College of Engineering Category
The Winter Olympics wrap up in Sochi, Russia, on Sunday, but not before some athletes get their last chance to capture a gold medal for another four years. Some of the most popular Olympians left competing are members of the four-man bobsled teams.
Hans DeBot and one of his Olympic sleds in his DeBotech shop. Photo courtesy of DeBotech.
And if you tune in to watch the bobsledding event on Saturday and Sunday, you will see just how much red and white compliment the blue of the American bobsled and skeleton teams. Hans DeBot graduated from NC State in 1993 with a mechanical engineering degree, DeBotech, his carbon fiber and composite parts company in Mooresville, N.C., built the Night Train 2, the bobsled that is trying to defend the gold medal the four-man team won in Vancouver four years ago.
DeBot says this may be his most rewarding project in a career that has included work in aerospace and military technology, NASCAR and the Aviation Racing Series. “It’s hard not to pay notice to the Olympics,” he says. “We’re especially making a difference. But was it a challenge. Sure, it was very risky.”
The risk DeBot refers to came in 2002 when he says an Olympic bobsledding hopeful named Bruce Rosselli came to him wanting DeBot to build a bobsled. “I didn’t know anything about the sport,” DeBot says, adding that he likes to solve any problem given to him. ” I didn’t know if he was a good driver. He didn’t have any money to do it. But I built that bobsled.”
DeBot’s sled showed up at the 2002 Olympics as a lighter ride made with carbon fiber instead of the usual heavier laminated glass and Kevlar. The U.S. team took home the silver and bronze medals that year in Salt Lake City.
Photo courtesy of DeBotech.
His Olympic involvement has led DeBot to partner on projects with former NASCAR driver-turned-bobsled-maker Geoff Bodine and BMW. DeBotech was brought in recently to help build the sleds used for the skeleton events, where athletes ride headfirst at speeds of 80 miles per hour on a sled that loosely resembles one the average Joe might go down on in the snow, and to help build the two-man bobsled.
DeBot’s work has made it to the podium in Sochi. The women’s skeleton team captured a silver, with the men’s team getting a bronze. The two-man men’s bobsled team won a bronze, the first medal won by Americans in the event in 62 years, and the two-man bobsled women’s team took home a silver and a bronze.
This weekend the four-man bobsled team will try to once again capture gold.
While many viewers choose to watch the tape-delayed results on NBC in prime time, DeBot says he and the 20 employees in his shop can’t wait for that and instead watch the events live in their shop.
“I pull it up on the T.V. in the shop so the employees can enjoy,” he says. “They get to sit back and say, ‘We’re sitting and watching our stuff come to life on television.’”
Imagine a ballerina, clad in a white leotard and tutu, gracing the stage of the Durham Performing Arts Center. Now imagine that same ballerina dancing around in the streets of downtown Raleigh. Tim Lytvinenko captured those images and many more in his 15th Anniversary Book for the Carolina Ballet.
Lytvinenko has had a passion for photography since he was a child. He worked as a photo editor for the Technician while he studied computer science at NC State and had a few internships at newspapers after college. He graduated in 2006 with an engineering degree.
“I knew that’s what I was going to pursue for a while,” Lytvinenko says.
One First Friday, Lytvinenko happened to meet some of the dancers from the Carolina Ballet running around downtown Raleigh doing a photo shoot. The dancers wanted to bring a unique marketing strategy to the Ballet, so Lytvinenko thought that taking pictures in urban spaces instead of on stage was one way to do it.
“We tried to go around to familiar places in Raleigh,” Lytvinenko says. “Since they weren’t on stage, it was a lot easier for people to connect with them. They weren’t these icons. They were just normal people.”
Lytvinenko’s 15th Anniversary Book contains much more than just images of ballerinas frolicking through the busy streets of Raleigh. The book features shots of the ballerinas on stage, but also contains glimpses into their lives behind the curtain.
“Every night when I’m shooting backstage, it’s this kind of push-pull because I’m trying to get closer to shoot, but also leave them enough room to get ready for their performance,” Lytvinenko says.
During the 15th season, Lytvinenko took more than 100,000 photos over the course of about 60 shows. He narrowed them down to less than 200 for the book. Lytvinenko’s friend from NC State, Ben McNeely, helped him with the written content and editing of the 15th Anniversary Book.
“I couldn’t have done it without him,” Lytvinenko says.
McNeely, a 2005 NC State grad who works as a producer for News 14 Carolina, and Lytvinenko worked together at Technician and have been close friends ever since. Lytvinenko says they have worked together on projects before and even have some projects in the works this year.
“There aren’t too many people from college that I keep up with like him,” Lytvinenko says.
Lytvinenko (left, in a self portrait) keeps up with a few other friends from his time at Technician, including Ray Black, who helped with the copy editing of the 15th Anniversary Book. Lytvinenko says he still does a lot of photography work with Black as well.
“They aren’t just people from Technician anymore,” Lytvinenko says. “They’re people from my life.”
Lytvinenko plans to continue working with his friends McNeely and Black on future projects as well as with some of the dancers from the Carolina Ballet. He currently shoots for Walter Magazine, and has a residency at Chuck’s in downtown Raleigh, where some of his work is displayed year-round.
The last remnants of Riddick Stadium, as noted in the winter issue of NC State magazine, came down last April when the stadium’s field house was demolished to improve pedestrian access and safety near the railroad tunnel. That means that the only remaining salute to one of the most important figures in NC State’s history is Riddick Hall, which houses the physics department.
And as much as Wallace Carl Riddick did for the university, both as an athletics coach and as an administrator trying to grow NC State, it’s fitting that the campus can’t wholly shake his name.
Riddick first came to NC State in the college’s infancy, joining the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts in 1892. He came as a professor of civil engineering after graduating UNC-Chapel Hill and obtaining a graduate degree from Lehigh University (and, according to his obituary in the American Society of Civil Engineers, even being expelled from Wake Forest College for being a member of a fraternity, or as the college saw it, a secret society).
In his years of building a robust civil engineering department at the college, Riddick became known as being the “father of engineering in North Carolina,” as former chancellor J.W. Harrelson once described him. And David Lockmiller, in his History of the North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Engineering, credits Riddick’s efforts as being the driving force behind bringing sewer connections and city water to campus in the early 1900s. Riddick also coached the 1898 and 1899 football squads.
Riddick was elected vice-president in 1908 and president in 1916. The college’s name was changed to North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Engineering during his time in office, according to Hardy D. Berry’s Place Names on the Campus of North Carolina State University. Riddick gave up the post in 1923 to become the first dean of the School of Engineering.
When Riddick Engineering Laboratories were dedicated in April 1951, the formal program memorialized Riddick, who had died in 1942, as “the man who has served State College in more capacities and for a longer time than any other person.” It also hailed his leadership for guiding “the college through the turbulent period of the first world war and its aftermath. Under his guidance the college made some of its greatest progress.”
Riddick later in his life.
In Riddick’s file at the Alumni Association, there is a letter from his wife, Lillian Daniel Riddick, in which she outlines her husband’s belief in NC State and the students it serves. She tells a story about a group of Serbian students who were brought over to study at NC State with their first year paid for. But when it became apparent that personnel changes at the college had led to those same students not having a funding source for their remaining three years, Riddick stepped in. As president, he persuaded the Board of Trustees to let the Serbian young men finish their studies with the college giving them their tuition and board.
It was that belief in education that defined Riddick and his commitment to NC State, where his name will never be forgotten.
When you consider all that Carroll Lamb Mann did for NC State during his 47 years as a professor of civil engineering (including 32 years as head of the Department of Civil Engineering), it’s not surprising that he would have a building on campus named for him.
But two buildings?
On this day in 1963, the Technician reported that the new civil engineering building had been completed. The story noted that the four-story building, with more than 76,000 square feet of space, would be named after Mann.
What the story did not note was that it would be the second building at NC State that had been named for Mann. The other building had been incorporated into Daniels Hall in 1956, some seven years earlier.
