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State Farm, ASU announce partnership on Pathways for the Future initiative

February 4, 2020

$30 million gift to drive new education and career development program that targets high school and transfer students, as well as working adults

Editor’s note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now’s year in review. Read more top stories from 2020.

Arizona State University will prepare learners of all ages to succeed in a transformed workplace thanks to a $30 million gift from State Farm that will fund new programs and scholarships.

The funding, announced Tuesday, will drive the new State Farm Pathways for the Future workforce-development initiative, which will target high school and community college students as well as adults in the workforce who need to update their skills on the go.

"I have a concern that the technological advancements that are occurring in today’s society have the real risk of leaving segments behind," said Michael Tipsord, CEO of State Farm. He spoke at an event announcing the partnership at Sun Devil Stadium on Tuesday.

"You combat that through this continued upskilling of individuals to deal with whatever it is that the world may present. I want our people to have all the opportunities to be able to develop skills and learn in a way that continues to make them relevant and competitive."

State Farm's regional headquarters sits just north of Sun Devil Stadium, and Tipsord said that ASU President Michael Crow was influential in attracting the corporate campus to Tempe. Crow said the partnership is a perfect pairing of two entities that are focused on embracing the future of technology while supporting families and individuals.

"We're excited about this gift and honored to be a partner with State Farm because of the openness and logic with which the gift was approached, which was, ‘How do we now take these resources and not just use them as some generic scholarship,' which is always useful but inadequate," Crow said.

"Here we have a company that’s thinking differently. This investment is looking at each aspect of what we do: Let’s eliminate the financial barrier; let’s build some tools that help us to greatly accelerate who goes to college. It’s not only about money but it’s about ways to overcome barriers."

Pathways for the Future has four components: an online academic program, financial support, tools for success and career coaching.

Participants in the program, called Pathway Scholars, start by earning online credits in one of three tracks: STEM, business leadership, or humanities and social sciences. If a student needs extra help before entering a track, a refresher course or tutoring options will be available. These tracks will lead to an associate degree, undergraduate degree or undergraduate certificate.

One goal of the program is to increase degree completion in Arizona by preparing students to enroll in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, the W. P. Carey School of Business, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and other units across ASU.

The State Farm gift will allow students to take courses for a reduced cost. For those interested in earning credit, each course will cost $25 for identity verification, to ensure academic integrity, and $400 for credit conversion. Typically, a three-credit online course would cost approximately $1,500. Additionally, students only pay for credit conversion once they are satisfied with their grade and only if they opt to do so. 

Other financial incentives will be available, including the State Farm Pathways for the Future Scholarship Program, which will help eligible students pay for enrollment fees, conversion of earned admission credits, tuition and summer bridge programs. Crisis funding will be offered to students when personal emergencies could derail their education.

Panelists sit onstage

ASU Vice Provost of Academic Alliances Cheryl Hyman speaks on a panel about preparing students for the future Tuesday at Sun Devil Stadium. She is joined by moderator Jane Oates of WorkingNation; Sarah Mineau, vice president operations, human resources for State Farm; and John Graham of Sun Belt Holdings. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

The gift also will provide support for students on their academic journey. The longstanding Maricopa to ASU Pathways Program, which serves students who begin at the Maricopa Community Colleges and aspire to transfer to ASU, will be improved with a better progress tracker.

One significant new support will be “Universal Learner me3.” ASU’s online me3 planning tool, which launched several years ago, helps high school and college students discover their career interests through a fun, interactive game. Funding from State Farm will help redesign me3 to reach universal learners, primarily mid-career adults who need to upgrade their skills and community college students. In partnership with State Farm, ASU will develop and pilot the new Universal Learner me3, with the potential for the tool to be expanded into other industries and employment possibilities.

The updated Universal Learner me3 will be part of the new Pathways Career and Transition Success Center, which will ensure that Pathways Scholars are ready to immediately enter or reenter the workforce upon coursework completion. Students will have access to career coaching, digital portfolio and resume preparation and mentorships.

The success center will partner with State Farm and other corporations to keep up with workforce trends and job opportunities and to monitor the need for new credentials or certificates. 

Crow said Tuesday that the future of work is changing.

"It’s about the empowerment of the individual," he said. "What we’ll see, if we do this right, is the nature of work and the nature of learning become less differentiated.

"It doesn’t mean you won’t go to college when you’re 18. Some will. Some will go to college when they’re 30, and some will go when they’re 80. Every industry and every sector will be affected by the change, and this investment helps us to accelerate our energy on that issue."

Cheryl Hyman, vice provost for academic alliances at ASU, spoke on a panel at the event, and she described how her career started in the technology industry before she earned an MBA and entered the education field. She said she wished she had been better educated on her career options, and that's why the new Universal Learner me3 is a critical element of Pathways to the Future.

"I've seen thousands of students waste time and money and lose credits and see their financial aid run out, all stemming from a wrong choice that's not their fault," she said.

"We have an obligation to inform every learner of every option they have, and this investment in our transfer tools and me3 allows learners to educate themselves."

Crow said the partnership will have a ripple effect.

"This energy will send a wave. Other companies are listening. Other institutions are listening," he said. 

"State Farm is showing not just philanthropy, but activist philanthropy. ... Hopefully, a hundred other groups will step up and do the same thing."

Top photo: State Farm Insurance Chairman and CEO Michael Tipsord (left), moderator and ASU Foundation CEO Gretchen Buhlig and President Michael Crow talk about their alliance to implement the Pathways for the Future program funded by State Farm Education Assist and $30 million, on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, at Sun Devil Stadium. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News


ASU Foundation receives $937K grant to support scholarship program for 'Dreamers'

January 21, 2020

The ASU Foundation has been awarded a three-year, $937,000 grant from the Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation in support of 35 scholarships for students who are considered “Dreamers.”

These students are young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and are allowed to remain in the country if they meet certain criteria. Because of their circumstances, "DreamersThese students are commonly referred to as "Dreamers," based on a never-passed proposal in Congress called the DREAM Act." are unable to benefit from university or federal aid or work-study programs. Despite the fact that many of them have spent their entire lives in Arizona and graduated from local high schools, these students are required to pay 50% more than the standard in-state tuition. The grant will provide tuition assistance to cover that extra cost and establish the Parsons Scholars program, which will include financial literacy training and ongoing academic coaching.

Support for "DREAMers" The Parsons Scholars program is designed to help deserving students have an opportunity to attend the university and enhance their opportunity for a successful future. Download Full Image

“By no fault of their own, 'Dreamers' are starting their pursuit of higher education at a great disadvantage,” said businessman Bob Parsons. “America is a nation of immigrants, and it is our duty to step up and support those who are working hard to earn a better life for themselves and their families, no matter how they got here.”

Many of the Parsons Scholars come from low-income households and work to support themselves, and in many cases, their families. Most are first-generation college students and act as role models for their siblings and the greater community. Tuition gap funding provided to the Parsons Scholars will mitigate the risk of a "Dreamer" leaving school due to financial hardships.

“ASU has long supported 'Dreamers,' a position that is congruent with our unwavering commitment to providing access to all students who are qualified to attend the university, regardless of their background or circumstance,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “Bob and Renee Parsons’ support will help more deserving students have an opportunity to attend the university and enhance their opportunity for a successful future.”

The program is also designed to prepare students for long-term success and encourages co-curricular activities, such as internships, to provide students with the skills and connections needed to enter their chosen career field. A capstone trip to Washington, D.C., will more broadly connect the Parsons Scholars to public policy and empower them to enact change. 

“It is our belief that everyone deserves access to quality education, and 'Dreamers' are no exception. In fact, they face more obstacles to obtaining a college degree than most of their peers,” said businesswoman Renee Parsons. “We are proud to support ASU’s commitment to making higher education a reality for all Arizona high school graduates.”

The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation offers support to nonprofit organizations successfully working to empower, educate, nurture and nourish people during what is often the darkest time of their lives. Founded in 2012 by philanthropists and business leaders Bob and Renee Parsons to provide hope and life-changing assistance to the country’s most vulnerable populations, the Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation offers critical funding at critical times to those in need. The foundation’s giving is driven by the core belief that all people — regardless of race, religion, roots, economic status, sexual orientation or gender identity — deserve access to quality health care, education and a safe place to call home. Follow @WeDealInHope on social media or visit to learn more about partner organizations and the important work being done in the community.

The ASU Foundation for A New American University is a private, nonprofit organization that raises and manages private contributions to support the work of ASU. It is one of five affiliated organizations that make up ASU Enterprise Partners, an innovative organizational model designed to generate resources to meet the needs of ASU. 

