Fitness, fun showcased at fourth annual Sun Devil Criterium

January 22, 2018

For the fourth consecutive year, the 2018 Sun Devil Criterium was held on a closed course around ASU Gammage. The Jan. 21 bicycling affair was the largest single-day bike race in Arizona. Fifteen bicycle races were held for a variety of ages and skills.

The USA Cycling-sanctioned event was hosted by the ASU Cycling Club. Hundreds of participants from in and out of state circled ASU Gammage.  group of bicyclists in race Cyclists race in the Men's Professional 1/2/3 race at the Sun Devil Criterium held Jan. 21 at ASU's Tempe campus. Photo by Marcus Chormicle/ASU Now Download Full Image

“The Sun Devil Criterium promotes fitness, fun and a more sustainable way to travel,” said Benjamin Mangilit, club president. “We are so proud to host the event each year on the ASU campus as it (makes) our club more accessible to the bicycling community.” 

Mangilit said he expects two competitors to have a great season following their wins. ASU Cycling Club member and marketing sophomore Jack Gillick lapped the Men’s Collegiate B field, while 2012 Olympic competitor and graduate student Trevor Barron won in Collegiate C. 

Event sponsor ASU Parking and Transit Services (PTS) emphasized how the event boosts bicycling for health and well-being for the community.

“PTS offers so many resources so anyone who wants to can bicycle,” said JC Porter, PTS commuter services assistant director. “From bike valets to occasions like these, we are committed to building this capacity.”

Learn more about bike resources on campus and watch a bike safety video for more information.

Peter Northfelt

Editor assistant, Business and Finance Support – Communications


ASU remembers former Professor Robert Ohmart

Ohmart was a major force in the creation of ASU's wildlife biology program

January 22, 2018

Robert D. Ohmart, a titan of southwestern ecology and former professor at Arizona State University, passed away at his home in Chandler, Arizona on Jan. 14. He was surrounded by his family.

Ohmart's team of field researchers conducted the seminal work that established the blueprint for habitat and wildlife needs in the Southwest. man's portrait Former ASU Professor Robert D. Ohmart passed away Jan. 14. Download Full Image

Ohmart was born in McDonald, Texas, and chose to pursue his career in the West.

Having received his bachelor’s (1961) and master’s (1963) degrees in wildlife management and biology from the University of New Mexico, Ohmart went on to complete his doctorate in vertebrate zoology at the University of Arizona in 1968. After two years of a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of California at Davis he was hired as assistant professor in the zoology department at Arizona State University in 1970 and achieved full professor in 1981.

Ohmart was a major force in the creation of ASU's wildlife biology program, which was incorporated into the Applied Biological Sciences Program with a wildlife concentration located at the Polytechnic campus. He was also very much involved in the development of the Center for Environmental Studies, which became the current Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. Much of Ohmart's research at that time helped build the early ecological research reputation of the center.

His long-term research in collaboration with Bertin Anderson, along the lower Colorado River from Davis Dam to the Mexican border, laid the foundation for understanding habitat requirements of the resident wildlife and restoring that habitat to historical conditions. He initiated similar studies along other southwestern rivers like the Rio Grande and Pecos, documenting habitat relationships of birds and other wildlife and pioneering habitat restitution. Much of what his efforts discovered led to restoration projects throughout the Southwest. From the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Ohmart received over $2 million in grants, which supported many students conducting field studies in Arizona during the 1970s and ‘80s.

Over the years he also received funding from U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission, Arizona Game and Fish Department and Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. These studies produced over 100 publications and over 50 reports.

Ohmart loved teaching. His wildlife students, both undergraduate and graduate, received hands-on learning and many have gone on to careers at federal and state agencies. Ohmart was also very involved in the community and gave presentations to organizations, local schools and senior citizen groups.

His work in the conservation arena was tireless. He played a major role in influencing conservation for the desert nesting bald eagle and the southwestern willow flycatcher. His 1980 report, “The Bald Eagle of the Southwest with Special Emphasis on the Breeding Population of Arizona,” was the first to recognize the need to consider the unique local habitat characteristics to effectively conserve the southwestern bald eagle. 

His many riparian publications and expertise have been the basis for several successful legal petitionings of federal agencies to protect numerous declining riparian species. Ohmart was always open to educate everyone from undergraduate students to leaders of major conservation organizations, participating in many field trips to important southwestern riparian habitats. He was critically influential in the early phases of the long-running efforts to save the San Pedro and Verde rivers, Fossil Creek and other rare surviving desert streams. He was particularly devoted to stopping proposed reservoirs related to the Central Arizona Project, and to implementation of responsible livestock grazing in riparian habitats.

In 1985, Ohmart was awarded the Thomas E. McCullough Memorial Award by the Arizona Wildlife Federation, and in 2009 he was inducted into Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Outdoor Hall of Fame. He also served on the Board of Directors for the Center for Holistic Resources Management, Liberty Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and served as vice president at the Cooper Ornithological Society. He was also president of the New Mexico-Arizona Section of the Wildlife Society. Ohmart served on advisory committees for bald eagle and southwestern willow flycatcher recovery, and was the chair of the host committee for the 103rd Meeting of the American Ornithologists’ Union held at ASU.

After retiring in 2006, he focused on his love of farming. With guidance from Dan James, one of his graduate students, he shifted all energy to creating a new company called Double ”O” Enterprises. The mission was to provide a diverse blend of native Sonoran plant seed to revegetate disturbed landscapes. 

Services are to be held at 11 a.m. Jan. 27, at Sun Valley Community Church, 6101 S. River Drive in Tempe, ArizonaIn lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to the Liberty Wildlife Rehabilitation Foundation, 2600 E. Elwood St., Phoenix, AZ 85040, or Hospice of the Valley, 1510 E. Flower St., Phoenix, AZ 85014.

Cindy D. Zisner and Richard L. Glinski contributed to this story.

Award-winning sports journalist joins ASU as executive editor of Sports Knowledge Lab

January 22, 2018

Kathy Kudravi, a veteran award-winning sports journalist who has led news teams at ESPN and CNN, has been named the executive editor of a new international sports research and knowledge lab at Arizona State University.

Kudravi will lead the Sports Knowledge Lab based at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The lab is part of ASU’s Global Sport Institute, an international sports research and knowledge lab that connects people to the power of sport by translating and amplifying complex sports research to broad, global audiences. Kathy Kudravi Kathy Kudravi, a veteran award-winning sports journalist, is the new executive editor of the Sports Knowledge Lab, part of ASU’s Global Sport Institute. Download Full Image

In the Sports Knowledge Lab, Kudravi will oversee the publication of GlobalSport Matters, a dynamic multimedia storytelling platform that will be the go-to source for must-read and must-know data and advice from across the world of sport.

“I could not be more pleased that Kathy has joined us to launch and lead what will essentially be the concierge for the Global Sport Institute,” said Kenneth L. Shropshire, Adidas Distinguished Professor of Global Sport who serves as CEO of the Global Sport Institute. “Her experience to guide this effort is unmatched.”

Kudravi will oversee and teach a team of students at the Cronkite School in the production and presentation of a variety of curated and original content that will examine the impact of sport on society and provide context for top sports headlines from around the world. Content will include long-form writing, documentaries, articles, newsletters, data visualization and podcasts.

In addition to students enrolled for credit in this professional immersion experience each semester, Kudravi will hire and supervise student workers and student volunteers to assist in content production.

“I am thrilled to be joining the world-class team at ASU, and I look forward to the opportunity to work with aspiring sports journalists as they prepare for careers in today’s multi-platform media environment,” Kudravi said. “What excites me most is exploring how old-school research, which forms the foundation of great storytelling, can combine with today’s digital tools to create even stronger storylines thereby showcasing the interconnectivity between sport and society.”

Kudravi previously served as a coordinating producer at ESPN from 1999–2012, where she managed reporters, producers and camera operators across the country for reporting on “SportsCenter” and other network programs.

From 2012–2014, she was editorial director of sports at CNN, where she led the direction of sports content across CNN U.S., CNN International and HLN. She also served as the editorial lead on the award-winning “World Sport Presents” documentary series.

“Kathy has worked in leadership roles at some of the most respected outlets in sports media,” said Brett Kurland, director of sports programs at Cronkite. “Plus, she brings so much passion, energy and creativity to Cronkite. That combination of her rich experience and infection enthusiasm are an incredible asset for our students and our school.”

Most recently, Kudravi was the executive producer and digital director of Sinclair Broadcast Group’s American Sports Network, where she created a website focused on college sports and minor league baseball and grew social media followings.

A graduate of Kent State University in Ohio, Kudravi has significant newspaper experience having worked at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in Texas, The Tennessean in Nashville, Tennessee, and The Plain Dealer in Cleveland.

She is the recipient of two Emmy Awards for Best Daily Sports Show and has been recognized by the Foreign Press Association.

The Sport Knowledge Lab will be the 14th immersive professional experience at the Cronkite School that uses the school’s “teaching hospital” approach to education. Programs include a nightly television newscast that airs on Arizona PBS, an innovation and entrepreneurship lab where students create new digital products and services, a news reporting bureau in Washington, D.C., and a Spanish-language bureau where students report and produce news content across media platforms for Spanish-speaking audiences.

In the past several years, the Cronkite School has significantly expanded its sports journalism programs, including bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sports journalism, reporting bureaus in Phoenix and Los Angeles, a summer camp for high school students, and new faculty hires that include Paola Boivin, the award-winning sports columnist for The Arizona Republic.

Cronkite students have covered major sporting events, including the Super Bowl in 2015, the Summer Olympics Games in 2016 and the NCAA Men’s Final Four in 2017.

Communications manager, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication


Award spotlights ASU engineer's wide-ranging impact on transportation field

January 19, 2018

Contributions over the past 25 years to education and research, along with endeavors that have made him an international leader in the transportation engineering field, have earned Arizona State University Professor Ram Pendyala high recognition from the American Road & Transportation Builders Association.

The far-reaching impact of his work was emphasized in the organization’s announcement of Pendyala’s selection as the S.S. Steinberg Award winner recently at the annual meeting of its Research and Education Division in Washington, D.C. Fulton Schools Professor Ram Pendyala receives an award Professor Ram Pendyala (right) was presented the ARTBA S.S. Steinberg Award by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Professor Jose Holguin-Veras. The award recognizes outstanding contributions in teaching and research in transportation engineering and related areas. Photo courtesy of Ram Pendyala Download Full Image

The professor of civil, environmental and sustainable engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering was honored for research that has advanced multimodal transportation systems planning, travel behavior modeling, time use and activity pattern analysis, freight and passenger transportation demand forecasting, travel survey methods, microsimulation approaches and the study of transformational technologies in transportation.

His expertise extends also to sustainable mobility management strategies, analysis of public transportation systems, and integrated modeling of land use, transportation, energy and air quality systems.

Pendyala has conducted research and served as a consultant on numerous local, regional, national and international transportation projects, including acting as a transportation infrastructure evaluation consultant for the World Bank.

His accomplishments include winning the U.S. Transportation Research Board’s Pyke Johnson best paper award in 2011 and 2013, and being named the director of the U.S. Department of Transportation Tier 1 University Transportation Center for Teaching Old Models New Tricks that is led by ASU.

He is an associate editor for Transportation Research Part D, the leading journal dedicated to transportation and the environment and a member of the editorial boards of a number of other prominent journals. He is also chair of the Planning and Environment Group of the Technical Activities Division of the Transportation Research Board, providing oversight for the activities of more than 25 technical committees.   

The award also recognizes success in nurturing the next generation of transportation professionals. Pendyala’s exceptional accomplishments in that area were stressed by the colleague who nominated him for the Steinberg Award.

Pendyala’s priorities “are clearly the educational and professional growth of his students,” wrote Chandra Bhat in his nomination letter. Bhat is the Joe J. King Chair Professor in Engineering and director of the Center for Transportation Research at the University of Texas at Austin. 

Pendyala, who teaches courses in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, one of the Fulton Schools, has inspired many students to choose transportation as a career path, encouraging them to pursue graduate studies, get involved in professional organizations, and to prepare for their careers by co-authoring papers and participating in funded research projects while still in school.

He has mentored more than 50 graduate students, including a dozen who earned doctoral degrees, and has seen those students and others rise to leading positions in industry, at academic and research institutions, and in government agencies.

Pendyala is “a very good mentor and … clearly an articulate and passionate teacher,” Bhat wrote. “I would find it difficult to think of another individual with Ram’s combination of drive, passion for education and research, dedication to his chosen field, leadership and mentorship skills.”

Pendyala says he is especially humbled to be recognized with the S.S. Steinberg Award “because previous winners include highly accomplished scholars and teachers who have greatly inspired and influenced my own career. So, I am tremendously honored, and it motivates me to want to continue making a difference.”

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


ASU's Cronkite School expands digital audiences faculty

January 19, 2018

Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is expanding its pioneering digital audiences programs with the addition of two award-winning scholars in audience behavior, engagement and analytics.

Syed Ali Hussain and Jacob Nelson are joining the Cronkite School as assistant professors, where they will conduct research in audience engagement and analytics and teach students the skills to identify, measure, engage and grow digital audiences through content and data-driven strategies. Hussain and Nelson will start in August. Syed Ali Hussain (left) and Jacob Nelson are joining the Cronkite School as assistant professors in audience engagement and analytics. Download Full Image

“These two young scholars will add richly to our fast-growing digital audiences initiatives on the graduate and undergraduate levels,” said Cronkite School Dean Christopher Callahan. “We are excited to welcome Ali and Jake to the Cronkite family.”

Hussain, who is completing his doctorate at Michigan State University, conducts research on human emotions for health communications and mobile phones for social development. He currently is working at MSU on a grant-funded project by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to research which effective and low-cost health care practices from other countries could be successful if implemented in the U.S.

Hussain previously led communications campaigns for Save the Children International, the United States Agency for International Development and several health care organizations in Pakistan. He has presented his research at international academic conferences, including the National Institutes of Health, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and the International Communication Association. He also has published scholarship in a book chapter as well as Communication Research Reports, among other journals.  

A Fulbright Scholar, Hussain holds a master’s degree in health and risk communication from MSU, a bachelor’s degree in business from Foundation University, Pakistan and a post-graduate certificate in public health from the University of Manchester, U.K.

“One of the things I like about the Cronkite School is its hybrid focus on both research and practice,” Hussain said. “It’s the human-centric design and implementation of digital innovations that makes the school so unique. I’m looking forward to teaching students about audience acquisition and engagement.”

Nelson, who is completing his doctorate at Northwestern University, studies the changing relationship between journalists and their audiences. His research has been published in Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly and Digital Journalism, and featured in Columbia Journalism Review and MediaShift.

Nelson previously was an editor with, a hyperlocal news platform that encourages community engagement. He has also worked at comScore, an online audience data provider. In 2017, he was named a Knight News Innovation Fellow by the Columbia Journalism School’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism.

Nelson holds a master’s degree in media, technology and society, and a bachelor’s degree in journalism and creative writing, both from Northwestern University.

“I love how the Cronkite School’s research and instruction focuses on making a positive contribution to the profession of journalism,” Nelson said. “As someone who has worked in the field, I find that kind of environment very fulfilling.”

The Cronkite School has been a leader in the growing field of digital audiences. The school offers an online minor, and the curriculum will soon include new degree programs.

Hussain and Nelson will join the Cronkite School’s growing team of thought leaders in digital and social media audiences, including Assistant Professor K. Hazel Kwon and Ethics and Excellence Professor of Practice Jessica Pucci, who serves as director of Cronkite Digital Audience Programs.

“Jake and Ali’s cutting-edge research into how audiences react and respond to content — and how organizations apply that information — will directly impact our students, and propel our industry forward,” Pucci said.

Communications manager, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication


Dash and ASU elevate blockchain research, offering graduate course and scholarships

Blockchain Research Lab expands applications in wake of soaring industry growth

January 18, 2018

Arizona State University and Dash, a top digital currency for payments, have announced a partnership designed to accelerate research, development and education in ways that advance blockchain transaction speed, efficiency and security and expand its uses.

The new $350,000 Dash-ASU agreement announced Wednesday includes: Blockchain Research Lab at Skysong Arizona State University's Blockchain Research Lab and partner Dash are located at ASU's SkySong, home to a diverse business community that links technology, research, education and entrepreneurship. Download Full Image

• The Dash Scholars Program, which provides $100,000 in scholarships for undergraduate and graduate research fellowships

• Research lab and industry open-source projects, providing an additional $100,000 in funding for ASU’s Blockchain Research Lab (BRL) and $50,000 in new funding for the Luminosity Lab

• Blockchain course development, with $100,000 for creating an online graduate course expected to be offered at ASU this fall

The partnership comes after Dash contributed $50,000 in Blockchain Research Laboratory startup funding in August 2017. In November, Dash and ASU announced the creation of the Blockchain Research Laboratory at ASU, the first in academia.

“ASU welcomes this initiative and is ready to play its role in creating a potent blockchain research and innovation environment for young talents to develop practical blockchain applications,” said Dragan Boscovic, Blockchain Research Laboratory director and a research professor in ASU’s School of Computing, Informatics and Decision Systems Engineering.

RELATED: Q&A about cryptocurrency, blockchain applications with Dragan Boscovic

Dash is a blockchain-powered digital currency, with a number of unique industry features including InstantSend, PrivateSend and an entirely self-funded, self-governed organizational structure.

Blockchain is a decentralized, tamper-proof digital ledger technology that is transforming transaction prospects for many industries. In addition to being the foundation of cryptocurrencies like Dash, the blockchain structure — which consists of linked blocks of information — allows for direct transactions across a network of computers without need for a central authority.

The Blockchain Research Laboratory is focused on making blockchain accessible for uses beyond cryptocurrency, although cryptocurrency will remain a primary focus. According to Boscovic, the lab is investigating practical business applications for banking transactions, property exchanges and contract-based dealings that benefit from bypassing third-party brokers. For example, the lab is working with a Phoenix-area company to formulate a blockchain for eco-energy applications, such as exchanging stored solar power within neighborhoods.

Current research channels at the Blockchain Research Laboratory include analytics, shared business platforms that can segment company access based on specific transactions, management of IoT transactions between devices and appliances, nonprofit/humanitarian cryptocurrency transactions, and the development of smart contracts.

“This is a remarkable partnership precisely because both sides will benefit greatly from tight collaboration,” said Ryan Taylor, CEO of Dash Core. “Dash benefits from gaining valuable independent insights into how we can improve our plans for scaling to massively large numbers of transactions. ASU will benefit from gaining access to one of the most innovative teams in the digital currency industry. The entire blockchain industry will benefit from the best practices that will emerge from the research, and the creation of a graduate course is a tremendous leap in blockchain’s path towards rapid, mainstream adoption.”

The Blockchain Research Laboratory is an interdisciplinary initiative that includes faculty from Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, W. P. Carey School of Business, W. P. Carey Information Systems and the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.

“The Blockchain Research Lab not only offers students early access to blockchain technologies that are transforming the nature of business transactions, it is providing them an opportunity to be part of the design process and a unique opportunity for real-world innovation and design,” said Kyle Squires, dean of the Ira. A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. 

Terry Grant

Media Relations Officer, Media Relations and Strategic Communications


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ASU makes Princeton Review's list of 'Best Bang for Your Tuition Buck'

Princeton Review cites ASU's academics, affordability, grads' career prospects.
January 17, 2018

The university is the only Arizona school on 2018 'Colleges That Pay You Back' list

Arizona State University has been named to the 2018 Princeton Review list of “Colleges That Pay You Back: The 200 Schools That Give You the Best Bang for Your Tuition Buck.”

The Princeton Review, which rates colleges and universities on a host of factors, cited ASU’s “stellar academics, affordable cost and strong career prospects for graduates.” ASU has been named to this nationwide list every year since its inaugural publishing in 2015. This year, ASU is the only school in Arizona to make the list.

Other universities on the list include Stanford University, Yale University, MIT, University of California Los Angeles and Texas A&M.

“ASU offers the highest-quality education possible at the lowest possible price with a tremendous return on investment for students,” ASU President Michael M. Crow said. “Nine out of 10 undergraduates have a job within three months of graduation. And with more than 8,000 companies recruiting students every day, ASU is the hub of talent for the state of Arizona.”

Students quoted in the Princeton Review ranking noted ASU’s focus on innovation and efforts to “personalize every student’s experience,” along with “endless … opportunities for success.” Students also noted ASU’s highly ranked journalism, business and engineering schools along with the abundance of research opportunities across academic disciplines.

ASU’s undergraduate tuition is the lowest among public universities in Arizona. More than 80 percent of resident undergraduates receive some type of financial aid, which was also a factor in the Princeton Review ranking.

Dozens of companies such as Ford Motor Company, Mayo Clinic, Charles Schwab and State Farm have called ASU a top-tier university for recruiting and hiring. The average starting salary for ASU undergraduates is $43,000 and $63,000 for graduate students. 

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Paola Boivin named to College Football Playoff selection committee

January 17, 2018

The ASU professor and award-winning sportswriter is excited to give back to college football (and about watching more games)

Arizona State University professor and Arizona Sports Hall of Fame inductee Paola Boivin was selected Wednesday as one of six new members to serve on the College Football Playoff selection committee. Boivin will be the second woman in history to work on the elite panel.

A professor of practice at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Boivin, who was an award-winning journalist with the Arizona Republic, will start her three-year term this spring. She joins new members Joe Castiglione, Ken Hatfield, Ronnie Lott, Todd Stansbury and Scott Stricklin.

The 13-person committee will be responsible for selecting the top four teams in the playoff and assigning them to semifinal games, as well as placing the next group of teams in the remaining New Year’s bowls. Boivin previously served as president of the Association for Women in Sports Media and in November 2017 was the first female journalist to be inducted into the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame.

ASU Now spoke to Boivin on the day of the big announcement to discuss her selection, what her new duties will entail and what effect having a female on the panel will have.

Question: Congratulations on the big honor. How does this feel?

Answer: Amazing. College football has been such a big part of my life. I used to cover UCLA football and loved the drive through Pasadena on Saturdays that took me to the Rose Bowl. And many times I sat in the press box of Sun Devil Stadium thinking, "How did I get so lucky?" I'm excited to give back to the sport.

Q: You are the second woman ever to serve on this committee. From a football and equality perspective, why is it important to have a voice like yours on this committee?

A: Diversity in all walks of life is important and the sports arena is no exception. To follow Condoleezza Rice is pretty darn cool.

Q: What will be expected of you in your duties and how do you think the committee will benefit from your service?

A: As a member of the committee, the main goal is to rank the Top 25 teams and assign the top four to semifinal sites. That means watching a lot of football with a keen eye. Poor me. Ha! As a journalist, you are taught to be driven by a tenet of fairness. I hope that's the biggest thing I can bring.

Q: How often will the committee meet and does this mean you’ll be attending more college football games?

A: We will meet about six times during the season and several times during the off-season. I may not be attending more games but I will be watching an enormous amount of them. 

ASU team wins American Institute of Architects design competition

January 16, 2018

A team made up of a student, a professor and a graduate from The Design School in ASU's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts won the American Institute of Architects’ Phoenix Metro 2017 Design Competition.

The team, which includes fourth-year architecture student Zach Bundy, recent graduate Nick Shekerjian and professor Elena Rocchi, was one of four teams selected as winners for the competition.  Entry board for the team's INFILL PHOENIX project Entry board for the team's project. Download Full Image

This year’s competition, INFILL PHOENIX, asked participants to “propose an innovative program and design a structure, an element or a place, which supports that program and connects it with the existing urban fabric of Phoenix.”

The ASU team’s project, called Ark, explores Phoenix’s unique abundance of vacant lots and buildings. According to the team: “This project proposes to deal with urban infill not by imagining the specific characteristics of the infill itself, but instead imagines the result of infill on Phoenix’s unique characteristic of vacancy.”

The team will share a $5,000 prize. 

ASU engineering success for all online graduate students

January 12, 2018

An engineering workforce that reflects the makeup of a global society can better design the electronics, software, infrastructure and other systems we use on a daily basis.

The practice of exclusive admissions at top engineering schools — accepting only the top students guaranteed to be successful — does not help bring in a diverse group of students that will help us innovate and better serve society. A student poses on a laptop webcam feed next to a remote controlled car during a project demonstration. Students in Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering online graduate programs have the opportunity to participate inside and outside the classroom in activities optimized for student success regardless of background. The Fulton Schools ranked No. 11 in 2018’s U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Engineering Programs Rankings. Photo by Marco-Alexis Chaira/ASU Download Full Image

Exclusivity doesn’t have to be the marker of a top engineering program, and Arizona State University believes it should be the opposite.

With a top goal of inclusivity enshrined in its charter, ASU believes all students can be successful. The Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at ASU is committed to this view and applies the university’s strengths in access, inclusion and innovation to develop a strong online engineering graduate degree program.

