They say that industrial engineers can succeed in both good times and bad. So why should their building be any different? NC State ISE finally has a new home. It took almost 20 years and required passing two bond referendums, a recession, a few name changes and a pandemic. But, today, the new home of the NC State ISE Department stands tall. Located on Centennial Campus, Fitts-Woolard Hall provides the space, facilities and resources the ISE Department needs to continue growing and creating the next generation of world-class industrial engineers.
It all started in November of 2000. The people of North Carolina passed the Higher Education Improvement bond. This bond provided more than $468 million for the renovation and construction of new buildings at NC State. With the passage of the bond referendum, NC State’s College of Engineering now had the means for relocating to Centennial Campus, taking advantage of the physical space and superior power infrastructure..
A NEW HOME FOR ENGINEERING
In 2002, the College set its plans in motion. Ground was broken for the first of five planned buildings, Engineering Building I. One year after EBI was finished, construction started on the second building, Engineering Building II. Hey, at NC State, we make great buildings, not great building names. In 2007, work began on the third building, and it looked as if nothing could stop the plan to move the entire College.
However, when the Great Recession hit in 2008, funding dried up. The State of North Carolina limited the amount of money given to NC State through the bonds. EB III was able to be finished by 2011 despite this, but because of the changes in funding, NC State had to delay the first plans for Engineering Building IV — the future home of ISE — and Engineering Building V.
Once the economy began to recover, the College returned its focus to finishing its move to Centennial Campus. In 2014, NC State made creating a new engineering building its top priority. The University created a plan to raise private funds for constructing this new building while lobbying for the state to fund half of the $150 million. In 2016, North Carolinians voted once again to pass an education bond. The Connect NC Bond ensured $77 million to build the new engineering building, then renamed Engineering Building Oval instead of Engineering Building IV. NC State allocated $17 million to the project but needed more from private donations to begin construction.
The College of Engineering and NC State began holding fundraisers to help pay for Engineering Building Oval. This new building would be the future home of the Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE), the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering and the Dean’s Office.
That’s when ISE alumni Edward P. Fitts, Jr. and Edgar S. Woolard, Jr (affectionately known as “The Eds”) donated $25 million to the project. Thanks to their generous gift in 2018, construction on the newly dubbed Fitts-Woolard Hall began.
THE NEW HOME OF ISE
The move into Fitts-Woolard Hall was on the books for July 13th, 2020, and in March of 2020, everything was right on track. But the COVID-19 pandemic had other plans. Although the construction of the building stayed on schedule, other parts of the project fell behind. With the shelter in place order came delays in receiving furniture and other essential materials. These delays pushed the opening back to fall 2020. Today, Fitts-Woolard Hall, like the people it shelters, stands ready and shows it can succeed through the good times and the bad. It is a world-class facility that welcomes the next generations of NC State industrial engineers.