Akers, Cassetty receive Vanderbilt School of Engineering Distinguished Alumnus Awards
William B. Akers and Fred J. Cassetty Jr. received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Vanderbilt University School of Engineering during the Engineering Celebration Dinner held at Loews Vanderbilt Hotel Thursday, Oct. 19.
The School of Engineering Distinguished Alumnus Award recognizes distinguished achievement, significant service, excellent character and a reputation that reflects well on the school. The honoree is chosen from nominations submitted by the Engineering Alumni Council and the faculty of the School of Engineering.
A lifelong Nashvillian, Akers graduated from the Vanderbilt School of Engineering in 1947 with a degree in civil engineering. It was his second bachelor’s degree. Although he began his undergraduate studies at Vanderbilt, World War II interrupted his education and he entered the Navy. The Navy sent him to the University of Oklahoma, where he obtained a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering. The Navy sent him to Cornell University Midshipmen’s School and finally to the Pacific where Akers was a member of the Task Force for Operation Crossroads at Bikini for the atom bomb test in June 1946.
Upon separation from the Navy, Akers returned to Vanderbilt to earn a bachelor in engineering degree. He then went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to earn his master of science degree in civil engineering.
After a brief stint as an engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, he founded Asphalt Products Co., a paving materials manufacturer. He and his brother, Clark Akers, founded the Globe Company, a highway contractor, in 1956. They later founded the Parent Company, Inc., a general contractor, and retired in 1981.
In addition to his professional achievements, Akers has served the Vanderbilt School of Engineering in numerous ways. In the mid-70s, Akers was asked to organize the Engineering alumni and to chair a national fundraising campaign for the School of Engineering. The campaign in essence saved the school, which was in dire financial straits at the time. He has also participated in building campaigns and efforts to create scholarships for undergraduate students.
Also a lifelong Nashvillian, Cassetty graduated from Vanderbilt in 1960 with a degree in electrical engineering. His father’s unexpected death just prior to graduation forced Cassetty into the coal business that had been in his family for three generations. He took the Cassetty Coal Company through mergers, acquisitions and new marketing strategies over the ensuing years. Today the Alley Cassetty Coal Company mines and sells domestic coal along with importing and selling coal all over the world.
In 1971 he purchased the Capitol Building Supply Company, which he grew from a local company to a regional firm with 12 offices throughout the southeastern United States. He founded the Alley Cassetty Trucking Company in 1972 to help meet his own trucking needs and this expanded to hauling for other companies. In 1980, he purchased a truck repair service and has developed it into Alley-Cassetty Truck Center, which sells and services Western Star, Mitsubishi and Ottawa trucks. These companies were merged into the Alley Cassetty Company, Inc., where Cassetty serves as chairman of the board and chief executive officer.
Cassetty has served Vanderbilt engineering in a variety ways, from participating in the Engineering Alumni Council and the Featheringill Hall building campaign to establishing a scholarship fund.
As Distinguished Alumni, Akers and Cassetty become members of the School of Engineering Academy of Distinguished Alumni.