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Geoprofessional community establishes scholarship in memory of Tennessee Tech alumnus Ed Wilson 

A photo of Ed Wilson at a conference podiumFor more than 40 years, L. Edward (“Ed”) Wilson, P.E. was a colleague, mentor, leader and friend to many within the geoprofessional community. As a thank you to Wilson and to encourage the next generation of young earth sciences and civil engineering geoprofessionals, the Geoprofessional Business Association (GBA), with support from Wilson’s family, friends and colleagues, established the L. Edward Wilson Endowed Scholarship at Tennessee Tech. 

GBA credits the scholarship tribute concept to Dr. Gary Raba, a longtime GBA member and close friend to Wilson. 

“Many of us owe a lot to Ed,” said Raba. “Ed was about sharing his success and his challenges. He was always available and generously shared his experiences and regularly provided advice. Regardless of the need, Ed was always a valuable and willing resource.” 

Wilson graduated from Tech in 1966 with a degree in civil engineering. He served as executive vice president, president and chief executive officer of a number of geotechnical, civil and environmental engineering companies before establishing L. Edward Wilson and Associates Inc. in 1993. He was active in a number of professional organizations throughout his career and served on Tech’s Board of Engineering Advisors. In 1989, Tech’s College of Engineering honored Wilson with the Engineer of Distinction Award. Wilson passed away on August 30, 2020, after battling lung cancer. 

Wilson was an ambassador for GBA for most of its 50-year history, served for a term as president and became one of the most respected individuals in the profession. At the 2018 GBA Fall Conference, Wilson gave a speech titled “Uncomfortable truths: somebody needs to tell folks what they don’t want to hear, and it might as well be me.” GBA members described it as “a powerful reminder of the basic tenets of a healthy and successful geoprofessional business from a straight-talking, seasoned veteran.” 

Joel Carson, executive director of GBA, shared, “Our association serves firms that provide geotechnical, geologic, environmental and construction-materials engineering and testing and related civil engineering and earth science services. Our goal is to help our members manage risk, optimize business performance and learn how to excel as consultants. We share best practices about timely business and technical challenges we all face as practitioners. We honor our profession by collaborating and collectively identify ways we can excel and elevate the geoprofessions.”  

The L. Edward Wilson Scholarship will be awarded to students majoring in civil engineering and earth sciences. Dozens of Wlison’s colleagues, friends and family members have made a gift to the scholarship and have set a fundraising goal of $100,000. 

Raba says he wants recipients of the scholarship to know that GBA’s gift is in support of Wilson’s commitment to professionalism and to the career these students have chosen. 

“I still have those moments of pause when I think, ‘Where did I hear this advice?’” said Raba. “And it’s regularly from Ed. Being able to share Ed’s background and spirit and impact with the next generation is invaluable. This collective gift from so many people impacted by Ed Wilson is an opportunity to help students with their education and increase exposure to the geoprofessional community that Ed dedicated his life to. That is what Ed would have wanted.”

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