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New ASU building serves as a central hub to student community

The doors to ASU's Student Pavilion are now open. Take a look inside.
September 12, 2017

Student Pavilion provides space for student groups, classrooms and studying — all while aiming to be a Net Zero Energy building

Sitting in the heart of Arizona State University’s Tempe campus, one of the school’s newest buildings is impossible to miss. The 74,653-square-foot structure jumps out of the ground and reaches toward the sky, catching the eye with its glass windows and copper panels.

ASU's Student Pavilion is located at the center of student activity and student traffic, and plans are for it to host a variety of shows, productions and guest lecturers, in addition to providing classroom and office space.

“With a new building comes new excitement and interest from the student body,” said Brittany Benedict, president of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) on the Tempe campus. “We’re hoping that the new traction will have students checking out our space and, in turn, have an interest as to how our organizations can benefit them.”

The USG isn’t the only organization calling the new pavilion home.

ASU's Council of Coalitions and the Programming and Activities Board have moved into the second floor of the building, making good use of the pavilion’s modern office space. And according to Benedict, the design of the building is impressing everyone so far.

“We are working in a naturally lit area since the building is essentially all windows,” said Benedict, an undergraduate student in the W. P. Carey School of Business. “That’s definitely had a positive impact on work being done in our building.”

The building is powered by the PowerParasol photovoltaic array, located between the pavilion and the Memorial Union. The roof of the pavilion is also solar-ready for future photovoltaic installations as the building looks to minimize the amount of energy it uses going forward.

As part of the goal for the pavilion to be a “Net Zero EnergyThis means the total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site.” building, ASU is incorporating plenty of energy-saving techniques. This includes process load metering, exterior shading of windows, high levels of building envelope insulation and a low window-to-wall ratio.

“All of the sustainable practices that have been implemented are what excites me the most,” Benedict said. “It’s a (Net Zero) facility, which means that it’s not using any more energy than what the building itself is producing.”

 

The pavilion is operated in similar fashion to the university's Memorial Union, which is just a few steps away. 

"It's staffed by students, including building managers and event assistants," said Jeffrey Rensel, who oversees the management and usage of the building. "These staff members open and secure the building and provide general daily operational support to the facility." 

Even though the pavilion has been open for only a couple of weeks, it has already become a popular study spot for many students.

A wide common area just beyond the main entrance and a third-floor tutoring and supplemental instruction service offer plenty of space and opportunities to further academic success in the new building.

“There is lots of room and outlets everywhere, which really helps,” said Zachary Verlander, a chemistry senior in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “It’s a great place to study and do homework.”

JE Dunn Construction broke ground on the new building in March 2016 and served as the construction team for the Student Pavilion. Those wanting to view the building in its present state can do so here via live webcam.


Top photo: The new Student Pavilion on the Tempe campus. The structure provides students with two new classrooms, plenty of study and social spaces and offices for student groups. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Connor Pelton

Communications Writer , ASU Now

 
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September 12, 2017

Apple’s iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X were announced Tuesday, and amongst their new features are improved sound, upgraded cameras and wireless charging — not to mention the iPhone X's wholly new, all-screen look and Face ID. 

These improvements in sight, sound and application practically guarantee to make our addiction to smartphones even stronger.

Ashraf Gaffar, a professor in Arizona State University's SchoolThe school is part of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering, researches artificial intelligence, human-centered design and complex software development. He recently gave ASU Now his expert take on the new technology and our continuing fascination with the rock-star device.

Man in glasses smiling
Ashraf Gaffar

Question: People can’t seem to live without their smartphones. How could a simple gadget end up penetrating our lives so deeply?

Answer: Smartphones quickly evolved into an all-in-one companion that fulfills many of our daily needs while being easy to use, lightweight and immediately available. As if the idea of having a cellphone was not good enough (and it was), adding a camera made it much more appealing. However, the true love came with SMS, Wi-Fi and internet connectivity, followed by an amazing number of apps, and the features keep growing.

Q: From a computing engineering standpoint, how have the engineers made this device so addicting?

A: Smartphones today have more computing power than NASA's computers who sent us to the moon in the 1960s. It is an engineering miracle to be able to add such computing power in a lightweight, battery-operated, pocket-sized device that can handle advanced computing and communication tasks never thought of before. While these features did not appear overnight, the global acceptance and the exponential widespread of smartphones motivated computing engineers to do what was unthinkable just a decade ago.

Q: What are some of the new features of the new iPhones that will be more attractive than ever?

A: Apple has always impressed everyone with their leadership in delivering amazing smartphones that exceed our expectations. On the surface, iPhone 8 is a major step forward in addressing users' pain points that we never thought would be solved. Better charging methods will really make users happier. Dropping your iPhone will not be a major frustration anymore (the new models are made of aluminum and are water-resistant). New features like better camera, augmented reality and intelligent machine vision are new features that we didn't even think we could see them on a smartphone.

The real achievement is how they increased the computing power even more to accommodate such advanced features. Apple definitely seems to know how to raise the bar of excellence.

Q: What advice would you give to people who spend hours a day using their device? 

A: I always tell smartphone users and my students to remember that it is a great companion, but it remains just a companion. Don’t let it overtake your life. You still need to go out with friends, not just text them. You still need to have dinner with your family, go for an outdoor picnic or a trip and — once in a while — try to live without your smartphone for a day. You will really appreciate things around you that you did not notice before.

Q: Looking at its amazing growth, what would be the ultimate smartphone of the future?

A: While we probably ask this question a lot, it's really hard to tell the long-term future of smartphones. We can already predict more computing power, longer battery life, better and cheaper connectivity, better cameras and ever smarter apps. These are all engineering challenges that will be improved, but will not define the "future" smartphone. In my opinion, the future will be defined when we get there for the simple reason that some more "disruptive" technologies will appear — like Facebook and Twitter did — that will change our lives into a new direction. The beauty of it is that it remains unknown until we stumble on it. So while we know more futuristic disruption are coming our way, we cannot predict them with our today's knowledge.

 

Top photo: iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are precision‑engineered to resist water and dust. Photo courtesy of Apple