JCJC alumnus & award winning Navy researcher’s visit inspires students

Written By: Teresa McCreery
Email Address: teresa.mccreery@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2016-07-01 15:02:08

ELLISVILLE – The simple desire to branch out from the family logging business and get a college degree is what led 2002 Jones County Junior College  graduate and Smith County native, Dr. Michael Hamilton to become a leading engineer and researcher. The significance of his his work in three dimensional, free-form gestural interactions with the U.S. Navy’s, Human Systems Integration Branch of the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Dahlgren, Virginia was recognized and the Center awarded him with the Navy’s prestigious, Dr. Charles J. Cohen Award of Excellence for Science and Technology in 2014.  In a press release, the center said Dr. Hamilton’s research is “fundamentally reshaping the way our Navy will fight and defend our country in the future…(by) paving the way for delivering new and more effective interaction modalities to the warfighter, with the potential to greatly increase the combat readiness of current and future naval warfare systems.”
Dr. Hamilton explained, “I didn’t set out to be in the spotlight. I was inspired by my teachers who mentored me and fed my dream. Dr. Cohen made a lifelong pursuit out of developing the technical capabilities of the Navy to ensure that our sailors have the best technical means to engage, and win, in combat. I am encouraged in the same way to ensure that our Navy remains a leader both technologically and strategically in our military operations.”
That desire to excel in academics has led him back to where his collegiate career began to inspire others. He returned to Ellisville recently to share his story and help engineering students dream their way to success through mentorship.
“I was determined to go to college but I didn’t know what I wanted to do.  I researched majors in the college catalog and through a process of elimination, I decided on engineering. It was my teacher at JCJC, Mary Boleware who inspired and mentored me because I didn’t know what engineering was and what I would do with that degree,” said the current Mississippi State University Assistant Research Professor for the Institute for Systems Engineering Research in Vicksburg.
After graduating from Mississippi State University with his doctorate, masters and bachelor’s degrees in Industrial and Systems Engineering, he continued his education at Old Dominion University, earning a graduate certificate in Modeling, Simulation, and Visualization Engineering.  His extension experience in assembly manufacturing and research to minimize the external effects on human performance at the Office of Naval Research led him to pursue another idea he saw in the movie, “Minority Report.” Three years later, his team was credited with developing the first control-free computer system to change control and command information centers. Computers now react to voice commands, improving logistics and reaction times, especially in times of crisis.
“I didn’t realize how big of an accomplishment this was because I was just doing my job,” said Dr. Hamilton. “It means a lot to me to make a difference. Imagine how things could change if everyone did their best to give back.”
Dr. Hamilton’s research is credited with having a fundamental impact on science and technology, while also greatly improving the capability of the Navy and Department of Defense. However, Dr. Hamilton said his decision to return to the state that inspired him was simply to inspire others to dream big.
“To improve Mississippi, leaders have to come back so we can build on our successes,” said Dr. Hamilton. “If your actions are not doing something to make people dream more or learn more, then we’re not inspiring our youth to excel and do. We have to be life-long learners.”
JCJC sophomore Keith Hunter from Laurel said Dr. Hamilton’s excitement and success has definitely impacted him. “Seeing what he does and the possibilities that are out there, makes me feel good about what I can pursue.” The JCJC sophomore said he hopes to have a career in robotics and computer engineering similar to Dr. Hamilton.  


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