The new civil engineering building was a 65 percent increase in existing engineering facilities on campus, but it was also designed so that it could be expanded either vertically or horizontally, according to the story.
It was, as noted by NC State’s facilities division, typical of many building constructed in the 19609s. But it included at least one feature not found in most buildings — a five-foot thick concrete slab floor in a lab used for structural testing.
Mann, the building’s namesake, spent much of his life at NC State. He majored in civil engineering at the end of the 19th century, earning his degree in 1899. After working as a surveyor (he was part of an effort to study the feasibility of building a canal across Nicaragua), Mann returned to NC State as a professor of civil engineering and served as head of the Department of Civil Engineering for 32 years. He would teach at NC State for nearly five decades before retiring in 1948.
He also served for 30 years as chairman of the alumni memorial committee that conceived of and constructed the Memorial Bell Tower. The tower was dedicated in 1949, one year after Mann’s retirement from NC State.
“My greatest experience has been the work I have done on that tower,” Mann once said. “When the time comes for me to die, the last think I want to hear are the chimes on Memorial Tower at the College.”
Ken Blackburn was, in 1983, an unknown junior in aerospace engineering at NC State who had but one dream — to own the sky.
And it was on this day 30 years ago that Blackburn’s anonymity died and his dream took off as he set the world record for indoor paper-airplane flight in Reynolds Coliseum with his cutting-edge pulp glider, “Bossy,” that cut through the air for 16.89 seconds.
“‘Bossy,’ the record breaking plane, is constructed from a piece of standard-sized typing paper,” the Technician reported, quoting Blackburn as describing his design as being “highly modified” from a design he saw in a book in elementary school.
That November day had been a long time coming for Blackburn. According to the Technician‘s account, he’d been cradling that dream since the sixth grade. He had broken the record, which had been on the books since 1975, by three seconds a year before the historic flight in Reynolds. Unfortunately, there was no official representative from Guinness World Records to record that initial flight.
Even on the record day in 1983, “Bossy” wouldn’t have joined Blackburn on the unfolded pages of history if not for a simple twist of fate taking down another of his planes. “During warm-up, ‘Old Betsy,’ his previous record-breaking plane, gave her life as she drifted into the speaker system in the rafters of Reynolds Coliseum,” the Technician reported.
Ken Blackburn’s launch was captured by a Technician photographer.
According to the story, only six people were on hand to see history that day. But that, and the wear-and-tear that paper airplanes can inflict on their launchers, didn’t deter Blackburn from enjoying his glory. “Blackburn said that his right arm would be sore for the next few days, but this did not take away from the excitement of his accomplishment.” the Technician‘s account read.
Blackburn, who graduated from NC State in 1985, continued his upward trajectory after college. According to his website, he set another record in 1987 with a 17.2-second flight. He wrote and published The World Record Paper Air Plane Book. And he set another record in 1998 inside of Atlanta’s Georgia Dome with an airplane that whirled and twirled for 27.6 seconds.
According to Guinness World Records’ website, the current record for a paper airplane’s flight stands at 29.2 seconds and was set by someone else in Japan in 2010.
Richard Holcomb loved growing up around his family’s feeder pig farm in Whiteville, N.C. — so much so that he considered going into farming himself. When his family moved to Conway, S.C., he worked on local farms as hired help.
But when Holcomb graduated from high school in 1979, he says the conventional wisdom in farming was “get big or get out.”
“I got out,” he says.
He studied computer science at the University of South Carolina for three years and and then started his master’s in the same field at NC State in 1983. A year later, he left State to work in the software industry for more than two decades, founding and investing in more than 30 local software companies. Along the way, he returned to State and completed his master’s degree in in 1989.
“Software when I started it in my early 20s was really exciting,” Holcomb says. “The IBM PC had just been invented, things like Microsoft Windows had just come out. Everything was new — everything needed to be done. A small company with just a couple people could make a really big difference.”
But by the early 2000s, Holcomb says the industry had changed and the days of garage startups were all but gone. Much of his workdays were spent attending business meetings and watching PowerPoint presentations. Holcomb says it was time for him to change course.
