ASU students help kids from Boys and Girls Club design their own playground equipment

July 11, 2019

Earlier this year, winds in Eagar, Arizona, got up to speeds of 80 mph, and the jungle gym on the playground at the Boys and Girls Club of Round Valley took flight and landed in a nearby field. It took a dozen kids to roll the piece of equipment, the “flying jungle gym” as they now call it, back to the club. But it is no longer safe to use. So, with the help of The Design School in Arizona State University's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, the kids are designing brand new playground equipment. 

“My career has been focused on using design to improve the lives of kids and families,” said Collin Smith, clinical assistant professor in The Design School. “When I heard about the Boys and Girls Club playground blowing away, I knew I could help get the kids a cool new play space.” Photo of design students at the Boys and Girls Club of Round Valley A group of students from The Design School are helping design new playground equipment for Boys and Girls Club of Round Valley. Courtesy photo. Download Full Image

Smith and a group of 11 students from The Design School are collaborating with the Boys and Girls Club of Round Valley on the designs for the new play equipment.

“We have worked very closely with the governing board of the Boys and Girls Club, but just as importantly with the kids to design and create this space together,” Smith said. “The kids have given hours of input, and we’ve done a week’s worth of collaboration and research with the kids to come up with a space that everybody is invested in.”

The play space they are designing is intended to work in different types of weather, to support children of all ages and to be built using as many local resources as possible. 

The community is nestled in a thick forest that is maintained by logging companies, and they plan to use local logs and wood to create three play areas that flow together using different heights, interactivity and physicality, according to Smith.

The ASU undergraduate and graduate students participating in the project are all from The Design School and include students studying industrial design, architecture and visual communications. They traveled to Eagar at the beginning of the summer, and once they are finished they plan to return to the Boys and Girls Club to help install the equipment. The work the ASU students are doing, including prototyping, testing and perfecting the designs, fulfils their required internship for graduation.

“Any time there is a chance to combine your work and your passion with community service, I believe you should take it, and that’s exactly what these ASU students are doing,” Smith said. “They are having an internship experience that has a very similar day-to-day feel as the jobs many of them will take after college, plus they are building something meaningful for a community that really needs it.”

Sarah A. McCarty

Marketing and communications coordinator, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts


ASU Law’s thriving externship program lands dream jobs for students

July 11, 2019

Veronica Chacon heads the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University’s externship program, which has about 180 students participate each semester, working with more than 100 employers. Those numbers have steadily climbed over the past few years.

ASU Law boasts some of the best student outcomes in the country, in terms of bar-passage rates and job-placement numbers. A robust externship program offering an abundance of work opportunities with high-level employers is helping to drive that success. Ray English speaking Ray English, assistant dean of career and employment services at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at ASU, speaks to students. His office manages the externship program. Photo courtesy of ASU Law Download Full Image

“Externships are invaluable,” Chacon said. “It's a great way to figure out what it's like to be a lawyer. And it's a great way to explore practice areas, which is something we really encourage students to do. It's often very difficult for students to narrow down what practice area they're interested in, because until you've done it, you don't really know what it's like. And so not only from a career services standpoint does it help you find a postgraduation job, but I think it really enriches your law school experience to have this practical work experience as well as the amazing classes that you get here at the law school.”

Unlike internships, which students can seek out independently, externships are vetted by ASU Law and regulated by American Bar Association and university standards. Students must take a class in conjunction with their externships and are required to work a certain number of hours; they also receive class credit.

ASU Law has aggressively grown its externship program and offers several different types. The general externship program is mainly for positions in the Phoenix area, working with government agencies, nonprofit organizations, judges, law firms and corporate legal departments. A 3L residency program, which is exclusively for third-year students, is a full-year program working with small to midsize law firms. There are also externship programs for out-of-state positions.

“I really think it's because firms are seeing how valuable it is to have a year with our students to decide whether or not they want to hire them,” Chacon said. “We're giving firms the opportunity to work with the students, get to know them and find out if they fit in their culture and with the work that they do. And they’re excited about that opportunity.”

