Contact: Addie Mayfield
STARKVILLE, Mississippi—A commitment by Mississippi State alumnus Lamar McKay of Houston, Texas will facilitate advanced understandings and applications of data analysis through endowment-level support for an innovative research program at the College of Engineering James Worth Bagley of the university.
The McKay Predictive Analytics and Technology Integration Laboratory Excellence Endowment ensures ongoing support benefiting infrastructure, personnel, travel funds, and other resources needed to sustain and grow the efforts of MSU’s Predictive Analytics and Technology Integration Laboratory, or PATIL. In addition to the Excellence Endowment, the McKay Endowment also allows for the establishment of an Excellence Fund to provide immediate annual support until the endowment reaches maturity.
“This contribution is critical to the expansion of predictive analytics research and its integration of technology in the state of Mississippi, and I cannot express my gratitude enough for this very generous gift,” said Shahram Rahimi, professor at MSU and chair of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. “I have no doubt that his contribution will increase the speed of technology discovery and development in the area of predictive analytics across the country.”
Housed in the department of computer science and engineering, PATIL aims to accelerate advances in various interdisciplinary fields by addressing challenges in data management, integration and analysis, as well as predictive modeling and simulation to realize the full potential of big data. By integrating multiple technologies and data sources, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, PATIL will contribute to the development of next-generation solutions that are data-driven, resilient, and robust in both real-world and theoretical domains across these diverse industrial sectors.
“Mississippi State University is a leader in turning data into knowledge and then using that knowledge to make smart decisions that can really make a difference in a wide range of fields such as advanced manufacturing, autonomous mobility systems, healthcare, security cybernetics, precision agriculture, and more,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. “Sir. McKay’s vision and generosity will support our students and faculty and significantly enhance their work to amplify and expand the economic and social impact of predictive analytics and technology integration. We are grateful for your investment in them.”
McKay spent 40 years in progressive leadership roles in the oil industry, serving as Executive Vice President of BP plc before retiring in 2020. He has been involved in data analytics and technology integration at the corporate level for the latter part of his career. , which sparked his passion for the emerging field and how it relates to the business world.
“The cost of detection and measurement technologies has dropped tremendously, making data creation easier. But the massive amounts of information collected around us every day make it difficult to use data wisely,” McKay said. “Most companies use only a small fraction of the available data to make smart decisions about what their business or processes are doing.”
He continued: “There has been an explosion in terms of production around technology and artificial intelligence that is allowing us to put a layer of intelligence on top of the data collected to better understand how to improve things. When I got involved in applying these technologies at BP, I saw the potential of what we were trying to do to strategically change and optimize the business, and I became very interested in the concept.”
McKay’s support of PATIL reflects his passion and will increase opportunities for MSU faculty and students to engage in related research that positively impacts science, industry and society. It also reinforces Bagley College of Engineering’s reputation as a leader in purpose-driven innovation for the real world.
“Bagley College of Engineering has traditionally been at the forefront of addressing complex, multidisciplinary problems since its inception. The formation of the McKay Predictive Analytics and Technology Integration Laboratory endowment and its emphasis on using modern artificial intelligence and machine learning tools will ensure that our faculty maintains this competitiveness for years to come,” said Jason Keith, Earnest W. and Mary Ann Deavenport Jr. President and Dean of Bagley College.
Although PATIL is housed in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, the innovative lab facilitates research and educational initiatives focused on broad issues that span multiple disciplines and departments. As a result, it will serve as a hub across the university to affect greater collective outcomes.
“The fundamental objective of this program is to unite people, processes and learning to make something better. Whether filtering and integrating data to optimize processes at an individual level or for multidisciplinary purposes, the intent is to incorporate campus-wide disciplines for pooled knowledge and perspectives,” said McKay.
A Jackson native, McKay graduated from MSU in petroleum engineering in 1980 and went to work for Amoco Production Company. Over the course of his career, he took on progressive operational and commercial roles that allowed him to lead the organization’s ventures in the US and abroad. After working on the BP-Amoco merger, McKay was named chairman and president of BP America, Inc. and also served as chief executive of BP’s global upstream business.
“The state of Mississippi provided me with a very practical, common-sense degree and methodology that prepared me well for my career,” McKay said. “It was also a broader education than just engineering, which benefited me a lot, and I am proud to be able to reciprocate that experience to some extent.”
In addition to their most recent commitment, McKay and his wife Nancy have also invested in other areas of MSU. In 2012, they established the Lamar McKay Endowed Scholarship at Bagley College and later created the McKay Petroleum Engineering Laboratory fund to assist in the purchase and maintenance of laboratory equipment in the petroleum engineering department. McKay hopes his commitment to the McKay PATIL donation will inspire support from other corporate players.
“The state of Mississippi has all the ingredients to be a leader in these types of potential new areas,” he said. “Additional support will contribute to a strong knowledge base to drive future developments.”
For more information on PATIL support, contact Bennett Evans, Senior Director of Development at Bagley College of Engineering, at (662) 325-0386 or email@example.com.
MSU is Mississippi’s premier university, available online at www.msstate.edu.