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UM To Host Second Annual Technology Summit

For the second year, Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter and the University of Mississippi will host U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and technology industry leaders Wednesday (Aug. 30) for the annual UM Technology Summit.
The event, which begins at 9 a.m. in the Gertrude C. Ford Ballroom at The Inn at Ole Miss, is open to the public. The summit will bring together leaders from government, business and higher education to explore trends in technology and stimulate discussions about technology-related needs in industry and education.
“The University of Mississippi is committed to preparing the next generation of students who will make an impact in a technology-driven world,” said Vitter, UM’s 17th chancellor and distinguished professor of computer and information science. “We are so pleased to be hosting this tech summit event for the second year, which offers us the opportunity to explore trends in technology and to discuss future needs for industry and education as they relate to technology.”
Wicker, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet, said he expects great results from this year’s summit.
“I often get a front-seat view of the innovative ways that technology is increasing productivity, creating jobs and driving our economy forward,” Wicker said. “Mississippi is continuing to lead with groundbreaking advances in technology, health care and defense.
“I look forward to participating in this summit and discussing how we can equip Mississippi’s students with the skills and tools they need to drive this technological innovation forward into the future.”
During the morning session, James H. Clark, founder of Silicon Graphics, will deliver the keynote address. Clark said he looks forward to discussing trends in the industry.
Guest speaker Nicholas Degani, senior counsel for the Federal Communications Commission, is scheduled to follow Clark.
“(FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai has made clear that closing the digital divide is goal No. 1 for the FCC,” Degani said. “Mississippi has made great strides in facilitating broadband deployment, and I look forward to hearing about the challenges innovators and investors still face and how we can overcome them.”
Ole Miss alumnus and major donor James Barksdale will moderate a morning roundtable discussion featuring representatives from technology industries and government agencies.
This discussion will include participants from Barksdale Management Corp., Raytheon, Silicon Graphics, the Federal Communications Commission, AT&T Mississippi, Microsoft, Department of Homeland Security, Toyota, the office of U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, FedEx Corp., C Spire, GlobalStar, InterDigital, MortgageTrade, Comcast, Federated Wireless, the U.S. Senate and UM.
The afternoon includes three concurrent breakout sessions. Panelists will discuss strong defense and protecting the homeland, expanding access and opportunities to rural communities, and unleashing economic innovation.
Last year’s summit brought together longtime professionals from the computer, telecom, internet and cyber security industries, among others. They discussed advances on the horizon and ways that universities can help industry meet its new workforce demands and spur entrepreneurship.
The event reinforced Vitter’s commitment to strengthening STEM education, growing the university’s capacity to address future workforce needs and enhancing UM’s status as a Carnegie R1 Highest Research Activity Institution.
The summit also complemented many of the university’s recent efforts in this area, including work on a 207,000 square-foot, $140 million STEM building and the chancellor’s initiative to establish a leading interdisciplinary research and education program in data science.
Vitter concluded the previous summit by thanking Wicker for his “insightful leadership” and the panelists for sharing their experience and expertise.
“It has been extraordinary to explore the future of technology and the role of higher education, UM in particular, with these thought leaders,” Vitter said.
“The University of Mississippi is well-positioned to be a national leader in producing STEM graduates educated in a new paradigm that prepares them for the global, fast-paced, team-oriented workplace of the future. We look forward to continuing the dialogue on addressing the challenges of today and growing the opportunities of tomorrow.”
For more information, including how to register to attend the event, visit https://techsummit.wp2.olemiss.edu/.

By Edwin Smith
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