Gazebo Gazette

The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) students David Sanderson and Matthew Tarver from Long Beach were among 24 recipients and six winners for the Innovative Design in Computing Competition (IDCC) awarded through the statewide NASA-Mississippi Space Grant Consortium (MSSGC) program, which supports students in their pursuit of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) degrees.

The NASA Space Grant program is designed to encourage and motivate excellence in student performance and to raise awareness of NASA employment and research opportunities among students with relevant majors at USM.

“As the Southern Miss campus coordinator for the Mississippi Space Grant Consortium since 2018, I’ve overseen the disbursement of $110,000 in Space Grant scholarships and IDCC prizes to students majoring in STEM fields,” said Dr. David Cochran, professor of geography in the School of Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences. “For me, it is gratifying to be able to reward our hard-working STEM students and share with the university community some of the career-altering opportunities available at NASA.”

The scholarship recipients received between $500-$1500 from the Mississippi Space Grant program.

Dr. Amer Dawoud, associate professor in the School of Computing Sciences and Computer Engineering and coordinator of the annual IDCC, said they were able to award monetary prizes of $1,000 to all six participants of the two winning teams of the competition, including undergraduate and graduate students all of whom are affiliated with USM’s School of Computing Sciences and Computer Engineering.

MSSGC is a statewide non-profit organization supported by NASA whose membership includes 17 institutions of higher learning across the state. Headquartered at the University of Mississippi, MSSGC is led by Dr. Nathan Murray, director, and Dr. Earnest Stephens, assistant director. MSSGC provides opportunities for Mississippians who are interested in participating in NASA’s aeronautics and space programs by supporting and enhancing STEM fields, research, and outreach programs. For more information, visit