Landscape architecture grad found her future at ASU

April 30, 2020

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2020 graduates.

Early in her college experience, Kaylee Antill was advised that it would be difficult to undertake a time-consuming major like landscape architecture, especially as a student in Barrett, The Honors College, and also achieve success in intercollegiate athletics. Instead of backing down, Antill doubled down, demonstrating excellence both in her academic work and on the Sun Devil track and field team. Herberger Institute student Kaylee Antill graduates this May with a BS in landscape architecture.

Originally from Zanesville, Ohio, Antill started at ASU as a biomedical engineering major but switched when she found landscape architecture. This May, she graduates with a Bachelor of Science in landscape architecture (BSLA). She also received three Pac-12 all-academic honors; earned a varsity letter and competed in the discus throw, shot put and weight throw for ASU; was an NCAA National qualifier in the hammer throw and stood as an All-American in that sport in 2018. 

According to landscape architecture program director Joe Ewan, given the heavy course load associated with the professional curriculum in the BSLA, it is unusual for any student to graduate with a GPA of 4.0 or higher. But Antill is an exception, ranking first in her senior BSLA cohort of 29 with a GPA of 4.08.

“Kaylee handles everything thrown at her with a graciousness and strength that just is awesome to see,” Ewan said. “She is the epitome of excellence as a student, an athlete, a peer and classmate. She will continue to represent the landscape architecture program, The Design School, Barrett Honors College, the Herberger Institute and ASU with a glow of professionalism and enthusiasm.”

Antill answered some questions from ASU Now:

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: My “aha” moment, when I realized I wanted to study landscape architecture, was when I found out that this major existed! When I was younger and people asked me what I wanted to be, I would say either a vet or an architect. I also really enjoyed science and math and wanted to help people. This led me to biomedical engineering. This major was interesting, but I did not want to be in a lab setting. Then, thanks to the hundreds of majors at ASU, I found my future major of landscape architecture. I also really enjoy drawing and painting, so this major allows me to be creative, help others and help the environment. It is the perfect major to combine all of my passions.  

Kaylee antill

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I was recruited by many great Division I and Ivy League colleges and athletic programs for both track and my great academic work in high school, but ASU was the best fit: the awesome desert vegetation and beautiful weather for training, great coaching staff and teammates, and great academic programs. I wasn’t sure about going to a huge university so far away from home, but I am thankful I did because of the many programs that are offered and connections around the world that ASU has due to its large alumni backing. 

Q: How has it been balancing your academic work with your track and field commitments; and why did you want to make sure you pursued both of these fields?

A: I understood coming into college that managing both athletics and academics at the next level in college would be an even greater challenge than it was in high school. I was ready for the challenge as it is what I dreamed of doing since sports came into my life: competing and learning at the highest level. The time commitment is tremendous for track athletes as we practice nearly year-round and sometimes 40 hours a week and we have both indoor and outdoor seasons. We compete from January-June. My school curriculum also is very intense due to five-hour studio classes and many projects as well as completing required Barrett Honors contracts for classes that I take.  

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: The teachers in the landscape architecture program have taught us many valuable lessons and given us new perspectives. I have learned about ecology, sustainability, horticulture, design, construction and urban impact on the environment. This major has such a large number of factors that go into creating memorable landscapes that last and enhance the local ecology. One thing I learned from Professor Joe Ewan is that it’s great to share with our clients, city officials, architects, engineers and planners our knowledge as we are the bridge between these other professions. Helping to educate people in a caring way will help our clients understand the connections between the built and natural world.  

Q: What advice would you give other student athletes, or any ASU student? 

A: Advice I would give other student athletes is to enjoy the journey and to push the limits of your body and mind so that you can finish your collegiate career knowing you gave it your all. To all students, everyone’s college experience is different, and that is what makes it a rewarding adventure. Not everything will go as planned, and that’s OK. So pave your own path to what inspires you and run with it!    

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: For students who are still in school, keep an eye out for a topic within your major that really interests you or inspires you to want to learn even more about that topic. That may help you find your niche in your major that can lead to more rewarding opportunities for your future. 

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life? 

