“It’s more than a building”
Fitts-Woolard Hall* — the crucial next step in unifying the College on Centennial Campus — is a top-priority project for the University. Meet three NC State Engineering alumni who have donated toward Fitts-Woolard Hall and are helping the College continue to provide excellence in engineering to its students, faculty and the world.
When Aaron Isbell visited NC State’s campus for the first time, he felt he could easily transition from his magnet high school in Gastonia, NC, to the University.
“I selected NC State for the engineering reputation, and the fact I could see myself easily interacting with people,” said Isbell, a 2007 graduate with a bachelor’s in computer science.
During his time as a student, Isbell held the position of technical intern with the analytics software company SAS Institute, which led to a full time position after graduation as an individual contributor. After a few years, he was given the opportunity to build a team to deliver support and IT services to SAS hosting customers. After 11 years at SAS, Isbell is now a senior solution consultant with ServiceNow — an enterprise cloud software company — where he is responsible for supporting pre-sales activities for major accounts in the US South region.
Isbell’s connection to the College continued post-graduation, as he participated in several alumni panels, attended student events such as E-Day (Engineering Day) hosted by the Engineering Council and served as chair on the engineering young alumni council.
“The innovative ideas that are coming out of the College, especially from the students, are inspiring,” said Isbell. “I like to make engaging relationships and help how I can.”
Isbell recalls a phone call from Angela Martin with the Engineering Foundation asking for his help in sharing his skills and engaging with students by giving his time rather than his money. But, Isbell said, “some things can’t happen without money.”
As the first member of the Dean’s Young Alumni Oval Club, Isbell and his wife, Dr. Lauren Isbell, saw an opportunity to continue making engaging relationships.
“When you think about your experiences on a college campus, you make the most transitions in a short amount of time, places you spend a lot of your time at stay with you,” said Isbell. “During my time at NC State, I was always in Harrelson, the library and Centennial Campus. It’s important for students to have nice places where they can not only make memories but can also innovate. It’s so much more than a building.”
David Whitley had an interest in all things electronic from an early age.
“Whether it was the very first Atari game system, the first electronic calculator that my father brought home from work or my very first computer (a Radio Shack TRS-80), it completely fascinated me how these devices worked,” said Whitley, a 1992 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.
Through a recruiting event held by Eta Kappa Nu electrical and computer engineering honor society, where Whitley served as recording secretary, he was offered a job as a consultant for Andersen Consulting (now Accenture). It was here he worked with software development as a programmer on large-scale custom applications development programs.
Whitley left Andersen Consulting in the late 90s and worked at several different start-up companies that led to “fantastic technical and business experience — a real-life MBA.”
For the past 12 years, he has worked with private-equity software companies as the software development leader responsible for product development.
Thinking back on his time at NC State and how it affected his career, Whitley thought back to two main questions, why and how.
“My engineering degree has been fundamental to everything that I’ve achieved in my career. As an engineer, answering the two questions of “Why?” and “How?” forms the basis for learning and for solving problems,” said Whitley. “Being exposed to many different facets of the engineering field helped me to develop the confidence that I am able to learn anything. It also opened my mind to many different answers or possibilities, and that there may not always be one right answer.”
Early in 2017, Whitley and his wife, Karen, funded the David and Karen Whitley Engineering Scholarship and did not have plans of contributing toward Fitts-Woolard Hall. But after hearing Dean Louis Martin-Vega speak at a lunch event in Atlanta, the Whitleys felt the dean’s message really spoke to them and they wanted to be part of this once-in- a-lifetime opportunity.
“All of my professional success is completely attributable to the knowledge, experience and life-changing events which happened while at NC State. To be able to give back to my beloved university, after it has afforded me so much, is beyond satisfying for us both.”
Chuck Wilson, Jr.
Chuck Wilson grew up in construction; the first office of his father’s business was out of the family home.
“I started working with my father at a young age, mostly due to the fact that my mother wanted me out of the house” laughed Wilson, a 1965 graduate with a bachelor’s in civil engineering.
After graduation, Wilson enrolled in graduate school.
“This was during the Vietnam War,” said Wilson. “I decided to go to Officer’s Candidate School in the Navy prior to completing my graduate degree to help where I could.”
After being commissioned as an Ensign in the Navy, he became a Damage Control Officer on one ship and a Chief Engineering Officer on another. In 1969, Wilson left the Navy and began working for his father’s company, C.T. Wilson Construction, where he is now CEO.
For Wilson, NC State was his only choice. “I spoke with a rep from MIT. Even though I could get in to MIT, I didn’t think seriously about going anywhere else but NC State.”
When his father passed away in 1995, Wilson and his mother set up an endowed scholarship in his father’s name, the Charles T. Wilson Sr. Scholarship. Chuck Wilson and his wife, Jean, have also endowed program funds for the C.T. Wilson Construction AGC Student Chapter – the same student chapter of which Wilson’s father was a founding member.
“There’s a long history between NC State and the Wilson family,” said Wilson, who is one of three generations of the family to have graduated from the civil engineering program at NC State.
Reflecting on his family legacy, Wilson feels that the College prepared and trained all three generations for their careers in construction.
“A majority of the success that C.T. Wilson Construction Company, Inc. has reaped over the past 66 years can be attributed to the firm foundation we have received at NC State,” said Wilson. “When you have the advantages my family has, you need to give back and help others.”
Chuck and his wife, Jean, have also contributed toward Fitts-Woolard Hall.
“I am really impressed with Dean Louie and the amazing job he is doing for the College of Engineering,” said Wilson. “I give to the College of Engineering because of what they do for the community and how they prepare students for future success.”
*[Editor’s Note: The Engineering Building Oval (EB Oval) was renamed Fitts-Woolard Hall on April 20, 2018, at the groundbreaking ceremony.]