slideshow 0 slideshow 1 slideshow 2 slideshow 3 slideshow 4 slideshow 5 slideshow 6 slideshow 7 slideshow 8 slideshow 9 slideshow 10 slideshow 11 slideshow 12 slideshow 13

Creating the Mason Legacy

Charles Nelson is mindful of those who have helped him achieve success in his career. At the top of that list is the late Georgia Tech Professor Paul G. Mayer.

And, oddly enough, the Mason Building.

"As an undergraduate, I wasn't a great student, but I could tell he [Dr. Mayer] was a great teacher so I took every class I could from him," says Nelson, now the Chairman of the Waldemar S. Nelson and Company, Inc., a successful engineering business. "I developed a strong friendship with him, and listened closely to what he had to say."

Mayer’s advice was always solid, but it gained new heft when a laboratory in the newly constructed Mason Building opened up.

"The minute it opened up, Dr. Mayer was one of the first to write a research grant and he invited me to join him,” Nelson says. “The grant was through Georgia Power and we were doing research on pumped storage power generation. That’s a project we'd never have been able to pursue in the old buildings. There wasn't enough room. But in the basement of the Mason Building, we had plenty of room to build the kind of hydraulic model we needed to really get the job done.”,

In the year that Nelson spent working with Mayer in that lab, something clicked. The one-time C-student became a meticulous, focused, and passionate engineer.

“I spent at least 40 hours a week building that hydraulic model –  half carpenter, half research,” he says. “And then I’d go upstairs in the Mason Building –still smelling like sawdust and fiberglass – and I’d take some advanced classes in fluid mechanics – classes that I was able to transfer to graduate school, which is where I went next.”

More than three decades later, these memories inspired Nelson to get involved when the Mason Renovation campaign was launched.

“Georgia Tech gave me an education. It gave me a career, and soon, it will let me retire,” he said. “I’d like to help the next generation to have the same experience.”

Charles W. Nelson, CE '70
EAB Member
Chairman,  Waldemar S. Nelson and Company, Inc.