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College of Engineering dedicates $44 million Engineering Student Achievement Center

By Austin Phillips

Published: Sep 16, 2019 1:00:00 PM

Brown-Kopel Engineering Student Achievement Center Brown-Kopel Engineering Student Achievement Center

Auburn University’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering hosted a dedication ceremony Friday, Sept. 13, to celebrate the opening of the $44 million Brown-Kopel Engineering Student Achievement Center.

Construction of the center, located at 152 Wilmore Drive, was made possible thanks to a $30 million gift from John and Rosemary Brown, which was announced as part of an overall $57 million gift — the largest in university history — in April 2015 at the Because This is Auburn campaign kickoff event. Site preparation for the project began in December 2016 with the demolition of the Engineering Shops and L Building. This project completes the third phase of more than $85 million in new construction and renovations for the College of Engineering.  

To view the full ceremony, click here.

In addition to the Browns’ gift, more than 50 other alumni have donated $17 million toward the project. These gifts supplemented cost of construction, with the remaining funds dedicated toward endowing programming in the facility.

Prior to the Brown-Kopel Center ceremony, the college dedicated the Carol Ann Gavin Garden, which connects the Brown-Kopel Center with the newly renovated Gavin Engineering Research Laboratory. This rooftop garden — the largest in Alabama — covers 44,000 square feet of build out space for the wind tunnel laboratory and future instructional use. The garden was made possible through a $2.5 million gift from Charles Gavin in honor of his late wife.

“The Browns’ transformational gift has changed the game for our students and college,” said Christopher B. Roberts, dean of engineering. “ John and Rosemary’s investment will allow us to recruit, reward and retain our students in ways we only imagined. Our vision has been to provide the best student-centered engineering educational experience in America, and this facility is a fulfillment to making that vision a reality. We are forever grateful for the Browns’ generosity and commitment to the College of Engineering and to our future Auburn engineers.”

Located in the heart of campus, the Brown-Kopel Center specifically addresses students’ professional and academic needs, providing one of the most comprehensive, active-learning environments in the country. The center also creates greater opportunities for collaboration among faculty members and fellow students, cultivating a sense of home within the engineering campus.  

Designed to serve students from all engineering disciplines, the facility incorporates high-contact initiatives through student recruitment, scholarships, curriculum advising, tutoring, career development, corporate relations, international experiences and more.  

The ground floor of the building includes an innovation center, which consists of student maker spaces, laboratories, shops and project incubators; a design studio, large and small group study rooms, flexible classrooms, computer labs and more, while also serving as the home for engineering student organizations. The main floor houses suites for student recruitment, scholarships, tutoring, academic advising, career development and corporate relations center, the Engineering Academic Excellence Program and offices for support staff. The third floor incorporates ample, spacious student study areas with large-group and small-group study rooms, along with boardrooms, conference rooms and a Grand Hall all outfitted with the latest smart technologies.


Spaces named in honor of donors who supported the project include:

Ground Floor:

  • Larry and Mary Montgomery Design Studio
  • Larry and Mary Montgomery Machine Shop
  • PTAC Study Area, named by Adrian and Virginia Lovell
  • Shane Goodwin and Family Study Room - In Memory of Our Jett and Campbell, named by Shane and Brandi Goodwin
  • Shawn and Anne Cleary Digital Prototyping Laboratory
  • Jeff and Linda Stone Professional Engineering Organizations Suite
  • Torch Technologies Study Room
  • Regenia Sanders Study Area
  • Jim and Paula McMillan Study Area


Main Floor:

  • Walt and Ginger Woltosz Grand Atrium
  • Vulcan Materials Corporate Conference Room
  • Cooper Construction Corporate Conference Room
  • Dynetics, Inc. Career Development and Corporate Relations Reception Area
  • Auburn Alumni Engineering Council Interview Suite
  • Anna and Jim Cooper Career Development and Corporate Relations Staff Offices
  • Alabama Power Company Engineering Academic Excellence Program Suite
  • Kenneth Kelly Engineering Academic Excellence Program Reception Area
  • Cindy Green and Larry Monroe Diversity in Engineering Gallery
  • Brad Corson and Family Tutoring and Learning Suite
  • William Deas Weatherford Group Study Room, named by the Weatherford family
  • Bill and Lana McNair Academic Advising Suite
  • Frank and Hope McFadden Academic Advising Reception Area
  • William Y. and Mrs. Rosemarie Bishop Peer Advising Room
  • Brasfield & Gorrie Recruiting and Scholarship Suite
  • Joe and JoAnn Cowan Recruiting and Scholarship Reception Area
  • Ken and Lyn Smith Recruiting and Scholarship Office Suite
  • Warnock Family Conference Room
  • Billie Carole McMillan Study Studio, named by Joe McMillan
  • Joseph D. and Kathy Weatherford Team Room
  • 100+ Women Strong Team Rooms
  • Hunter Alan Chambliss Team Room, named by the Weatherford family
  • Eldridge and Rhonda Horne Cook Team Room
  • Olivia Kelley Owen Team Room
  • American Cast Iron Pipe Company Cupola Engineering Ambassadors Office
  • Café 25, named by Carol Godfrey in honor of Gary Godfrey


Top Floor:

  • Ed and Peggy Reynolds Classroom
  • Sal and Paula Marino Study Room
  • Meagher Family Study Room
  • Erich and Jennifer Weishaupt Study Room
  • Randy and Beth Chase Study Room
  • Steve and Wesley Cates Study Room
  • Solaiman-Caldwell-Aviki Study Room, named by Diaco and Angela Aviki
  • Lamar and Elaine Hawkins Study Room
  • Mike and Shelley Forte Study Room
  • Gary and Jo Gray Study Room


Outdoor Spaces:

  • Carol Ann Gavin Garden, named by Charles Gavin, family and friends
  • Georgia Pacific Pavilion
  • Jack and Ann Waddey Pavilion
  • Nelda Lee Pavilion

Benefactors of the facility, John Brown and Rosemary Kopel Brown, graduated from Auburn University in 1957 with bachelor’s degrees in chemical engineering and chemistry, respectively. John began his career with Ormet in 1957 before moving to work with rocket propellants at Thiokol in 1961. From there, John worked with Squibb before taking over as president of Edward Weck & Company. His success at Weck eventually led him to Stryker as its president, CEO and chairman of the board. There, he took the company public and increased revenue from $17 million in 1976 to $10 billion today. Rosemary began her career as a mathematics teacher, a position she held for almost 30 years, and impacted hundreds of students along the way.  

In addition to their support of Auburn, Rosemary has also served on many community boards of directors, including Freed Hardeman University, Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and currently with the Atlanta Opera. John has served on the boards of St. Jude Medical and the American Business Conference. In September, Rosemary will receive the Auburn University College of Sciences and Mathematics 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award.

John and Rosemary have demonstrated a strong commitment to Auburn University and the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering throughout their careers, and have been recognized by many organizations for professional achievement and excellence. John is an inductee in the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame and Auburn University’s Entrepreneur Hall of Fame, and he also received honorary law degrees from Freed Hardeman University and Kalamazoo College. He is a recipient of the Auburn Alumni Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award and was the inaugural recipient of the AdvaMed Lifetime Achievement Award. He has also served on the Auburn University Foundation board and has been recognized by the College of Engineering as a Distinguished Auburn Engineer.

They have remained dedicated and committed partners with Auburn University, supporting scholarships and programs within engineering, science and mathematics, performing arts and veterinary medicine for nearly four decades. The Browns have also endowed an eminent scholar chair in the Department of Chemical Engineering and the first endowed eminent scholar chair in the College of Science and Mathematics. The Browns are members of the College of Engineering’s Ginn and Eagles societies, as well as the university’s 1856 and Foy societies.

Media Contact: Austin Phillips,, 334-844-2444

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