Following this inclusive approach to engineering education, and despite the value placed on exclusivity in rankings, the Fulton Schools’ online engineering graduate program has consistently ranked in the top 15 of U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Engineering Programs Rankings.

In 2018, the program continued its upward trajectory by earning the ranking of 11th in the nation, reflecting the program’s strengths in student engagement, services and faculty credentials.

“We are focused on reimagining engineering education, providing online students access to the most innovative learning platforms, learning experiences and student services to master content and apply this newly acquired knowledge immediately in the workplace,” said Jeff Goss, assistant dean and executive director of global outreach and extended education.

With around 500 online graduate students from around the world, the Fulton Schools’ inclusive online engineering graduate program is helping to prepare a diverse workforce for today’s global industry.

Eduardo Pereira, a senior research engineer at Cummins earning his master’s in the online Quality, Reliability and Statistical Engineering program, chose ASU and the Fulton Schools because of the school’s reputation, affordability and the quick application process. The quality of professors, supportive staff and content of the courses are helping him be successful in his career.

“I believe that what I’ve learned, especially the applied statistics part of my program, is helping me get a unique perspective that not many people possess, especially young professionals like me,” Pereira said.

 Andrew Bautista/ASU
Senior Lecturer Benjamin Mertz (right) talks with a student on camera as part of the filming of an online lecture. The Fulton Schools are investing in facilities, tools and staff to enhance course materials for online engineering students. Photo by Andrew Bautista/ASU

The Fulton Schools and Global Outreach and Extended Education team have invested both inside and outside the virtual classroom to help all Fulton Schools online graduate students to be successful in their academic and career endeavors.

Driven by the understanding that creating an active learning environment better engages students in the content and enhances their learning experience and success, Fulton Schools are investing in ways to advance the quality and consistency of the online graduate program experience, including new studio facilities, technology and personnel with knowledge of online education best practices.

“We want to create learning environments that remove the boundaries of time and space,” said Scott Mahler, director of digital immersion for Global Outreach and Extended Education at the Fulton Schools. “By providing the affordance for students to engage directly with their instructors and peers as well as opportunities for meaningful practice to apply theoretical concepts, we believe we can improve the student experience and outcomes.”

Instead of recording an on-campus lecture directed at on-campus students physically in the classroom, new studio facilities and a team of learning theory experts help faculty create lecture materials and learning experiences directed specifically toward the online learner.

Additionally, the online engineering program’s lecture formats are evolving into shorter segments with interspersed opportunities for students to interact with the content, opportunities to ask and answer questions and get immediate feedback to better help gauge their progress. For example, online software engineering graduate students can access an online coding environment where they can practice writing code and get immediate feedback upon submitting their work.

 Jessica Hochreiter/ASU
An online student participates in a research poster session via webcam on a mobile, remote-controlled monitor. The Fulton Schools seek to engage online graduate students in experiences that will help them be successful and transcend traditional online education. Photo by Jessica Hochreiter/ASU

The Fulton Schools also consider co-curricular programs and opportunities as formative as academic and classroom experiences, so online education and student support staff are looking into how to best serve online graduate engineering students in extracurricular research, symposiums, guest speaker presentations and other opportunities.

Online students are already able to participate in these co-curricular activities through live streams and remote attendance through video conferencing.

Outside the classroom also extends to services that help ensure students are successful in their academics and careers.

Virtual office hours, tutoring and advising help online students with their academics and are facilitated through video conferencing and other online chat services. ASU is also developing a Slack-like tool called Pitch as a way for students to interact with advisors as well as to create a student community.

In 2017 ASU introduced a success coaching team to talk with students and direct them to services that will help them succeed. Additionally, ASU has created a research and data-based methodology to create a model for a system that triggers an intervention from a success coach when students may be struggling and need the help of their coach without the student having to reach out.

As online graduate students are often already working professionals, the Fulton Schools are also working with the Career Center to get a better understanding of what would best help students who are mid-career or planning career transitions.

As 2018 gets underway, the Fulton Schools are looking at ways to continue to expand the online graduate engineering program’s focus on modular, stackable and open scale learning. The goal is to develop new methods to educate at scale and make education more accessible by researching and evaluating graduate offerings that implement modular approaches with different pathways focused on student success.

Monique Clement

Communications specialist, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering