Emeritus professor remains dedicated to student success through scholarship

August 31, 2021

Since arriving at Arizona State University in 1981, Emeritus Professor Thomas Schildgen prioritized student success in various ways. Perhaps the most significant was soliciting, coordinating and establishing graphic information technology scholarships. He continues to extend his support today through his own scholarship, the Dr. Thomas Schildgen Scholarship.

Schildgen retired from ASU in 2018 after nearly four impactful decades of service in the graphic information technology program and other areas. Professor Thomas Schildgen Emeritus Professor Thomas Schildgen, shown at left in a processional at a Fulton Schools convocation ceremony, has launched a scholarship to support incoming transfer students and continuing students in the graphic information technology program at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. Photo by Hayden Taylor/ASU Download Full Image

“For 15 years as the program chair, I hosted donors and worked to solicit endowed scholarships such as the Renee and Arthur Horowitz Scholarship or the Sue Folger Scholarship,” he said.

Contributions to graphic information technology education

Schildgen’s dedication to his field grew through extensive experience in graphic communications over several years of work at two institutions of higher education. After working at Illinois State University, Schildgen came to ASU in 1981. He said it was the encouragement from his peers at Illinois State that gave him the courage to him leave his position there and move to Arizona, knowing he would grow the most being out his comfort zone.

“Thanks to the early efforts of Dr. Zeke Prust, who was a professor, department chair and director for the (then) School of Technology at ASU, the graphic communications program at ASU had a strong national reputation,” Schildgen said. “I had the privilege of growing the enrollment and securing national and international accreditation of the undergraduate and graduate programs.”

When the internet revolutionized the graphic information industry, the faculty began exploring how technology could be incorporated into the curriculum, as well as how it could give the program a broader reach. Eventually, graphic communications became one of the first online degree programs at ASU.

“That’s when we changed the name of the degree programs to graphic information technology and started hiring faculty who taught the spectrum of communications technologies from digital printing to internet and web applications,” Schildgen said. “Today, ASU has one of the largest, if not the largest, graphic communications program in the world with over 1,200 students enrolled online or on campus.”


Thomas Schildgen

Starting a cycle of giving

Establishing his own scholarship was a “no brainer,” said Schildgen, whose scholarship will financially support at least two students per year.

“It is my wish that scholarship recipients complete their degree program and secure employment so they can consider making a donation to assist the students who were once in their shoes,” Schildgen said.

Katrina Hammon, a fourth-year graphic information technology student and a recipient of Schildgen’s scholarship, says she would like to donate to the scholarship fund once she’s financially able to do so.

“As a full-time student and parent, finances can be overwhelming. This scholarship has allowed me to concentrate more on my studies and take advantage of participating in school clubs,” Hammon said.

“As a student worker for the ASU Print and Imaging Lab and as a student graphic designer for the Fulton Schools, I have been able to receive hands-on experience in the design field. While this experience has been beneficial, it is only part time, which limits the amount of income I bring in each month. I am grateful for the financial assistance this scholarship has added.”

Any incoming transfer student or continuing student in the graphic information technology program can apply for the scholarship.

“With so many of our students working full time while getting their degree, I intentionally kept the required minimum GPA at 3.0 so students are able to balance all of their responsibilities,” Schildgen said.

In addition to financial support, Schildgen is always available to his students for academic advice, “as are all of the graphic information technology faculty,” he said. He retired three years ago but still writes letters of recommendation for both undergraduate and graduate students who need them.

“Dr. Schildgen held his students to the highest standards, coaching them to be ever better in his calm and measured way,” said Erica Miles, graphic information technology alumna and faculty associate. “He had an impact on my future in a lot of ways, and he is 100% responsible for my continued involvement with ASU as a faculty associate teaching the introduction to commercial print course. I am thrilled that he continues to impact the lives of students through his scholarship fund.”

Schildgen was Miles’ mentor as she completed her senior project, as well as the chair of her graduate supervisory committee when she was a master’s program student.

“In addition to playing a critical role for both of my capstone projects, Dr. Schildgen leads by example as a lifelong learner in the print industry,” Miles said. “He was constantly researching and teaching the newest print technologies. The first time I heard the term 'bleeding edge,' no pun intended, may have been from him.”

Inspiring future designers

Near the end of his career, Schildgen was elected president of the ASU University Senate and chair of the University Academic Council, enabling him to work with ASU President Michael Crow to advance the institution’s mission across all campuses.

“The graphics field was my passion throughout my career, and I hope to inspire young designers and communicators to pursue leadership careers in this rewarding industry,” Schilden said. “If this scholarship can support and inspire the career of a future Sun Devil, my goal will be accomplished.”

Anyone interested in giving to the Dr. Thomas Schildgen Scholarship fund can visit the ASU Foundation website. Students may apply through the general scholarship at fultonapps.asu.edu/scholarship (ASURITE login required).

For more information on giving to ASU, contact Assistant Director of Development Jennifer Williams.

Sona Patel Srinarayana

Communications specialist, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


The case of the missing mantle

How impact debris may have disappeared from the solar system

August 31, 2021

In the early solar system, terrestrial planets like Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars are thought to have formed from planetesimals, small early planets. These early planets grew over time, through collisions and mergers, to make them the size they are today.

The material released from these violent collisions is commonly thought to have escaped and orbited around the sun, bombarding the growing planets and altering the composition of the asteroid belt. But the asteroid belt does not seem to contain a record of this impact debris, which is a mystery that has been stumping astronomers and astrophysicists for decades.      Debris from planet-forming collisions can range from solid materials to gases. The work from Gabriel & Allen-Sutter (2021) suggests large collisions form predominantly gas, leaving behind little trace in the current solar system. Illustration credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech Download Full Image

Two researchers from Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, former NewSpace Postdoctoral Fellow Travis Gabriel and doctoral student Harrison Allen-Sutter, were curious about this discrepancy and set about creating high-end computer simulations of the collisions, with surprising results.  

“Most researchers focus on the direct effects of impacts, but the nature of the debris has been underexplored,” Allen-Sutter said.

Instead of creating rocky debris, the simulations showed that large collisions between planets vaporize the rocks into gas. Unlike solid and molten debris, this gas more easily escapes the solar system, leaving little trace of these planet-smashing events.

Their work, which has been published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, provides a potential solution to this decades-old paradox, dubbed the "Missing Mantle Problem" or the "Great Dunite Shortage."

“It has long since been understood that numerous large collisions are required to form Mercury, Venus, Earth, the moon and perhaps Mars,” said Gabriel, who is the principal investigator of this project. “But the tremendous amount of impact debris expected from this process is not observed in the asteroid belt, so it has always been a paradoxical situation.”

Their results may also help us to better understand how the moon was formed, which is thought to have been born from the aftermath of a collision that released debris into the solar system.

“After forming from debris bound to the Earth, the moon would have also been bombarded by the ejected material that orbits the sun over the first hundred million years or so of the moon’s existence,” Gabriel said. “If this debris was solid, it could compromise or strongly influence the moon's early formation, especially if the collision was violent. If the material was in gas form, however, the debris may not have influenced the early moon at all.”

Gabriel and Allen-Sutter hope to continue this line of research to learn more about not only our own planets, but also the large population of planets observed outside our solar system.

“There is growing evidence that certain telescope observations may have directly imaged giant impact debris around other stars,” Gabriel said. “Since we cannot go back in time to observe the collisions in our solar system, these astrophysical observations of other worlds are a natural laboratory for us to test and explore our theory.”

Karin Valentine

Media Relations & Marketing manager, School of Earth and Space Exploration