Richard Holcomb tending to the chickens (Photos courtesy of Jamie DeMent, Coon Rock Farm)
In 2004, he moved from his inside-the-Beltline home in Raleigh to the 65-acre Coon Rock Farm in Hillsborough, N.C. to get in on the local and organic farming movement.
“It was time for something new, and the organic and local farming movement was just starting to really take off,” Holcomb says. “I decided if I’m still young enough to make that move, I’ll follow what I wanted to do when I was 17. [Organic farming is] almost like being 20 again because it’s so exciting and fun to do. It doesn’t involve a lot of meetings and it never involves a PowerPoint.”
Today, Holcomb and his staff of five full-time employees and five to seven interns grow more than 100 varieties of heirloom vegetables without chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. They also raise chickens and grass-fed livestock on the farm and on 300 acres of land in and around Orange County.
On the farm, sheep, pigs and cows are rotated through the gardens to eat weeds and provide natural fertilizer for the crops.
“Although it’s the farming they used to do 1,000 years ago, it’s exciting and fresh,” Holcomb says. “There’s a lot of new, young people getting into it and the market is growing very rapidly.”
With the ramped-up use of pesticides and genetically modified crops in mainstream agriculture, Holcomb says the growing popularity of organic foods is due largely to health concerns.
“You can look at different scientific studies if you want,” he says, “but at the common sense level, if I’m spraying something on a plant that’s going to kill a bug and then I’m going to eat the plant, is it going to kill me?”
Holcomb purchased a farm-to-table restaurant in Durham, N.C. called Piedmont in 2010 and a produce delivery service called Bella Bean Organics in 2012. According to Holcomb, Coon Rock Farm makes an estimated 500-1,000 shipments each week through Bella Bean and Community Supported Agriculture, another delivery service. Coon Rock also sells produce and meats at various Triangle farmers’ markets.
Holcomb says he’s committed to showing that it’s possible to eat local, healthy and organic foods year round, even if it means getting up early on a cold January morning or working through a hot summer afternoon. Although he admits working in extreme heat and cold is one of the hardest parts of his job, Holcomb says days when the weather is just right are by far the best and most rewarding.
“Seventy degrees. The sun’s not too bright, but it’s not cloudy. It’s perfect to be outside planting seed or picking okra or riding the tractor,” Holcomb says. “It’s days like this that make farming worthwhile.”
When Allen Clapp teaches painting at an art seminar, he tries to keep it simple and take the mystery out of it. Instead of just having them paint landscapes, he takes his students out in the morning and has them engage in a detailed study of the sky.
He has them turn all the way around and study the changes in the sky. He asks them to focus on the look and feel of the clouds.
The abstract exercise might seem normal to an artist, but it seems a bit odd given Clapp’s day job. Though he fell in love with oil and landscape painting as a child in Siler City, N.C., in the 1950s, he was trained at NC State as an engineer (and also has a degree from the Poole College of Management). Engineers can’t think in abstractions. They have to be precise and exact and can deal only in the tangible.
But Clapp, who owns the power and utilities consulting firm Clapp Research Associates, likes that his painting and teaching art allows him to step out of his 9-to-5 world. “A lot of my business is so particular. It’s so regimented,” he says. “The more I can step out of engineering, the more I can free up my thinking.”
“Windsurfing at Mama’s Fish House” is one of Clapp’s paintings that will be featured in the WOAS in Raleigh this weekend.
It’ll be an entire world of freedom for Clapp this weekend, as he’s a featured artist in the World of Art Showcase, an annual international art show featuring professional and emerging artists.
And the honor to be featured in the showcase is even more special to Clapp this year since the event takes place at the Raleigh Convention Center Friday through Sunday. You can visit the showcase’s link above to find more information on event and ticket information.
Even though the engineer in Clapp likes having a break from his day job, he says that there are certain connections between his profession and his passion for painting that don’t call for him to stretch himself too much.
“One of the things about engineering is that you need to understand relationships,” he says. “You need a plan. And both of those are a must for painting. You look at an abstract painting, and you see there are rhymes and reasons to it.”
