ASU faculty member recognized for work in music education

May 22, 2015

Marg Schmidt, associate professor of music education in the School of Music at Arizona State University, was recently honored with two prestigious awards: the 2015 national String Researcher Award by the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) and the 2015 Arizona Governor’s Arts Award for an Individual in Arts in Education.

“Being chosen for even one of these awards, let alone two, speaks volumes about Schmidt’s dedication to passing on her knowledge and love of music to others and for her unwavering commitment to furthering music education,” said Heather Landes, director of the School of Music. Marg Schmidt (center) receives her Governor's Arts Award from Rossitza Todorova, Download Full Image

ASTA is a membership organization for string and orchestra teachers and players, helping to develop and refine their careers. The ASTA award is presented annually to a deserving string researcher “whose work has contributed significantly to scholarship in string education and performance.”

Schmidt received tenure at ASU in 2007, and since then, she has been actively involved in publishing in leading research journals, presenting research at professional meetings, mentoring students and participating in the strings community. Schmidt accepted the award at the ASTA National Conference, March 18-21, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Governor’s Awards are a statewide celebration of the arts that recognizes distinguished artists, arts organizations, businesses, educators and individuals for their passion, creativity and devotion to Arizona’s arts and cultural community. The winners of the 2015 awards were announced at a ceremony on March 24 at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel. Appropriately, each recipient was awarded an actual work of art made by a living Arizona artist.

Schmidt’s career as a string educator and researcher has spanned over 30 years. She is an expert on string education and pedagogy and on music teacher preparation and development. Her research has focused on sociological issues of race and class among and between music learners and teachers, and how these concepts mesh with the reality of teaching strings in today’s schools.

“I am so pleased that both these awards bring recognition to the music program at ASU,” Schmidt says. “I have always loved the idea of ‘lighting your candle in your own little corner.’ Neither award is completely about me, as I couldn’t do the things I do without the support and encouragement of the administration, staff, my colleagues and our students in the School of Music. They inspire and encourage me every day in so many small ways. If we each keep lighting our candles, we can collectively make a difference in the lives of our students and the larger community.”

In addition to teaching in the School of Music, in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, Schmidt is also the founder and director of the ASU String Project, which won the Robert Jesselson String Project Consortium Award in 2005 for the nation’s most outstanding string project. Schmidt holds a doctorate in music education from the University of Michigan, a master's in music (violin performance) from SUNY-StonyBrook and a bachelor's in music education from Lawrence University.

Heather Beaman,
communications liaison, School of Music

Deborah Sussman

Communications and media specialist, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts


ASU's InnovationSpace: Creating solutions through collaboration

May 26, 2015

Much like the plot of a superhero-team comic, many of today’s greatest challenges can only be overcome when the unique strengths of the resolute are combined.

Arizona State University’s InnovationSpace, a yearlong product-design and -development program intent on tackling societal challenges, recognizes this. Students showcase projects at InnovationSpace Exhibition Download Full Image

That’s why the program – initially a venture among ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, W. P. Carey School of Business and Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering – opted to diversify its disciplinary profile even further by including the School of Sustainability this past academic year.

The expertise of InnovationSpace faculty ranges from marketing to biomimicry, and each instructor takes a turn lecturing and leading learning activities in an advanced integrated process. As a result, students transform dry-erase board sketches into environmentally conscious, economically viable and life-changing prototypes by the program’s conclusion.

Rubing Qiang, a W. P. Carey School of Business senior studying both supply-chain management and marketing, belonged to one of three teams focused on mobility enhancements for individuals who use wheelchairs.

Qiang and her teammates developed Novo, an air bladder, foam-fusion seat lined with sensors to decrease the likelihood of pressure sores – an ailment all-too-familiar to wheelchair users. The seat connects to an app that indicates high-pressure areas, suggests settings for optimal comfort, and includes features such as interactive games and a monitoring system for doctors.

“InnovationSpace provided me with a great platform to meet students and faculty from multiple disciplines, and work with them toward the same goal,” Qiang said. “I learned to look at problems from various perspectives with the help of my group mates, who are from other majors. Collaboration through interdependence is one of the most precious experiences I gained from this program.”

Because sustainable solutions are inherently transdisciplinary, the diversity of fields among InnovationSpace students mirrors that of the faculty. This year, each team of five included a student from industrial design, visual communication design, engineering, business and sustainability.

Hayley Cook is pursuing a sustainability degree in the energy, materials and technology track, as well as a minor in anthropology. She and her teammates developed a power wheelchair controller called Cygnal, which features a touch screen and makes user navigation both simpler and more comfortable.

Upon completing the InnovationSpace program, Cook feels she has a more thorough understanding of sustainability – as an idea and as a practice.

“I’ve loved working with students in other disciplines to manifest my ideas in a practical way – not only to create innovative products, but also to teach others how to incorporate sustainability into their fields,” she said. “And, ultimately, we developed a better solution than any of us could have produced on our own.”

The financial resources to fashion such prototypes have been supplied by companies such as the Intel Corporation, Herman Miller Inc., Procter & Gamble, and Disney Consumer Products in the past. This year, InnovationSpace was made possible in part by the Ray C. Anderson Foundation, which continues the work of sustainability champion and visionary Ray Anderson.

Anderson served on the Board of Directors for Sustainability at ASU, and his foundation has funded other prominent ventures like ASU’s iProjects – a collaboration between the School of Sustainability and College of Technology and Innovation.

“Ray Anderson made the advancement of sustainable production and consumption systems his personal mission,” said Christopher Boone, an InnovationSpace instructor and the School of Sustainability’s dean. “He was a pioneer in this field, and InnovationSpace is a testament to his enduring legacy.”

The legacy extends well beyond InnovationSpace walls, as some teams pursue patents for – and form business ventures around – their sustainable-product solutions. In the past, several teams that developed assistive technologies and health-care products received funding from the Edson Student Entrepreneurship Initiative.

“The integrated product-development process allows students to make a transformative impact without sacrificing any of their core principles,” said Prasad Boradkar, a senior sustainability scientist and the director of InnovationSpace. “When they leave this program, they are armed with the tools, techniques and knowledge they need to change the world."

Kayla Bellman is pursuing degrees in sustainability and global studies, as well as a certificate in human rights. Her group, Team Noodle, was among three to tackle the common lack of creativity and collaboration in the workplace. Team Noodle’s reimagined conference table promotes “serious play” through features like the “idea puck,” an air-hockey-like brainstorming exercise.  

“If you are interested in working across multiple disciplines, gaining insight into the design process, exercising your creative juices and having tangible deliverables to show potential employers,” Bellman said, “I urge you to apply for the 2015-16 InnovationSpace program.”

The experiences of Qiang, Cook, Bellman and their classmates not only highlight the enriching quality of collaboration, but demonstrate that when disciplines combine, no challenge is too great for innovation.

Communications specialist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability