Ergon endows fellowship at Mississippi State

January 18, 2012

L-R: Mark Ishee, EAE vice president-pavement preservation; J. Baxter Burns, EAE president; Ben Cox, fellowship recipient; and Isaac Howard, assistant professor civil and environmental engineering

Starkville, Miss. – At a January ceremony, Mississippi-based Ergon Asphalt and Emulsions Inc. (EAE) announced the establishment of a fellowship in Mississippi State’s Bagley College of Engineering (BCoE).

The Ergon Asphalt and Emulsions Distinguished Doctoral Fellowship in Construction Materials will annually support a civil engineering doctoral student studying under Isaac Howard, an assistant professor and active pavement researcher.

“This fellowship will be instrumental in expanding the university’s materials engineering program and will help us compete at a national level to recruit the most talented doctoral candidates,” Howard explained.

The fellowship will cover the recipient’s tuition and will provide an income stipend and travel expenses for professional development. The award is granted on a year-to-year basis, but students will be eligible to renew it as long as they are making sufficient progress towards graduation.

Ben Cox of Meadville, Miss., was named the inaugural recipient of the fellowship.

“This fellowship is a great opportunity for Mr. Cox, Mississippi State and Ergon,” said Mark Ishee, EAE’s vice president for pavement preservation. “His research will directly apply to the pavement preservation technology we use today.”

Cox is enrolled in the BCoE’s direct admit program that will allow him to earn both master’s and doctoral degrees in civil engineering with an emphasis in construction materials. As part of the award he will specifically study asphalt binders and will work up to 12 weeks with EAE in areas relevant to his studies.

As an undergraduate at MSU, Cox began working as a research assistant and served as a teaching assistant. He completed a cooperative education semester with Garver Engineers in Brandon, Miss. He holds the rank of Eagle Scout and membership in the American Society of Civil Engineers, Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, and the Order of Omega Greek Honor Society. He earned his bachelor’s degree in December 2011.

With six siblings, Cox said this award will be invaluable to his continued education.

“There are a lot of expenses associated with a family of seven, so in order to be able to attend Mississippi State I had to work hard to earn scholarships,” Cox explained. “It’s been a struggle at times to survive financially. This fellowship offers me an opportunity to go into the next four years of school without having the financial concerns I’ve been dealing with up until now.”

This fellowship is the latest development in a long-standing relationship between EAE and the BCoE, which includes a strong tradition of Bulldog Engineers working at Ergon facilities across the country and in the Magnolia State.

“We’re thankful to have an institution like Mississippi State University that produces such high-quality engineers and believe wholeheartedly in keeping Mississippi talent in Mississippi,” Ishee explained.

Ergon founder and CEO Leslie B. Lampton added, “I’m incredibly thankful for Mississippi State University. They have honored me personally with an honorary engineering degree, and we have an entire room full of their graduates working with our company. I’m sure we’ll see many more here in the years ahead.”

Ergon Asphalt & Emulsions Inc., is an Ergon subsidiary and operates as an asphalt and emulsion producer and marketer. It specializes in the development of superior engineered paving and preservation products. For more information, visit www.ergonasphalt.com.

More information about the Bagley College of Engineering and the civil and environmental engineering department can be found at www.bagley.msstate.edu.