Helping peers engineer a rewarding experience at ASU

May 2, 2019

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2019 commencement.

Zachary Tronstad’s most rewarding experiences at Arizona State University have been helping people and finding inspiration to make an impact through engineering. Zachary Tronstad Zachary Tronstad. Download Full Image

By getting involved outside the classroom, Tronstad helped his peers as a tutor, made waves in water filtration research with the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative and assisted high school students in the Shonto community of the Navajo Nation to start a mountain biking team with Engineers Without Borders and Engineering Projects in Community Service.

He encourages other students to do more than study to get the most out of their Sun Devil experience.

“There are so many clubs, research opportunities and unique groups of people that you aren’t going to find anywhere else,” said Tronstad, who is graduating with a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering with a minor in materials science and engineering. “Get involved with a couple — it might actually help your grades to have something besides school to focus on, and it’ll make you a much more appealing job candidate.”

He owes his critical thinking skills and independent problem-solving skills to his FURI mentor, Matthew Green, an assistant professor of chemical engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

“By giving me my own research project and letting me own it, I was able to develop problem-solving skills and learn how to present my findings and their importance to others,” Tronstad said.

His hard work paid off. The National Merit Scholar and New American University Scholar earned an award for best presentation materials at the 2018 Gulf Coast Undergraduate Research Symposium and an IMPACT award for his EPICS project with the Shonto community. He was also recently recognized as the Chemical Engineering Undergraduate of the Year by the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, one of the six Fulton Schools. 

In 2017, Tronstad had the opportunity to be a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Last year, he participated in a Research Experience for Undergraduates at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

Besides flexing his engineering skills, Tronstad developed his spirituality through the Navigators, a Christian club focused on spiritual discipleship, where he was vice president and planned weekly service events and trips for the club to conduct over spring break.

Tronstad’s wife, Kristina, whom he met at church in high school and married last January, is also an ASU grad and has been a great source of support during his studies. She graduated last December and now teaches second grade in the Roosevelt School District.

After graduation, he plans to continue work with the Navigators and participate in a two-year internship with EDGE Corps. Then, he’ll get back to chemical engineering in graduate school.

Hometown: Tucson, Arizona

Tronstad's favorites

Hobby: Basketball
TV show: "Sherlock"
Sports team: Philadelphia Eagles
Last book read: "Trusting God" by Jerry Bridges

Read about other exceptional graduates of the Fulton Schools’ spring 2019 class.

Monique Clement

Lead communications specialist, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


ASU students attend world-renowned cybersecurity conference

May 2, 2019

Last month, more than 50,000 cybersecurityThe name RSA refers to the public-key encryption technology developed by RSA Data Security, Inc., which was founded in 1982. professionals from around the globe converged on San Francisco to attend the world’s preeminent cybersecurity gathering, the RSA Conference. Among the crowd were two ASU undergraduate students, Muhammed Kilig and Raida Khan, both computer science majors in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. Kilig and Khan were invited as 2018 RSAC Scholar recipients with all travel and registration costs covered by the conference.

As outstanding ASU cybersecurity students, they were chosen to attend this year's conference, where they learned from leading cybersecurity experts and were given access to a network with more than 600 companies to make connections for their futures. Security Scholars vlog at that RSA conference. Photo courtesy of Muhammed Kilig Download Full Image

“It’s like every corner you turn in this whole conference is an opportunity,” Khan said. “We connected with the first female chief information security officer for the White House, and she said, ‘Come meet me, we’ll talk,’ and we did!”

Conference speakers ranged from the FBI director to actress Helen Mirren. “The final keynote was by Tina Fey. We’re like speechless … for all the stuff we’ve gotten to do,” Kilig said.

Each year the RSAC sponsors outstanding students to attend the conference through the RSAC Security Scholars program. Only a handful of universities were selected to offer the RSAC Scholars program to their students. ASU was one of the first schools to be included in this program, which is administered by the Cybersecurity Education Consortium (CEC) and the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. Students across ASU have the opportunity to apply to be selected as RSAC Security Scholars and attend the weeklong conference completely free of charge. They are invited back in subsequent years, and their conference registration is waived, allowing them to meet the next cohort of scholars and rejoin the fellow scholars from their cohorts. Students interested in applying next year may visit the CEC website for more information.  

Follow the CEC on Twitter to see more about Kilig and Khan’s experience at the RSA Conference.

Program Coordinator, Cybersecurity Education Consortium, New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences