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"There’s nothing a Georgia Tech grad can’t do"


(from left)  Howard Tellepsen and John Huff were touring the Panama Canal when they started talking about the Mason Building project. A few hours after this photo was taken, the two had raised around $1 million for building renovations.

In March of 2012, when Howard Tellepsen (CE ‘66) and John Huff (CE’68) heard about the deteriorating condition of the Jesse W. Mason Building, the two engineers knew they had to do something.

At the time, both men were on a boat in the middle of the Panama Canal.  

After huddling briefly in the boat’s galley, Huff and Tellepsen decided to issue a challenge grant. Turning to their fellow travelers – all CEE alumni who were in Panama for the 2012 Alumni Trip – they challenged them to raise $1 million for the Mason Building Renovation Project.

Before they left Panama.

By the time that boat docked for lunch three hours later, that’s exactly what they had done.

 “We thought it was great that the Institute and the state had stepped up with $6.5 million to get rid of the asbestos and to get the building back in reasonable shape,” Huff explains.  “We just thought that it was up to CEE alumni and friends – people who’ve really benefited – to take the next step, to make sure we had a building that truly reflected CEE’s stature. Adequate wasn’t good enough.”

The impromptu $1 million fundraiser that Huff and Tellepsen kicked off in April has given the Mason Building Renovation Project a much-deserved boost. Ultimately, however, it will take more than $10 million get the job done.

“With this effort, we got the ball rolling, but we know it’s not done,” says Huff. “We’ve told the CEE development folks that they should use the money we raised for a challenge grant to all CEE alums, from as far back as the school has records. It’s that important.”

If that sounds daunting, Tellepsen is quick to remind his fellow alums that Georgia Tech has a top-ranked civil and environmental engineering program. Students vying for a seat in that program deserve a world-class facility. 

“Knowing what we’ve been able to accomplish over the course of our post-Tech careers, no one should doubt what we can achieve in the coming months,” he said. “And it’s up to every CEE alum and all the friends we can find to show the next generation of CEE grads that there’s nothing a Tech grad can’t do.”




It was during the 2012 CEE Alumni Trip to Panama (above) that Huff and Tellepsen asked their classmates to help raise the first $1 million in private funds for the Mason Building Renovation Project.