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Polytechnic campus shows 'neighbors' university in their backyard at ASU Open Door

Event featured 40-plus exhibits showcasing all the Mesa campus has to offer

Woman and child using a microscope.

Three-year-old Artemis Adams and her mom, Rui, look at insects under a microscope during ASU Open Door at the Polytechnic campus in Mesa on Feb. 17. Photo by Samantha Chow/Arizona State University

February 18, 2024

More than 40 exhibits ranging from flight simulators to a stuffed animal hospital to a robotic arm delighted more than 1,500 visitors to Arizona State University's Polytechnic campus in Mesa on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

Darcy Nagy, a special events officer in ASU's Office of University Events and Protocol, said it's all about showing the public what's right in their own backyard.

“We’re opening the doors to spaces that are normally closed to the public so they can see the university is in their backyard. We’re neighbors,” Nagy said. “Come in, see what we’re doing and why we’re the most innovative university year after year.”

Young girl using stethoscope to listen to stuffed dog.
Four-year-old Sita Hebie pretends to listen to a stuffed dog’s heartbeat in the “stuffed animal hospital” at ASU Open Door in Mesa on Feb. 17. ASU's applied biological sciences (preveterinary medicine) program, offered through the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, is based at the Polytechnic campus (and online). Photo by Samantha Chow/Arizona State University

ASU Polytechnic is located on 600 acres, and the campus is home to a desert arboretum and more than 6,800 undergraduate and graduate students. The school boasts some of the most innovative engineering programs and advanced learning laboratories in the country.

This was the ninth straight year that Hope Larsen brought her children, 12-year-old Kaden and 4-year-old Beau, to Poly’s Open Door.

“We love this event. This is one of our favorite events,” Larsen said at the Feb. 17 event. “The kids get to interact and see things and try out things, hands-on. We just love ASU, so it’s a great way to have fun and get them interested. Every year, they look forward to this, and we’ve been bringing neighbors and friends, so they want to come to.”

Young boy using a flight simulator.
Six-year-old Cristian Ramirez operates the plane in a flight simulator at ASU Open Door on the Polytechnic campus in Mesa on Feb. 17. The aviation program, part of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, is housed at this campus, which is directly next to the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. Photo by Samantha Chow/Arizona State University

One of the most popular exhibits Saturday was the Redbird Flight Simulator, a full-motion, immersive, cockpit-specific simulator for turbine aircraft. As more than 20 people stood in line, Roy and Monica Queen watched their children — 10-year-olds Aiden and Lincoln and Wyatt, 6 — take their turns on the simulator.

Monica Queen said their children will start attending ASU Prep Polytechnic in the fall.

“We got the email for this, and we figured let’s get them exposed to the campus and some of the things they’re going to look forward to learning about,” she said.

Two young children wearing maroon caps and gowns.
Nine-year-old Kole Platt (left) and 12-year-old Kaden Platt poses for a photo dressed in graduation regalia during ASU Open Door at the Polytechnic campus in Mesa on Feb. 17. Photo by Samantha Chow/Arizona State University

Near the Student Union at the center of campus, Noria Sanchez smiled as her sons, 14-year-old Kaden Platt and 9-year-old Kole Platt, put on ASU graduation robes and caps and flashed the Forks Up to a photographer.

Upcoming Open Door event

Saturday, Feb. 24: Tempe campus

All Open Door events run from 1 to 5 p.m. and are free and open to the public.

“I got my master’s and doctorate at ASU, so I’m hoping they become future Sun Devils,” Sanchez said.

Kaden said he wants to attend classes at the Polytechnic campus because Mom is a Sun Devil and because he likes the outdoor nature of the campus.

The science and biology exhibits inside Santan Hall were a big hit. Kids could blow up a balloon without using their mouth and look at insects under a microscope and, in the stuffed animal hospital, students in the pre-vet program helped children bandage an animal, inject a syringe into a sore paw and view X-rays of the animals.

Young boy talking to an adult in a lab.
Nine-year-old Joey Towbridge looks at a robotic arm during ASU Open Door at the Polytechnic campus in Mesa on Feb. 17. The campus houses some of ASU's engineering programs. Photo by Samantha Chow/Arizona State University)

At the Rise Lab — Robotics and Intelligent Systems Laboratory — a serious-looking Joey Trowbridge listened intently as a student demonstrated how he could move a robotic arm with a gentle fist bump.

“He is an engineering fan,” Joey’s mother, Amy Trowbridge, said. “He’s fascinated by all this. It’s just great for him.”

The Tempe campus will hold its Open Door — the final one of 2024 — on Saturday, Feb. 24, from 1–5 p.m. The event is free to the public.

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