Devastating California wildfire changes college trajectory of ASU grad

May 5, 2023

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2023 graduates.

Forest fires deeply affect the areas they burn, destroying everything from infrastructure to lives. They also have the power to change the trajectory of personal choices and life plans. Such is the case for Connor Ellsworth, who chose a college and career based on the experiences he immersed himself in after the 2018 Carr Fire in Northern California. Connor Ellsworth Download Full Image

Ellsworth is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in sustainability and geographic information systems in May, which he chose to study after spending months aiding in the cleanup and recovery efforts after that devastating fire. He said his choice of attending ASU was based on several factors, including the school charter.

“I strongly agree with ASU’s charter, and I wanted to contribute to a university that seeks to make higher education more accessible,” Ellsworth said. “In addition, I am enthusiastic about the School of Sustainability, which, I believe, is the first program of its kind in the nation. Lastly, ASU’s interdisciplinary studies program allowed me to incorporate additional disciplines into my course of study, such as geographic information sciences.”

After seeing the devastation wrought by a forest fire, Ellsworth was determined to study how climate change affects people and the planet. Growing up in Mesa, Arizona, he knew he wanted to attend college, but wasn’t sure of his trajectory. After the Carr Fire, which destroyed more than 1,000 homes, he knew what he wanted to delve into and leaned on guidance from his professors, staff and peers to have a successful career as a Sun Devil.

When the Carr Fire broke out, I was living in Northern California and was personal friends with people who were directly affected,” Ellsworth said. "After the fire had been extinguished, I spent months helping with clean-up efforts. That year, I learned how profoundly climate change impacts an environment and community. I wanted to help more, so I decided to study sustainability at ASU.”

Prior to commencement, Ellsworth shares some highlights of his time as a Sun Devil.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: Before my studies at ASU, I had not been fully aware of how changes in an environment disproportionately impact the most vulnerable members in a community. Environmental efforts are central to human rights.

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

A: In the spring of 2021, I took IDS 312 (Integrative Perspectives on Change: Predators, Pets, and Pests). I credit this class and Professor Jada Ach with my ongoing interest in bird conservation.

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

A: Learn to ask for help when you need it. As a student with dyslexia, I struggled in academics an unbelievable amount until I went to the Student Accessibility and Inclusive Learning Services office for help.

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

A: I love the balcony on the seventh floor of the Life Science Building. When I am having the most difficult days, I can go up there between classes and look over the entire Valley. That view has a measurable impact on my well-being.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I plan to focus on environmental education and making education more accessible to students. In my responsibilities at ASU as an outreach success coach and campus experience manager, I have visited high schools throughout the Valley helping students overcome academic challenges and prepare for college. Working with these youth has filled my life with a great deal of meaning, and I am enthusiastic about further opportunities to work with young people.

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

A: I would help provide resources to people affected by natural disasters. There’s a growing need for that sort of support and having resources that can be mobilized quickly can make a world of difference. 

Written by Andrew Lyne, student life storyteller.

ASU graduate impacts manufacturing engineering research

May 5, 2023

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2023 graduates.

Zachary Goode was surprised to learn that many of the undergraduate programs in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University offered research experience — an opportunity usually only offered to students later in their academic careers and to graduate students. Zachary Goode presenting at FURI Download Full Image

This consideration launched him into an engineering degree with a concentration in robotics at ASU’s Polytechnic campus.

As Goode “became really interested in the process of taking a design and editing it to be more economically feasible to manufacture,” he eventually pursued a manufacturing degree in the School of Manufacturing Systems and Networks as well.

He took part in manufacturing research with Associate Professor Dhruv Bhate in his 3DX Research Lab,. There, Goode says he gained critical research skills from Bhate who was instrumental in helping him grow as a student.

“Dr. Bhate welcomed me and two other undergraduate students onto his research team,” says Goode, who is also a Barrett, The Honors College student. “It’s through him that I was lucky enough to land my current position at Northop Grumman.”

Throughout his undergraduate academic career, Goode prioritized research endeavors. He is an active participant of a U.S. Department of Defense-funded Scalable Asymmetric Lifecycle Engagement, or SCALE, program and is currently collaborating on a research project with NASA and Penn State University.

Outside of the classroom, Goode is a member in the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers student professional chapters. He also participated in the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative, or FURI.

Following graduation, Goode plans to continue on his research trajectory as an Accelerated Master’s degree program student in the manufacturing engineering program. While pursuing his master’s degree, he will also continue his work as a radiation electrical test engineer at Northrop Grumman in Chandler, Arizona.

Goode looks forward to a future in engineering because he says it’s something he doesn’t mind spending all of his time doing.

For him, “being able to design and build whatever I want is what keeps me motivated.”

Sona Patel Srinarayana

Sr communications specialist, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts