Fitts-Woolard Hall is driven by alumni support
Fitts-Woolard Hall, the College’s newest building on NC State’s Centennial Campus, opened in summer 2020 and is becoming busier by the month.
During the spring 2021 semester, more students attended classes in person in the facility, laboratories started cranking up and faculty and staff members began unpacking in their new offices.
The opening of the new home of the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering (CCEE); the Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE); and the dean’s administrative offices is a key moment in the College’s history.
Taking another important step toward finishing the move to Centennial will continue NC State Engineering’s climb to a leading spot among public colleges of engineering in the United States.
More than 300 alumni donors have supported the College in its effort to raise $60 million in private donations to help fund construction. Meet two College of Engineering alumni who recognize the impact that the new facility is making and decided to support the fundraising effort.
Growing up near Raleigh, NC, Lisa Cook learned the importance of teamwork and service from her family early on. She got to know NC State’s campus from a young age, attending engineering camps, gymnastic meets and Kay Yow basketball camp — studying industrial and systems engineering and getting involved on campus was a natural progression.
As a freshman, Cook lived on the top floor of the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Village, with a skyline view of downtown Raleigh. It was there that she met a group of young women who changed her life.
“It made a difference to be part of a group of strong, amazing and smart women ready to conquer the engineering world,” she said.
Cook stayed busy at NC State, doing a co-op with BMW that included time working in Munich, Germany, and volunteering as an engineering ambassador, WISE mentor and an orientation counselor.
“I have been reminded many times throughout my life how precious life is. It is important to seize every phase of life and try to make it better for those around me along the way,” she said. In college, that meant seeking leadership positions in the College, University, academic societies and Greek life, as well as enjoying intramural sports. In her professional life, that has meant building an influential brand to strengthen the pipeline of women in technology, serving as a counselor and mentor in a male-dominated financial and technology sector and leading innovative, global programs.
In 2013, she accepted a consulting job in Charlotte with Ernst & Young, ending up being the first woman in the office’s newly created technology program.
With the support and confidence fostered in WISE, the College and department, she entered the workforce as an ABET-accredited engineer from a top ISE department.
Now with Bank of America in enterprise data management operations, Cook works to ensure the company has quality data to make informed decisions.
The experiences and people at NC State changed her life, Cook said. She is proud of her home department for the quality of education and invaluable skill set every student leaves with.
When given a chance to support ISE by contributing to the Fitts-Woolard Hall building effort, the choice was easy. “If I can have a positive impact on someone’s collegiate experience, and contribute to the legacy of NC State — that’s an opportunity I can’t pass by.”
Hans Warren studied in Mann Hall, the previous home of CCEE on NC State’s North Campus, and graduated in 1984 with a degree in civil engineering, construction option. The company he leads as president and CEO, Warco Construction, Inc. in Charlotte, did interior work on his home department’s new building. He’s also supporting the construction effort as an alumnus donor.
“I’m excited to be able to give back, particularly in a way that will have benefits for years to come,” Warren said.
As the son of an NC State engineer, choosing to study in Raleigh made sense. It was an exciting time to be on campus — in the spring of 1983, Warren was trying to focus on his junior-year classes while watching Jim Valvano’s men’s basketball team make an improbable nine-game run to win both the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament and then a national championship. On the evening of the national championship game against the University of Houston, Warren watched in his apartment on Gorman Street and then celebrated on the Brickyard.
Warren takes inspiration from Valvano’s message, delivered during a courageous battle with cancer, to “never give up.”
“When you have challenges, you don’t quit,” he said. “You have challenges, but you keep moving forward.”
A year after graduation, Warren started Warco with his father, Bud, and brother, Bill, as a drywall and fireproofing contractor. In 2002, his father passed away. His brother died a year later, and Warren found himself as the sole proprietor.
Today, Warren is the president and CEO, and the company’s offerings have expanded to include acoustical treatments, window treatments and fireproofing.
Warren has stayed in touch with NC State as a board member for the Wolfpack Club, the CCEE Advisory Board, the University Foundation and now the NC State Engineering Foundation. He has made donations to the University in memory of his father and brother, including endowing a scholarship in the Poole College of Management in honor of Bill, who received his degree from one of its programs.
Warren is married to the former Elizabeth Carver Morrow of Charlotte. Together, they have blended their family and share four grown children. His sons Bob and Trey are both CCEE graduates who also work for Warco.
“It’s been a generational benefit, what engineering has done for the Warren family,” he said.
Return to contents or download the Spring / Summer 2021 NC State Engineering magazine (PDF, 52.0 MB).