Fulton Schools alumni shine in Sun Devil 100 Class of 2020
Above: The Sun Devil 100 recognizes alumni who are entrepreneurs, founders or executives at 100 companies. The Class of 2020 features 12 alumni from the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. Graphic created by Marc Collins/ASU
Many ASU students graduate to become top entrepreneurs and innovators in their fields. The ASU Alumni Association recognizes these top graduates with an annual celebration. This year, the association is celebrating 100 fast-growing companies and the 127 alumni who lead them as founders, business owners or C-suite executives, with the Sun Devil 100 Class of 2020.
This group of companies represents 155 degree programs across all ASU colleges, averaging 19.5 years in business and a collective $6.1 billion in total revenue.
Among this year’s cohort, 12 are graduates from the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and have gone on to demonstrate impressive leadership.
“I found my way to construction having lived around the world, growing up in a military family during the Cold War,” Abbott says. “I had a unique opportunity to see how the built environment changes but is also a souvenir of the community in which it’s built. In high school, it clicked for me that there isn’t a thing that is part of the modern economy that doesn’t pass through the construction industry.”
Abbott knew that if he wanted to tangibly express his life’s work and play a significant role in America’s democracy and economy, he needed to be a builder.
“That’s what led me to Arizona State University,” Abbott says. “That and athletics, great weather and a diverse, growing community.”
Abbott later returned to ASU and completed his MBA in 2008.
“As a student in the Fulton Schools, I received a technical education connecting the natural laws of physics with the built environment,” he says. “An engineering education taught me to properly define problems before providing a solution, and I apply that thinking today in most everything I do.”
Abbott is still involved in the ASU community and some of his work projects have brought him back to the Tempe campus.
“As a student, one of my assignments was reverse engineering the concrete beams on Sun Devil Stadium,” Abbott says. “Years later, I had the opportunity as a contractor to actually take those beams apart and build the new stadium in their place.”
“Both degrees prepared me for the construction industry and gave me quite a trajectory on the business side,” Murphy says. “My undergraduate degree was foundational, and my graduate degree offered a heavier dose of leadership and guidance on how to navigate the market at large. I now apply what I learned from both degree programs at a very high level.”
Murphy graduated from ASU in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in construction and started working with Willmeng Construction in 1999. He later earned his master’s degree in construction in 2009.
Early in Murphy’s career at Willmeng Construction, he was part of a staff of 10 people. Over the past 21 years, the company has grown to over 190 full-time employees.
“Several of the philosophies that were introduced to me in the classroom at ASU have afforded us the opportunity to be innovative in our hiring and execution and have resulted in a culture that is innovative and unique in and of itself,” Murphy says. “If I look at some of the cornerstones of the philosophies of our company, several of them came out of ASU.”
Murphy now serves on the Industry Advisory Council and is working as a liaison with a new chapter of an alumni group for the Del E. Webb School of Construction.
He also returns to ASU every now and then as a guest lecturer for classes in construction contracts as well as marketing.
“I try to be as active as I can in support of the school that supported me on so many levels,” Murphy says.
“My overall experience at ASU is a great example of the trajectory students can leverage in terms of developing entrepreneurial spirit and truly being ready for the construction industry,” Murphy says. “In the Del E. Webb School of Construction’s case, you really learn about the leadership side of industry.”
Explore the links below to learn more about the Fulton Schools’ alumni and their companies being honored as part of the Sun Devil 100.