Thomas Sugar appointed new associate dean for Barrett at the ASU Polytechnic campus

July 31, 2019

Thomas Sugar, an engineering professor and longtime honors student mentor, has been tapped as the next associate dean for Barrett, The Honors College at the Arizona State University Polytechnic campus.

Sugar will step in for Mark Henderson, who retired as Barrett associate dean earlier this summer. Thomas Sugar Thomas Sugar has been appointed associate dean for Barrett, The Honors College at the ASU Polytechnic campus. Photo courtesy Thomas Sugar Download Full Image

Sugar is a professor and the graduate program chair for engineering and manufacturing engineering at the Polytechnic campus. He works in the areas of wearable robotics to improve worker wellness and quality of life. His research focuses on compliant wearable robots using tunable springs and pneumatic muscle actuators, devices that mimic natural muscle.

He majored in business and mechanical engineering for his bachelor's degrees and mechanical engineering for his master’s and doctoral degrees, all from the University of Pennsylvania.

In industry, he worked as a project engineer for W. L. Gore and Associates. He was a faculty member in the former Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Department of Engineering at ASU. He received the ASU Researcher of the Year Award in 2007. He is an American Society of Mechanical Engineers fellow and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers senior member. 

“We are extremely pleased and proud to have Tom Sugar join Barrett Honors College as its newest associate dean and look forward to his strong leadership and teaching contributions at the Polytechnic campus,” said Mark Jacobs, dean of Barrett, The Honors College.

While Sugar will be new to the associate dean post, his association with the honors college dates back years. He was a member of the ASU Polytechnic Honors College Committee for two years and he has mentored honors students for nearly two decades.

ASU Now caught up with Sugar to get his thoughts about working with honors students and taking on the role of associate dean at Barrett Polytechnic.

Question: What has been your previous association with the honors college? From 2010-2012 you were a member of the ASU Polytechnic Honors College Committee. What did that entail?

Answer: I have been mentoring honors students since 2002 and many of them have gone on to graduate school to pursue advanced degrees in engineering. In 2010–2012, we had a program to work with honors students in the new engineering program that was similar to the Faculty Honors Advisors program. I worked with students to help them find a mentor for their desired honors thesis.

Q: How do you feel about taking on the role of associate dean at Barrett Polytechnic?

A: I am truly honored and excited to work with outstanding students at Barrett. My goals over the last 15 years have been to build and promote the Polytechnic campus. My goals have always been to serve the students and push them to drive to achieve their goals and success.

Q: What are your impressions of the honors college?

A: I have always felt that Barrett, The Honors College is a special college at ASU that creates an environment to allow students to succeed.

Q: What are your plans for Barrett Poly? Are there any initiatives that you will implement? What can we expect under your leadership?

A: Some of my immediate goals are to create new opportunities for students such as honors lab courses and honors junior level courses. We have also been looking into creating enrichment contracts as part of the exciting engineering work done in clubs such as the Baja Car, Eco Car and Hyperloop projects. 

I would like to welcome our new Barrett Polytechnic director of staff, Amy Sever. She, along with the Barrett staff, have built an engaging student community with over 350 students.

Amy and I will be working all this year on designing a new space for the Barrett students. The plan is to have new offices, a student lounge, two classrooms and more housing for Barrett students.

Q: Will you continue to teach? If so, what?

A: I will continue to teach robotics courses this year and hope to create new Honors 394 courses.

Nicole Greason

Director of Marketing and Public Relations , Barrett, The Honors College


ASU spirit packet gets teachers ready for school

July 31, 2019

This summer, the ASU Alumni Association is helping Sun Devil educators get ready for back-to-school season with a maroon and gold Back to School Pack. The ASU-themed spirit packet, geared for alumni who work in schools at any level from pre-kindergarten through high school, contains items for the teacher, students and classroom. 

“The ASU Alumni Association and its university partners want to equip teachers and their classrooms with materials that would inspire students to work hard in their endeavors and strive for their future,” said Christine K. Wilkinson, president and CEO of the association. “The Sun Devil spirit pack helps these teachers spread maroon and gold pride in their classrooms.” Ryan Keating (’03 BAE), who teaches math at Perry High School in Gilbert, received his teacher's packet and decorated his classroom. Download Full Image

The ASU Back to School Pack can be requested through an online form and should be ordered by Aug. 31. After receiving the packet, educators are asked to post a selfie on social media using #sundevilteacher.

In partnership with Educational Outreach and Student Services and the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, this year’s packet includes a clear backpack and notepads for the educators, posters for the classroom and Sparky bookmarks and stickers for the students. The spirit packet is ideal for teachers, guidance counselors, social workers, librarians and English language learning teachers. Last year, the initiative engaged more than 2,200 educators from across 30 states and two countries.

Tina Merlina (’97 BAE), who teaches at the Bret R. Tarver School in Phoenix, requested a packet both years for her fourth grade classroom.

“I credit my wonderful education as well as the amazing mentors along the way,” she said. The Rodel Foundation of Arizona named Merlina a 2011 Rodel Exemplary Teacher.

“In a family full of Wildcats, I am the lone Sun Devil," said Mimi McGarey (’81 BAE), who teaches at St. Joseph Catholic School in Tucson. "I am a proud ASU representative teaching in Tucson. My students know who Sparky is, the ‘fear the fork’ symbol, and receive ASU swag as occasional prizes.”

McGarey requested an ASU teachers packet for her classroom both years.

“I absolutely loved spreading Sun Devil spirit in my classroom last year, and it has created a friendly rivalry among my colleagues and students. We also use the Pat Tillman story when we talk about Veterans Day and what it means to be a hero. I truly hope that some of my second graders will go on to become Sun Devils and if not, they will always have fond memories of Sparky and great sportsmanship.”