Alumnus recognized for his career and giving efforts


TUSKEGEE, Ala. (February 20, 2014) – Relatives, friends and former colleagues of the late Edward O. Watts, Sr. gathered today to recognize his career and commitment to funding scholarships. Watts, who died on Oct. 31, 2013, was the director of Watts Architecture & Engineering in Buffalo, NY. The College of Engineering and the Tuskegee University Engineering Alumni Association (TUEAA) held a program to award Watts with the first College of Engineering Distinguished Service Award. 

Edward Watts, Jr.

Fred Stone
“The alumni give us a lot of direction,” said Legand Burge, dean of the college. “We are pleased to have folks like Ed Watts who have done well.”

Described as a determined student, Watts earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1966. Later, he became the first alumnus to become a certified professional engineer. After working for Lockheed Martin and DuPont, Watts opened his own business in the 1990s, where he was the first and only employee. Watts Architecture & Engineering is now an award-winning firm that employs about 100 people. 

“He stressed excellence. Integrity and excellence, that’s what Ed wanted,” said classmate and former colleague, Fred Stone. 

Committed to giving

Watts was an active member of TUEAA and frequently returned to raise funds to upgrade the engineering college and give scholarships to deserving students. From 2009 until his death, he gave about $10,000 for scholarships. After he died, his wishes directed that donations be made to TUEAA for scholarships. More than 63 people have made donations, totaling approximately $8,000. Paul Jones, chairman of the association’s endowed scholarship said Watts was committed to ensuring that the fund continued to be viable and helped engineering students. 

“He gave us support and encouragement from Day 1. He was very generous in his own giving, ” Jones said. 

Roy Nunn, director of corporate and foundation relations, said the scholarships vary between $1,000 and $5,000 and are awarded to about three students per semester. To qualify, students must be in good standing, have demonstrated financial need, and have a 3.0 GPA or better. Four recent scholars attended the ceremony. Sammie Ely, a senior majoring in aerospace engineering and physics said the scholarship was a welcome help for him.

“Without that scholarship, I wouldn’t be here right now,” Ely said. “That scholarship got me through a tough time in my life.”

Watts’ wife, Lydia, and son, Ed, said that Watts was a tireless advocate for education and encouraged countless young minorities to pursue higher education and careers in business. Lydia Watts said she and her family were touched by the ceremony and said her late husband would have been pleased by his alma mater’s efforts. 

“This place was the foundation for his career and the culmination of a dream for a college education,” Lydia Watts said of Tuskegee. 

Plaque and photo being presented to Watts family.

© 2014 Tuskegee University

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