COAA Vice President and Scholarship Committee Member, Joe Sprys, Director of Construction, National Heritage Academies joined hundreds of construction industry professionals today to announce the winners of the 2016 COAA Albert E. Phillips Scholarships.
Joe Sprys introduced Curtis Lucas, a student at the University of Houston, and Ahmed Zakira attending New York University, as this year’s scholarship recipients. COAA is proud to contribute to the success of college students interested in pursuing a career in the design and construction industry by offering up to two annual scholarships. COAA is also pleased to announce the expansion of its 2016 scholarship awards. “The increased dollar amount offers future leaders assistance in pursuing their educational aspirations and positions them to become contributors to the industry” remarked Joe Sprys during his luncheon presentation.

Curtis Lucas is a non-traditional student and father, journeyman electrician and estimator, majoring in construction management at the University of Houston. His paper outlined his journey from a struggling college drop-out to an honor student and committed member of the construction industry. He stated, “I feel I deserve this scholarship solely for what I am trying to do”, but also noted, “If I am passed over for this award, I will show no hard feelings. I will continue on this path to learn and succeed, striving to be the best example for my kids, my family and my community.” “We have no doubt Curtis will indeed succeed”, observed Carlo Collela, VP of Administration and Finance, University of Maryland, and Scholarship Committee Chair.

Ahmed Zakria is a sophomore at New York University majoring in civil engineering, with minors in social entrepreneurship and construction management as well as an intern at Turner Construction Company. He has aspirations of training individuals in third world countries to not only build factories, but construct sustainable buildings in support of their local communities. “Ahmed is planning a pilot project in Egypt, using BIM to virtually construct what he hopes to complete in 14 years. With his commitment and determination, I believe he will” remarked, Committee Member Rebecca Koller.

About COAA

Construction Owners Association of America (COAA) was founded in 1994 to serve the interests of construction project owners.  Comprised of a diverse group of men and women representing construction project owners throughout America, COAA is committed to the continuous improvement of the design and construction process to maximize Owners’ project success.  COAA supports this mission through education, information, scholarships and developing relationships within the industry.

About Albert E. Phillips

The Albert E. Phillips Scholarship honors Al Phillips, a founding member of COAA who served as general counsel for the organization for 13 years.  Albert E. Phillips is of counsel in the Atlanta law firm of Cohen Pollock Merlin & Small.  Mr. Phillips’ practice is entirely related to construction matters, with particular emphasis on representing owners of construction projects.  Mr. Phillips has represented a broad variety of clients in his field, including state, city, and county governments; state universities; airport authorities; hospitals; national and multi-national corporations, including hotel and retail chains; airlines; public utilities; private developers; architects; engineers; contractors; and surety companies.

For more information on COAA and the Albert E. Phillips Scholarship, please visit:

Lucie Castro –