ASU health solutions faculty, staff mentor high school students

March 5, 2014

Faculty mentors from the College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University recently advised young women interested in a career in health. These young women were from Mountain Pointe High School in the Tempe Union High School District.

Women’s Mentor Day, a half-day program, introduced students to the vast realm of opportunities in the health care industry. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, just 24 percent of the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workforce is female. The College of Health Solutions mentors are hoping to increase that number. Adela Grando speaking at front of classroom Download Full Image

Alison Essary, director of student affairs for the college, was enthusiastic to introduce the young women to new areas that may not have been previously emphasized.

“It was a great opportunity for ASU faculty to create meaningful connections with female high school students interested in health professions,” she said.

Essary discussed her own pathway to health care along with Adela Grando, assistant professor with the Department of Biomedical Informatics; Erin Harper, instructor; and Shannon Ringenbach, associate dean of Barrett, the Honors College.

“Most of us took indirect pathways to achieve our current careers. None of us imagined we would hold our current positions in academia,” Essary said. Before coming to ASU in late 2012, Essary was a physicians assistant.

In addition to finances, they also discussed the importance of including women in prominent positions. “Neglecting the skills and talents of women will lead to a workforce that fails to represent our patient and student populations,” Grando said.

The mentors encouraged the young women to stick to their goals: “Don’t feel limited by the ‘traditional’ model of career and family,” Essary said.

Women’s Mentor Day demonstrated ASU’s commitment to mentorship at all stages of education. The mentors supported all career aspirations. “Follow your academic strengths and passions,” Ringenbach said. “Those will lead you to the most productive and fulfilling careers."

Essary said she was thrilled by the young women’s enthusiasm, and is looking forward to continued mentoring of others: “We are so happy to be working with these students – the future of health care!”

Written by Erinn Riley

Kenya water project earns ASU engineering students national award

March 6, 2014

Arizona State University’s student chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is a winner of a 2014 Premier Project Award from the national EWB-USA organization.

The chapter is being recognized for its work to design and construct sustainable water infrastructure to develop sustainable water resources in a rural community in Kenya. It is one of only three EWB chapters throughout the United States to be given a Premier Project Award this year. The winners were selected from among hundreds of projects, according to an EWB-USA chapter relations manager. EWB ASU members in Kenya Download Full Image

The award recognizes the projects “that deliver high quality, sustainable solutions to help meet the needs of our neighboring communities.” Winners were announced in coordination with National Engineers Week, Feb. 16-22.

In the first three and a half years of the planned five-year effort, ASU students have used their engineering skills to provide the community systems to collect and store potable water, including construction of a rainwater catchment facility and repair of a dam that serves residents of the Bondo-Rarieda community in Kenya.

About 25 students currently are involved in the project, but since it began, as many as 50 students have participated in some way, says senior biomedical engineering student Brittany Duong, president of the EWB ASU chapter. The project team is mentored by Jack Moody, a civil engineer with the Cardno WRG consulting company, and Greg Rodzenko, a civil engineer with the City of Glendale. The chapter’s faculty adviser is Edward Kavazanjian, a professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, one of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

Fifteen students have made one or more of four trips to Kenya during the past three summers. With construction of the rainwater catchment system and repair of the dam, members of the community are now able to store water for use during the region’s extensive dry season.

Along with members of the Bondo-Rarieda community, the ASU team’s partners in the project include some of the faculty and 25 or so engineering students at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology in Kenya. Beyond the technological solutions, education and capacity building are key elements of the project. The ASU students have trained local community members in water-system construction and maintenance techniques.

“We want them to understand the technology so they will be able to operate it and repair it in the future,” Duong says.

This year the ASU team plans to help build a hydraulics laboratory at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University so the engineers and others there can conduct their own local water research in the future. The new water infrastructure serves only several hundred people, “but we hope that we have started something that will spread throughout Kenya,” says Duong.

The project got started when EWB ASU members connected with a Kenyan student pursuing a doctoral degree in education at ASU who informed them about the region’s scarcity of potable water.

Because of the Premier Project Award, the EWB ASU team will be featured on the EWB-USA website and in its annual report, as well as in social media. The project’s success has helped attract $31,000 in grants from corporations and philanthropic organizations, such as the Alcoa Foundation, Bechtel, Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

The EWB ASU chapter is working on other engineering projects, including some in partnership with Native American communities in Arizona. Associate professor Amy Landis and assistant professor Kristen Parrish in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment are co-faculty advisers on those projects.

EWB-USA is a nonprofit organization started in 2000. It solicits support from major corporations that select chapter projects to fund. The organization now has more than 13,000 students, faculty and professional members involved in 350 engineering projects in more than 45 developing countries.

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering