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College’s homecoming celebration is growing by leaps and bounds

The four MSE alumni who started the company Undercover Colors

General Nick Justice and homecoming audience membersThe College’s annual homecoming celebration has grown significantly since the inaugural event in 2012, just not the way Brian Campbell expected it to.

The 2015 edition of homecoming included a second reunion of Engineering Operations graduates and several departmental events along with the main homecoming program.

Campbell, assistant dean for development and alumni relations and executive director of the NC State Engineering Foundation, cut his teeth in the world of university development at the University of Virginia, which has several homecoming and reunion events for alumni. He didn’t see the same kind of engagement events while working at Iowa State and NC State.

While the university’s annual homecoming weekend includes a student parade down Hillsborough Street and other events before the Saturday football game, the College had no events of its own.

Campbell, director of the Foundation since October 2011, set out to change that.

The kind of face-to-face engagement that on-campus events for alumni generate is invaluable for development, but pays other benefits for universities by making alumni feel welcome and informed about what is going on now at their alma mater.

“My impression is that it’s ultimately hard to raise money from a group of people who are not systematically engaged,” Campbell said.

Alumni Engage with Their Department

Engineering Homecoming 2016 will be held Oct. 28.The growth of departmental events in conjunction with the College’s homecoming festivities has been a welcome surprise, Campbell said.

Five of the College’s academic departments held events as part of the 2015 homecoming weekend on Oct. 30 and 31.

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) started with an open house Friday morning, followed by an inaugural alumni hall of fame lunch that saw 34 ECE alumni inducted.

“It was a very enjoyable event and was a great opportunity for me to meet many alumni for the first time, as well as renew old acquaintances,” said Dr. Daniel Stancil, ECE department head. “I am continually impressed by the success and accomplishments of our alumni, and staying in touch is a high priority for the department.”

The Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) held its first hall of fame brunch on Friday, followed by an MSE tech talk with guest speaker Dr. Matteo Seita from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an open house.

The Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering program on Friday included a distinguished alumni ceremony and luncheon, student poster presentations and a panel discussion on energy.

The Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering held a homecoming luncheon on Friday.

Events in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) began on Friday with a hall of fame luncheon and continued on Saturday with a homecoming brunch.

“The main benefit to the department is the reconnection with our alumni and showcasing our new building on the Centennial Campus and sharing with them what the department is doing now,” said Dr. Richard Gould, department head in MAE.

For the second year, a reunion of graduates of the Engineering Operations program was held in the James B. Hunt Jr. Library on Centennial Campus. Since discontinued, the Engineering Operations curriculum taught students practical skills and introduced them to real world experiences that would help them thrive in a variety of fields, including production, sales and management.

It made for a busy day on Friday.

Dr. Louis Martin-Vega, dean of the College of Engineering, quipped that it was a five-ring circus.

But it gave engineering alumni plenty of chances to reconnect with the College and their departments. No other college at NC State had so many events planned for their alumni, Campbell said.

The Main Event

The main homecoming program, held Friday afternoon in the Hunt Library auditorium, gave alumni a glimpse of the kind of groundbreaking work going on in the College.

Martin-Vega started with an overview that touched on the College’s strong academics and research, the growth in student enrollment and faculty numbers and plans to construct an Engineering Oval building that will expand the College’s footprint on Centennial Campus.

Next up, General Nick Justice and Dr. John Muth, director and deputy director, respectively, of PowerAmerica, gave an update on the NC State-led Department of Energy National Manufacturing Innovation Institute that will further advances in the manufacture of wide bandgap semiconductor-based power electronics. The growth in use of these semiconductors, which are faster, smaller, more reliable and more efficient than traditional silicon-based semiconductors, will spark a revolution in industries ranging from solar power and electric vehicles to industrial motors and consumer electronics.

The four MSE alumni who started the company Undercover Colors told the audience how their NC State experience led to the creation of their company that is developing a clear fingernail polish designed to detect the presence of a date-rape drug in a woman’s drink with a quick stir of her finger. The company has received international notoriety and investor backing and is almost ready to bring its first product to the marketplace.

Dr. Laura BottomleyDr. Laura Bottomley, the College’s director of women in engineering and outreach, showed the audience how The Engineering Place – the College’s award-winning K-20 engineering education and outreach program — teaches children as young as elementary-school age about the impact of engineering and how the work of engineers can be found all around us as we go about our day. Bottomley showed a rapt audience how she brings engineering to life by talking to children about their shoes, how they are made and what makes each pair different.

John DuPlessis, who graduated in 1958 with bachelor’s degrees in metallurgical engineering and nuclear engineering and in 1961 with a master’s in metallurgical engineering, has been returning to NC State for homecoming for 40 years to meet up with fraternity brothers and roommates from his time as a student.

While he had maintained connections to his home department, including serving on the departmental advisory board, he didn’t know as much about what was happening in the rest of the College. That’s why DuPlessis liked the idea of an event that would bring alumni back to the College.

“It was a ‘welcome home’ for me,” DuPlessis said of homecoming. “I have since attended this event each year.

I look forward to coming back again.”

Return to contents or download the Spring/Summer 2016 NC State Engineering magazine (PDF, 3MB).

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