Students competing in the college’s Senior Design Competition are often surprised and awe-struck at meeting one of the competition’s namesake, Harriet Cox, in person at the awards dinner. Cox and her late husband, Fred, became involved with UNLV and the College of Engineering after moving to Las Vegas in the mid-1990s. Fred had spent decades as a tech entrepreneur and was eager to bring his wealth of knowledge, practical know-how, and financial support to help UNLV students succeed.
Through their generosity, the Fred and Harriet Cox Engineering Scholarship was established. But that was just the tip of the iceberg.
Believing in the college’s emphasis on hands-on learning, the Coxes helped revitalize the college’s bi-annual engineering design competition, which encourages students to use everything they’ve learned in their program to create a practical, real-world solution to an engineering or computer science challenge. Now known as the Fred and Harriet Cox Senior Design Competition, it was permanently funded in 2015 through the generous $3 million Fred and Harriet Cox Endowment Fund.
“The project management, business plan creation, and presentation skills I developed through my Senior Design classes and the competition experience was a perfect way to prepare me for my career,” said Valentina Alayon, member of team “Adjustable Kitchen,” which won the fall 2017 Senior Design Grand Prize. “Even years after graduation, the critical thinking experience I gained while at UNLV continues to guide me professionally in this changing world.”
The Coxes’ support cast a broad net over UNLV with Fred serving on multiple boards including the UNLV Foundation Board of Trustees and the Lee Business School’s Rebel Venture Fund board, in addition to College of Engineering boards. In 2012 Fred received the Silver State Award from the UNLV Alumni Association and was presented an honorary doctorate in 2014 for his commitment to UNLV.
Now, Harriet Cox is investing once again in the college’s students and faculty, and in Nevada’s future, with a $5 million pledge to name the second floor of the Advanced Engineering Building.
“I can’t think of a better way to honor and acknowledge everything that Fred and Harriet Cox have done for the college than naming the Emerging Technologies floor of our new Advanced Engineering Building after them,” said Rama Venkat, dean of the Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering. “It is a testament to their trust and vision in our students and staff, and in Fred’s relentless pursuit of providing opportunities to be innovative.”
Construction on the Advanced Engineering Building began in January with the facility set to open to students for the spring 2024 semester.
“Entrepreneurship and the possibility of taking new ideas to market is what really excited Fred, it was in his blood,” said Harriet Cox. “I think he would be so proud and happy to know that what he started with the College of Engineering so many years ago continues as his legacy.”