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ASU's new Tooker House brings engineering education home

Everything at cutting-edge Tempe residence hall designed to enhance what Ira A. Fulton students learn in classrooms and labs


Exterior of Tooker House residence hall
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August 11, 2017

Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. To read more top stories from 2017, click here.

When Arizona State University’s latest crop of engineering students move this weekend into the state-of-the-art residence hall built specifically for their discipline, they aren’t living in just any old dorm.

They are living totally immersed in an engineering education experience.

Everything about Tooker House, a brand-new 1,600-student community for engineering students, is designed to enhance and extend what they learn in classrooms and labs.

“Innovation has a new home address at Tooker House,” said Kyle Squires, dean of the Fulton Schools of Engineering. “This mixed-use living and learning facility sets a new standard in engineering education and reflects the breadth and depth of the student experience at the largest engineering school in the nation.”

Video by Ken Fagan/ASU Now

The fully Wi-Fi-accessible facility has enough bandwidth to accommodate four devices per resident. There are seven social lounges, seven study lounges and six academic success centers.

“Everything in here is built with the mind-set of engineers,” said Bradley Bolin, assistant director for residential life at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. “If you look at the ceilings, they look like they’re unfinished, but this is the finished product. They know engineers want to see not just the surface, but what’s beyond the surface. Where does water run? Where is the electricity? What kind of materials did they use?

“If you walk down the hallway, you’ll see where the hot water line is and where the cold water line is. You’ll see where Internet is placed. Our electrical room is all glass on the hallway side. Students who are interested in that type of engineering can walk down to what is running our building and look through and see actual engineers using the space.”

Engineers love to know how things work, and how things are put together.

“To see the inner workings of a building kind of kick-starts peoples’ imaginations,” said Pedro Giorge, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering who lives in Tooker House. “It’s really cool to see an application of what we learn in school actually applied. When you’re in your books and you’re concentrating on your work and the theories behind really don’t make a connection until you actually see something like an electrical system or a mechanical system. It’s just really cool to see that at home for a lot of these students.”

The vast majority of Tooker House residents are first-year engineering students. (The first and second floors are dedicated to upper-division students.) They run the gamut: civil engineering, mechanical engineering, material management engineering.

“Any type of engineering taught at Fulton, they can live at Tooker House,” Bolin said.

Two makerspaces outfitted for engineers provide a collaborative environment where students can work on projects, develop new technologies and have access to tools like 3-D printers and laser cutters. The spaces are also equipped with video chat, adjustable tables, soundproofing and lockers for projects.

“Engineers go through a lot of classes, and they have to do a lot of group work,” Bolin said. “What’s awesome about Tooker House, there’s plenty of group spaces where students can come together and use the floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall white boards. They can write out their big equations like they do in the movies. We created spaces like that just for them to walk down the hall with their roommate or someone who is in the same class with them and utilize the space we have here for them to work on their projects together. And, with the academic success centers in Tooker House, they have direct access to tutors, who are sophomores, seniors and sometimes grad students.”

Other amenities in the residence hall include a full-service, 14,000-square-foot, 525-seat dining facility; recreation center with modern student lounges, billiards and ping-pong; a modern fitness center with cardio machines and strength equipment, and a convenience store.

It’s a gated community with 24-hour campus security and front-desk services; live-in residential staff; and a courtyard with a sun deck and outdoor gathering pavilions.

Suites are fully furnished apartments with adjoining bathrooms, hardwood-style flooring, solar blackout shades, USB outlets and ceiling fans.

On-site laundry facilities with Bluetooth washers and dryers notify students when cycles are complete. 

“We have 130 washers and dryers to accommodate (students),” Bolin said. “They are on the second, fourth and sixth floors. There’s a really cool app. If a student doesn’t want to get out of their room, they can check the app to see when a machine is available and when their laundry is done.”

The new residence hall is named for Diane and Gary Tooker. Diane Tooker is an alumnus of ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College and a former business owner and elementary school teacher. Gary Tooker is an alumnus of the Fulton Schools of Engineering and a former CEO of Motorola.

Together, the couple has made contributions to ASU through the ASU Foundation for more than 30 years, including support for the university’s teaching and engineering programs and the endowed Diane and Gary Tooker Chair for Effective Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Gary Tooker’s contributions to fostering Arizona’s tech sector were recognized with a lifetime achievement award presented at the 2012 Governor’s Celebration of Innovation.

“Diane and Gary Tooker are not only longtime supporters of ASU, but of innovation and education. Tooker House epitomizes the best of both,” said Gretchen Buhlig, CEO of ASU Foundation. “We are grateful to them, and for the opportunity to bring new spaces and modes of learning to our Fulton Schools of Engineering students.”

Top photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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