Student experiences

Photo of

Madison Stark

After completing her first year at ASU Law, Madison Stark is externing this summer in San Francisco for the Pac-12.

“It’s been awesome to see all the concepts that I've learned in my first year of law school put to use in a real-life setting,” Stark said. “I've gotten to take part in a bunch of really cool projects, and I’m so grateful that the Pac-12 has instilled so much trust in me. I've gotten to draft and write contracts, from the bare bones to execution. I've gotten to conduct some really important employment and sports gambling research. I've gotten to take part in arbitration meetings and write memos when the attorneys need it for certain issues. It's really been a great experience overall.”

The opportunity came about through an ASU Law networking event in February with the school’s Master of Sports Law and Business board of directors. Although not in the MSLB program, Stark — who captained ASU’s soccer team as an undergrad — is seeking a career in sports and entertainment law. A faculty member introduced her to Pac-12 General Counsel Woodie Dixon, suggesting her soccer background and career interests would be a great conversation-starter. Shortly thereafter, she had an invitation to interview for the externship.

“I was able to represent the Pac-12 on the field, playing for the women's soccer program at ASU, and it's been an amazing experience to represent the Pac-12 and work to make a difference off the field as well,” said Stark, who already has her next externship lined up: working with the Arizona Coyotes this fall.

According to fellow student Anthony Studnicka, working with the Coyotes will be an outstanding experience. Studnicka, who is also in between his first two years of ASU Law, is spending his summer on an externship with the Coyotes.

“The experience has been nothing short of incredible,” he said. “The Coyotes provide a great work environment with the opportunity and resources so that students like myself are able to succeed. The Coyotes provide a hands-on experience, which includes research, drafting, analyzing and even participating and joining in on important organizational decisions and tasks.”

Like Stark, Studnicka has been interested in sports throughout his life and has previously worked with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, a baseball agent and Fox Sports Arizona. The externship with the Coyotes, working with General Counsel Marina Carpenter and Associate Legal Counsel Taylor White, has been a perfect fit.

“The legal skills and experience this provides, I am confident will serve me for years to come,” he said. “Marina and Taylor provide clear road maps to complete tasks, in addition to meticulous feedback, which helps stimulate the learning process. Every week, I’m learning new things that will impact my future, getting a better understanding of the important and particular processes necessary to make unerring lasting legal decisions.”

In the fall, Studnicka will be joining the Sports and Entertainment Law Journal as an associate editor. And he will be exploring a new area of the law through his next externship with the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs.

Career connections

Photo of

Anthony Studnicka

ASU Law makes student outcomes a top priority.

Chacon says that among ASU Law’s class of 2018, 100% of the students who participated in the 3L Residency externship program had been hired within 10 months of graduation.

“I believe what sets ASU Law apart is the abundance of resources set in place to help students succeed not only inside, but outside of the classroom,” Studnicka said. “From resume help to assistance with externship placement, ASU Law really wants their students to succeed in the real world, and if you as a student take the time to utilize the resources, success is possible for anyone.”

Stark agrees, saying “the opportunities are really endless” in terms of externships, student organizations, study abroad programs, clinics, journals and other learning experiences outside the classroom.

“I honestly can't speak highly enough about the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law,” she said. “I’ve had the greatest experience so far and learned so much in my first year of law school — more than I've learned in any other time of my life.”

Chacon says ASU Law takes great pride in the quality of its externship program and the depth of the practice areas offered to students.

“We work really hard to make sure that if you want it, you can get it, and if there's a practice area that you're interested in and you don't see it represented in our employers, we work with you to get that position,” she said. “We take a lot of pride in making sure that our students get amazing externship experiences. We require a lot of evaluations from students to find out how we can improve the program and how we can improve the quality of employers.”

Nicole Almond Anderson

Director of Communications, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law