GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding (NGSB) in Pascagoula awarded $40,000 to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College's Logistics Technology program this week. The money will be spent to buy equipment and software for an automated identification technology/radio frequency identification (AIT/RFID) laboratory, the first such laboratory for classroom use in the state.
Modeled after Ohio University's AIT/RFID laboratory, which is considered the finest in the country, Gulf Coast's lab will include a variety of devices, such as bar codes, magnetic strips, optical memory cards, and radio frequency tags for marking or "tagging" individual items, multi-packs, equipment, air pallets, or containers, along with the hardware and software required to create the devices, read the information on them, and integrate that information with other logistic information.
Vicki Crockett, manager of University Relations and Recruiting at NGSB, said the contribution was awarded based on a proposal for the AIT/RFID laboratory submitted by John O'Hara, Logistics Technology instructor at Gulf Coast's Jackson County Campus in Gautier.
"We have a committee that considers proposals made by colleges and universities and chooses those that are most viable and useful to our industry and the community," Crockett said. "The proposal submitted by MGCCC for the equipment and software for the lab took into consideration the needs of the students in the program to work with cutting-edge technology, as well as the needs of the community to have employees with this training."
She said it was the largest contribution made by Northrop Grumman to an institution of higher learning this year.
Dr. Larry Crane, director of Workforce Education and Development at NGSB and chair of the MGCCC District Workforce Council, said that 600 full-time employees of NGSB take classes at Gulf Coast in related studies and are required to have 144 clock hours of training each calendar year. In addition, almost 80 percent of NGSB-Gulf Coast employees are students in Logistics Technology program.
"By funding improvements in this program and at Gulf Coast, we are helping the college maintain the excellent facilities and instruction available to our employees," he said. "Additionally, this new laboratory will be beneficial to the community since so many businesses in our area will be utilizing this new logistics technology."
He said those industries include NGSS, the new state port facility at Gulfport, and many of the transportation and shipping businesses located in South Mississippi. O'Hara said the new equipment would be available to students by late spring 2010.
"We have already done so much research and planning for this laboratory that the actual purchase and installation will move rather quickly," he said. "We already have the course and curriculum set up, and I have been in contact with Ohio University about the lab there. I am excited to get the ball rolling on this."
Dr. Jason V. Pugh, vice president of the Jackson County Campus in Gautier, said, "Industry partners like NGSB are a vital part of the college, especially our technical programs like Logistics. They not only help fund programs, they also give us critical feedback on what training should be offered at the college. By providing programs to meet industry needs, we help local industry and businesses, their current employees, and our students, who may be their future employees."
Logistics Technology is a two-year technical program offered at the Jackson County Campus in the evenings and all day Friday. Students in the program learn to manage and coordinate the procurement, distribution, maintenance and replacement of material and personnel. For more information about the program, visit www.mgccc.edu.