High-tech company W. L. Gore invested in ASU engineering students’ success

January 25, 2016

A great partnership is one that helps both parties to excel in their goals. The Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and W. L. Gore & Associates have one specific goal in mind — to educate and employ world-class engineers who will move Arizona’s economy forward.

This partnership began more than a decade ago with a gift from Gore to the Fulton Schools of Engineering and remains vibrant today. Carolina Tostado, a biomedical engineering alumna and engineer at W. L. Gore & Associates, supports students and recruitment efforts by representing Gore at the Fulton Schools’ Career Exploration Night for Freshmen. Carolina Tostado, a biomedical engineering alumna and engineer at W. L. Gore & Associates, supports students and recruitment efforts by representing Gore at the Ira A. Fulton Schools’ Career Exploration Night for Freshmen. Photo by Jessica Hochreiter/ASU Download Full Image

Gore is a technology and science-based enterprise that has a reputation for creating innovative, technology-driven solutions. Health-care professionals and biomedical engineers respect their contributions in medical devices and implants, while outdoor enthusiasts and material scientists esteem them for producing high-performance Gore-Tex fabrics.

Co-developing a future workforce

Gore’s interest in supporting Fulton Schools’ students stems from its dependence on a highly skilled workforce in Arizona.

“Arizona is our home, and for us to stay and thrive we require world-class workers to come out of universities like ASU,” said Mike Vonesh, who offers leadership for the technical team in the Medical Products Division.

The company was founded in Delaware in 1958, and Flagstaff, Arizona, became the hub of Gore’s medical product division in the early 1970s. They recently expanded into northern Phoenix with new manufacturing facilities — making collaborations with ASU even more accessible.

Gore has an open dialogue with Fulton Schools about traits and experiences that the ideal engineering graduate should possess.

“We consider the Fulton Schools our partners. They hear our voice about what skills sets we’re looking for in graduating students and are willing to structure curriculum based on the industry’s needs,” said Vonesh, adding that ASU is uniquely receptive in this regard, which makes its graduates very desirable.

Vonesh serves as an industry representative on the board for the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering, one of the six Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

“He offers the industry perspective in terms of the skill set that industries need from engineers and therefore what we should be implementing in our curriculum,” said Marco Santello, a biomedical engineering professor and the school’s director.

Gore also collaborates with the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University.

By investing in Arizona’s universities Gore is creating a strong workforce that helps their company to succeed and returns a dividend to the Arizona economy.

“We don’t look at these gifts as philanthropy, but rather as a trusted investment,” said Vonesh.

Supporting student success programs

Students in the Fulton Schools benefit from Gore’s collaboration through industry involvement in engineering research projects, and support for undergraduate scholarships, student organizations and programs that enhance the student experience.

Gore champions and supports the Fulton Schools Accelerated 4+1 program, which allows students to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in engineering in five years.

They also judge design reviews for the Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) Program. At these reviews students present their team’s project before an industry panel for technical feedback, allowing them to further improve the design and implementation of their engineering solutions.

“Gore supports many engineering programs that impact a number of our students,” said Margo Burdick, associate director of development in the Fulton Schools.

“Besides their philanthropic support they are very supportive with their time by attending many Fulton Schools’ events throughout the year,” added Burdick.

Gore has been particularly involved in supporting biomedical, chemical, mechanical, manufacturing electrical and materials science engineering programs, which are disciplines related to Gore’s technological focuses.

Many of Gore’s innovations stem from the use of proprietary technology with the versatile polymer polytetrafluoroethylene, which is used in fabrics, products for electronic signal transmission, medical implants, as well as filtration, sealant and fibers technologies for diverse industries.

Gore has been granted more than 2,000 patents worldwide and more than 40 million Gore Medical Devices have been implanted, saving and improving the quality of millions of lives around the world.

Alumni stay involved through partnership

Dozens of Fulton Schools’ students have gone on to work for Gore since the collaboration began. A handful of these students remain closely tied to ASU through recruitment and outreach efforts.

Biomedical engineering alumna Carolina Tostado, who graduated in 2012, supports new product development as a quality engineer and is also one of Gore’s College Champions for ASU. In this role, she serves as a recruiting liaison between college recruiting and technical associates at Gore and ASU.

“I focus on identifying areas where Gore can partner with the Fulton Schools to enhance the student experience such as funding and support for EPICS projects, undergraduate scholarships and particular research programs,” said Tostado.

Tostado regularly attends a variety of events at ASU including the biannual Fulton Schools of Engineering Career Fairs and Career Exploration Night for Freshmen, on-campus interview events, student organizations’ meetings, EPICS design reviews and industry panels.

She is joined by additional alumni and current Gore employees Annette Dunn, bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 2011, Lindsey Jossund, bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 2005, and Daniel Dominguez, bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 2015.

“In addition to recruiting efforts, we work to identify ways that Gore can connect with students and faculty. Our goal is to build relationships and participate in activities that benefit all three parties: engineering students, ASU and Gore,” said Jossund who works as a technical leader for one of Gore’s medical products.

“I am always energized by the innovative work from students on campus,” said Dunn who interned with Gore after her junior year. After two internships at Gore and some time in manufacturing engineering support, she currently works as an engineer in new product development.

“I think it’s important to build strong connections between industry and the university to continue to be inspired and help grow top talent,” added Dunn.

Dominguez began working for Gore in 2015 as a process engineer, but his familiarity with the company and their partnership with the Fulton Schools began as a student.

“I interacted with Gore as a student through information sessions, recruiting events, an internship and scholarship support,” said Dominguez.

He enjoys making campus visits on behalf of Gore because it is a way for him to help students that remind him of his student-self with professional mentorship and funding.

“Interactions like these are important to me because this is how I paid for school, participated in extracurricular activities and stayed focused on academics,” he said.

Tostado shares this commitment: “As someone who relied on mentors during college to shape my engineering career, I hope that I can provide some guidance and share opportunities with students that can help them be successful. This makes me feel like I am paying back to my community.”

Rose Gochnour Serago

Communications Program Coordinator, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

Theologian and author Harvey Cox to lecture on 'The Future of Faith'

Lecture is part of a three-week residency at ASU

January 25, 2016

“For the last four decades, Harvey Cox has been the leading trend spotter in American religion."

This is how Stephen Prothero, author of "Religious Literacy," describes Harvey Cox, the theologian, scholar and preeminent face of American liberal Christianity. Harvey Cox Harvard scholar and preeminent theologian Harvey Cox will lecture at ASU on Jan. 28.

The Arizona State University Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict is presenting a major public lecture by Cox at 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28, when he will discuss "The Future of Faith" at the Ventana Ballroom in the Memorial Union on the Tempe campus. The lecture is free and open to the public, but RSVPs are required. The lecture will be followed by a Q&A, book sale and signing.

This lecture is part of a three-week residency in January and February, during which Cox will work with undergraduate classes and meet with faculty and graduate students.

In his 2009 book "The Future of Faith," Cox explored Christianity's history and its trajectory, discussing the rise of fundamentalism in our ever-changing world and why he thinks it will ultimately fail. He examines three major periods in Christianity and argues that the world has entered "the era of the Spirit."  He discusses what it means to be "religious" today, revealing how doctrines and dogma are giving way to new grassroots movements based in community, social justice and spiritual experience.

“We are so fortunate to have Harvey Cox in residence at the center this semester,” said John Carlson, acting director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict and associate professor of religious studies. “He is a beacon in the study of religion whose brilliance has illuminated the public’s understanding of religion — in addition to the many scholarly contributions he has made in his field. He will have an ambitious speaking schedule during his time here at ASU, and I expect he will take Tempe and the Valley by storm.”

Cox’s acclaim is by no means limited to scholars of religion, though. Other civic leaders and intellectuals offer up accolades when discussing Cox.

Author and public speaker Deepak Chopra has said: "Harvey Cox has been a voice of both reason and faith in our cynical times." The Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. said Cox is "the most important liberal theologian of the last half century."

Cox is the author of fifteen books. "The Secular City," first published in 1965, is an international best seller and widely regarded as one of the most influential books of Protestant theology of the past 50 years. His 2015 book "How to Read the Bible" was hailed by author James Martin, S.J., as "an absolutely masterful book by one of the great theologians of our age."

Cox was ordained as an American Baptist minister in 1957 and started teaching as an assistant professor at the Andover Newton Theological School. In 1965, he began teaching at the Harvard Divinity School, where he taught for 44 years. His research and teaching interests focus on the interaction of religion, culture and politics. Among the issues he explores are urbanization, theological developments in world Christianity, Jewish-Christian relations, and current spiritual movements in the global setting (particularly Pentecostalism).

For more information please see the event webpage.

The Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict is an interdisciplinary research unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences that examines the role of religion as a driving force in human affairs.

Terry Williams

Communication and events coordinatior, Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict