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Making a mark

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You can establish a legacy in Fitts-Woolard Hall

Tours of Fitts-Woolard Hall are in high demand.

Groups of alumni, faculty members and students are lining up to get a closer look at the College’s newest building on NC State’s Centennial Campus. And even though work on the innovative new building isn’t complete, it’s easy for visitors to see how remarkable it will be.

The new home of the Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE); the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering (CCEE); and the dean’s administrative offices is scheduled to open this summer and will hopefully be ready when students return to campus for the fall 2020 semester.

The building is organized around the theme of “engineering on display,” placing laboratories of the two departments in prominent spots so that visitors can understand the important work going on inside.

In these labs, faculty members and students in CCEE and ISE will work to make manufacturing and infrastructure smarter and to make our environment cleaner and our healthcare more efficient. Alumni who are supporting the construction of Fitts-Woolard Hall are able to choose a space of personal meaning to name. Many donors have named spaces in honor or memory of someone who was important to their education, or selected a lab because they value this aspect of the academic experience. (You can meet some of these alumni donors and learn why supporting the project is so important on page 34).

Fitts-Woolard Hall is a vital next step for the College as it continues to grow in both size and national prominence. With this new facility in place, and more of the College moved to Centennial Campus, NC State Engineering can continue its upward trajectory as it moves toward a goal of being one of the most preeminent public colleges of engineering in the United States.

“You can’t really attract, retain and develop the people, the outstanding students and the promising young faculty members, that you need to reach that goal if you don’t have the best world-class infrastructure to support them,” said Dr. Louis Martin-Vega, dean of the College.

A Constant Challenge

Fitts-Woolard Hall represents a new public-private model for funding construction, a first for a campus building in the University of North Carolina System.

The $154 million project received $75 million from the voters of North Carolina through a 2016 bond referendum. The NC Legislature provided an additional $2 million in design funding and the University is providing $17 million for support infrastructure. The College pledged to contribute $60 million through private philanthropy and currently has commitments of over $48 million, thanks to the generosity of more than 300 alumni donors and a lead gift of $25 million from industrial engineering alumni Edward P. Fitts and Edgar S. Woolard.

With its opening, eight of the nine academic departments within the College will have relocated to Centennial. ISE and CCEE will leave behind facilities on North Campus built more than 50 years ago that currently make both teaching and research challenging.

Being on Centennial Campus puts the College on one of the country’s most innovative campuses, where students and faculty members are in proximity to leading companies and government agencies, enabling enhanced interdisciplinary and industrial collaborations.

Over more than a decade, the College has staked its claim as one of the preeminent public colleges of engineering in the United States by growing its research infrastructure and successfully competing with peer institutions to recruit the best faculty members and students. The transition to Centennial has been a major part of this leap forward.

At the same time, no one is standing still; universities around the country are making substantial investments in engineering education and research.

“We are in pretty elite territory and it hasn’t been easy to get there,” Martin-Vega said of the College’s stature. “We’re delighted that we’re there. It’s a constant challenge to stay there.”

Though Fitts-Woolard Hall will soon be a reality, how the project will ultimately be paid for isn’t fully known. With more than $11 million of the College’s commitment left to be raised, it’s important for alumni donors to step up and help fill the gap. The alternative — for the College to take on debt to finish construction — would mean a financial burden that negatively impacts students and faculty members.

“We hope alumni will continue to step forward with support at any gift level,” said Griffin Lamb, assistant dean for development and college relations and executive director of the NC State Engineering Foundation. “This fundraising project is unique in its visibility and potential to demonstrate the collective power of our donor community. That philanthropy is literally on display in this building not only syncs with our engineering on display theme but also models the role of philanthropy to our students.”

Return to contents or download the Spring/Summer 2020 NC State Engineering magazine (PDF, 11MB).

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