Saturday, September 24, 2011

Week in review (9/18 to 9/24)

A major player in the aerospace and defense industries, United Technologies, is on its way to increasing the size of its aerospace footprint in the Gulf Coast region with the planned purchase of aircraft-component maker Goodrich Corp.

The deal, valued at $18.4 billion, is subject to customary approvals, but once completed, United Technologies is expected to have worldwide sales of $66 billion based on projected 2011 results, and a stronger position in the aerospace and defense industry.

Both Goodrich and United Technologies have operations in the Gulf Coast region. Goodrich operates the Alabama Service Center in Foley, Ala., with some 750 employees who make and repair engine cowlings, called nacelles. United Technologies owns Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, which is a tenant at NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center, Miss. At SSC Pratt & Whitney assembles and tests rocket engines, including the RS-68A and J-2X engines – both important to the nation's space program.

"We are on the eve of a substantial ramp-up" for the commercial aviation industry, UT chief executive Louis Chenevert said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. "With the addition of Goodrich we really strengthened our aerospace position."

Chenevert's comments echoed what industry leaders said during last week's Aerospace Alliance Summit held in Sandestin, Fla. At that summit, participants pointed out that the aerospace industry, notably commercial aviation, is growing, and that the Gulf Coast region needs to prepare for it. This region already has a wide range of activities, and is hungry for more.

United Technologies, of Hartford, Conn., has a diversified list of products that include Carrier heating and air conditioning, Hamilton Sundstrand aerospace systems, Otis elevators and escalators, Pratt & Whitney aircraft engines, Sikorsky helicopters, UTC Fire & Security systems and UTC Power fuel cells. After the deal to buy Goodrich, nearly half of United Technologies' revenue will come from aerospace.

United Technologies, the 44th largest U.S. corporation, is ranked among Barron's list of the world's most respected companies. In 2011 Fortune named it No. 1 "Most Admired" aerospace and defense company. It's the 16th largest U.S. manufacturer and 112th largest company in the world. It has more than 4,000 locations in more than 70 countries, and does business in about 180 countries.

Goodrich, based in Charlotte, N.C., is a major supplier of landing gear, aircraft wheels and brakes to the aerospace and defense industry. Goodrich will be combined with Hamilton Sundstrand in a new unit that will be based in Charlotte.

Speaking of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, the company successfully completed a series of hot-fire tests on the certified RS-68A engine, the world's most powerful hydrogen-fueled engine, at NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center, Miss.

The tests demonstrated the capability of the engine to operate for 4,800 seconds of cumulative run time, four times the design life of the engine and more than 10 times what's needed to boost a United Launch Alliance heavy-lift rocket into space.

The RS-68A, which evolved from the RS-68, is a liquid-hydrogen/liquid-oxygen booster engine designed for the Delta IV family of launch vehicles. In addition, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne and NASA have begun testing on the upper-stage J-2X engine. To date, five hot-fire tests have been conducted on the J-2X, which could be used to boost humans beyond low-Earth orbit.

The Stennis (Space Center) Education Office in Mississippi has released its new "Food for Thought" teaching curriculum and interactive website. It uses the idea of food in space to teach students such topics as caloric content and nutritional value of food, while challenging them to build space robots, design a better microgravity coffee cup and create a space cookie recipe.

The curriculum is the third produced by the Stennis education team, all within the last 15 months. It's part of NASA's Teaching from Space initiative, designed to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics learning by students.

The folks who participated in that Aerospace Alliance Summit in Sandestin, Fla., would be applauding this. At the summit they heard aerospace companies say the region has to really make a push to get children interested in science, technology, engineering and math - STEM education. These Teaching from Space initiatives shows NASA's SSC is doing its part.

