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Southern Miss Speeding on the Information Superhighway PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Contact Beth Taylor - 601.266.5170   

It’s faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive, but it’s not Superman. Instead it is the new computer wiring system in two science buildings on the Hattiesburg campus of The University of Southern Mississippi.

Wiring at the Johnson Science Tower and the Chain Technology Center has been completely upgraded, making it faster than any other location in the City of Hattiesburg and most of the state of Mississippi. The new system in those buildings increases the speed of computers in those buildings which talk with computers in other parts of the world. Additionally, it increases the bandwith, or the amount of information which computers can send electronically.

The payoff is that students and researchers can perform faster calculations and experiments with souped-up computer networks then electronically share their data and findings with colleagues and business partners at breakneck speed. The upgraded system presently allows sending information at one gigabit per second. In other words, users in the Johnson and Chain buildings can access a desktop computer to send the contents of an entire CD in less than one second.

“It’s like going from a go-cart to a Ferrari,” explained Dr. Joe Whitehead, Jr., dean of the College of Science and Technology. “This is a milestone for Southern Miss because it enables our students to be more productive and enables our researchers to communicate faster with other universities, national laboratories and business partners. What we once had to put onto a disc and hand deliver can now be sent electronically because of the increase in both bandwith and speed.”

This undertaking was funded by a 2007 grant from the U.S. Department of Education through the Hurricane Education Recovery Awards (HERA). It provides the university a reliable, stable and secure design that is redundant. It also allows the Information Technology department  (iTech) to adapt to the changing needs of the university.

“The project’s total cost is about $1.2 million,” explained Homer Coffman, Southern Miss chief information officer. “However, this upgrade has made it possible for hundreds of millions of dollars worth of research to be conducted. This research will not only have a profound impact on Southern Miss, but literally the world.”

While the new wiring system brings the Johnson and Chain buildings to present-day acceptable speeds, the university had the foresight to plan ahead to future needs and capabilities by installing upgradeable wiring. Coffman announced that the state of Mississippi has pledged money to flip the switch which will move from transmission speeds of one gigabit per second to 10 gigabit per second.

“Today we celebrate not only the hard work and physical accomplishment of this project, but also future opportunities and new projects that have been enabled by this investment. I am excited because several departments came together for this endeavor and we are reaping the benefits of that collaboration and improving the university’s technology infrastructure,” added Valerie Craig, Southern Miss manager of Technology Advancement.

For more information about the University Technology and Data Center, visit

Cutting the “wire” at the Chain Technology Center are Southern Miss employees (left to right) Robert Hedgepath, network manager; Dr. Robert Lyman, provost, David Sliman, director of Technology Infrastructure Office; Dr. Joe Whitehead Jr., dean College of Science and Technology and Homer Coffman, chief information officer.

About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities.  In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world.  Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at

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