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9 winners of prestigious Flinn Scholarship choose to be Sun Devils

9 winners of prestigious Flinn Scholarship choose to be ASU Sun Devils.
June 8, 2023

High-quality degree programs at ASU draw state's top high school graduates

Nine Flinn Scholars, winners of the state’s most prestigious scholarship, have chosen to become Arizona State University Sun Devils in fall 2023.

The Flinn Scholarship, supported by the Phoenix-based Flinn Foundation and Arizona’s three state universities, covers the cost of tuition, fees, housing, meals and at least two study-abroad experiences. The merit-based award is valued at more than $130,000.

The nine first-year students, among 20 Flinn Scholars for 2023, will be in Barrett, The Honors College at their respective ASU campuses. Seven will be based on the Tempe campus, one at Downtown Phoenix and one will be based at both the Tempe and Polytechnic campuses.

Fatem Kadhem

Flinn Scholar Fatem Kadhem always wanted to be an engineer. Two years ago, before starting her junior year at Valley Vista High School in Surprise, she went for a wellness check.

“I was talking to my doctor about college, and I mentioned offhand that I wanted to become an engineer, but I thought that you needed a lot of connections to pursue that field,” she said.

“And she stopped mid-checkup and said, ‘What are you saying? You can pursue that if you want to.’ And that was the first time I considered engineering as a possibility.”

Kadhem will major in mechanical engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

“ASU has an amazing engineering program, and I was really drawn to how many opportunities are given to undergraduates in research and internships. I’m looking forward to that because I want to delve into my career field, and having that access is important to me.”

Fluent in both Arabic and English, Kadhem will minor in French, which she has been studying by herself ever since her French teacher left her school.

“I think globalization is a key part of engineering and having that third language under my belt will be helpful if I wanted to do engineering overseas,” she said.

When she gets to ASU, Kadhem is looking forward to checking out EPICS, the Engineering Projects in Community Service program in which student teams design and build systems to solve problems for charities and schools, and using the Sun Devil Fitness Center.

Kaylee Woods

Kaylee Woods also chose ASU because of her major — nonprofit leadership and management.

“Throughout my high school career, I’ve been really involved in my community, and a huge career goal is to leave a positive impact,” said Woods, who graduated from Cibola High School in Yuma and participated in the Governor’s Youth Commission.

“I was struggling to figure out what major I could pick because it’s such a huge decision to make.”

She was scrolling through the available majors at ASU when she found nonprofit management, in the School of Community Resources and Development.

“I had never seen that major before, and I knew it was a perfect fit for me to be involved in giving back to the community. I knew it was where I would thrive.”

Her decision was cemented when the Flinn Scholars toured all three universities.

“Going from Yuma to the Phoenix area is a huge difference, but I know that in Phoenix I can make the connections I need to make to get ahead and possibly even live in the area post-graduation,” she said.

“During the tour, I got to connect with the staff at the Downtown Phoenix campus, and they were the sweetest people ever. While they were giving us the tour, the students were saying 'hi' to each other and to their professors so it felt like a small community in a big city, which is perfect coming from a small community.”

She’s looking forward to finding out about the many student organizations at ASU.

“I’m someone who loves to be involved so the first day there’s club info, I’ll be there and I’ll be in as many clubs as possible,” she said.

Sam Benavidez

Sam Benavidez also chose ASU for the quality of the education.

“I picked ASU because they were most aligned with what I want to go after, especially in business. They have a very good business school,” said Benavidez, who just graduated from North Phoenix Preparatory Academy and plans to major in finance in the W. P. Carey School of Business.

“I met another Flinn Scholar during my visit and she’s also majoring in finance, and I could already feel the family aspect of the Flinn Scholars, so it was a combination of the business school and that connection.”

Benavidez’s interest in business sparked when he was young and sold popcorn as a Boy Scout. His father told him that money is a tool to be used wisely.

“All the way through high school and middle school, I always liked math and I was interested in ways to use money to be successful,” he said.

“I care about my community and want to help nonprofits manage their money to be successful. I also like the idea of entrepreneurship and controlling your own destiny and however much work you put into that is what you get out.”

After earning his undergraduate degree, he’s considering getting a master’s degree in finance or going to law school.

“I want to make sure everyone has an equal opportunity in things. It’s important for me that everyone is included and no one is excluded and that’s a big motivating factor for me.”

Once he gets to ASU, he’ll look into joining the Arizona Microcredit Initiative, a nonprofit organization that give workshops and small loans to small businesses.

“And I’ve done taekwondo for 10 or 11 years, so I was happy to see that there’s a taekwondo club at ASU,” he said.

The other Flinn Scholars attending ASU are: Joshua Bunnell, Youngker High School, Buckeye, computer science; Zack Okun, Desert Mountain High School, Scottsdale, manufacturing engineering; Nathan Taylor, Superior High School, Superior, political science; Cameron Bautista, Basha High School, Chandler, mathematics; Quinlan Harris, Red Mountain High School, Mesa, mechanical engineering; and Riley Biter, Poston Butte High School, San Tan Valley, molecular biosciences and biotechnology.

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News


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ASU research makes dog park cooler

June 8, 2023

Solar-reflective ramada aims to improve the thermal comfort of public spaces

RJ Dog Park in Phoenix just got a little cooler. 

The dog park within the city’s Pecos Park — two acres of fenced-in grass and dirt patches with just a few small trees and little shade — is now home to Arizona’s first "Passive Daytime Radiative Cooling Ramada."

The unique solar-reflective ramada is helping Arizona State University researchers better understand the role "cool" surfaces can play in improving the comfort of people — and their four-legged friends — in public spaces.  

The researchers, in collaboration with building materials and adhesives company 3M and the city of Phoenix, are studying the potential to cool airsheds, pedestrians and the global climate by making surfaces more reflective.

The new ramada in the dog park is the first in the state to be coated with Passive Daytime Radiative Cooling, or PDRC, material. 

The advanced technological material is designed to have higher solar reflectance and higher thermal emittance than typical roofs, which act like a mirror that reflects back light and shoots off its own energy as heat back into the atmosphere.

Infrared image of "cool" ramada

Infrared image of the "cool" ramada. The purple, blue and black areas indicate cooler temperatures, showing the roof surface temperature significantly cooler than its surrounding environment. Photo by Dave Sailor

“What we found from initial studies were some pretty substantial positive results in terms of these coated shelters’ ability to provide a better environment for pedestrians,” said Dave Sailor, director of the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning and the principal investigator on the project. 

Sailor, the founder and former director of ASU’s Urban Climate Research Center, also led previous smaller-scale studies testing PDRC materials on Tempe bus shelters. 

“It reduced what's known as the mean radiant temperature, but also convected much less heat into the urban airshed, so it’s a winning solution from several perspectives.” 

Over the course of the summer, ASU researchers will be monitoring heat flux and surface temperature sensors attached to the ramada and the surrounding areas at the dog park to test for three things:

  1. How the material affects the heating of the surrounding environment.

  2. How the material affects the thermal comfort of people nearby.

  3. The potential for widespread use of such materials to impact the global climate.

“We want to see whether using these kinds of films will help us in extreme heat,” said Gina Fagliarone, an architecture graduate student at The Design School in ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts who is involved in the project. “By creating a material that has high solar reflectance, we don’t get that same heat sink effect.”

The PDRC coating is designed to have high reflectance and emittance in wavelengths not absorbed by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere like CO2 and water vapor. 

The surfaces can emit their own heat directly into space with only partial absorption along the way, removing heat from Earth's system and potentially enhancing a global climate cooling effect.

The work is part of a much larger effort to explore different strategies and technologies to keep Phoenix and other cities worldwide cool. 

“There's not a single blanket solution that's going to work everywhere, but by testing these design strategies, we can put together a portfolio of solutions that work well for providing cooling for the Phoenix metro area,” Sailor said. 

“We're also simultaneously building relationships with other cities in other countries to try to take what we learned here and apply it more broadly to have more impact.” 

And while scientists continue to advance this critical work, one Phoenix dog park is now outfitted with a special ramada and shade, which both canines and their owners can enjoy. 

The project is funded in part by ASU’s Healthy Urban Environments collaborative.

David Rozul

Media Relations Officer , Media Relations and Strategic Communications