Alumni News Category
Bryan Hum got an unexpected treat not long after he sat down to dinner last night at a restaurant in Albany, New York. And it appears he has a fellow NC State alumnus to thank for the pleasant surprise.
Hum, a 2013 NC State graduate who majored in international studies and political science, is in his second year of law school at Albany Law School. After attending a Student Bar Association meeting last night, Hum and a friend walked to a favorite restaurant for dinner. They had just ordered drinks, when a waitress walked up and handed Hum a hand-written note and a $20 bill. She said another diner had noticed Hum’s red NC State t-shirt, and asked her to give him the note and the money.
“Apply this to your bill! God bless!” read the the note. It was signed “Brian,” with no last name, and indicated that “Brian” was a 1996 NC State graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering.
Hum’s initial reaction was confusion. He wondered if it came from someone he knew, particularly since it was signed “Brian,” a different spelling of Hum’s first name. He asked the waitress to point the customer out, but she said that he had given her the note and the money as he was leaving. “He saw your shirt and wanted you to apply this to your bill,” the waitress told Hum.
Hum thought briefly about going outside to try to track down his benefactor, but quickly realized that he appreciated the anonymous nature of the gift from a fellow Wolfpacker.
“I was just astounded by it,” Hum said this morning. “It really touched me. It made me want to pay it forward myself.”
It also reinforced the strong feelings that Hum already had for NC State and its alumni — something that he quickly shared with friends via social media. “We talk about the great alumni we have, and this just proves it,” he said. “We look out for each other. It’s just a great connection we all have.”
Hum says he only spent $15 of the gift on his dinner, and plans to use the remaining $5 to pay it forward – hopefully sometime later today or this weekend.
Justin LeBlanc, the NC State graduate and design professor who won fans and friends on Lifetime’s “Project Runway” last year, is previewing his spring/summer 2015 collection tonight with a show titled “Inaudible.”
In the collection LeBlanc, who is deaf and wears a cochlear implant, revisits the theme of his thesis show at the Art Institute of Chicago, where he explored communication between hearing and deaf people.
He describes the looks as upscale, casual and comfortable. No word on whether we’ll see anything like the gown made of tiny pipettes that wowed the judges last summer on the “Project Runway” finale, but the collection does include the use of 3-D printing, something that’s become a hallmark of LeBlanc’s style. You can buy one of LeBlanc’s 3-D printed bow ties on jleblancdesign.com.
LeBlanc has been busy since “Project Runway.” He spoke to students at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design about his transition from architecture to fashion, showed his 3-D printed fashion at the International CES Show in Las Vegas, Nev., and presented a collection last spring at Charleston Fashion Week. That was on top of teaching classes and serving as co-director of NC State’s own Art2Wear show.
The show is 7:30 p.m. Thursday at CAM Raleigh, 409 W. Martin St. Tickets can be purchased at camraleigh.org.
A sponsor of the event is Bida Manda restaurant, a Laotian restaurant in Raleigh owned by Vansana Nolintha, who was a Caldwell Fellow at NC State with LeBlanc. (We profiled Nolintha in the Autumn 2013 issue of NC State magazine.) Arts Access, a Raleigh-based nonprofit dedicated to increasing access to the arts to those with disabilities, will provide a sign language interpreter and an audio description of the event.
–Sylvia Adcock ’81
Filmmakers Kieran Moreira and Andrew Martin were sitting around in the summer of 2012, charged by their boss at Drawbridge Media, a Raleigh video production company, to find content the studio could produce. They read script after script, but nothing really struck the pair. So Moreira decided to present his own idea.
“I had this one idea I called ‘Cloud Fortress,’” says Moreira, who graduated from NC State with a film studies degree in 2011. “I had this image of a boy trying to climb up to the sky.”
That nugget turned into the new short film, Harbinger, that Moreira directed and co-wrote with Martin. The independent movie will premiere at the James B. Hunt Jr. Library on Centennial Campus Wednesday, Aug. 27 at 7 p.m. Admission is free.
The film centers around a relationships between a mother and her young son Harold, whose imagination helps him deal with the changing complexities of his reality. “We had always seen it as a fantasy based in reality,” Moreira says. “The fantasy hides the more harsh realities of the world. Harold is at a transition. He is discovering things from his past. So the fantasy is an escape, but it is a shield, too.”
Moreira and Martin, who graduated from NC State in 1999 with a textile engineering degree, learned their own realities could be harsh, as well, in the three years it’s taken to get the film out. They launched a campaign on Indiegogo to raise money for the production costs, and they didn’t reach their goal. And they didn’t have the luxury of focusing solely on their movie.
“There was a tremendous amount of challenges,” Martin says. “This was going to be a year or two of our lives. Even though Drawbridge was encouraging us, we still had a full slate of work from our day jobs.”
