MSU, ERDC partnerships for innovative research continue to grow

David Pittman speaks on stage at Bettersworth Auditorium
U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Director David Pittman speaks during ERDC Days at MSU on Thursday [Oct. 26]. (Photo by Kristen Polk)

Contact: James Carskadon

STARKVILLE, Miss.—U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center Director David Pittman had a simple message to Mississippi State University student scientists and engineers this week.

“We need you,” Pittman said, encouraging the students to consider careers at the Vicksburg-based research unit carrying out more than $2 billion in research and development activity to support the Army Corps of Engineers.

Dozens of ERDC personnel were on campus this week as part of ERDC Days at MSU, interacting with more than 1,000 MSU students, as well as faculty and staff researchers working on ERDC-funded projects. The event culminated with keynote presentations in Lee Hall’s Bettersworth Auditorium. Pittman shared details of ERDC’s mission, which dates back to 1929.

“We discover, develop and deliver new ways to make the world safer and better every day,” said Pittman, a 1983 MSU civil engineering graduate.

In addition to being one of the largest employers of MSU engineering graduates, ERDC and MSU have partnered on several large research efforts over the years. Some recent initiatives include using artificial intelligence to improve advanced manufacturing and predictive maintenance, as well as developing more sustainable timber-based technologies for military construction. The two entities share mutual expertise in areas such as high performance computing, materials science, military engineering, autonomous systems, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and machine learning, among others.

“We can create synergy between MSU and ERDC to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges faster, together,” said MSU Vice President for Research and Economic Development Julie Jordan. “Events like ERDC Days allow us to deepen our relationship as partners and help shape the future of our nation. Together, it is about taking care of what matters.”

Quincy Alexander, sensor integration branch chief in ERDC’s Information Technology Laboratory, shared how the lab is using sophisticated data collection and analysis techniques, along with some of the world’s most powerful supercomputers, to accelerate the pace of innovation.

“You all here today will be driving a lot of the research that we are doing now,” Alexander said. “As you all are coming into the workforce, we are looking at robotics, self-driving vehicles, automation, additive manufacturing. At this point, the sky is the limit on where we are going with this research. But you all will be the ones driving it there.”

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