Development News

Advisory Council for Engineering names student space in Ashraf Islam Engineering Building 

Architectural rendering of the new Ashraf Islam Engineering building with insets of Barry Beck and Bob Alvey

When Tennessee Tech’s Advisory Council for Engineering (ACE) had the idea to name a room in the new Ashraf Islam Engineering Building, council members jumped at an opportunity to help future engineering students.

“ACE has always been heavily involved in the university and in the College of Engineering as council members, but what better way can we say we are part of this new building than by our direct support?” said Barry Beck, `87 mechanical engineering and chair of ACE. “As the advisory council to the College of Engineering, we want to be a part of the premier engineering building coming to life on campus and leave a legacy for future generations.”

ACE is comprised of alumni, industry partners and friends who desire to support the university financially and with their time and talent. They serve as advisors to College of Engineering Dean Joseph C. Slater and support the college’s initiatives.

“The Advisory Council for Engineering is a crucial component in shaping the college’s future,” Slater said. “Each member brings tremendous ambition, leadership and perspective to the table, pushing us to new heights in engineering education while also providing vision for ensuring we are nationally renowned for our research.”

Beck said the idea to name a space came about when he and ACE co-chair Bob Alvey, `77 electrical engineering and `79 M.S., reviewed the named spaces that will be inside the Ashraf Islam Engineering Building and had an idea for ACE to name a space as a group.

“This is an opportunity for students to learn that this is a group of individuals who care about them and care about this university,” said Beck. “When students see the advisory council’s name on a space they use every day, it might encourage those students to become members someday. We are counting on generations behind us to fill our shoes.”  

Beck and Alvey presented the opportunity to name a space as a group at the next ACE meeting.

“It was 100 percent voluntary,” said Beck. “It’s a personal decision. But I was amazed at the response. Within a day or two, we had half of the funding we needed.”

Beck admits that he possibly set the goal too low.

“Some of the spaces cost $25,000 to name, and I knew we would be happy to raise $25,000,” he said. “But the funds kept growing.”

“We had planned to send out emails and tell people about this, but we never had to do that because people just jumped in and started giving,” Alvey said.

In total, the members of ACE gave $50,000, and their gift will name a student collaboration space inside Ashraf Islam Engineering Building.

“There are a lot of spaces we could have sponsored, but we particularly wanted to sponsor a space that students will use,” said Alvey.

Beck and Alvey say they are excited for the future of engineering at Tech and the technology and opportunities offered by the Ashraf Islam Engineering Building.

“I want Tech students to have a really enlightening experience while they are there,” said Beck. “I hope they get the best education they can get. And then I hope they go and have a long and prosperous career and do their part in giving back to the university for the generation behind them.”

Alvey added, “I specifically hope someday we’ll be in an ACE meeting and a member says, ‘I was inspired when I saw the name ACE on the collaboration room, and I aspired to be a part of this group.’ Barry and I may not be there but if those words ever get said, that is a validation that this is an effort so worthwhile. Barry and I both had great experiences at Tech that have changed the trajectory of our lives, and that’s what we want for other students.”

The 100,000-square-foot Ashraf Islam Engineering Building broke ground in September. Follow the building’s progress at

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