The Class of 2015: 200-mile bicycle trip to benefit cancer research leaves lasting impact on Ahmed Aly
Ahmed Aly, from Cairo, Egypt, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering, has had many gratifying experiences at Virginia Tech. He conducted research at the Center for Vehicle Systems and Safety as part of the Energy Harvester Project. He interned as an F-15 production engineer at Boeing's defense division headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri. He is a mathematics and engineering tutor at the Student Success Center and has mentored ten first-year students for the Center for Engineering Enhancement and Diversity.
Aly graduates this spring as a dean’s list student and member of Phi Kappa Phi honor society. After graduation, he will pursue a graduate degree in mechanical engineering, with a focus on design and manufacture.
But scholarship is just one facet of Aly’s Virginia Tech experience. He's also a founding father of Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) Theta Delta chapter.
“Establishing ourselves as a new fraternity on campus took a lot of effort from each of us, as we sought to change what it means to be a fraternity," Aly said. "Joining ATO allowed me to grow as a person as I was surrounded with brothers who shared the same drive as me. Each of us had different experiences, interests, and background, and everyone brought something unique to the table.”
Service, he said, was one of the fraternity’s core values, and he became philanthropy chair for the chapter. Immediately after it was chartered last fall, ATO partnered with Cycling4aCure as its official philanthropy to raise money and awareness for cancer research and patient support. This semester, Aly was one of six ATO brothers who completed a 200-mile bike trip from Blacksburg to Charlotte, North Carolina, making stops along the way to donate bicycles to children with cancer.
“Our cycling trip to Charlotte left a lasting impact on my life,” said Aly. “It was not just feeling good about yourself – it was feeling good about life.”
The trip wasn’t easy. Led by Cycling4aCure founder Patrick Acker of Midlothian, Virginia, a senior majoring in industrial and systems engineering, the team trained during one of the coldest winters in Blacksburg history.
On a rainy day in late March, the Cycling4aCure team gathered with friends at the Pylons before embarking on a trip that would change so many lives. The first day was the toughest, as they climbed more than 6,200 feet and rode 81 miles. By the third day, they reached Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte and met with children of all ages who were battling through chemotherapy.
“The looks on their faces as we surprised them with brand new bikes was remarkable,” said Aly. “I had never been part of an experience like this before and it really helped me mature. I developed myself physically, through the months of training prior to the trip. I developed mentally, as we planned the trip, including obtaining sponsorships, finding lodging at churches, and coordinating bike drop-off locations. Most importantly, I grew emotionally, as I impacted the lives of others and saw the effect it had.”
After completing the Cycling4aCure bicycle trip, the 97 brothers of ATO took the philanthropy a step further. They organized a benefit concert in Burruss Hall that raised $18,000, far surpassing their inaugural year goal of $10,000. The fraternity plans to continue the partnership with Cycling4aCure, making the bicycle trip and concert yearly events.
A member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Aly has been active in the Middle Eastern Student Association and a group called Egypt Friends. He was recipient of the John M. Scrugg Memorial Scholarship, the Benjamin and Hilda Partlow Scholarship, the Thomas and Francis Scholarship, and a Virginia Tech Merit Scholarship.
His advice to other students stems from his varied experiences at Virginia Tech. “Make sure to embody the motto of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) and always be willing to go out there and help out others,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself with new things that might sound intimidating at first.”
Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.
Written by Sandy Broughton.