Annual Red and White Week BBQ celebrates College’s achievements and future
On the sunny afternoon of Nov. 4, College of Engineering alumni with graduation years spanning decades drove past the Plant Sciences Building and Fitts-Woolard Hall — the newest additions to Centennial Campus — on their way to the Oval for the annual Homecoming BBQ.
This was the first regularly scheduled Homecoming event for the College since 2019, after the special celebration to dedicate Fitts-Woolard Hall in 2021. Attendees commemorated the achievements of past graduates and current students while looking toward the future, as the College marks its 100th anniversary in 2023.
“We’re celebrating Red and White Week and everything our College has achieved, but also a very bright future going forward,” said Dean Louis Martin-Vega.
Many of the alumni in attendance were excited to revisit the campus and connect with graduates from other classes.
“The word ‘Homecoming’ describes it. It’s coming home to where we got the start of our love for what we do,” said Wendy Laing, B.S. and M.S. industrial engineering ‘90 and assistant executive director of NC State Industry Expansion Solutions.
The event began with speeches from students Hannah Dickerson, chemical and biomolecular engineering ’24, and Evan Merkel, electrical and computer engineering (ECE) ’23.
Dickerson expressed how she was able to find a home within the College that has given her the connections, relationships and knowledge necessary to succeed after graduation.
“Being part of the College of Engineering is about much more than being part of another community. It is about being a part of a living, breathing network of people who are able to support you academically, emotionally and physically,” Dickerson said. “It’s about finding a home: a place where you feel safe enough to thrive, brave enough to make a mistake or two, and strong enough to rebound from those and persevere.”
The word ‘Homecoming’ describes it. It’s coming home to where we got the start of our love for what we do. – Wendy Laing
Merkel spoke about the research and extracurricular opportunities available at NC State that he never thought possible. For him, that includes creating a mentorship program to support ECE students and cultivating a community as vice president of the Embedded Machine Learning Club.
“[Alumni] like yourselves are the reason why the College of Engineering continues to thrive and people like me have the opportunity to do all these types of things,” he said.
The BBQ luncheon was part of a series of events hosted during Red and White Week. Along with the Wilson College of Textiles, the College put on the first Pack Appreciation Day on Centennial Campus. Students wrote thank you notes to donors while enjoying ice cream at the Corner, the new outdoor social hub on Centennial. They also signed a large thank you card for Martin-Vega, expressing gratitude for his 17 years as leader of the College.