The Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering Alumni Hall of Fame was established to inspire our current students and our alumni and to celebrate the accomplishments of those extraordinary graduates who have used their education to excel in a profession, career or service.
The six inductees of the 2023 CCEE Hall of Fame represent an inspiring, interesting and influential group of alumni. Membership in the Hall of Fame is limited to about 1% of CCEE alumni. This year’s Hall of Fame Induction ceremony was held on Oct. 27, 2023.
“I stand here in awe, admiration and a great sense of humility to be among so many stars and leaders,” said CCEE Director of Graduate Programs Ranji Ranjithan as he addressed the 2023 inductees. “Your accomplishments and contributions to society are telling and most inspiring.”
Ph.D. candidate Kelly Flangagan, advised by Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering and Construction, also spoke at the event, saying “the inductees not only have lengthy and impressive resumes, but have improved their respective communities through their efforts.
“I am privileged to be included as a member of the same CCEE community from which these exceptional individuals have emerged,” she said. “Their endeavors are an inspiration to students and professionals alike and are certainly an inspiration to me.”
Read more about each of the 2023 inductees:
Tom Caldwell earned his B.S. in civil engineering at Colorado School of Mines in 1984 and his MCE at NC State in 1993. He founded Atlas Engineering in 1996, developing the firm’s expertise in engineering services for existing structures. In the late 1990s, two unusual assignments introduced Caldwell to engineering under emergency conditions: a terrorist bombing in Sri Lanka, and the Northridge earthquake in California. His work at these sites led to an invitation to train and qualify as a FEMA Structures Specialist for VATF2, one of 28 Federal Urban Search and Rescue teams that serve at national disaster sites. In 2017, Caldwell began work with UNC Charlotte alum Donnie Barrier, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, and the legislature to create, fund, train and equip a cadre of first-responder engineers for the state. These 15 North Carolina engineers deploy with state and local agencies to hurricanes, floods, collapsed buildings and other disasters. Caldwell himself has deployed as an engineer first-responder with FEMA, state agencies and federal investigators at more than 50 disaster sites. His duties have included assessing stability and risk, designing emergency shoring, entering collapse zones with rescuers, and assisting with live rescues and recoveries. He is a FEMA Structures Instructor and author of peer-reviewed papers on emergency engineering. Caldwell was lead engineer for a water supply project in Guatemala with Engineers Without Borders. He is active with the ASCE Structural Institute and serves on the SEANC Structural Engineers Emergency Response committee. Caldwell has been a frequent guest speaker at NC State’s Department of CCEE and the CE Extension Service and greatly appreciates his long association with the faculty and staff at NC State.
S. James “Jim” Ellen, Jr.
From a young age, S. James “Jim” Ellen, Jr. knew how to work hard — first on a farm, then as a carpenter’s assistant, and eventually as an entrepreneurial civil engineering student who went on to run his own companies. To help bring in money for his family, the Nash County, North Carolina, native started working on a farm as a child before landing a job as a teenager with a carpentry crew. He helped build barns, sheds and wood-frame farm equipment, and he decided then that he wanted to go into construction. Ellen had never doubted that NC State was the school for him. But coming from a small town, he decided to start at a smaller school. He spent two years at Mars Hill Junior College (now Mars Hill University) in western North Carolina, where he took pre-engineering courses and worked as a janitor before transferring to NC State in 1957. Ellen was the first of three brothers to graduate from NC State with a BSCE, construction option in 1959. After college, Ellen worked for 12 years in different parts of the construction industry before starting Richmond, Virginia-based Capital Masonry Corporation, a commercial masonry contractor, in 1971. He later started a second company, Capital Interior Corporation, which specializes in drywall, ceilings and floors. While running his companies, Ellen also went into real estate. He specialized in renovating unused properties and turning them into usable rental properties. He retired in 2013. Ellen has since returned his success, supporting both faculty members and students at CCEE. In 2011, he endowed the S. James Ellen, Jr. Distinguished Professorship. He also created the Samuel James Ellen, Jr. Family Scholarship Endowment, which supports students majoring in civil engineering, with priority for those from Nash County and other rural eastern North Carolina counties. Jim and his spouse, Sharon Hanies Ellen, split their time between their two residencies in Richmond and Sanibel Island, Florida.
Berry G. Jenkins, Jr.
Berry G. Jenkins, Jr. earned his BSCE in 1965. He began his career in the transportation industry with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and served in various leadership positions, including resident engineer, state construction engineer, and state construction and materials branch manager, before retiring in 1997 as the deputy highway administrator of preconstruction. While at NCDOT, he was devoted to process improvements and worker safety and was instrumental in the development of the sedimentation and erosion control program. Jenkins received several awards including State Government Manager of the Year, Governor’s Award of Excellence, and the Order of the Long Leaf Pine — the highest award that can be given for civilians in North Carolina. In 1997, after retiring from NCDOT, Jenkins began working with the Carolinas Associated General Contractors (CAGC) as North Carolina director, N.C. government relations highway-heavy division. During his 22-year tenure, he helped strengthen relationships between highway contractors and NCDOT through his leadership of several joint committees and specialty committees. As a tremendous advocate for transportation in the N.C. legislature, Jenkins was instrumental in securing additional funding and advancing solutions to achieve long-term sustainable revenue alternatives for transportation. Jenkins was a founding member of NC Go!, which provides education and advocacy for transportation funding; he served as the organization’s chairman of the board of directors for many years. In addition, Jenkins was always looking for ways to improve worker safety, particularly in construction work zones and worked diligently to have fines for speeding in work zones increased. In 2016, Jenkins received the Build with the Best Pinnacle award from CAGC for his contributions to the construction industry. He retired from CAGC in 2019. Jenkins was a passionate Wolfpack fan who was a longtime member of the Wolfpack Club. He was an advocate for NC State and the engineering department and served on the board of directors for the NC State Engineering Foundation.
Sam McCachern, PE, serves as chief executive officer and president of Thomas & Hutton, a professional services and consulting firm for land and infrastructure. His tenure at Thomas & Hutton began shortly after graduating from NC State with a BSCE in 1985. Demonstrating consistent hard work and dedication, he progressed in leadership at Thomas & Hutton, becoming chief financial officer and was later elected president in 2013 and CEO in 2015. He is responsible for Thomas & Hutton’s strategic plan, which led to the company’s reach to ten regions in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. McCachern spearheaded Thomas & Hutton’s expansion into the Raleigh-Durham region in 2022. In addition, he’s led the company in securing the historically largest economic development projects in Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee. Named this year to Junior Achievement’s Savannah Business Hall of Fame, McCachern is recognized for his valuable contributions to education and community development within the Southeast. McCachern was a past Georgia Engineering Alliance’s Engineer of the Year in Private Practice and is recognized for the second consecutive year on Georgia Trend’s prestigious “Georgia 500” list of influential leaders in the state. A third-generation NC State grad, Sam is passionate about investing in the next generation of Wolfpack engineers and the overall advancement of the university. He serves on the NC State College of Engineering Foundation Board (2015 – present) and was on the CCEE Advisory Board (2007-11). Additionally, he contributed to the Fitts-Woolard Hall on Centennial Campus and the Dean’s Circle. McCachern’s passion for educating future engineers and workforce development extends beyond his alma mater, serving on advisory boards at Georgia Southern University College of Engineering and Information Technology, Savannah Technical College Foundation, and the University of Georgia – Department of Civil Engineering. In addition, McCachern was also appointed to the Georgia State Workforce Development Board by Gov. Brian Kemp.
Charles “Chuck” T. Wilson, Jr.
Charles “Chuck” T. Wilson, Jr., earned his BSCE in 1965. After graduation, he enlisted in the Navy. He served as a damage control officer on a U.S. Navy Destroyer and as a chief engineering officer on a Landing Ship Tank before joining his father in the family business in 1969. Charles Wilson Sr. (BSCE 1930), founded commercial construction company C.T. Wilson Construction Co. in 1952 to perform preconstruction and construction management services across North Carolina. In 1980, he passed leadership to his son. When Charles Sr. passed away in 1995, Wilson and his mother created the Charles T. Wilson scholarship for CCEE students pursuing a degree in construction management. Wilson and his wife, Jean, later endowed the C.T. Wilson Construction Co. Association of General Contractors (AGC) Student Chapter fund to honor his father’s role as a founder of the AGC student chapter at NC State — the first AGC student chapter in the nation. The family has also been active in the professional chapter, Carolinas AGC, with Chuck’s son, Charlie (BSCE 1993), finishing his board of directors’ term in 2023. The company is now in its third generation of management. Wilson has served on numerous boards for both civic and industry-affiliated organizations as an advocate for education, minority participation, workforce development and health care. He has been a strong supporter of NC State’s College of Engineering and is an active member of First Presbyterian Church in Durham, North Carolina. He currently serves on the Durham Tech Community College Board of Trustees. His philanthropic efforts have included Families Moving Forward, Urban Ministries, The Institute for Minority Economic Development and Lincoln Health. Wilson was inducted into the CAGC Hall of Fame in 2017 and received the Lincoln Health Center Foundation Legacy Award in 2023. Wilson is a Durham native and a proud grandfather of four.
Louis E. Wooten, Sr.
Louis E. Wooten, Sr.’s endeavors helped fuel North Carolina’s expansion as a state with modern infrastructure and a diverse scope of industry, elevating the quality of life, protecting the environment, and creating opportunities. Wooten earned a BSCE in 1917. He enlisted in the Army and was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant. From 1920-34, Wooten taught at NC State and lectured for a year at Yale University. With just $750 in his bank account, he founded the Wooten Company on Oct. 3, 1936. The company’s early accomplishments in North Carolina include expanding Camp Lejeune, providing advance planning for the Tactical Group Area for the Marine Corps at Cherry Point, and proposing and acquiring rights-of-way for the alignment of major Raleigh thoroughfare Western Boulevard. Along with NC State professor Charles Howard Kahn, Wooten designed and oversaw construction of NC State’s Carter-Finley Stadium. Its award-winning lighting system earned acclaim from the Illuminating Engineering Society. After passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972, Wooten partnered with dozens of rural communities to establish essential water and wastewater systems. Many relationships forged in the following decades continue today with Wooten Company’s six regional offices. Wooten was involved in several engineering organizations including as vice president of the N.C. Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the inaugural president of the American Council of Engineering Companies of N.C. In addition, Wooten supported the Kiwanis Club of Raleigh. Following his passing in 1993, his family donated 21 acres to the City of Raleigh for Wooten Meadow Park. In 1998, The Wooten Company established the Louis E. Wooten, Sr. Memorial Endowed Scholarship for students pursuing a degree in environmental engineering at NC State. Today, the firm aligns with CCEE’s Firm of the Month program to continuously renew the founder’s connection with bright young minds at the university he loved all his life.