May 18, 2021

ASU's 'maker campus' located in Mesa charges into the future

Arizona State University’s Polytechnic campus approaches its 25th birthday this fall, celebrating a quarter of a century of making, doing, cooperating and creating.

Sometimes called the maker campus, it’s a hive of robots, student pilots, souped-up vehicles, 3D printers, gardeners and algae farmers. Books from the ASU Library are stored there in a chilly "Raiders of the Lost Ark" warehouse, along with archives of state history that include photos you’ll never see in Arizona Highways.

At the Polytechnic campus, the future is a way of life and learning. In that spirit, here’s a look at four new things coming to the campus.

1. Fulton Schools expansion

A new school with a new building is on the horizon for the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. The proposed school will focus on the future of work, industry 4.0, human-machine teaming and systems engineering. The name hasn’t been finalized, but for now it’s dubbed the School of Manufacturing Systems and Networks. Classes are set to start in fall 2021.

2. Training future veterinarians

The College of Integrative Sciences and Arts is expanding its pre-vet program online this fall. The wildly popular program has been around for three decades, but now it will be open to anyone anywhere with an internet connection.

“I believe it's the only one in the country right now,” said College of Integrative Sciences and Art Professor Doug Green, the Polytechnic campus faculty of science and mathematics administrative leader.

ASU’s program is known for small classes and a dedicated faculty.

“It'll be our biggest (program) by the end of the academic year if trends continue,” Green said.

There are fewer vet schools than medical schools in the country, and they’re hard to get into. And the university knows that.

“We do have a lot smaller classes,” Green said. “We do have a better student-faculty ratio. That's actually helpful. And we have some vets that actually teach for us. … They provide a lot of perspectives about what it was like for them to get into the best school and provide information about what one can do to make their application more attractive to that school. It's a pretty competitive process.”

The preveterinary medicine concentration is within the applied biological sciences major. The online degree will be available starting in fall 2021. The only course that needs to be taken in person is organic chemistry. It’s a 200-level course that could be taken at a community college and transferred to ASU.

3. New programs in health fields

The College of Health Solutions has two new programs at the Polycampus: health sciences and medical studies.

The BS program in health sciences with a concentration in healthy lifestyles coaching will prepare students to move directly into a variety of jobs in health and wellness.

Students focusing on healthy lifestyles coaching will gain fundamental knowledge on nutrition, fitness, stress management and substance abuse prevention.

The courses within the degree will emphasize ethics, critical thinking, personal well-being, cultural awareness, fundamentals and prevention of chronic illnesses, behavior change and coaching psychology.

The medical studies program allows students to complete the prerequisites for medical and professional schools such as medicine, pharmacy, optometry and occupational therapy. They'll also get the tools they need to be ready for the MCAT exam.

The program's courses will be taught by actively practicing medical professionals, and students can tailor their experience to their postgraduate path.

More than 50 students have signed up this year for the degree programs. “They’re growing pretty fast,” said Chris Wharton, assistant dean of innovation and strategic initiatives at ASU's College of Health Solutions.

4. Sustainable food degree

A Bachelor of Science degree in sustainable food systems is being offered as a collaboration of the School of Sustainability, the College of Health Solutions and the Morrison School of Agribusiness.

“I think it's going to be really important in Poly because obviously the East Valley, there is lots of agriculture out there and we've got the Morrison School of Agribusiness,” said School of Sustainability Dean Chris Boone. “The other degree programs I think are going to be a nice compliment to what we're doing. … There's just a little more elbow room at Poly. So it means that I think there'll be an opportunity for doing some interesting work around agricultural systems. It's going to be a nice fit."

Technically the program started last fall amid the pandemic, so it wasn't able to make much of a splash.

“I think once we are able to bring students back in large numbers, hopefully we'll start to see more of a center of gravity around this,” Boone said.

The degree is part of the educational mission of the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems.

Top image: An aeronautical management technology student demonstrates setting up a student-made wing profile for testing in the wind tunnel, in the structures lab on the Polytechnic campus. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU News

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