Meet the Dean’s Circle

David Simpson, Bruce Morrison, Rachel Morrison and Dr. Thom Hodgson

From left: David Simpson, Bruce Morrison, Rachel Morrison and Dr. Thom Hodgson

Members of the Dean’s Circle, the College’s signature annual giving fund, provide the consistent support that has fueled NC State Engineering’s growth and improvement.

Gifts help fund scholarships and fellowships, which are used to attract and retain top students, and support innovative programs in the College’s academic departments.

The Dean’s Circle donors you’ll meet below come from different backgrounds and have taken varying paths. But they share a philanthropic mindset and a love for the College and NC State.

David Simpson

David Simpson’s parents worked hard so that he and his brother could focus on their engineering courses at NC State and wouldn’t have to work jobs on the side. Simpson, a 1981 civil engineering graduate and owner of Simpson Engineers & Associates, P.C., in Cary, NC, carries on that generous spirit in taking care of the employees in his firm and endowed a scholarship in the College of Engineering.

Natives of Reidsville, NC, David and Michael Simpson both earned civil engineering degrees and own engineering firms. Michael Simpson graduated a year after his brother and started his own firm five years earlier than his brother, in Greenville, S.C. “I’m the horizontal guy; I design bridges,” David Simpson said. “He’s the vertical guy; he designs buildings.”

After working in the Structure Design Unit for the North Carolina Department of Transportation and two private engineering firms for more than 23 years, David Simpson started his own business in January 2004. Simpson Engineers & Associates has 45 employees (including 13 NC State graduates) and specializes in transportation structure design, in-service bridge inspections and transportation planning services. “I love my job. I consider it a privilege and an honor to be the owner of this firm. It’s not just me, it’s the families of the employees who are part of this firm,” Simpson said.

Simpson is a regular contributor to the Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering Enhancement Fund, serves on the department’s industry advisory board and was a commencement speaker in May 2015 for the departmental graduation. The brothers endowed the David B. and Annie P. Simpson Scholarship to honor their parents’ sacrifice and to give a deserving engineering student the same opportunities their parents’ hard work provided for them. “NC State is very near and dear to my heart,” Simpson said.

Rachel and David Morrison

Rachel and David Morrison loved NC State when they were students on campus. And they think it’s just gotten better since then.

The couple met during freshman orientation and lived on the same hall as part of the University Honors Program. Both graduated in 2012, David with a degree in electrical and computer engineering and Rachel with a degree in civil engineering.

Rachel’s father is a general contractor in the Triangle and she has plenty of family connections to the University. NC State and the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering felt like a good fit. David, who grew up in Charlotte, was sold on an engineering degree, and NC State offered a very competitive program that, for an in-state North Carolina student, was a bargain. He came to campus undecided but became interested in electrical and computer engineering during E-101, a first-semester course all first-year students in the College are required to take that introduces the many possibilities an engineering degree affords them.

Rachel participated in the Engineers Council, including a term as vice-president, and was an active volunteer for the Engineering Career Fair. David did three co-op rotations and internships and served as a co-op ambassador, along with being a big Wolfpack sports fan.

The Morrisons settled in Raleigh, where David is an IP network engineer with Bandwidth, a communications technology services firm located on NC State’s Centennial Campus, and Rachel works in operation management for Raleigh-based custom home builder Homes by Dickerson.

The Morrisons have watched with pride as the James B. Hunt Jr. Library and renovated Talley Student Union have opened their doors. They hold season football tickets and have attended some of the College’s networking events for young alumni.

Supporting the College through annual donations to the Dean’s Circle was an easy choice.

“We love seeing NC State succeed,” David Morrison said. “We both got a great education here and it really jump-started our careers.”

Dr. Thom Hodgson

Dr. Thom Hodgson has served the Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE), the College of Engineering and the National Science Foundation (NSF) in several leadership positions since coming to NC State.

He was recruited from the University of Florida in 1983 to be the head of the ISE Department and during his seven years of service in this position the department made significant strides both in terms of faculty and student quality and national reputation.

Together with Dr. Carl Zorowski, he also co-founded and directed the Integrated Manufacturing Systems Engineering Institute (IMSEII), and later served as co-director of the interdisciplinary Operations Research Program and director of Graduate Programs for Engineering Online. His service at NSF included holding the position of director of the Division of Design and Manufacturing in the Engineering Directorate from 1990-1992.

He is a Distinguished University Professor, an Alumni Distinguished Research Professor and the department’s James T. Ryan Chair.

On July 1, 2018, he added another title: Professor Emeritus.

Hodgson, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, says he woke up one morning this spring and knew that it was time to retire.

“I had said ‘I’ll know when it’s time,’ and that’s exactly what happened,” he said.

Hodgson wanted to be an automotive engineer from a young age and went to work for Ford Motor Company after earning a bachelor’s degree in engineering and an MBA, both from the University of Michigan. He later earned a Ph.D. in industrial engineering from Michigan, recognizing that “I needed to continue learning.”

He and his wife, Grace, have endowed a fund to support IMSEI and have made a donation to support the construction of Fitts-Woolard Hall, the newest engineering building on Centennial Campus and the future home of ISE.

Hodgson said that when you tie the academic resources in ISE together with the industry and military partners he’s been able to work with, there is an environment in Raleigh that is worth supporting. It’s an environment he has enjoyed being a part of for 35 years.

“If you’re in a university, you’ve essentially dedicated yourself to lifelong learning,” he said. “Research in itself means you don’t know how to do it.”

Return to contents or download the Fall/Winter 2018 NC State Engineering magazine (PDF, 3MB).

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