Randy Follett

Randy Follett
Photo by Russ Houston

Much has changed since Randolph F. "Randy" Follett first came to Mississippi State as a student in 1979.

Now an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the university, Follett has watched campus technology soar beyond anything he could have dreamed 36 years ago. It's hard to fathom what possibly could come next, he said.

While it may be challenging to teach to a moving technological target—especially in a senior design class where his students must develop unique, functioning and marketable products—Follett said it's a challenge he gladly accepts. He simply builds on a fundamental understanding of the electrical engineering profession and asks students to do the same.

"Learning how to learn is the most important task for students so that they will be prepared for a lifetime of learning new things," he observed.

After earning a bachelor's degree, Follett went on to also complete master's and doctoral degrees at MSU before joining the faculty in 1984. Since then, he has taught more than 20 different courses, which "keeps it interesting," he said.

Since 2004, he also has advised the university's unmanned aerial systems team that develops surveillance and target identification systems and competes annually on the national stage. Additionally, he became lead faculty adviser last year for the EcoCar 3 team that is housed in MSU's Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems. That team soon will receive a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro and begin exploring new ways to increase its power and fuel economy.

Beyond classroom and advising responsibilities, Follett is a 12-year veteran of the Robert Holland Faculty Senate who completed a one-year term in June as president. In his roles on the advisory body, he and fellow campus representatives have dealt with such major issues as salary inversion and the possibility of extension of tenure to faculty positions that are not currently tenure-track, among others.

As a longtime faculty senator, Follett said he appreciates the invaluable support provided over the years by President Mark E. Keenum and other administrators. He obviously takes great pride in serving on an elected body that, in his opinion, plays a vital role in the 137-year-old land-grant institution's operation.

"It's indispensable, really," Follett said. "If nobody wanted to be on the Faculty Senate and nobody cared about what went on there, then you wouldn't have the checks and balances that benefit our university."