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New Board of Governors member tours Fitts-Woolard Hall

Sonja Nichols, fourth from left, is one of the new members of the UNC System Board of Governors.

Sonja Nichols, a new member of the University of North Carolina System Board of Governors, toured the state-of-the-arts Fitts-Woolard Hall earlier this week with Chancellor Randy Woodson as part of her visit to NC State University.

Nichols, who is from Charlotte, was appointed to the Board of Governors by the state Senate in March. A successful businesswoman, she has raised more than $2.1 million for scholarships for African American students. Nichols is the president and CEO of Nicholant Enterprises.

Fitts-Woolard Hall, which opened last summer, is home to the Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE); the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering; and the dean’s administration.

During the tour, NC State and College of Engineering faculty and staff members provided Nichols an overview of everything from the building’s features to how it was funded to the cutting-edge research happening inside. Dean Louis Martin-Vega helped guide the tour, along with ISE department head Julie Swann and professor Julie Ivy; NC State Engineering Foundation’s Griffin Lamb, executive director and assistant dean for development and college relations, and Lindsay Smith, director of development; and Cameron Smith, director of capital project management.

Fitts-Woolard Hall’s design emphasizes “engineering on display,” and prominent labs are visible through glass both inside and outside of the building.

Nichols tested out the Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE) in the Virtual and Augmented Reality Lab and spent time in the Manufacturing Innovation Lab. Ivy, who is the Fitts Faculty Fellow in Health Systems Engineering, spoke with Nichols about her research, while Swann and Martin-Vega described other projects happening in the building’s labs.

Nichols also visited the new dean’s offices, the donor wall that recognizes alumni and friends of the College who helped make Fitts-Woolard Hall possible and some of the building’s innovative and educational features.