But the fact they were able to pull it off with the help of many volunteers was instrumental in accomplishing one of their main goals. They felt they could show that while movies like Iron Man 3, some of which was shot in Cary, N.C., garner a lot of attention for the film industry in North Carolina, there is a strong independent movement afoot in the state that is already producing quality work.
From left to right, Kieran Moreira, Andrew Martin and Paul Frateschi.
“Something we always wanted to do was to showcase the talents here at home,” says Paul Frateschi, the film’s director of photography and 2009 NC State graduate. “A lot of those big films come in and bring in a DP from New York or out of state. We wanted to show what quality work we’re doing here locally. It was freelance crew people. It was the actors. We wanted to tell a North Carolina story with a North Carolina crew and cast.”
And that goal is tied to another one Martin sees as directly tied to his Wolfpack roots.
“Ultimately, so much of the reason we did this was to build the community,” he says. “We would love to build the film department and communication department at NC State so more film can come out of there.”
Emerson Fullwood says that he has been part of two revolutions in his lifetime.
The first came in 1966, when Fullwood entered NC State as one of the first African-American men to attend the recently integrated university. The second came years later but was also transformative.
“It was a great time to be at NC State because we had a chance to lend our voices to civil rights, but also to all of the other changes that were happening, such as the Vietnam War, ending apartheid in South Africa and the fight for individual freedoms for everyone,” the Wilmington native says.
Fullwood was recently honored for his contributions to civil rights by the Countywide CDC Committee on the Humanities and the Arts, a nonprofit organization that sponsored an event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
He remembers joining friends to picket pizza parlors and taverns along Hillsborough Street for the right to have a meal. They succeeded. But what Fullwood is quick to emphasize is the way that NC State supported integration and fulfilled his goal to attend one of “the best universities” that he could find.
“I was looking for an exceptional education, which of course I did get at the university,” says Fullwood, who graduated in 1970 with an economics degree from the Poole College of Management. “On the academic side, it was an incredible experience, and it was so incredible because outside of the classroom was so extraordinary during the 1960s.”
After graduating, Fullwood went on to receive an MBA from Columbia University and then landed the job where he spent his entire career – at Xerox, the Fortune 500 corporation that has been providing printers and other document management tools to businesses worldwide for more than 100 years.
He started in sales and quickly moved into the executive ranks, eventually working in offices in Europe, Asia and Latin America. When he retired in 2008, Fullwood was executive chief staff of developing markets operations for the company.
He says being at Xerox allowed him to witness the second revolution – the rapid growth of modern technology and its effect on every aspect of society today.
“I got to be a big, big part of a global, iconic company that literally changed the way business was done around the world,” said Fullwood. “When I was in school, we could not have had a discussion on mobile devices. We did not have computers and iPads in front of us. I was able to be a huge part of a place that revolutionized communications and brought technology to the forefront.”
Growing up in Nebraska, Kelley Dennings loved the outdoors, was reading Greenpeace magazine in the sixth grade and started her high school’s first environmental club. Still, the self-professed tree-hugger says she “didn’t know a lick about trees.”
But today, she can tell her longleaf pine from her oak – and she’s teaching others, too. Dennings is director of behavior change strategies at the American Forest Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that helps woodland owners learn how to take better care of their forestlands.
It’s an important step in environmental protection and sustainability. More than one-third of America’s forests are privately owned, but Dennings says many landowners don’t realize that their property needs maintenance to stay healthy.
It’s not always easy to convince them, either. Most of the targeted audience are 60 to 80-year-olds who inherited their woodlands from family members. Some of them are distrustful of the unknown and confused by the various entities and options that are available to them.
“We have worked really hard to create the right message, in the right tone,” said Dennings, who graduated from NC State in 1998 with a degree in natural resources. “Somebody might not want to manage for timber, but they might want to manage for wildlife and don’t necessarily understand that those two can be complementary.”
Together with state forest services and other agencies nationwide, Dennings coordinates campaigns that will encourage forest owners to become engaged in state-specific projects to protect their land. In New England, that means explaining about the benefits of conservation easements. In the West, the priority is encouraging forest thinning to prevent catastrophic wildfires.
Identifying the landowner is a tedious process that comes from poring over tax rolls and weeding out property owners who aren’t viable prospects, such as farmers. Then the AAF turns to a direct mail campaign, sending multiple letters to woodland owners to encourage them to learn more about what they can do to protect their forests. Those that reply can get a free handbook with information about what can be done or request that a forester come to walk the land and offer suggestions.
Dennings says the good news is that woodland owners usually can pick what interests them, such as attracting wildlife to their land, hunting, species restoration, conservation or timber production.
But those same landowners may not reap the benefits of the efforts they make for decades, which makes engagement a harder sell.
“We’re asking people to do things they wouldn’t necessarily think of, so it’s out of their comfort zone,” said Dennings. “We have to engage with these landowners for years and years and years to get to our desired outcome.”
Daryl Liles and his brother, Derek, have always done everything together. They were born together, as twins, so that’s only natural.
Derek Liles paints one end zone of Carter-Finley Stadium. Photo by Ted Richardson.
They grew up rooting for the Wolfpack together with their parents. They came to NC State and graduated from the Agricultural Institute in 1998 together.
And now they work to protect the sacred grounds of NC State athletics for coaches, players and fans. Daryl is the turf supervisor for athletics grounds, and Derek is facilities supervisor.
This fall will be their 15th full season working athletic events, from double-headers at Doak Field to game-day Saturdays at Carter-Finley Stadium.”With the pressure that comes with college athletics, it puts pressure on coaches to win,” Derek says of his job. “That puts pressure on everybody else. We work a lot of hours. You like to see a season come in, but you like to see them end, too.”
Daryl Liles raises a net for an extra point attempt at Carter-Finley Stadium. Photo by Ted Richardson.
The twins told themselves when they were at the Agricultural Institute that they would graduate and own their own landscaping business. “We cut grass all of our lives and grew up on a farm in Knightdale,” Daryl says. But they both got an internship with the athletics facilities division on campus that presented them with options, one of which stood out.
“In turf grass, you’re either on the golf course, athletic fields, landscaping or sales. [But with athletic fields] you get satisfaction of how your field looks,” Daryl says. “And you’re getting paid to watch Division I athletics. But at the same time, you’re here if something goes wrong to deal with it.”
That something could be an assortment of trouble. It might be an airplane liquor bottle shoved in a urinal during a game. It might be managing an array of contests across campus on a Saturday afternoon. It might be a breaker going out on a scoreboard. Or it might mean having to delay painting the football field for a Saturday game all week because of a tropical storm, as was the case when the University to South Carolina came to town one year.
“Friday morning, there was no paint on the field,” Daryl says. “We came in at 4 o’clock that morning, painted throughout the day and finished at seven that night.”
Of course, as Derek points out, sometimes something going wrong could bode well for NC State fans. “Early on, we dealt with tearing down goal posts,” he says. “It seems like every week, we’d beat Florida State or East Carolina, and we’d scramble to get a new set of goal posts up.”
The Liles brothers love being near college athletics every day on the job, even if it does mean they can’t use their two season tickets to football games (they give them to their parents). But they do get to enjoy their season tickets to the Carolina Hurricanes.
The ice is the one place where they can just be fans.
NC State magazine was granted full access in fall of 2013 to see all the behind-the-scenes work that goes in to putting on a game at Carter-Finley on Saturdays. We included a feature about what we saw in the summer issue, which should be in mailboxes very soon. We also produced a video to show how the stadium comes alive.
NC State magazine profiled the university’s efforts in regenerative medicine in the summer issue, which should be in mailboxes soon.
But it turns out there’s a Wolfpacker also stressing regenerative efforts at the Naval Medical Research Center that could become standard practice across the globe.
The center, located in Silver Spring, Md., focuses on solving battlefield medical problems, studying infectious diseases, and understanding health problems associated with non-conventional weapons.
Capt. John W. Sanders III
And Capt. John W. Sanders III, who graduated from NC State in 1987 and is the center’s commanding officer, believes investments in regenerative medicine research will help to develop better ways to help tissue heal after traumatic blast injuries.
“This is a level of trauma that historically people did not survive,” says Sanders, who adds that today’s resusciative techniques help produce a 98 percent chance of surviving for those who suffer the injuries.
The Naval Medical Research Center is working to develop tests that can help doctors judge how well a particular wound is likely to heal and which strategies would be best to promote healing, such as adding anti-inflammatory therapies or transplanted cells. When soldiers are evacuated from Afghanistan or Iraq, any tissue removed from blast wounds is collected and analyzed in detail—the cell types and body chemicals that are present and in what amounts. The resulting database will help researchers discover which chemicals or cells are most important in healing these devastating wounds.
The center also works to improve prosthetic limbs, in collaboration with regenerative medicine pioneer Anthony Atala, director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, where researchers are developing ways to prepare prosthetics so human skin will bond to better and prevent infection.
Sanders, whose expertise is in tropical medicine, says that NC State’s new investments in regenerative medicine are wise.
“Regenerative medicine is part of the evolution of our medical care, both for soldiers and sailors injured in battle and for civilians who may suffer a blast injury,” he says. “Like so many other examples of military technique, we expect techniques developed to take care of combat injuries will ultimately end up being used in other areas of medical care, from cancer to reproduction.”
Visitors to Washington, D.C., will get their first look at the planned Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial in 2017 when the memorial commemorating the 34th president of the United States opens across from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
While architect Frank Gehry was chosen to design the memorial, landscape architect and soil scientist Barrett Kays is concerned with a much deeper question — what in the world will go on underneath Eisenhower Square?