A: One of my favorite spots to study before class or to sit and eat lunch is at the College Avenue Commons on the second floor on the balcony with the misters and the sound of the water feature below with views of “A” Mountain. I also spent a lot of time at the Carson Student Athlete Center attached to Sun Devil Stadium. There were many naps taken here as well.  

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, my plan after graduation was to go into the job force and work in Arizona, Colorado, or back in my home state of Ohio, on becoming a licensed landscape architect. I will work under a licensed landscape architect for three years, then take the L.A.R.E exam to become licensed. Now, due to being granted another season of eligibility for track and field, I am looking into academic options and master’s programs.   

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: I would tackle a problem that I have witnessed throughout communities, which is restoring brownfields after the landscape has been left contaminated and abandoned from the prior industrial activities on the site. Brownfields are obsolete industrial or manufacturing sites that do not provide ecological or community benefits. I would love to rejuvenate these locations into beautiful public parks, outdoor athletic fields, or whatever the community would see fit. 

Deborah Sussman

Communications and media specialist, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts


Arizona PBS gets help from telepresence robot

A 5-foot tall robot is helping keep Arizona PBS on the air

April 30, 2020

For the past month, as the COVID-19 pandemic sent most Arizona State University staff home to work, a telepresence robot nicknamed Scotty has been key to keeping the public television station up and running.

On most days, Scotty roams the nearly empty fifth floor of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication on the Downtown Phoenix campus, where the Arizona PBS control rooms, studios and offices are located. Scotty has been essential to keeping PBS operations running smoothly during the pandemic. Download Full Image

The robot scoots into the broadcast control center, pausing before rows of television monitors, and then ducks into another room stacked to the ceiling with servers. A broadcast engineer, operating Scotty’s controls from home, monitors how equipment is functioning and troubleshoots if needed.

The Beam robot, made by Suitable Technologies, looks like it was built by stacking an iPad on stilts and mounting the whole thing on a hover board. Equipped with two cameras, speakers and a microphone, it is the next best thing to having a person on site, said Ian MacSpadden, chief technology officer for Cronkite and Arizona PBS.

“A broadcast engineer sitting at home can see and hear everything the robot sees and hears,” McSpadden said. “Otherwise, the teams would have to rely only on the messages of remote computers, which can be vague and not tell the whole story.”

When an on-call engineer receives an alert message from a station system, for example, he or she can log in to Scotty and drive the robot to the problem area for a visual inspection.

“This helps more accurately diagnose an issue and can often save a trip into the station,” McSpadden said.

In addition to providing viewers with news and entertainment programming, it’s important to keep the station on the air because it’s part of the emergency alert and WARN safety systems that help keep families apprised during emergencies, he said.

As helpful as Scotty is, there are some things he’s not equipped to do. One engineer needs to be in the building to operate master control, organizing and playing back all programs seen across the station’s five channels. A second person, a production specialist, puts together segments for the station’s two news shows: “Arizona Horizon,” the daily public affairs program; and the national news program “PBS NewsHour,” which has a western bureau housed in the Cronkite building. Everything else, including taping and editing, is being done from homes.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, Scotty was used for remote interviews, building tours and to bring speakers into classes, said Senior Associate Dean Kristin Gilger, who has utilized Scotty to beam in speakers to her classes and to show students in one part of the building what’s going on in another.

She said the idea to bring Scotty to the school came from Innovations Chief Eric Newton, who would sometimes show up at Cronkite meetings via the robot. “Eric would roll into a room, his face filling the screen, and start talking,” she said. “That always drew some double-takes.”

Newton, who nicknamed the robot Scotty in honor of the character on “Star Trek,” said he has always known there are many possible uses for Scotty, but he did not anticipate an epidemic. “The current use is not something we imagined,” he said.

MacSpadden said the robot is working out exactly as hoped, and there is an added benefit — people who are working at home can easily interact with those in the building. “It’s almost like they’re both in the same room,” he said.

The interaction, said broadcast operations supervisor Donald Rump, “is very strange but, at the same time, it’s very interesting.”

Rump said he hopes Scotty can stick around when the health crisis ends and people return to the building in full force. He thinks the robot could be used on holidays and weekends, allowing staff to monitor systems from home.

“It’d be very helpful if we had him or something like that to use in the future,” he said.

Cronkite student Kenzel Williams contributed to this report.

Jamar Younger

Associate Editor, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication