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16-year-old ready to tackle career goals at ASU Local – Lake Havasu

16-year-old starts path toward dream job of vet at ASU Local – Lake Havasu
August 4, 2023

First-year student eager to work toward dream job of veterinarian

Editor's note: ASU News is highlighting some of its notable incoming students for fall 2023.

Katie Bell is wasting no time in reaching for her goals.

The 16-year-old, who graduated early from Lake Havasu High School, is a first-year Arizona State University student at ASU Local – Lake Havasu.

ASU Local is an innovative hybrid college program that pairs in-person coaching and mentorship with the flexibility of accessing all coursework online, 24/7, through ASU Online.

Katie Bell graduated from high school early and is starting at ASU Local – Lake Havasu as a 16-year-old.

The hybrid undergraduate program also is available in Los Angeles; Long Beach, California; Washington, D.C.; and Yuma, Arizona.

Taking online classes is nothing new for Bell, who was able to get her diploma early because she earned credits from an online high school starting in eighth grade.

“My parents and I discussed, ‘What if I started taking summer classes to get ahead and get credits?’” she said.

“I took all my junior classes my sophomore year, and I decided to graduate early because I had all the credits.”

Bell, who will live at home this semester, is looking forward to being on a college campus but still taking online classes.

“I can get tutored if I need to, and I can bring my classes with me anywhere,” she said.

Bell answered some questions from ASU News.

Question: Why did you choose ASU Local – Lake Havasu?

Answer: I chose ASU Local – Lake Havasu to save a little bit of money but also because it brings me so many opportunities, so it’s a good choice for me.

Q: What is your major and why did you choose that major?

A: My major is preveterinary medicine with (biological) science, and I chose this so I could move on to earning my doctorate in veterinary medicine because I do one day want to be a veterinarian.

Q: What are you most excited to experience during your first semester at ASU?

A: Since it’s my first year, I’m excited to see what college is all about. I wanted to get out of high school to see new things and college will be a fun experience.

Q: What talents and skills are you bringing to the ASU community?

A: I feel like I bring a lot of determination. I’m very motivated and driven to get to what I want and the goals I’ve set. I’ve had a lot of goals set for a while and I’ve been motivated to get them done.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish during your college years?

A: I want to earn my doctorate by the age of 24. I want to get it done as fast as possible so I can start my vet career.

Q: Did you always want to be a veterinarian?

A: My parents always told me that when I was little, I would play with stuffed animals and fix them up, so even then I had this passion for it. In fourth grade was when I decided to be a vet. I’ve always had a passion to help save animals.

I volunteer at our local Humane Society and I have an internship at animal hospital. I shadow their vet tech, so I follow her around and learn about what she does, helping with surgeries and anything she needs. It’s actually very cool.

Top image of ASU at Lake Havasu by Deanna Dent/ASU

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News


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ASU spinout company blasts off

August 4, 2023

Swift Coat to design anti-fog agent for NASA's new space helmet

NASA is reuniting humanity with a place not visited in more than 50 years: the moon. The Artemis missions look to establish a base camp on the moon’s surface and launch an orbiting spaceship called Gateway, where astronauts will transfer to a moon-landing craft.

Thanks to exponential technological advances since the late 1960s, astronauts will be equipped with a new spacesuit known as the Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit, or xEMU. The new suit will include an improved helmet that resists the fogging that obscures the wearer’s vision.

NASA has selected Swift Coat, a materials science company founded by Zachary Holman, an Arizona State University electrical engineering professor and incoming Fulton Schools vice dean for research and innovation, and his co-founder, ASU alumnus Peter Firth, to develop a coating to keep xEMU wearers’ vision unobstructed.

Developing a clear path forward

Lunar surface temperatures can reach as low as minus 250 degrees Fahrenheit. These freezing temperatures cause the water droplets in an astronaut’s breath to condense inside a spacesuit helmet, dangerously obscuring an astronaut’s vision.

“If you’ve ever gone snorkeling or scuba diving, you are probably familiar with the common solutions to fogging, like rubbing shampoo, dish soap or even spit on the inside of the goggles,” says Firth, who studied under Holman for his graduate degree in electrical engineering. “These methods take advantage of the surfactants in each compound, which reduce surface tension and prevent water from forming droplets and scattering light.”

To ensure astronauts can see out of space helmets, anti-fogging agents are used. However, current anti-fogging solutions for space suits have a few problems. They are difficult to apply properly on a space helmet, need frequent reapplication and become airborne chemicals that irritate wearers’ eyes when they evaporate.

Enter Swift Coat, which produces coatings for materials with purposes such as resisting dirt accumulation on solar panels and windows. The company uses a manufacturing method called Aerosol Impact Driven Assembly, or AIDA, invented by Firth and Holman during Firth’s graduate studies.

Swift Coat uses the AIDA process to produce the anti-fog coating in a manner that can adhere to uneven surfaces like a space helmet. The anti-fog coating features a nanoscale textured surface that attracts water to its surface and keeps the droplets from condensing.

The coating doesn’t evaporate and won’t need to be reapplied to the xEMU helmet.

“We’ve applied our learning on how to make coatings that survive a quarter century’s worth of scrubbing, scratching, cleaning, freezing, heat waves, hail and haboobs to this anti-fog coating and expect to deliver a product that will outlast the useful life of the helmet,” Firth says.

Peter Firth operates equipment to apply a coating to glass

Peter Firth, a co-founder of Swift Coat, operates machinery to apply a coating to a plate of glass at the company’s facility in Phoenix. Photo by Erika Gronek/ASU

Taking an anti-fog coating out of this world

In 2023, NASA selected Swift Coat as part of the Small Business Innovation Research program. The program, run by the U.S. Small Business Administration, connects small businesses with funding from government agencies to meet their needs.

Firth says Swift Coat applied to develop the xEMU anti-fog coating after hearing about the opportunity from other ASU affiliates who started their own companies.

“We’re close with a lot of other ASU startups, and we all tend to let each other know about opportunities we find that might be a good fit,” he says.

For the xEMU project, Swift Coat will work with NASA engineers to understand how to adapt the anti-fogging agent for the suit’s helmet.

The company will spend six months in the first phase developing variations of the formula. At the end of the six months, they will provide samples for NASA to review.

If one of the formulas meets the agency’s needs, Swift Coat will move to the project’s second phase to build a prototype xEMU helmet for testing.

To infinite uses and beyond

Scott Smas, associate director of ASU’s NewSpace intiative, which connects ASU faculty with government and private sector opportunities in the space industry, is helping Swift Coat gain connections for the xEMU project.

“We’ve met a series of companies to introduce to Swift Coat representatives, so that they may find areas of common interest and support for the second phase of the program,” Smas says. “This could involve subcontracts with some research and development businesses that complement what Swift Coat does.”

NewSpace also assists entrepreneurs at ASU to find multiple buyers in the space industry for their products. Smas names buyers in space tourism, extraterrestrial habitat development and space camera lens production as potential markets for Swift Coat products.

Firth is optimistic about the future of Swift Coat’s products for space use.

“There are hundreds of potential applications for our core technology relevant to NASA,” he says. “We’re confident that when this first product is shown to be successful, we’ll have the opportunity to work with NASA on more projects.”

Firth also believes that space is only one market for Swift Coat. He says that the need for anti-fog coatings is rapidly growing in a variety of industries, including the automotive, window, aviation, defense, refrigeration and camera sectors.

“We have relationships with companies in all of these industries who are excited to implement the coating used by astronauts to walk on the moon on their products,” Firth says.

So far, the company’s success in coating development has resulted in the need to expand from its 600-square-foot ASU MacroTechnology Works lab facility. Swift Coat is now located in north Phoenix in a 16,000-square-foot manufacturing facility and uses MacroTechnology Works’ specialized equipment when needed.

“ASU is constantly demonstrating that technologies produced in their ecosystem have strong commercial potential,” Firth says. “I think each success like this bolsters that reputation and makes finding the capital, partners and customers for the next amazing product developed at the university easier.”

Top photo: An artist’s rendering shows astronauts in spacesuits on the moon near a landing craft. Swift Coat, a company started by ASU electrical engineering Professor Zachary Holman and ASU alumnus Peter Firth, is developing a coating for a NASA spacesuit helmet that resists fogging. Graphic courtesy NASA

TJ Triolo

Communications Specialist , Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering