ASU reaches all-time high Graduation Success Rate for student-athletes

November 4, 2015

Statistics for the Graduation Success Rate (GSR) released Wednesday by the NCAA indicated an 84 percent graduation success rate, an all-time high for Arizona State University.

ASU has either tied or surpassed its all-time best in each of the past nine years. balloons dropping on students at graduation

The GSR is based on student-athletes who entered college as freshmen in 2005-2008 and ultimately entered ASU on athletic aid as freshmen or transfers. The GSR allows for the removal of those individuals from the cohort who left ASU in good academic standing prior to completing their eligibility and is the NCAA’s primary tool for measuring academic success.

ASU’s stated goal when the GSR was introduced 10 years ago was 80 percent, which was reached in 2012.  Ten years ago, ASU's GSR was at 69 percent, and it has seen a 15 percent increase since that point.

"We are proud of the continued and record-setting improvement in our graduation rate," said Ray Anderson, vice president of University Athletics.  "Results measured by both graduation and competitive successes are keystones to defining the Sun Devil way.  The student-athlete is the centerpiece of our department's efforts. Jean Boyd, his staff, and the coaches not only teach leadership, risk-taking, and teamwork, but also complement the invaluable academic growth gained from the classroom."

ASU’s women’s GSR is 90 percent, up one point from a year ago, while the men’s teams are over 70 percent (79 percent) for the third year in a row since the reporting began 11 years ago. The men’s GSR has improved from 56 percent in 2005. ASU shines in graduating African-American student-athletes, ranking second in the Pac-12 in both overall and in the African American male GSR.

ASU ranks fifth in the Pac-12 Conference (out of 12 institutions), just one percentage point behind Washington’s 85 percent, and two percentage points behind second place.

Four ASU teams lead the Pac-12 Conference, including men’s basketball (90 percent) and with three at 100 percent: women's golf, softball, and women's tennis.

Over the past seven years, the baseball program has elevated its GSR from 30 percent to 87 percent, while the men’s basketball GSR has improved from 31 percent to 90 percent over the last eight years.

“Sun Devil Athletics is dedicated to developing student-athletes who graduate and go on to live championship lives,” said Jean Boyd, senior associate athletic director of Student-Athlete Development. “Reaching an all-time high of 84 percent speaks to this commitment. We are especially proud of our work with our female and African American student-athletes. We also highlight the continued improvements made in men’s basketball and baseball. We will remain relentless in these efforts and look forward to reaching a short term goal of 85 percent and ultimately our targeted 90 percent.”

The GSR is the NCAA's more comprehensive calculation of student-athlete academic success. The NCAA rate is more accurate than the federally mandated methodology because it includes incoming transfers and students enrolling in the spring semester who receive athletic aid and graduate and deletes from the calculation student-athletes who leave an institution and were academically eligible to compete. The federal rate does neither.

Conversely, the APR, or Academic Progress Rate, is a year-by-year gauge of eligibility and retention for Division I scholarship student-athletes that was established in 2004. It is a composite team measurement based upon how individual team members do academically, and the NCAA APR threshold is 925, which is the equivalent of a 50-percent graduation rate.

This is the 25th release of institutional graduation rates since national "right-to-know" legislation was passed in 1990. In 2005, the NCAA Division I Committee on Academic Performance implemented the initial release of the team GSR data.

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Racing time and money to build a fast car

It's a race to finish, and to find finances for ASU's Formula SAE team.
It ain't cheap building a race car; just ask these ASU students.
ASU engineering students hope to catch the eye of auto manufacturers.
November 4, 2015

ASU student-led Formula SAE team finding finances to be the biggest hurdle

Editor’s note: This is the latest installation in a yearlong series about ASU's Formula SAEFormula SAE is a student design competition organized by the International Society of Automotive Engineers (now known as SAE International). team. Read the first story here.

If the Arizona State University engineering students building a Formula-style race car wanted a challenge, they’ve got a hefty one in front of them trying to make the deadlines to get it into the national competition in June.

For the design, management and costs of building this SDM-15 (Sun Devil Motorsports) racer, they’re on their own. Two of those three aren’t a problem.

Like so many things in life, the biggest issue they’re facing is financial. The racer will cost about $38,000 to create.

