MSU well represented on MBJ ‘Top in Tech’ list

Contact: James Carskadon

Trey Breckenridge (Photo by Diane Godwin)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Three Mississippi State University personnel are being recognized as Mississippi’s leaders in technology.

Director of High Performance Computing Trey Breckenridge, Computer Science and Engineering Associate Clinical Professor Sarah Lee and Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems Executive Director Clay Walden all were named to the Mississippi Business Journal’s 2019 Top in Tech List. In addition to their professional roles at MSU, all three are alumni of the university’s Bagley College of Engineering.

As director of the High Performance Computing Collaboratory (HPC²) at Mississippi State, Breckenridge oversees one of the top high-powered academic computing centers in the country. The supercomputing systems managed by Breckenridge give numerous MSU research centers the capabilities they need to conduct high-end modeling and simulation. MSU’s newest supercomputer, Orion, is the 4th fastest academic system in the U.S., providing a competitive edge that allows university researchers to solve complex problems for public and private clients. With more than 27 years of professional experience in high performance computing and computer support, Breckenridge is a well known leader in his field.

“I am honored to be recognized with this award,” Breckenridge said.  “With the high level of technical talent in Mississippi, I am humbled to be considered a part of the 2019 Top in Tech class and fortunate to work for a university that is focused on supporting and fostering technology-based research.  Advancing high-technology activities in our state enhances economic development and benefits all of our citizens.”

Sarah Lee (Photo by Russ Houston)

Since joining the MSU faculty ranks in 2011, Lee has led several initiatives to increase diversity in the high-demand field of computer science. She came to MSU after a 19-year career at FedEx and is the assistant department head and director of undergraduate studies in the Computer Science and Engineering Department. In 2016, Lee and co-principal investigator Vemitra White were awarded a $300,000 NSF Includes Grant to engage stakeholders throughout the southern U.S. to leverage, strengthen and create awareness of existing programs and create new programs for young women in computing across Mississippi. As a co-founder and board member for the Mississippi Coding Academies and director of the Golden Triangle campus (an MSU affiliate), she is working to develop educational pathways for recent high school graduates in addition to Mississippi citizens who want to retool for an increasingly digital economy. Among other honors, Lee was inducted into the Bagley College of Engineering’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers in 2016 and was recognized with the college’s Service Award in 2014.

“I am thankful to the Mississippi Business Journal for recognizing the importance of broadening participation in computing to economic development efforts,” Lee said. “An innovative and diverse technical workforce is necessary to support efforts to attract industry to the state. I look forward to continuing this work to develop transformative informal and formal learning pathways for computer science and cybersecurity, working collectively with partners in higher education, K-12, industry and state government.”

Clay Walden (Photo by Megan Bean)

At CAVS, Walden leads a group of more than 300 staff and researchers who work with government and industry partners to develop solutions that enhance transportation safety, improve vehicle efficiency, and increase workforce productivity. Walden has been an integral part of CAVS since its formation in 2003, primarily working at CAVS Extension in Canton before being named executive director of the research center in 2017. By conducting cutting-edge research, CAVS helps MSU and the state remain leaders in the fields of materials, propulsion, and manned and unmanned mobility. As executive director, Walden is responsible for the strategic planning that allows CAVS to continue its substantial research and economic impact on the Magnolia State.

“I am very appreciative of this award and proud of the team at CAVS that I am privileged to lead,” Walden said. “I am really excited about the advancements we are already seeing in areas like lightweighting of vehicles and the navigation of off-road autonomous vehicles.”

For a complete list of the Mississippi Business Journal’s Top in Tech honorees, visit

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