Jacobs Technology Inc.
, Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was awarded $42.4 million under a
previously awarded contract to continue information technology services until the transition to the next generation Enterprise Network is accomplished. Work will be performed in Quantico, Va., and is expected to be completed in June 2014. … L-3 Communications Systems Field Support, Vertex Aerospace LLC., Madison, Miss., was awarded a $48.8 million modification to a previously awarded contract to exercise an option for aircraft maintenance and logistical life cycle support for 66 C-12 aircraft for the Navy and the Marine Corps. Work will be performed in Texas, Nebraska, Canada, Arizona, Washington, D.C., New Orleans, Florida, California, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Japan, Cuba and Bahrain. Work is expected to be completed in September 2012. … Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., San Diego, Calif., was awarded a $17 million contract for the Rapid Deployment Capability Weaponization Program in support of the MQ-8B Fire Scout. Work will be performed in San Diego, Calif., and Grand Rapids, Mich., and is expected to be completed in March 2013. … Del-Jen Inc., Clarksville, Tenn., was awarded a $24.6 million modification under a previously awarded contract to exercise option four, for base operations support services at Naval Air Station Pensacola and surrounding areas. The work to be performed provides for public works administration including labor, management, supervision, materials, supplies and more. Work will be performed in Pensacola and is expected to be completed by September 2012.

Tidbits from other fields
Shipbuilding: Jackson County, Miss., leaders are inviting companies to bid on a $20 million maritime training facility to be built on Ingalls Shipbuilding property. On Monday, the Board of Supervisors and Port Authority's Board of Commissioners passed a joint resolution to advertise bid on the federally funded shipbuilding academy. The project, funded through a Hurricane Katrina community development block grant, will help Ingalls expand its two- to four-year apprentice program to about 1,000 students, leaders have said. Construction on the 76,000-square-foot facility is expected to take 18 months.
Marine science: The Destin-based nonprofit AquaGreen wants to build a marine life center in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., on Okaloosa Island. The pitch for the proposed fish hatchery and aquarium was made to Okaloosa County commissioners at a board meeting. The county owns a 35-acre parcel on the north side of U.S. Highway 98 where the group wants the aquarium. AquaGreen’s facility would include a 30,000-square-foot interactive aquarium and 50,000 square feet of hatcheries, nurseries, classrooms and labs.
Advanced materials: The University of Southern Mississippi School of Polymers and High Performance Materials unveiled the Sidney Lauren Memorial Center, located in the Polymer Science Research Center. Lauren, who died in 2010, was a longtime figure in the coatings industry and helped provide money for scholarships to Southern Miss' polymer science students in his capacity as on-and-off director of the Washington, D.C.-based Coatings Industry Education Foundation.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Week in review (9/11 to 9/17)

There were several messages that came through loud and clear at the two-day Aerospace Alliance Summit held at the end of the week in Northwest Florida’s Sandestin.

One is that the region should place a big emphasis on interesting a new generation of Gulf Coast residents in the science, technology, engineering and math training that’s essential to the high-paying and healthy aerospace industry.

Another: The Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi region has an incredibly diverse level of activity in aerospace, and should continue to pursue a wide variety of aerospace-related enterprises, from unmanned systems to weapons development and more.

Oh yes, one more thing: Gene Goldman, director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., pointed out that the Space Launch System that NASA is pursuing - see the more detailed item below - will benefit Marshall, Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Organizers were pleased with the turnout for the inaugural summit, which will be an annual event. About 140 people, ranging from company representatives to economic development officials, turned out for the summit organized by the Aerospace Alliance, formed more than two years ago to represent the aerospace interests of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.

The four states have aerospace activities throughout the region, including Huntsville, the Golden Triangle in east central Mississippi and the Space Coast of Florida. One cluster is along the Gulf Coast Interstate 10 corridor between South Louisiana and Northwest Florida, the only one that involves portions of all four states.

The I-10 region's aerospace footprint includes space activities, aerial weapons development, military aviator training and testing ranges. It’s where the first F-35 training center is being established, and is also where portions of unmanned aerial vehicles are built. The region includes major domestic and foreign aerospace companies.

The Sunshine State is actually a late entry to the group. Up to now it's interests have been represented by Florida's Great Northwest, a regional economic group that represents well over a dozen counties in Northwest Florida.