Don Holloway studied civil engineering at NC State in the 1980s, but he never pursued a career in that field. Instead, he makes his living selling fine wines to retail stores and restaurants.
“Think about traveling around the world to look at wine, then think about being an engineer designing bridges,” Holloway says. “It’s a long road from being in civil engineering to being in wine, but it’s been a good one.”
Don Holloway (right) with his wife, Tracey Carithers (left) and winemaker Dawnine Dyer
Holloway and his wife, Tracey Carithers, own a wine wholesaler in Raleigh called Juice Wine Purveyors. Holloway says the name is indicative of the places where he gets his wines — he says wine is frequently called “juice” in California and that wine dealers in England and France are often called purveyors. Hence, Juice Wine Purveyors.
“I mainly work with higher end California wines and French wines,” Holloway says.
While still a student at NC State, Holloway worked on an Interstate 40 construction project as part of an internship. But he had grown up the restaurant business, and went to work as a waiter at the Angus Barn in Raleigh after he got out of school. He credits the Eure family, which owns the Angus Barn, with teaching him all he knows about wine and beer. He took that knowledge with him into the wholesale wine business, working for about 10 years as the vice president for a wholesaler in Charlotte, N.C., before starting Juice Wine Purveyors about five years ago.
The company now has 25 employees and did about $8 million in sales last year, Holloway says. “I had put two wholesalers together from scratch, but done it for somebody else,” he says. “So it was kind of an easy step. It was not a big leap of faith.”
Holloway serves as the liaison between wineries and restaurants and retail shops. It’s a role that requires him to travel the world to sample fine wines and the food that often accompanies it. His favorite types of wine are burgandy and pinot noir.
Holloway says he once sold six bottles of a 1945 Château Mouton Rothschild for a total of $18,000, but adds that it’s not uncommon to sell expensive bottles of wine. He says that North Carolina ranks seventh among the states in fine wine sales.
“You’ve got this huge, educated populace,” he says. “They are buying more wine and more expensive wine. Wine was the only beverage that didn’t see a fall-off during the recession. Volume was up and gross was up. The last two years, it’s been dramatically up.”
Juice Wine Purveyors is one of dozens of vendors – including restaurants, farms, breweries, wineries and bakeries – participating in the Red & White Food and Beverage Festival during the week of homecoming. All of the vendors have NC State connections, with alumni as owners or managers. The festival is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 29, at The State Club in the Park Alumni Center. Visit the festival website to register and see a full list of vendors participating.
When Apple unveiled its new iPhone 5s last week, F. Scott Moody’s phone “blew up” with texts and emails from friends. They were excited about one of the new features on the iPhone, and wanted to congratulate Moody for his part in it.
The newest iPhone will include a fingerprint sensor that can be used to unlock the phone or to make online purchases. The sensor was developed by AuthenTec, a company that Moody co-founded and led until Apple bought it last year.
Moody, a 1980 graduate of NC State, says it’s “pretty cool” that a product that he helped develop will become such an integral part of so many people’s lives. It was, in many ways, a validation of the approach that Moody and others took when they started AuthenTec in 1998 in Florida.
Moody had worked for Harris Semiconductor for 18 years, rising to vice president of a $200-million division, when a couple of the company’s engineers approached him about developing a fingerprint sensor that could be integrated into various products. The company wasn’t interested in pursuing the idea, so Moody and one of the engineers, Dale Setlak, licensed the idea and co-founded AuthenTec to see if they could make a fingerprint sensor that was small enough and effective enough to be useful.
“It was scary,” Moody recalls. “Both Dale and I were about 40, we both had three children, and we were quitting good jobs to start this company.” When the new company’s first prototype failed, Moody went home to talk with his wife: “It was like, ‘I’m so sorry, honey, I’ve blown it.’”
F. Scott Moody with his wife and daughters when AuthenTec went public in 2007
But Moody and Setlak (described by Moody as “the smart guy” in the company) got back to work, with a different approach than other companies working with fingerprint technology. While other companies were focused on developing products that would appeal to government agencies, law enforcement agencies or other big entities interested in using fingerprint sensors to protect themselves against intrusion by outsiders, AuthenTec was developing sensors with individuals in mind.
“It’s all about that end user, how to make their life easier,” Moody says.
Moody says it also helped that he left the engineering work to Setlak and others at AuthenTec. His time at Harris Semiconductor had given him experience in areas ranging from manufacturing to marketing to product management.
“I had an engineering degree, but I never considered myself much of an engineer,” he says. “We had a great number of very smart engineers. I would ask for this, and drive you crazy until you make something like it. If I was smarter, I probably wouldn’t have asked for some of the stuff I did.”
Moody says he didn’t know until last week’s announcement that the fingerprint sensor AuthenTec developed would be in the new iPhone. He says that Apple was free to do whatever they wanted with the sensor when they purchased the company last year for $356 million.
“It’s pretty cool that a company I helped start was acquired by Apple,” Moody says. “But it’s a whole other thing when people use your product. Dale and myself, when we started this company, we had a dream of being a part of everybody’s lives. This is kind of cool.”
Moody moved back to the Triangle last year. He is the entrepreneur in residence at Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network and the founder and managing director at First Talent Ventures. He does some investing, but spends much of his time mentoring others who are considering starting their own companies. He dispenses advice through his Twitter account, and encourages potential entrepreneurs to ask themselves tough questions before they take the leap to start a company.
“The biggest investor in your business is you,” he says. “You need to vet the opportunity harder and more aggressively than any investor will ever do. I can assure you that you’re betting a lot more on that thing than the investor.”
Moody also encourages new graduates to consider working for another company before launching their own business.
“There is a benefit,” he says, “to gaining some experience.”
J. Robert Cooke was following in some big footsteps when he became NC State’s student body president in 1960. Eddie Knox, who would go on to serve as mayor of Charlotte, had been student body president the year before, and Jim Hunt, who would go on to become a four-term governor of North Carolina, had held the position for the two years before that.
That could have been overwhelming for a self-proclaimed “shy country boy” from Huntersville, N.C.
But Cooke had been president of the student body in high school, where he learned a valuable skill in a vocational agriculture course. Cooke learned parliamentary procedure, giving him the tools he needed to be able to conduct an effective meeting.
“It’s something you can learn in about a day that has been useful to me throughout my life,” Cooke said years later in an interview recorded by NCSU Libraries as part of its Student Leadership Initiative, an effort to chronicle the experiences of campus leaders. “I cannot imagine not having had that tool at my disposal.”
Cooke received three engineering degrees from NC State before embarking on a long career as a professor at Cornell University. He initially ended up at NC State because it was far more affordable than Davidson College, where he was also accepted. He initially lived in Bagwell Hall, where he found that a lot of other students had chosen to study at NC State. Too many, even.
“NC State’s admission policy is still to try to give access to people around the state, and they were at that point admitting large numbers of students with the full expectation they would be gone by Christmas,” he recalled.
So Cooke had a two roommates in a room designed for two people. “It was pretty miserable,” he said. “In engineering, triangles are very stable structures. But in human relations, triangles are not good. We got along okay, but it was not one of the best things to do.”
Cooke later lived in Turlington Hall, where his roommate became a lifelong friend. He was also one of the first students to live in Bragaw Hall when it opened.
Hunt helped Cooke when he decided, first, to run for student body vice president. “That was a big boost to my ego to have him,” Cooke said. The future governor bought Cooke some campaign buttons that Cooke was able to use again the next year, when he ran for president, by simply striking through the word “vice” with a marker.
As president, Cooke pushed for a more effective faculty advising system, a more elaborate library collection and for the establishment of on-campus housing for female students, according to the Student Leadership Initiative. He also worked with the Student Senate to encourage the university to invite the federal government to use NC State has a training school for President Kennedy’s new Peace Corps.
“I just enjoyed the give-and-take and the strategy and how to get things done,” Cooke said, “so it was good entertainment.”