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Scheller College Alumni Make Their Play Contributing to State-of-the-Art Mercedes Benz Stadium

If you haven’t seen it yet, you will soon enough, the new Mercedes Benz Stadium in downtown Atlanta already boasts an impressive scorecard of teams and events in its inaugural year: the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta United, the College Football Championship and the 2019 NFL Super Bowl.  The architecture and design of the $1.5 billion steel and glass dome continues to awe and it’s no surprise that Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business and Georgia Tech alumni were behind the scenes buzzing around to ensure maximum success.

Tommy Holder, BSIM 1979 and Georgia Tech Foundation Board of Trustees Chair, is CEO of Holder Construction, the company that served as managing partner of the joint venture that handled construction of the new stadium.

The stadium features state-of-the-art construction including an eight-petaled retractable roof that allows the stadium to be open-air as conditions permit along with a 63,800-square-foot wrap-around scoreboard inside the stadium, that, if unfurled stood on its end, it would be the tallest structure in Atlanta.  “I don’t think anything like it exists on planet earth, and it’s been a true challenge of engineering,” Holder says.

Planet Earth

This stadium is filled with Georgia Tech connections and business acumen that helped it become a reality, from students and researchers to Scheller College alumni.  Technology developed at Georgia Tech helps power the stadium using solar energy. Quest Renewables, a startup venture on Tech’s campus, builds solar canopies that not only collect energy, but also serve as shade and cover for parking lots.  The solar arrays generate enough power on their own to run the stadium nine entire home games every season.

Stadium


Recent Scheller College graduate Whitney Williams, BSBA 2015, began exploring sports stadiums as an undergraduate.  Williams, a basketball team manager for the Yellow Jackets, saw his fair share of arenas traveling with the team. “I’ve seen tons of different sports venues, and the Mercedes-Benz Stadium Stadium completely changes the game in terms of technology.”  After graduating with a degree in business administration, Williams got his first job as a project manager working for Darden & Company, in fact he interviewed on the same day as the groundbreaking of the stadium.  In his role with Darden & Company, Williams helped oversee the project management aspects of the stadium’s construction, ranging from organizing contractors and subcontractors to making sure crews were adhering to construction schedules.

On his team of ten, three are Georgia Tech graduates, once again proving the power of the alumni network post graduation.

Williams (R) with fellow Darden Colleague and Georgia Tech alum Chris Holdsworth and Chick-Fil-A President Dan Cathy

Williams (R) with fellow Darden Colleague and Georgia Tech alum Chris Holdsworth and Chick-Fil-A President Dan Cathy

The biggest challenge?  “The roof,” Williams says. “It’s such a complex and unique design. But it’s in.”  As a project manager, Williams says he was able to use skills he picked up during his time at Scheller College.

“On a daily basis I might have to talk to engineers, construction foremen, or architects, and I’d have to be able to speak their language. I learned how to be able to do that through my experiences at the intersection of business and technology at Scheller College.”

 “This huge team worked so hard. We wanted to make sure that everyone saw the very best of the building no matter where they were,” Williams says.  Post stadium opening, Williams continues working at the stadium making sure the Atlanta Falcons have what they need for day-to-day operations in their new home.  Believe it or not, he’s also continuing his education at Georgia Tech in the evenings, working on a master’s in building construction with a newfound career passion.  “I wasn’t an engineering major and took a chance on applying for this job. But I got it. Georgia Tech is the full reason I got this opportunity,” Williams says.

As a rising fourth-year Georgia Tech civil engineering major, Katherine Fan got the experience of a lifetime through a summer internship. Fan was accepted into an internship program with Hunt Construction, one of the four companies in the joint venture team responsible for building Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

“When I found out what we were going to be working on, I jumped at the opportunity,” she recalls.  Fan says there weren’t many college students who had the opportunity to work on the stadium, but her previous experience as a Georgia Tech student helped land her the gig.  “They weren’t looking for a new intern; they wanted someone who had experience, and I already had two engineering internships under my belt,” she explains. Fan primarily worked with architects and construction managers, making sure that projects matched blueprints and renderings. She also helped measure to make sure the new facility met federal code for disability access. Fan says some of her favorite moments were getting to see some of the high-end VIP spaces before they were ever revealed to the public.  “They really spared no expense. I tried to soak it all in because I’ll probably never get to see those places again,” Fan jokes.

She also says she ran into lots of other Yellow Jackets during her time working with the stadium project. “It would often happen unexpectedly. A contractor would ask where I went to school and I’d say ‘Georgia Tech.’” Then they would say ‘Oh yeah? I’m class of ’86.’”

For Fan this chance of a lifetime was possible because of the hard work she has put in as a Georgia Tech student.  “I got firsthand visuals of structures and materials I’ve been learning about in class, and I was able to hold my own because of what I’ve already learned,” she says.  “I wouldn’t have had this opportunity if I didn’t have the connections I made through Georgia Tech.”

 

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Susan Ambrosetti
Director of Marketing & Communications