MSU, ERDC launch major research initiative

Jeffery P. Holland (l-r), director of the U.S. Army's Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, and MSU President Mark E. Keenum celebrate the signing of an agreement establishing the Institute for Systems Engineering Research last week. PHOTO: Russ Houston | Public Affairs

A new partnership between the state's flagship research university and one of the nation's premier research centers will create a hub to develop advanced systems that enhance existing industries, attract new jobs, and bolster national defense capabilities, according to Mississippi State's chief executive.

"Today's ceremony marks the formal beginning of what I am confident will soon be recognized as a premier national center of excellence in systems engineering," President Mark E. Keenum said.

Thursday afternoon [Oct. 23], officials from the university, State of Mississippi and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed an agreement to create the Institute for Systems Engineering Research (ISER) at the Engineer Research and Development Center's (ERDC) Information Technology Laboratory in Vicksburg.

According to Keenum, MSU and ERDC are building on historic strengths to establish the institute as a unique engine for economic development that also will make major contributions to national security.

"The overall impact on our economy will be considerable," he said.

Keenum noted that the university worked closely with the Corps, Mississippi Development Authority, Legislature and state Sen. Briggs Hopson, who represents Issaquena, Warren and Yazoo counties, to move the project forward.

The institute's primary objectives are:

-- Research systems engineering concepts and design of tools to facilitate Department of Defense systems development and decision making processes.

-- Enhance strategic and operational analysis for ERDC and MSU programs and efforts.

-- Leverage existing capabilities and expertise previously developed at MSU and ERDC to establish a national center of excellence in systems engineering.

The ISER vision is to "revolutionize systems engineering processes and virtual prototyping through computational science and engineering leading to a dual use capacity that will enhance innovation in the Department of Defense and the U.S. industrial base."

The collaboration with ERDC will utilize a range of the university's research assets, Mississippi State's chief research officer said.

"Our expertise in systems engineering and high performance computing are internationally recognized," said David Shaw, the land-grant institution's vice president for research and economic development.

The university's capabilities include the Portera High Performance Computer Center, which is home to the nation's 11th fastest supercomputer at an academic institution, and the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems and CAVS Extension Office, which assist Mississippi industries with manufacturing, logistics and risk management solutions, among other projects.

The Bagley College of Engineering's Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering also will be integrally involved with the new institute's work.

"Thanks to our gifted researchers and a long-term commitment to developing a robust research infrastructure, our research capacity is a significant economic development resource for our state," Shaw said.

"We are very pleased about opening this new chapter in our decades-long relationship with ERDC in Vicksburg," he said.

For more about ERDC, see

Among the nation's leading major research universities, Mississippi State has been designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as "a very high research activity university," which represents the highest level of research activity for doctorate-granting universities in the U.S. Mississippi State is the only school in the state with the distinction. In the most recent National Science Foundation survey, MSU's annual research expenditures totaled $233 million -- accounting for nearly half of all R&D expenditures in the state.

MSU is online at,, and

Jim Laird | Public Affairs

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