“Our theme is that we’re low on money,” said team manager Troy Buhr. “As of this moment we have $600 in the bank.”

People standing around an engine

Mechanical engineering senior Andrew Shapiro (right) gives guidance
to ASU Formula SAE team members Martin Morrow (green shirt) and
Michael Walker, as Jeremiah Leynes looks on.

Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

For perspective, tires can cost more than $400 each. Racing engine control units can cost well more than $1,000. And the costs go on and on.

“I think the main idea is we know what we want to do, but as soon as we get the money we spend it,” said chief engineer Wes Kudela.

To help solve that problem, the members of ASU's Formula SAE team — made up of students in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering — have learned what the business world knows so well: When there’s a problem you can’t handle, call in consultants.

The team has recruited five students from the W. P. Carey School of Business majoring in subjects like business management. The business majors meet weekly with the engineers.

“It’s awesome to have them in here,” Buhr said. “They think completely differently than us. It’s young right now, but I like the way it’s going.”

“A lot of them love cars.”

Building the SDM-15 is a quest for a simplistic car that is durable and handles well. They want it to be lightweight but stiff in the chassis, braking system and suspension.

“The build is going great,” Kudela said.

And managing the project is going smoothly. The goal to have all 110 team members involved as much as possible is progressing well.

“We’re seeing 50 to 60 guys come in and get their hands dirty every weekend,” Kudela said.

“We’ve never had this much momentum, and it’s good to see people excited,” said team captain Pranav Mamidi. However, he said, “we’ve always lagged in the business department.”

Raytheon donated $2,000 to the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, but it had to be split with the SAE Aero Design team. Tempe-based Trimble Consulting Inc., a technical, business and educational services consulting company, donated $750. Ford Motor Company gave $2,500. “We showed them the chassis and the shop, and they were impressed,” Mamidi said.

Team members are talking with possible sponsors including Chrysler, Avnet and Boeing. “We’ve also been compiling a list of potential local sponsors,” said Mamidi, referring to businesses such as car dealerships.

One of the engineering challenges is balancing structural integrity with weight.

“We know we’re going to be testing really hard,” Kudela said.

The base rails on the chassis are perfectly straight, which is important because everything else goes on top of them. The team doesn’t have a fixture table, which is perfectly flat and used in welding and assembly. “We have to spend a lot of time getting the chassis straight on it,” Kudela said.

The chromoly tubes have been tacked together, but not yet fully welded. The car will flex when it’s eventually built and unclamped from the table. Because heat from welding can deform metal, it could create a crooked car, so the chassis will be fully welded later.

The computer-aided design model has been completed. The pedals have been designed. The team has chosen a foot clutch instead of a hand clutch because it will be more natural to drive.

“We are working on designing a steering rack,” Kudela said. A manufactured steering rack won’t be ready by their January goal to complete the car. Last year they literally finished the car in a parking lot in Lincoln, Nebraska, where the national competition is held. This year they want the car completed in January so they can test and improve it.

The team has also decided to use braided brake lines. Hard brake lines are more durable. Braided brake lines are easier to route through the car, but they flex under pressure. To justify using them, they had to prove the braided lines don’t deform or move under the pressures they’re using. So they tested the lines and proved them acceptable. That’s one type of detail they will be judged on at the national competition in June.

“We want to build from a durability standpoint,” Kudela said.

The team needs to purchase an engine control unit, a small computer that optimizes engine performance. Like most of what they need, the unit can’t be found at a local Auto Zone store. It has to be purchased from a specialty vendor.

They are working on the aero kit, calculating cooling capacity of the radiator in a carbon fiber side pod. If the hole in the front of the side pod is big, it cools the engine down a lot more, but it also slows the car down. “We’re doing extensive calculations on that,” Kudela said.

There is some debate about one radiator side pod vs. two. A car with two side pods will look more balanced, but “sometimes asymmetry can be cool,” Mamidi said.

This isn’t a go-kart being built; it’s a four-cylinder engine Formula-style car, and it’s going into national competition where the big automakers will all have scouts watching.

Future jobs are on the line here.

Video by Ken Fagan/ASU Now 

To support the ASU Formula SAE team, click here, then select the “write-in” circle in the “supporting” category and enter the following in the box: "ASU-Society of Automotive Engineers 30006731".

Look for the next installment in our story series Nov. 24.