Kays, who graduated from NC State with a design degree in 1973 and with a Ph.D. in soil science in 1979, is one of the country’s leading experts in integrating soil science in the design of landscape architecture projects in urban areas. (NC State magazine profiled Kays in 1996 when he took on a project in New York City’s Central Park.)
He recently completed the construction documents for the manufactured custom soils and drainage system for the memorial’s site.
“At the Eisenhower Memorial, we have to control the moisture,” says Kays, president of the consulting firm Landis Inc. in Raleigh. “So we have to remove about 35,000 cubic yards of material from the site.”
A planned view from Eisenhower Square. (Photo courtesy of Eisenhower Memorial Commission.)
Kays will replace it with a custom blend of soils that, as he describes it, will drain well when it’s extremely wet and keep in enough moisture when it’s dry.
“Typically in the past, the way urban parks get destroyed is when you have these large events with a lot of people, when they occur after a large rainstorm event,” Kays says. “The National Mall was destroyed over and over in the 1960s. In Central Park, behind The Metropolitan Museum of Art, they would have a million people there at a time.”
But with technology and a focus on landscape architecture in urban planning, Kays says scientists have been able to have a large rain event with no runoff.
It used to be that students might take a year after college graduation to travel around before starting a job. But two architecture graduates, Brian Gaudio and Abe Drechsler, have decided to thread travel into their jobs and have gone to work for themselves.
Gaudio and Drechsler are the brains behind Within Formal Cities, a project in which they will study informal communities in South American cities and produce a documentary about the subject. The two were awarded the Duda Travel Scholarship, established by Linda and Turan Duda. Turan Duda is an NC State graduate and is a partner at Duda Paine Architects in Durham, N.C.
And Monday, Within Formal Cities launched a crowd-funding campaign to help raise money for their trip, which will take place in September and October.
Gaudio says he had spent a lot of time on service projects in the Dominican Republic, and that the cities of Bogota, Lima, Santiago, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo seemed like the next logical step in studying how cities around the world will handle the next influx of people coming to them. Within Formal Cities’ website states that an estimated 1.41 billion more people will move to urban areas over the next 40 years.
“We chose South America for a few reasons. It’s closer, so you do more with the fellowship money,” Gaudio says. “South America has been dealing with these housing issues for a long time.
The pair will travel around the five South American cities and interview architects, community organizers and professors about how the respective city deals with housing challenges. They will identify a neighborhood and look at buildings built both by private citizens and by the government. They’ll also be shooting film for a film they’ll edit and release when they return.
“We’re really trying to do more than just study things for ourselves,” Gaudio says. “We think creative people like architects and designers have a lot to offer.
“Seventy percent of the world’s population will be living in cities. It’s going to be a very important challenge for the world.”
Doug Mattox was a history buff long before he majored in the subject at NC State.
As a boy growing up in Wendell, N.C., he discovered stamp collecting. No one in his immediate family was a stamp aficionado, but Mattox gravitated to it. And just like a stamp, the hobby stuck.
Today, Mattox is the founder and president of Mattox Coins & Stamps, Inc., a Raleigh company that generated $1.5 million in revenue last year.
“It’s just the treasure hunter in me,” he says, when asked what has kept his business going for more than 35 years. “You never know what’s going to come in the door or what you’re going to find in a box of stuff. That’s what keeps it fun.”
As the name implies, the company deals in more than just rare stamps. Mattox and his son, Austin, work as agents and brokers, appraising the value of coins, currency, stamps and envelopes and selling them to auction houses.
The work attracts a variety of clientele, ranging from universities and bank trusts to individuals who inherit items from deceased loved ones and aren’t sure of their value. Other customers come to Mattox with items they purchased for investment and are ready to sell.
But the Internet has fooled many a would-be collector, says Mattox, who graduated from NC State in 1976. People often buy coins that are purported to be rare by advertisers, only to learn that they were duped when they come to Mattox for an appraisal.
One of the most counterfeited items that Mattox comes across are U.S. gold coins. Valuable ones are about 90 percent pure, but Mattox says people often come to him excitedly with some, only to find that their coins are perhaps 50 percent gold, or even just gold-plated brass.
“I tell them just to put it in the bank or give it to a kid,” he says. “You know, on the Antiques Roadshow, everybody gets good news. But here, more people get bad news than good news.”
Over the years, Mattox has encountered many old and unusual items. One day, he might find himself appraising German currency from the 1920s. The next, a $5 American bill from the 1880s. The priciest item sold recently was a set of Tibetan stamps from 1907 for $121,000.
But as a former American history major, Mattox gets the most excited when an American colonial item comes his way.
“That’s always fun because we weren’t very populated – even in big cities – in colonial days,” he says. “So when you run across envelopes or currency, that’s always cool.”