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11/12/2019 - Jackson, Miss.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo moon mission, which marked a major milestone in the American achievements in space. Since then, the aerospace industry has grown exponentially, with Mississippi playing an integral role in its development.

Some of the marquee companies in aerospace, including GE Aviation, Airbus Helicopters, Rolls-Royce, Vertex Aerospace, Relativity and Lockheed Martin, have selected Mississippi for their operations. Built to test Saturn V rockets, which became the platform for transporting American astronauts to the moon during the Apollo missions, the Stennis Space Center has played a key role in aerospace discovery and advancement from the earliest days of the space program to today, as it continues as a test site for the most technologically-advanced rockets.

Mississippi Public Universities play a significant role in providing the workforce for the aerospace industry.

Jackson State University alumnus and site vice president for the Air Mobility and Maritime Missions (AMMM) Line of Business (LOB) for Lockheed Martin Corporation, Karmyn Norwood is helping prepare has the next generation of Lockheed Martin employees by investing $50,000 over the next five years toward a personal endowment to benefit students in the area of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

As a STEM advocate, Norwood says one of the ways that she contributes to her alma mater is by being an executive sponsor for JSU.

"Lockheed Martin has 100,000 employees worldwide; 50,000 of those employees are scientists," said Norwood. "I want to invest in our future workforce by assisting students from JSU, ensuring that a pipeline of diverse talent is developed through STEM initiatives."

Jackson State University is the nation's first HBCU to sign a pact to become a protégé in the NASA Shared Services Center program. It will help the academic institution become a prime contractor and assist NASA in exploration of other planets.

Engineering students at Jackson State University built an inexpensive drone aircraft from scratch. The drone is equipped with a camera, lightweight and guided by a computer.

Mississippi State University's bachelor of science in aerospace engineering focuses on the analysis, design, testing, and prediction of performance of aircraft, missiles, and spacecraft which operate in the atmosphere, outer space, or in a fluid medium. The curriculum provides students with a fundamental engineering education based on a strong foundation in mathematics and the physical and engineering sciences, while applying engineering fundamentals specifically to aerospace engineering.

Aerospace engineers have the expertise and training sought by industries nationwide for positions in applied aerodynamics, structural analysis, flight testing, and more. The B.S. degree offers concentrations in either aeronautics or astronautics, while the M.S. degree and Ph.D. are in aerospace.

Mississippi State University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' Precision Agriculture Certificate program includes two small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS) courses that sit at the intersection of agribusiness and aerospace. Plant and Soil science professors are preparing students for high-tech agriculture careers by training a new generation of drone pilots in flight, remote sensing, and geospatial mapping technologies. The sUAS courses are designed to prepare pilots in basic and advanced ag flight technologies, which will help fill the significant gap in local, regional, and national demand for unmanned pilots. In 2015, MSU was designated by the Federal Aviation Administration as the lead institution in the national Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

Aero-acoustics, is a growing area that has received renewed emphasis due to advances in air, ground and space transportation. The University of Mississippi is uniquely positioned with talent, facilities, and innovations to push significant advances in this field including the aero-acoustics Research Program at the National Center for Physical Acoustics (NCPA).

NCPA partners with industry to design, develop and test advanced aircraft components and sensors for use in the aerospace industry. Specifically, the NCPA aero-acoustics team is looking at noise reduction in aircraft, ways to more efficiently mix fuel, and better designs for cargo and weapons bays.

The University of Southern Mississippi has a lengthy relationship with Boeing, working to accelerate research and development of next generation materials, including polymers and polymer matrix composites. On multiple occasions, USM's School of Polymer Science and Engineering has been honored with the Boeing Performance Excellence Award, presented annually to honor partners who have achieved superior performance.

The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) is also committed to its recognition as a military-friendly institution by providing access to education and service through the Air Force Reserve Officer Corps (AFROTC). Students interested in pursuing a career with the United States Air Force while earning a degree can elect to serve with the 432nd AFROTC Cadet Squadron. Housed within USM's Department of Aerospace Studies, the mission of AFROTC is to recruit, educate, and commission officer candidates through college campus programs based on Air Force requirements.

USM's AFROTC has cross-town agreements with William Carey University and Pearl River Community College which offer full-time students attending these institutions an opportunity to enroll in the AFROTC at USM.

Real-time, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) data is crucial in developing aftermath soil conservation planning, especially those resulting from natural disasters. This is why Alcorn State University recently launched its Agricultural Drone Program with funding support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). With the increasing use of UAV analysis, Alcorn's program is designed to prepare students to become Federal Aviation Administration-certified remote pilots with training in soil conservation applications. Using UAV technology, university students and researchers will be well-equipped and trained to help address important natural resources issues facing the nation, improve soil conservation practices, and improve the procedures for solving soil conservation problems with greater efficiency.

Delta State University is the only university in Mississippi to offer undergraduate and graduate aviation programs. The department offers a bachelor of commercial aviation, with concentrations in flight operations, aviation management, and logistics; it also offers a master of commercial aviation. Students are prepared for a variety of careers"”from single- and multi-engine pilot to supply-chain management and more"”with airlines, aircraft manufacturing, airport management, air traffic control, military aviation, aerospace, and logistics.

DSU Aviation graduates possess the skills to perform as part of flight crews and as executives with supervisory and managerial responsibilities at all levels in the aviation sector. Facilities and equipment include 19 flight training aircrafts; two hangars (approximately 12,500 square feet apiece) at the Cleveland Municipal Airport; about 5,000 square feet of classroom/office space at the hangar, which also houses two cutting-edge flight training devices; and, on campus, the 12,000-square foot Gibson-Gunn Commercial Aviation Building, which contains three state-of-the-art single-/multi-engine flight training devices.

The Roy L. and Clara Belle Wiley Planetarium at Delta State University is one of three planetariums in the state and the only one associated with a university campus. The planetarium utilizes two digital projectors, plus Digistar 5 software developed by notable Evans and Sutherland, to provide an immersive environment in which people explore not only the night sky, but also planets, moons, nebulae, black holes, and the distribution of galaxies.

The planetarium, which opened in 1976, also allows audiences to experience the universe in 3-D. It has an assortment of professional full-dome movies and presentations covering a variety of scientific and cultural topics, including solar systems, flight, and music. Since its renovation in 2016, the planetarium has hosted more than 5,000 visitors, including grade-school and civic groups. Unlike a commercial planetarium, its primary purpose is to educate Delta State students, primary and secondary students, and the community.

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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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