ASU Law announces Mary Sigler Fellowship

December 17, 2019

At the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, students learn from some of the nation’s foremost scholars and innovative legal instructors. They have played an integral role in ASU Law establishing itself as one of the highest ranked public law schools in the nation, a leading center of scholarly exchange with a tradition of exceptional bar-passage and quality job-placement rates.

Among the notable faculty members is Associate Dean of Faculty Zachary Kramera professor who was recently honored with the Mary Sigler Fellowship. photo of Zak Kramer Zachary Kramer is the associate dean of faculty and a professor of law for the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. Download Full Image

According to ASU Law Dean Douglas Sylvester, “We have worked hard to increase opportunities to recognize outstanding faculty through awards of chairs, professorships and fellowships. I am so pleased that Professor Kramer has accepted this fellowship named in Mary’s honor.”

Mary Sigler was a lifelong academic, having earned her bachelor’s degree and doctorate from Arizona State University and a juris doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania. She was appointed to the faculty of the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law in 2003 and was a leading expert in criminal law and jurisprudence. In 2012, she was appointed as an associate dean at ASU Law. Sigler was a frequent contributor to leading law journals, with dozens of publications, and was a sought-after panelist at international conferences. She was part of the ASU Law faculty until her death in 2018 after a nearly three-year battle with pancreatic cancer.

The philanthropist who donated to support the fellowship stated, “Professor Mary Sigler was a tremendous scholar, teacher and citizen. This faculty appointment will recognize and honor her many contributions to the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law. The appointment should be awarded to a tenured faculty member whose scholarship and contributions to the community of scholars at ASU best reflects Mary’s legacy.”

Kramer teaches and writes in the areas of property law and civil rights law. He is the author of "Outsiders: Why Difference is the Future of Civil Rights" (Oxford 2019). Before joining the ASU Law faculty in 2010, Kramer taught at Penn State (2008–10) and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (2006–08). He began his teaching career as the inaugural Charles R. Williams Teaching Fellow at UCLA School of Law. A graduate of the University of Illinois College of Law, Kramer served as the editor-in-chief of the University of Illinois Law Review.

“It’s an honor to hold a position that bears my friend Mary’s name,” Kramer said. “I’m humbled by the appointment.”

Among faculty honors, a professorship requires a minimum endowment of $1 million. At present, the Mary Sigler Fellowship has raised more than $600,000. The goal is to convert the fellowship into a professorship. If you would like to honor Sigler's legacy and help make this a reality, please consider making a gift, whether cash or estate plan. 

Read more: New book 'Outsiders' offers insights into identity, equality and discrimination

Nicole Almond Anderson

Director of Communications, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law


ASU alumni recognized for their vision, gifts to transform stadium

Student-athlete facility named for donors Steve Butterfield, Bill Kent and Jack Furst

December 3, 2019

The vision and gifts of three Arizona State University alumni is coming to fruition after five years.

Steve Butterfield, Bill Kent and Jack Furst spearheaded the reinvention of and fundraising for Sun Devil Stadium, transforming it into a year-round, multiuse complex called ASU 365 Community Union. Family members of the Butterfield, Kent and Furst family are recognized at Sun Devil Stadium Bill Kent and Jack Furst and their families, along with the family of the late Steve Butterfield, were recognized during a home football game for their contributions to Sun Devil Athletics and the ASU 365 Community Union. Download Full Image

During Saturday’s ASU football game the three men and their families were honored with the renaming of the student-athlete facility. The Butterfield, Kent, Furst Student-Athlete Facility, located on the north side of the stadium, houses the team locker room, medical facilities, coaches' offices, meeting space and a training table.

Kent, along with his wife, Julie, and their son, Buck, and Furst and his wife, Debra, attended the game and naming ceremony. Butterfield, who passed away in 2017, was represented by his sons, Brooks and Steve Jr., Steve’s wife, Mary, and their children, Joey, George and Stevie.  

“The efforts and dedication by the Butterfield, Furst and Kent families to Sun Devil Athletics and our football program is insurmountable,” said Vice President for University Athletics Ray Anderson. “We graciously thank them for their leading contributions to the stadium reinvention and student-athlete facility, and are honored to be able to pay homage to their families for generations to come.”

