Alumnus lends support to advance big data research at MSU

Contact: Addie Mayfield

Lamar and Nancy McKay (Submitted photo)

STARKVILLE, Mississippi—A commitment from Mississippi State alumnus Lamar McKay of Houston, Texas will facilitate the understanding and advanced applications of data analytics through endowment support for a innovative research at the university’s James Worth Bagley College of Engineering.

The McKay Predictive Analytics and Technology Integration Laboratory Excellence Endowment provides ongoing support for the infrastructure, staff, travel funds, and other resources needed to sustain and expand the lab’s efforts. Predictive Analytics and Technology Integration, or PATIL. In addition to the Excellence Endowment, McKay’s donation also enables the creation of an Excellence Fund to provide immediate annual support until the endowment reaches maturity.

“This contribution is essential to the expansion of predictive analytics research and its technological integration in the state of Mississippi, and I cannot express my gratitude enough for this very generous donation,” said Shahram Rahimi, professor at the MSU and Head of Bagley College Research Department. Computer Science and Engineering. “I have no doubt that his contribution will accelerate the speed of technology discovery and development in the field of predictive analytics across the country.”

Housed within the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, PATIL aims to accelerate advancements in a number of interdisciplinary areas by addressing the challenges of data management, integration and analysis, as well as predictive modeling and simulation to realize the full potential of big data. By integrating various technologies and data sources, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, PATIL will contribute to the development of next-generation data-driven, resilient and robust solutions in the real and theoretical domains of these various industrial sectors.

“Mississippi State University is a leader in turning data into knowledge, and then using that knowledge to make smart decisions that can truly make a difference in a wide range of fields such as advanced manufacturing, autonomous mobility, healthcare, cybersecurity, precision agriculture, and more,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. McKay’s vision and generosity will support our students and faculty and dramatically enhance their work to broaden and extend the economic and societal impact of predictive analytics and technology integration. We are grateful for his investment in them.

McKay spent 40 years in progressive leadership roles in the oil industry, eventually serving as Deputy Managing Director of BP plc before retiring in 2020. He was involved in data analysis and the integration of enterprise-level technologies during the latter part of his career, which sparked his passion for the emerging field and his connection to the business world.

“The cost of sensing and measurement technologies has dropped significantly, making it easier to create data. But the massive amounts of information collected around us every day make it harder to use data wisely,” McKay said. “Most companies use only a tiny fraction of the available data to make intelligent 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 which allows us to put a layer of intelligence on top of the collected data to better understand how to improve things. When I got involved in the application of these technologies at BP, I saw the potential of what we were trying to do to strategically change and optimize the business and I really got interested in the concept.

McKay’s support of PATIL reflects his passion and will enhance 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 goal-driven innovation for the real world.

“Bagley College of Engineering has always been at the forefront of solving complex, multi-disciplinary problems since its inception. The formation of the McKay Predictive Analytics and Technology Integration Laboratory endowment and emphasis on utilizing 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 within the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, the innovative lab facilitates research and education initiatives focused on broad issues that span multiple disciplines and departments. As a result, it will serve as a university-wide hub for influencing greater collective outcomes.

“The fundamental goal of this program is to bring people, process and learning together to do something better. Whether filtering and integrating data to optimize processes at the individual level or for multidisciplinary purposes, the intention is to integrate disciplines across campus for expertise and insights put into action. common,” McKay said.

A native of Jackson, McKay graduated from MSU with a degree in petroleum engineering in 1980 and went to work for Amoco Production Company. Throughout his career, he has taken on progressive operational and business roles that have allowed him to lead the organization’s businesses in the United States and abroad. After working on the BP-Amoco merger, McKay was named Chairman and President of BP America, Inc. and also served as Managing Director of BP’s global upstream business.

“Mississippi State provided me with a very practical, common sense-based 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’m proud to be able to repay that experience to some extent.”

In addition to his most recent engagement, McKay and his wife Nancy have also invested in other areas at MSU. In 2012, they established the Lamar McKay Endowed Scholarship at Bagley College and later established 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 endowment will inspire support from other corporate actors.

“Mississippi State has all the ingredients to be a leader in these kinds of potential new areas,” he said. “Additional support will contribute to a strong base of expertise to propel future developments.”

For more information about PATIL support, contact Bennett Evans, Senior Director of Development, Bagley College of Engineering, at (662) 325-0386 or [email protected]

MSU is the main university in Mississippi, available online at

Sean N. Ayres