with cutting-edge uncrewed systems, autonomous underwater and surface vehicles, remotely operated vehicles, and other autonomous systems that are deployed in the lab or from USM research vessels. Students in USM's School of Ocean Science and Engineering traverse endless frontiers as they conduct research—from studying the Gulf of Mexico and understanding the environment in which autonomous vehicles operate to promoting sustainable fisheries and advancing the study of aquaculture around the world.

USM's ocean engineering program features interdisciplinary coursework that integrates multiple engineering fields such as mechanical, civil, electrical, and environmental. The ocean engineering program provides students with pathways to careers in uncrewed systems, maritime industry, offshore exploration, environmental monitoring, port operations, and with federal and state agencies.

The University of Southern Mississippi is home to North America's flagship hydrographic science program. Students in this program learn the science of measuring and depicting the parameters necessary to describe the precise nature and configuration of the seabed, its geographical relationship to the land mass, and the characteristics and dynamics of the sea.

The Master of Science in Hydrographic Science degree program at USM is internationally recognized as a Category A program. USM was the first educational institution in the United States to receive this certification in 2000. With more than 230 graduates from 33 different nations, USM's hydrographic science program is the preeminent source of technically educated hydrographers in North America.

The University of Southern Mississippi's School of Polymer Science and Engineering is nationally and internationally recognized for the achievements of faculty, its level of research excellence, and the quality of its students. Faculty members have earned more than 60 patents in polymer-related areas. Students in USM's polymer science and engineering degree programs receive valuable education and training preparing them for careers in academic, government, industrial settings, or continuing their education in graduate and professional schools.

Most recently, the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) awarded a $6.3 million contract to USM and Florida State University to study multifunctional composites to meet the aerospace application needs of the U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense. Researchers from the USM's School of Polymer Science and Engineering will partner with the High-Performance Materials Institute associated with the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering (the joint engineering educational and research institution for Florida A&M and Florida State universities), to study, design, and test large lightweight sample panels capable of scale-up manufacturing to provide multifunctional performance for aerospace applications.

Close to 50 percent of Alcorn State University students are in STEM related majors.

The Department of Advanced Technologies at Alcorn State University is a leader in preparing nationally board Certified Industrial Technologists (CIT) for private and public sector employers; in preparing state-certified teachers of vocational and technical education and in delivering engineering education through pre-professional transfer programs and pre-engineering outreach programs. Applied Research is conducted by faculty and departmental students, which impacts the quality of life of the Lower Mississippi Delta Region. Community Service is provided through industrial extension activities, teacher in-service and pre-service programs, youth development programs, and community and economic development initiatives. The department offers three bachelor's degree programs, all state-of-the-art technology — Applied Science, Computer Networking and Information Technology, and Robotics and Automation Technology.

Students in Alcorn's Math and Computer Science department study and explore the latest technology trends and theories to make them marketable in today's industry. Program offerings include bachelor's degrees in math, computer science, data science, and math education; and master's degrees in artificial intelligence, cyber security, database management, programming languages, and secondary education with an endorsement in mathematics.

The Division of Mathematics and Sciences at Delta State University oversees programs in biology, chemistry, environmental sciences, geospatial analysis, and mathematics. Students are provided a solid foundation for successful matriculation and persistence in graduate and/or professional programs and employability skills for success in the workplace. They have the knowledge and the ability to train others to meet and develop the growing science and technology-based needs and innovations that form the core of economic growth. The Division offers six undergraduate degrees: a Bachelor of Science in Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Sciences or Mathematics; a Bachelor of Science in Education in Mathematics; and a Bachelor of Applied Science in Geospatial Analysis. In addition to baccalaureate degrees, the Division offers two graduate degrees—a Master of Science in Natural Sciences with an emphasis in biological or physical sciences, and a Master of Applied Sciences in Geospatial Information Technologies. The Division also offers preparation for entry into engineering and health related professional programs such as medical laboratory sciences, dental hygiene, and radiologic sciences.


The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

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