"Florida is proud to be a partner, a full partner," Florida lieutenant governor, Jennifer Carroll, told the gathering. She pointed out that aerospace is near and dear to her heart. She was involved in the field when she was in the military.

Gray Swoope, Florida's secretary of commerce, thanked Florida's Great Northwest for representing the state's interests "before we got the message."

"Nobody can touch us, the resources that we have in these four states combined in aviation, in space, in the aerospace industry anywhere in the world. And we have a unique opportunity together in the four states to tell our story," said Swoope, who is former head of the Mississippi Development Authority.

Industry officials raised the alarm about education, indicating it would be the best way to help ensure the region's future role in aerospace.

J.R. McDonald, vice president of Lockheed Martin's Northwest Florida operations, pointed to a sobering number. He said that when he gave a similar talk in 2009, the number of Lockheed Martin employees was 146,000. The company has shed 20,000 employees in two years.

But he also said the company has a current and future need for engineers and people with science and technology degrees. Lockheed Martin hires 5 percent of every engineering and technical student that graduates from the United States - about 4,000 to 5,000 per year.

Lockheed Martin has put a lot of money and effort into supporting science, technology, engineering and math programs, even down the middle school level to encourage students to enter the field. Lockheed Martin expects growth in the company's information technology and electronics systems group.

David Trent, site director of the Airbus Engineering Center in Mobile, Ala., said workers at the center, which opened a little more than four years ago, come from Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. He praised the work of the Aerospace Alliance and suggested it should next set its sights on helping educate the future generations to work in the aerospace industry.

"We suspect over the next 20 years that there will be a demand for procurement of almost 26,000 new commercial aircraft in the world," he said, and the region needs to prepare for that.

"We were attracted to Mobile and this region because of the infrastructure that was in place," he said. But added that the company did have to bring in many engineers. Trent suggested an effort be made to begin interesting children in the field as early as the fifth grade level.

"The question is always, where's the workforce coming from, and I can't stress enough this idea of you've got to have world-class public education in this region and a real strong concentration on STEM," he said.

Jeanne Edwards, plant leader at GE Aviation in Batesville, Miss., said that of the 344 workers at the Batesville plant, which opened in 2008, 20 percent have degrees. The company recently announced another plant near Hattiesburg, and will break ground soon on a plant in Auburn, Ala. It also has a presence in Jacksonville and Clearwater, Fla.

She said that while much of the company's revenue is generated from outside the United States, GE Aviation is putting a huge amount of money into manufacturing jobs in the United States.

"If GE didn't see the future that we do with our backlog in aviation, we wouldn't be making the investment in manufacturing facilities," said Edwards. She said that by 2012 the Batesville operation will have 475 employees and will have invested of $100 million in infrastructure and equipment.

"That kind of investment hasn't happened in GE for a long time, at least in the aviation sector. So I think the growth that we’re anticipating is echoed by our commitment to adding jobs and building facilities in America."

Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis with the Teal Group, was particularly struck by how the Gulf Coast region has changed in the 27 or 28 years since he biked from New Orleans to Jacksonville. He said it's certainly become more high-tech.

"I never thought back then that I'd be here with you today talking about improving the aerospace cluster that's obviously developed very nicely in this area, so it's a real treat to be back," he said.

He pointed out that even in the downturn, the aerospace sector did well. He said that just considering Boeing and Airbus, the commercial jetliner market is a $110 billion enterprise, with a like amount through after-market and support that more than doubles that amount – a $300 billion a year enterprise on the world stage.

"That, in a nutshell, is why as a cluster you want to be part of this," he said. "A regional approach is absolutely essential," he said, adding that the Gulf Coast has a great combination of capabilities. "This would appear to be a natural place to put work."

And what are the opportunities for this region?

"What you're good at now is what you should accentuate. This is one of the most varied aerospace cluster regions that I've ever seen," with everything from unmanned aerial systems to aerostructures and composite materials. "More of the same in my way of thinking."

In other regional aerospace news during the past week:

NASA unveiled plans for the Space Launch System rocket, designed to take astronauts  into deep space. Administrator Charles Bolden said during a news conference  that the heavy-lift SLS, more powerful than the Saturn V that launched astronauts to the  Moon, will fly in 2017. It will allow astronauts to reach asteroids and Mars.

SLS will be designed to carry the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, as well as cargo, equipment and science experiments. It will serve as a backup for commercial and international partner transportation services to the International Space Station.

It will use technologies from the Space Shuttle and Constellation programs to leverage proven hardware and tooling and manufacturing technology. It will use a liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propulsion system, which will include the RS-25D/E from the Space Shuttle for the core stage and the J-2X engine for the upper stage.

Stennis Space Center, Miss., does rocket engine testing and assembly of the J-2X. Michoud Assembly Facilities has been working on Orion.

Construction in fact, has begun on Orion, the first new NASA spacecraft built to take humans to orbit since space shuttle Endeavour left the factory in 1991. Engineers at Michoud started welding together the first space-bound Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle.

The first welds were completed using an innovative new friction stir welding process, developed especially for Orion construction. The process creates a seamless, leak-proof bond that has proven stronger and higher in quality than can be achieved with conventional welding.

After welding is completed at Michoud, the Orion spacecraft orbital test article will be shipped to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where the heat shield will be installed. At Kennedy, it will undergo final assembly and checkout operations for flight.

Rehabilitation Services Mississippi, Madison, Miss., was awarded an $8.1 million contract modification to provide full food services at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. The 81st Contracting Squadron, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Week in review (9/4 to 9/10)

Anyone interested in aerospace in this region may want to attend the inaugural Aerospace Alliance Summit Thursday and Friday, Sept. 15 and 16, at Sandestin Gulf and Beach Resort in Florida. The focus will be the future of aerospace in the Gulf Coast region and nation in an age of tight budgets.

The summit is hosted by the Aerospace Alliance, a partnership of the states of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida's Great Northwest. Organizers say the summit will be attended by state and local economic development leaders. There also will be representatives from NASA, a major aerospace player in the region, as well as analysts and economists.

On Friday there's a moderated panel on "State Industry Perspectives" with representatives from Lockheed Martin, Airbus, Aeroframe and GE Aviation. That company recently announced plans to build a composite engine parts plant in Ellisville, Miss., north of Hattiesburg.

There will also be a panel discussion on the near-term future of defense and commercial spending. Panel participatnes will be from the Teal Group, Morgan Keegan and ITT. The summit ends at 2 p.m. Friday.

Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi have aerospace activities throughout the region, including Huntsville, Ala., the Golden Triangle in east central Mississippi and the Space Coast of Florida. One cluster is along the Gulf Coast Interstate 10 corridor between South Louisiana and Northwest Florida, the only one that involves portions of all four states.

The I-10 region's aerospace footprint includes space activities, aerial weapons development, military aviator training and testing ranges. It's where the first F-35 training center is being established, and is also where portions of the Fire Scout and Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles are built. The region includes major domestic and foreign aerospace companies.

It you want more information on the summit, visit the Aerospace Alliance Web site.

The Navy will award Northrop Grumman a contract to supply 28 MQ-8C Fire Scout "rapid deployment capability" unmanned helicopters using the larger Bell 407 helicopter airframe to increase endurance and payload, according to Aviation Week.

The notice of intent says the aircraft are to be fielded by the first quarter of 2014. The Navy also evaluated the Boeing Hummingbird and Lockheed Martin/Kaman K-Max, but opted for the 407 airframe jointly developed by Northrop Grumman and Bell as the Fire-X and first flown in December.

The MQ-8C will use the same systems as the MQ-8B Fire Scout, which is based on the smaller Schweizer 333 helicopter airframe. That aircraft has been successfully deployed aboard Navy ships and has also seen use on land in Afghanistan.

One of those Fire Scouts was also shot down over Libya, but the Navy is planning to arm them in the future. (Story)

The smaller Fire Scouts are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.

- Northrop Grumman CEO Wes Bush said his company, which in addition to the Fire Scout builds the Global Hawk unmanned surveillance plane, can bolster its international sales of unmanned systems.

He also said at the Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit that he felt the U.S. government was taking steps to try to loosen export curbs on some arms. The Obama administration has been consulting Congress on plans to sell unmanned Global Hawks to South Korea. International sales currently are less than 10 percent of Northrop Grumman’s overall sales.

Like the Fire Scout, portions of Global Hawks are built in Moss Point.

New business
The St. Joe Co. officially welcomed to Panama City, Fla., ITT Corp.'s mine defense business to the VentureCrossings Enterprise Centre at West Bay, the development's first corporate tenant. According to the Panama City Herald, ITT will be moving into a 105,000-square-foot facility.

VentureCrossings is St. Joe's initial project in the West Bay Sector Plan, a 75,000-acre development that will include office, industrial, manufacturing, hotel, retail and residential uses. Sites offer direct ramp access and access to the 10,000-foot runway at Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport.

CYE Enterprises Inc.
, Jacksonville, Fla., was awarded a $25 million contract to furnish all plants, materials, labor, equipment, and all operations in connection with repairing and replacing roofs, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. AAC/PKOA, Eglin Air Force Base, is the contracting activity. … Jacobs Technology Inc., Tullahoma, Tenn., was awarded a $20.3 million contract modification to provide technical, engineering, and acquisition support at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. AAC/PKES, Eglin Air Force Base is the contracting activity.

Tidbits from other fields
: Ingalls Shipbuilding was awarded a $482.8 million contract from the U.S. Coast Guard for the construction of a fifth National Security Cutter. Construction of the yet-to-be-named WMSL 754 will be done in Pascagoula, Miss., facility. … In Mobile, Ala., Austal USA rolled its first Joint High-Speed Vessel out of the shed and onto a dry dock floating in the Mobile River, according to the Mobile Press-Register. The ship is slated to be delivered to the Navy early next year. … The Gosport reports that the USS Independence, the littoral combat ship built at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Ala., will be at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., on Sept. 12 for shipboard mission module testing over the next several weeks. … The amphibious transport dock ship USS New York is in New York City to participate in events honoring the victims and responders from the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The ship, whose bow as made with steel recovered from the destroyed World Trade Center, was built by Northrop Grumman shipyard, now part of Huntington Ingalls Industries, in Avondale, La.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Week in review (8/28 to 9/3)

Two more F-35s arrive at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., more workers for the Northrop Grumman Fire Scout program in California, concerns over cuts to the nation's hurricane tracking programs - including the Hurricane Hunters in Biloxi, Miss. - and Eglin awarding of more than $800 million in contracts highlighted Gulf Coast aerospace news during the week.

Two Lockheed Martin F-35As arrived at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., this week, joining two earlier arrivals that will be used for training pilots and maintainers at the new F-35 Integrated Training Center.

The jets left Wednesday from Fort Worth, Texas, along with two F-16 escorts for the 90-minute flight. The two F-35s are AF-10 and AF-11 from the second lot of low-rate production aircraft.

Speaking of the F-35, Texas Rep. Kay Granger has called Friday for increased production of the Joint Strike Fighter, and suggested that its critics, like Sen. John McCain, visit the mile-long factory before continuing to push for cuts in the Defense Department's largest weapons program.

The remarks came after a tour of the facility with Florida Rep. Jeff Miller, whose district includes Eglin Air Force Base, where F-35 pilots and maintainers will be trained. Both said that when Congress reconvenes next week, members should consider the nation's security goals before cutting into defense programs. (Story)

Unmanned systems
Northrop Grumman will add 100 workers in Rancho Bernardo, Calif., to enable the company to continue developing its Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle and a larger version called Fire-X. About 200 employees are already assigned to the program.

The company also is negotiating with the Navy to add weapons to Fire Scout, says George Vardoulakis, Northrop's vice president of tactical unmanned systems.

The Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, Miss., builds portions of the Fire Scout.

Federal cuts
There are concerns that budget cuts could jeopardize future accurate hurricane forecasting. Proposed cuts in the budget of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and in funding for new satellites could undermine the National Hurricane Center's forecasting ability.

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson told reporters in a visit to NHC headquarters in Miami that there was also talk about possible Defense Department cuts to funding for the 10 C-130 Super Hercules "hurricane hunter" planes based in Biloxi, Miss. He vowed that the proposed cuts would be halted in the Senate.

Weapons testing
BAE Systems, Boeing, and the Navy recently conducted a successful test of the Mk 38 MOD 2 Tactical Laser System concept at Eglin Air Force Base in Eglin, Fla. The concept is a proposed high energy laser addition to the Mk 38 naval gun systems currently deployed on most surface combatants.

The test system fired against air and surface maritime targets. Additionally, swarm tests were conducted to simulate an attack by a large number of fast, maneuvering small boats, intermingled with neutral boat traffic. These tests demonstrated a consistent ability to detect, track, classify and engage threat vessels at tactically relevant ranges.

The Air Force and Lockheed Martin signed a five-year deal to further sensors technology. The cooperative research and development agreement with Air Force Research Laboratory will assess the viability of Lockheed's cooled tri-mode seeker for integration onto Air Force weapon platforms.

The seeker combines several sensors and a radar that run simultaneously and share information in flight. The work will be done with AFRL's Munitions Directorate at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., according to the Dayton Business Journal.

MacAulay-Brown Inc., Dayton, Ohio, was awarded a $26 million order for information technology and intelligence services. Specialized Contracting, HQ AFSOC/A7KQ, Hurlburt Field, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Raytheon Co., Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $569 million contract modification for air-to-air missiles and test vehicles and equipment, software and logistic support. It includes foreign military sales. AAC/EBAC, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … InDyne Inc., Reston, Va., was awarded a $192.8 million contract which exercises option two, fiscal 2012 and 2013, of Eglin Test and Training Complex Range operations and maintenance for test and training areas, and technical facilities. AAC/PKET, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., was awarded a $14.4 million contract modification to provide of 602 Joint Direct Attack Munitions. Air Armament Center/EBDK, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … EADS North American Defense, Arlington, Va., was awarded a $43.8 million contract to provide for the modification of an existing contract to procure 32 security and support mission equipment package production cut-in. Work will be performed in Columbus, Miss.

Tidbits from other fields
Shipbuilding: Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead visited Austal USA's Mobile, Ala., shipyard and called it "a model for others to follow." He said he's excited about the commitment and innovation that's gone into the shipyard, which he considers on the leading edge of shipbuilding. … Ingalls Shipbuilding of Pascagoula, Miss., celebrated the "start of fabrication" of the U.S. Coast Guard's fourth National Security Cutter, Hamilton. … BAE Systems, Boeing, and the Navy recently conducted a successful test of the Mk 38 MOD 2 Tactical Laser System concept at Eglin Air Force Base in Eglin, Fla. The concept is a proposed high energy laser addition to the Mk 38 naval gun systems currently deployed on most surface combatants.
Marine science: The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative will use $112.5 million to fund eight research teams over the next three years to study the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010. Universities with operations along the Gulf Coast that are participating in one or more teams include the University of Southern Mississippi, University of West Florida, Louisiana State University, Tulane University, Florida State University and the University of Mississippi. Also participating will be Mobile’s Dauphin Island Sea Lab and the Naval Research Laboratory, which has a detachment at Stennis Space Center, Miss.
Advanced materials: Pennsylvania-based stainless steel scrap recycler Cronimet Corp. plans to locate a manufacturing facility in Pensacola, Fla., in early November, creating 15 manufacturing and administrative jobs. Cronimet recovers and reprocesses stainless steel and high-grade alloys for manufacturers. … The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Miss., hopes to get approval for a new undergraduate degree program in polymer sciences engineering. It will be the only polymer engineering major in the state.