Service-learning program has ASU and Vietnamese students co-develop smart farm technology

June 17, 2019

Engineering students: Is your dream for after graduation to use your know-how to solve global issues with opportunities like Engineers Without Borders or Habitat for Humanity?

With Global EPICS Engineering Projects in Community Service, an engineering-based study abroad opportunity, you don’t have to wait to get out there.

EPICS study abroad team The Global EPICS team works on incorporating local experts´ feedback into sensor design at the ASU-supported Maker Innovation Space in Da Nang, Vietnam. Download Full Image

In May 2019, in Da Nang, Vietnam, 11 engineering students joined the launch of Global EPICS to collaborate with Vietnamese engineering students and Tra Que Vegetable Village, a sustainable farming organization, to co-develop an environmental sensor platform that includes a soil humidity sensor that provides local farmers with additional data to make important decisions about their crops. Coordinated with the ASU Study Abroad Office, students participated in the Global Intensive ExperienceSeven to 12 day credit-bearing programs led by ASU faculty members. Offered during academic breaks (spring break, winter break and before/after spring and fall semesters). program called Projects in Human-Centered DesignOnce put into practice, this collaborative innovation will increase agricultural efficiency and promote sustainable farming through locally-conceptualized smart-farming technology.

Preparation is critical for any international project to be successful. Throughout the spring semester, the Global EPICS team worked remotely with Vietnamese students and faculty to identify water management as their challenge for student-led innovation and sketched out a basic concept for the humidity sensor and platform. Once on the ground in Vietnam, the team kicked off their week with an international design review led by Vietnamese academics and industry stakeholders. Then the team worked long days at the ASU-supported Maker Innovation Space in Da Nang to incorporate the local feedback into their design, build a prototype sensor and test it live. 

The intensive week culminated with a test at the Tra Que Vegetable Village. By testing their sensor in Vietnam, the team gathered vital local feedback for further development during the fall 2019 semester.

“Perseverance is key. This project was a huge learning curve for a lot of us, but it was amazing to see us all persevere and step up to the plate, whether it was learning a new programming language or new computer program or working with new devices," said Karryn Baca, an aerospace engineering junior. "It goes to show that despite any difficulty or delay, with perseverance, we were able to accomplish the main goal we were working towards.” 

Tommy Montero, an aerospace engineering junior, was grateful for the week of real-world engineering: “Working with the Vietnamese students is extremely helpful, especially when working with their equipment in the makerspace. The real world is different than theoretical and lab, so sometimes things that should work don’t and sometimes the solutions don’t seem logical at first.”  

EPICS study abroad team

Global EPICS team conducts a live test at the Tra Que Vegetable Village. 

The real world appplication aspect also was important to Merin Jacob, a computer science junior.

“The value received from implementing the project in Vietnam is invaluable, it not only connected our designs to the material landscape but also with the people that will be interacting with the device every day," Jacob said. "It allowed us to get a sense of the necessity for agricultural innovations required in this era to maintain diminishing food sources and water scarcity. My biggest takeaway was that more goes into a project than mechanics and engineering, it also includes real people whose opinions should not be overlooked.” 

Global EPICS exemplifies ASU’s mission to offer students real-world community service projects that collaboratively build a better world. As engineering careers are ever more globally integrated, lived experiences collaborating outside students' time zones and comfort zones are critical to developing a their confidence and capacity to build working teams and solutions within our global communities. 

Joshua Loughman, director of EPICS, summarized the experience: "EPICS is an opportunity for students to really engage in their learning — it is a program that fuses both the technical design training with empathy, ethics and generating positive outcomes for the community, both local and global. Students can really customize their experience at ASU by working on projects that address some of the most challenging community issues we face. The experiential value of working for the past year and then getting to see how the project can work in the community is priceless." 

EPICS study abroad team

Joshua Loughman (center) and Stephanie Gillespie (far right), program co-directors of EPICS together with the Global EPICS team at Maker Innovation Space in the Da Nang, Vietnam.

To learn more about the 250-plus study abroad programs in more than 65 different countries offered at ASU, see the Study Abroad Office website.

New ASU music composition professor combines iconic sounds to create new meanings

June 17, 2019

Composer Alex Temple has joined the Arizona State University School of Music in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts as an assistant professor of music composition.

“I have taught a variety of repertoire, with an eye toward its social, cultural and historical context, and have worked with composition students writing in a wide range of genres — from EDM, chamber pop and algorithmic composition to experimental music theater — that I will bring to ASU,” Temple said.  “I hope to also provide a distinct and perhaps idiosyncratic perspective for students with my own set of specializations — polystylism, queer and trans music and the history of electronic music in advertising.”  Alex Temple Alex Temple Download Full Image

Heather Landes, director of the School of Music, said Temple will bring a lot to the school and its students.

“We are thrilled to welcome Alex Temple to our faculty,” Landes said. “She brings an abundance of creative ideas, a versatile approach to music creation, a collaborative spirit and a passion for teaching to our program.”

As someone who loves both the Western classical tradition and the world of pop culture, Temple said she prefers to look for points of connection between things that are not supposed to belong together, distorting and combining iconic sounds to create new meanings — often in service of surreal, cryptic or fantastical stories. She is particularly interested in reclaiming socially disapproved-of “cheesy” sounds, playing with the boundary between funny and frightening and investigating lost memories and secret histories.

“I really admire the School of Music's dedication to aesthetic and stylistic diversity,” Temple said. “Composers have a tendency to divide themselves into opposing camps — traditionalists vs. radicals, populists vs. specialists, and so on. I am eager to be joining a school that emphasizes social engagement and collaboration.”

Temple said she has always enjoyed working with other composers and helping each other improve their works, so when she was offered the opportunity to teach composition lessons in graduate school she was ecstatic.

“I love the delicate balancing act of working with composition students — the tension between, on the one hand, offering as much information and advice as possible, and on the other, making sure you are not imposing your own vision on someone else's work,” Temple said.

In addition to performing her own works for voice and electronics, Temple has collaborated with performers and ensembles, played keyboards with a chamber-rock group, and made sounds using her voice, synthesizers and various household objects with the ensemble a·pe·ri·od·ic. She is now working on a time-travel neo-noir monodrama.

Temple received her Doctor of Musical Arts at Northwestern University, her Master of Music from the University of Michigan and her Bachelor of Arts from Yale University. 

Between earning her graduate level degrees, she spent two years in New York working with the New York Youth Symphony’s Making Score program for young composers.

Lynne MacDonald

communications specialist, School of Music