The University of Southern Mississippi just announced a new educational partnership with the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, (ERDC).
USM President Rodney D. Bennett and ERDC Director Dr. David W. Pittman were on hand to sign the official Memorandum of Understanding during a special ceremony held on the Hattiesburg campus. The agreement establishes the basis for mutual understanding and cooperation between USM and the ERDC in the implementation of a Partnership in Education program.
“This sets into motion a very important partnership between USM and the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center,” Bennett said. “This agreement recognizes the importance of science and technology education to the future political and economic well-being of the nation, as well as the importance of USM to the business, industrial and government institutions in the region.”
The program’s primary purposes are to:
- Encourage and enhance academic study in science, mathematics, and engineering disciplines.
- Support graduate study and research in scientific and engineering areas of mutual interest.
- Establish the policies and procedures for USM to participate as a member of the ERDC’s Graduate Institute.
“This MOU marks a new day in cooperative research that will benefit not only the state of Mississippi but our nation as well. It will facilitate more active interactions between ERDC researchers and USM faculty and students, and it is within these personal relationships that true partnerships exist and grow,” said Pittman, who also serves as Director of Research and Development and Chief Scientist, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “The ERDC looks forward to engaging in this new agreement with USM, and I am confident this partnership will help us meet our mission of making the world safer and better.”
The ERDC is headquartered in Hattiesburg and features one of the more diverse research organizations in the world with seven laboratories located in four states, including more than 2,100 employees, $1.2 billion in facilities, and a $1 billion annual program. The center’s research and development supports the Department of Defense and other agencies in military and civilian projects.
As part of the agreement, the ERDC has made a commitment to involve USM students in center research by hiring students through employment programs such as the Cooperative Education and Contract Student Programs.
Dr. Gordon Cannon, Vice President for Research at USM, said faculty and students at USM are conducting transformative research in highly competitive fields such as polymer science, biochemistry, health sciences, and transfer technology to name a few. He added that the collaborative agreement with ERDC will create even greater research opportunities for USM scientists.
“When you’re talking about ERDC, you’re talking about one of the biggest organizations in the state,” said Cannon. “This education agreement has a multitude of up-sides, including the opportunity for our faculty to work at their center, and their researchers to do the same on our campus. This is yet another milestone for the University as we continue to solidify our reputation as a leader in research.”