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

Thomas Sugar

Thomas Sugar has been appointed associate dean for Barrett, The Honors College at the ASU Polytechnic campus. Photo courtesy Thomas Sugar


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.

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.

More Science and technology


Man smiling and holding a model of the moon.

55 years of lunar exploration continued by SESE professor

On July 21, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin famously took “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” when they…

Older person seen from behind, seated in a wheelchair in a bedroom, looking out a window.

When skeletons hold secrets: ASU project helps identify hidden elder abuse

When the death of an older adult is considered suspicious, their body is sent to the Maricopa County Office of the Medical…

A sunset image showing a comet crossing the far sky

9 months into a 6-year journey to a far-flung asteroid, NASA's Psyche mission cruising along

These days, Lindy Elkins-Tanton is living out a Talking Heads song lyric: She’s keeping her feet on the ground and her head in…