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MSU Partners with HII's Ingalls Shipbuilding on Innovative Heat Safety Technologies

June 6, 2024

An Ingalls Shipbuilding employee demonstrates the CoolMitt device used in a new partnership between MSU, Ingalls and CoolMitt to aid shipbuilders in the mitigation of heat injuries. (Photo courtesy of Ingalls Shipbuilding)
An Ingalls Shipbuilding employee demonstrates the CoolMitt device used in a new partnership between MSU, Ingalls and CoolMitt to aid shipbuilders in the mitigation of heat injuries. (Photo courtesy of Ingalls Shipbuilding)
STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State University's Athlete Engineering Institute is proud to partner with HII's Ingalls Shipbuilding division, Mississippi's largest manufacturing employer and supplier of U.S. Navy surface combatants, to build a new wearable prototype device to aid shipbuilders in the mitigation of heat injuries. The project is funded by AccelerateMS and its MS-Ships program, which supports the state's shipbuilding industry.

Reuben Burch, MSU associate vice president for research and director of the Athlete Engineering Institute, said this partnership is a great example of the ways new technology can be deployed to enhance workplace productivity and safety. As longer-term studies continue, MSU has worked with Ingalls to quickly implement CoolMitt devices, which cool individuals by circulating water at the ideal temperature in a specialized glove that, when worn, can pull heat from the body and rapidly cool the body's core.

"Shipbuilding has a lot of unique challenges, whether those are high temperatures, changing conditions throughout the production timeline, or managing personal protective equipment," Burch said. "Ingalls has been a great partner in this effort as we look to maximize both the performance and safety of the industrial athletes that are carrying out critical work on behalf of our country."

With temperatures reaching well above 100 degrees during summer months in South Mississippi, it is critical for shipbuilders to stay cool and hydrated.

Alexis Moran, environmental engineer at Ingalls, said, "Safety is a top priority for our shipbuilders, and we are grateful for the work our partners at MSU are doing to assist us in our efforts to enhance the well-being of our team."

Moran added, "The partnership with MSU has opened an opportunity to bring new innovations to the personal protection equipment that each of our shipbuilders need in order to conduct their jobs safely while also providing on-the-job experiences for students."

Edward Hargrove, federal projects manager at AccelerateMS, said the solutions developed through this project will have benefits beyond the shipbuilding industry.

"AccelerateMS is proud to support this innovative collaboration between Mississippi State University's Athlete Engineering Institute and HII's Ingalls Shipbuilding division through our MS-SHIPS DoD grant," Hargrove said. "This partnership is aimed at enhancing the safety and productivity of our shipbuilders through advanced wearable technology. Together, we are driving forward new solutions that will benefit both our shipbuilding industry and defense manufacturing workforce as a whole."

In addition to the Athlete Engineering Institute's full-time staff, MSU student researchers are gaining experience developing solutions for real-world problems. Anna Grace Dill and Kaitlyn McDonald, both natives of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, are part of the team developing a heat sensing and trackable, wearable system. For McDonald, a senior industrial engineering major and former intern at Ingalls, the project has been a personal endeavor.

"It's surreal to me to be helping Ingalls because when I went to work there, I was the fifth generation of my family to work there," McDonald said. "It's really rewarding to be helping create a new technology that could be used in the shipyard where many of my family members work."

For Dill, a graduate student studying industrial and systems engineering, working in a research setting has allowed for more creativity in how to approach a problem, as well as a chance to learn how to blend together several project aspects into a feasible solution.

"I know a lot about processes and the system we are trying to improve, as well as the constraints and what we need to pay attention to," Dill said. "But I didn't know anything about building a sensor. That's where we must be able to tie all of our expertise together. What has been the coolest part is seeing how all of it fits together to achieve a goal none of us could do independently."

The project also is supported by MSU's Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems-Extension in Canton, which works to address manufacturing challenges across the state. Additionally, MSU is partnering with NextFlex, a flexible hybrid electronics consortium, on development of the CoolMitt wearable technology prototype.

"We are always excited to collaborate with cutting-edge organizations, like Mississippi State and Ingalls, who are spearheading innovative initiatives to improve heat safety in the workplace," said Craig Gile, CoolMitt president.

MSU's Athlete Engineering Institute is driving new innovations in human factors, human performance, technology and sports science. For more, visit