When Butterfield, Kent and Furst collectively donated $40 million to make 365 Community Union a reality, they were not looking for naming rights on buildings. They all agreed to leave naming rights open to other donors while the ASU Foundation fundraised for the project. 

“The three of us never really cared about the recognition of it,” Kent said. “We believed in the cause and certainly felt like we could have a much more competitive facility for the football program. We were all behind it from that perspective.”

After five years of fundraising, the ASU Foundation raised about $80 million for the capital project, and no other major donors came forward looking for naming rights. The ASU Foundation chose to recognize the Butterfield, Furst and Kent families as a result of their dedication and contributions to the campaign.

A vision beyond a stadium

Discussions to develop ASU 365 Community Union started in 2014 when Furst became more involved with ASU’s athletics through Sun Devil Athletics supporter Butterfield. At that time, there was talk of renovating the football stadium and ideas surfaced about what else could be done.

“I wanted to see if we could turn an athletic facility into a community union where you would have yield and utilization,” said Furst, the 2017 Founder’s Day Philanthropist of the Year. “Why couldn’t we, No. 1 in innovation, turn this into a community union and have something going on at the union 365 days a year? No one else is doing it. Why would you spend money just on a football field used seven times a year?”

The plan for ASU 365 Community Union is to create a place for fitness classes, concerts, festivals, farmers markets, restaurants, coffee bars, movie screenings, meetings and study areas. It will also house the Pat Tillman Veterans Center, Public Service Academy, the Global Sports Institute and a new studio for the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Butterfield and Furst had several meetings with ASU President Michael M. Crow, ASU Enterprise Partners CEO Rick Shangraw Jr. and members of the athletics department to determine how to make their vision a reality without asking for tax dollars to fund the project.

Furst called his Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity friend Kent to see if he would like to be involved and contribute to the fundraising. Kent agreed to participate, and Furst said he would match what Kent donated.

“Jack and I had lots of conversations about how we could make this a bigger project than just a stadium,” Kent said. “I’m proud of being a part of that vision.”

The Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts had a three-year student project to design the 365 Community Union and stadium reinvention.

The first phase of the union opened in September.

“The tireless effort and commitment provided by Jack Furst, Bill Kent, our late friend Steve Butterfield, and their families to fulfill their vision is impressive,” Shangraw said. “We appreciate their dedication to creating something bigger and better that will serve ASU and surrounding communities for years to come.”

Kent and Furst both say they are excited about the progress of ASU 365 Community Union and look forward to continued progress. Both said this project fits in well with ASU’s overall vision regarding innovation.

“One of the real challenges when you’re a big university — you have to create a heartfelt connection,” Furst said. “The 365 Community Union is that. The football stadium is like ASU’s Central Park.”

Michelle Stermole

Director of communications, Enterprise Partners


Mike and Cindy Watts receive WESTMARC Regional Advancement Award

November 15, 2019

Mike and Cindy Watts, for whom the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions is named, received the Regional Advancement Award from WESTMARC on Nov. 7 during its annual Best of the West Awards show and dinner.

The Wattses are co-founders of Sunstate Equipment, a highly successful equipment and rental company that began in Arizona in 1977 and has expanded to 10 other states. Both grew up in the west Phoenix neighborhood of Maryvale when it was a newly developed community. Concerned by the urban decline Maryvale began experiencing in the 1980s and 1990s, the couple made leadership gifts to the Maryvale YMCA and endowed the Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety, an initiative of the Watts College. award sculpture Mike and Cindy Watts were honored by WESTMARC Nov. 7 with this Regional Advancement Award for their contributions to ASU and to the West Valley. Download Full Image

In 2018, the couple made a $30 million donation to ASU’s then-College of Public Service and Community Solutions, prompting the renaming and spurring expansion of the college’s work in community development, public policy, criminal justice and child well-being, including the funding of five endowed professorships. The gift also is contributing to a revitalization effort in Maryvale, with ASU collaborating directly with local leaders to bolster their efforts and increase community engagement.

Watts College Dean Jonathan Koppell spoke about the couple’s dedication to their community and region in a video introduction shown at the awards dinner.

“I can’t think of a couple that is more devoted to the West Valley than Mike and Cindy,” said Koppell, who said he was delighted to be speaking on behalf of the college bearing the couple’s name.

“It’s important to understand, however, that the gift to ASU, while being focused on our students and on great research, was primarily because they cared passionately about advancing the communities of the West Valley and saw the investment in the Watts College as being a vehicle for making a difference in people’s lives.”

Founded in 1990, WESTMARC — which stands for Western Maricopa Coalition — consists of 15 West Valley communities, including Phoenix, in partnership with area businesses and educational institutions including ASU. Its mission, according to its website, is “to address important issues facing the West Valley’s economic prosperity.”

Follett donation to ASU Bridging Success helps students exiting foster care pay for books

November 15, 2019

Learning they’re eligible for a college tuition waiver would usually be enough to send any 18-year-old to the moon and back.

That’s how youth in foster care in Arizona likely feel after being told they’re potentially eligible for a tuition waiver at any of Arizona’s three state universities or any community college, courtesy of recent state legislation. After dealing with the difficulties many of these youth have faced, receiving a tuition waiver might be like winning a new car on a TV game show. Representatives from ASU Bookstores and Follett (man and woman) smile with student Allan Valles Sanchez while he holds up a criminology and criminal justice textbook Bridging Success student and criminology and criminal justice minor Allan Valles Sanchez (right) shops for textbooks with Val Ross, area director of Sun Devil Campus Stores, and Ashlie Singleton, Follett regional manager of sales and operations. Download Full Image

However, similar to winning a shiny new vehicle, a tuition waiver doesn’t cover incidental expenses that can be cost prohibitive. The reality is, although the tuition waiver removes one of the major barriers to getting a college degree, many students still must pay for books, supplies, academic fees and room and board on their own through additional scholarships, grants, work-study programs and other forms of financial aid.

Upon reaching adulthood, many of these young people are starting college with limited or no family, social and financial support available to help them through their academic journey at ASU. Because of this, these early steps into higher education can be extremely scary as they face yet another unfamiliar set of circumstances.

ASU Bridging Success, based at the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, is a program that aims to stand in the gap for students coming to the university from the foster care system, said program coordinator Justine Cheung.

“We are here with a holistic, trauma-informed program that understands the child welfare system, the implications of what being in care means, the strengths our students bring with them and challenges they may face as they pursue their degree,” Cheung said.

“Over the years of running this program, one of the biggest concerns I hear from our students is how they will pay for their books,” Cheung explained. “But this year their concerns were addressed through a generous donation made by Follett Corporation to ASU Bridging Success.”

In early fall, Val Ross, area director of Sun Devil Campus Stores, and Ashley Singleton, regional manager of Follett Higher Education Group, met with Cheung to learn about the work Bridging Success does and the students they serve. The result of the meeting was a $25,000 grant to help students in the Bridging Success program cover book expenses. 

Students with foster care backgrounds who participated in Bridging Success Early Start, a partnership program administered by ASU University College that provides a six-day college transition experience for incoming first-year and transfer students, also received an additional $50 bookstore gift card. These funds make a significant impact toward offsetting the cost of books and supplies.

Bridging Success student

Samantha Sahagun

Financial concerns meant nerve-wracking days leading up to Samantha Sahagun’s first day of fall classes. A Barack Obama Scholar, she knew that program would cover her meals. But books and other costs were another matter.

“One thing I was scared about was purchasing my books,” the freshman social work major from Phoenix said. “But when we received the grant to get our books for the first semester, I started crying.”

For freshman Carina Jaramillo, students in her group already had an idea they were going to receive “a little help” to buy books, but learning about the grant and the gift cards transformed the experience.

“Books were expensive, and it was great just to know it was going to be off my plate, that they would provide it,” said Jaramillo, a medical studies major from Douglas, Arizona. “Many of us didn’t know how we were able to buy books.”

“It’s been pretty good so far,” Jaramillo said. “The scholarship from the bookstore really helped. Financial aid really helped me. Everything just fell into place after that.”

The two said Bridging Success continues to help them meet the challenges of college. For one thing, it enabled them to recognize there are many others like themselves.

“There are a lot more people who come from my background,” Jaramillo said. “My roommate has a lot in common with me.”

For Sahagun, Bridging Success is another vital support system.

“It’s there for when I need someone to talk to,” she said. “Two weeks before school, they showed us around MyASU (a platform on the ASU website), how scholarships work. They’re like my cheerleaders; they want me to succeed. They are definitely a major part of my education at ASU because I know they’ll be there if I fall.”

Bridging Success student

Carina Jaramillo

Jaramillo agreed.

“Coming into Bridging Success, I didn’t know what it was. But it helped me prepare for college. There were a lot of workshops to help me learn what college was going to be like. They are like a second family, basically,” she said. “We have an emergency fund, for example — it doesn’t have to be school-related, like if your car broke down — and for emotional support, too. They would be the hand that you need in case of hard times.”

Sahagun said that after “everything was handed to you in high school,” Bridging Success helped her learn how to be independent and responsible with her academic obligations.

“Anything you do is on you now. It’s not, like, who’s taking care of you. I feel I have to be more responsible. Being responsible isn’t as scary for me now because I know who to ask.”

Jaramillo said her advice to those coming out of foster care and seeking to enter ASU is to not be afraid to come out of their comfort zones.

“Don’t be afraid to tell people where you come from,” she said. “At ASU, it’s a new beginning, a new fresh start.”      

Make a contribution to the Bridging Success Emergency Fund.

Written by Mark Scarp

Longtime supporter of ASU Law a positive force in the community

7th annual Gold 'n Gavel event to be held with support of Phoenix firm Beus Gilbert McGroder

November 6, 2019

The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University is hosting its seventh annual Gold ‘n Gavel event on Nov. 15, with the help of some of its top supporters. Chief among them is the Phoenix law firm Beus Gilbert McGroder, a longtime supporter of ASU and the law school.

Founded in 1982 by longtime friends Leo Beus and Paul Gilbert, the firm has risen to international acclaim and recently added a third named partner, Pat McGroder. The strong relationship with both ASU Law and ASU in general was borne out of Beus Gilbert McGroder’s commitment to character, which is reflected in both the firm’s personnel and clientele. photo of Beus Gilbert McGroder The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law is hosting its seventh annual Gold ‘n Gavel event on Nov. 15 with the help of some of its top supporters. Chief among them is the Phoenix law firm Beus Gilbert McGroder, a longtime supporter of ASU and the law school. Download Full Image

“We're a firm that originally broke off from a larger firm, and we made a commitment early on to give very high-quality service and good bang for the buck,” Gilbert said. “We have a policy of only hiring the very best lawyers, and we're very careful about not only who we hire but also who we represent. We are thrilled with the recent addition of Pat, who is the premier personal-injury lawyer in probably all of the United States.”

McGroder says he is honored to join a firm whose “reputation is unmatched” and has set “the standard of care” in commercial litigation, along with Beus and Gilbert’s expertise in zoning, real estate transactions and development, and now catastrophic injury and wrongful death.

“And those aren’t just buzzwords,” McGroder said. “The historic results achieved by Paul and Leo speak to a practice of law that is highly respected. Other lawyers seek to emulate the type of quality, integrity, character and competence that Paul and Leo have exemplified for over four decades.”

Relationship with ASU

Gilbert describes the firm’s relationship with ASU as extremely close and says it extends to all facets of the university.

photo of 2018 scholarship luncheon

Leo Beus (at center) with ASU Law alumnus Eric Cardenas (left) and ASU Law Dean Douglas Sylvester at the fifth annual Scholarship Luncheon in October 2018.

“We have tremendous respect for both ASU in general, the law school and for President Crow in particular,” Gilbert said. “We are thrilled with his leadership and consider him to be the most dynamic, resourceful and creative college president in the United States.”

A deep relationship with ASU Law involves support for a wide range of activities, serving on various panels, and working closely with Dean Douglas Sylvester. And in 2016, the law school moved from its longtime home on the Tempe campus to a new, state-of-the-art facility in downtown Phoenix, which is named the Beus Center for Law and Society in honor of a generous donation from Leo Beus and his wife, Annette.

The firm hosts a meeting of the ASU deans every six weeks called the ASU Leaders Lunch and is actively involved in supporting the university with everything from fundraising to athletics. McGroder, who has been with the firm for just over a year, says the affinity and affection for ASU is evident throughout the firm.

“Between Paul, Leo and myself, what adorns our walls are diplomas from BYU, Michigan, California, Notre Dame — none of us attended ASU,” he said. “But what has struck me is the enormity of respect and commitment that Paul, Leo and the firm have shown to ASU. And why? Because they believe that education, quality education, is really the key to the future of our country. So what has impressed me has been their commitment to ASU, which is not just philanthropic nor just hosting meetings, but their genuine commitment to this fabulous institution.”

Gilbert says ASU is a major component of the metro Phoenix community and has played a significant role in the revitalization of downtown Phoenix.

photo of asu law official groundbreaking

Leo and Annette Beus speak at the official groundbreaking for ASU’s law school building in downtown Phoenix in 2014.

“And an integral part of that is, of course, the law school,” he said. “The law school provides a great deal of stability, resources and credibility to the legal community. Having a first-rate law school helps in a myriad of ways. It helps attract first-rate law students from all over the nation, as well as ASU. Having the strong ASU faculty to provide leadership and guidance in the legal community is a significant asset. And ASU Law does a tremendous job of reaching out and working with the bar and the legal community. There's a very symbiotic relationship between the legal community and the law school. So the law school contributes in a significant and major way to the quality of the legal community in Arizona.”

With a notable record of success, the firm receives many solicitations for financial support. But support for ASU remains a top priority.

“There are many good causes out there,” Gilbert said. “We get bombarded with them every day. But our firm has decided to prioritize ASU. That's a cause we deeply believe in and champion, and we make it our first priority as far as doing work outside the technical practicing of law.”

Making a positive impact

The partners at Beus Gilbert McGroder have enjoyed gratifying careers, helping clients achieve justice and bring visions to life. But the legal world is not without its challenges, and they see opportunity for improvements throughout the industry and judicial system.

Gilbert notes the imbalances in the scales of justice, both in terms of access and the criminal justice system as a whole.

photo of Leo Beus at ASP

Leo Beus sits down with admitted students at ASU Law's Admitted Students Program in December 2018.

“I think a real challenge is making legal services affordable and making legal services available to the population in general, and not just those that are wealthy and can afford to hire lawyers,” he said. “Another challenge is that we don't have a criminal system that works. Right now, the whole system is broken, and I think the legal profession needs to help lead the way in mending the many problems that exist.”

And the ability to bring about change, to help people, has made their careers so rewarding. McGroder says achieving justice for clients goes beyond financial compensation — it restores dignity. And individual victories can play a role in strengthening the social architecture.

“We have the ability to make sure that there are changes, remedial changes, that these types of things don't happen again,” he said. “And we're able to do that in a way that reflects the best of us as human beings, but equally important, have a tremendous impact on our fellow citizens to ensure that safety, health and dignity are all in the forefront of what we do. We have the ability to do the right thing, and in doing the right thing, we change lives and ensure that lives are better moving forward. And to me, I couldn't ask for a better calling.”

McGroder says the impact of the firm, “the footprint of Paul and Leo,” is evident throughout the Valley and state, whether it be through the practice of law, philanthropy or volunteer work.

“In any of those facets, the volunteer commitment of Paul, Leo, and hopefully myself is unmatched in the legal community, whether it be sitting on boards, philanthropy, pro bono work, whatever the case may be,” he said. “I think that this firm stands for all the best that can be said about our profession.”

Tickets for the seventh annual Gold ’n Gavel Auction and Reception are available here. All proceeds support ASU Law student programs and scholarships.

Nicole Almond Anderson

Director of Communications, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law


ASU alum paving pathways for people with disabilities

Todd Lemay's gift of a TerrainHopper will enable disabled students to enjoy all adventures

October 31, 2019

Todd Lemay remembers longing for snowless days. The weather constricted the Maine native in ways others couldn’t comprehend. That wasn’t all; steps robbed him of his freedom. Beaches did the same.

“Every house, every apartment, even restaurants — they all have steps in Maine,” he said. Todd Lemay and Watts College Dean Jonathan Koppell Watts College Dean Jonathan Koppell experiences the TerrainHopper with ASU alumnus Todd Lemay. Download Full Image

Lemay was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, a brittle bone disease that has led him to using a wheelchair for most of his life. He sometimes walked as a child, but that would only lead to more broken bones and more surgeries. He tired of it in his teens. “I decided it’s not worth going through all the surgeries just so that I can maybe walk 20 feet on my own,” he said.

Lemay, 48, figures he’s suffered more than 80 broken bones — a figure that quickly climbs into the 100s if he includes ribs. Those crack easily.

He doesn’t seek sympathy, though. Rather, he considers himself lucky.

“A lot of people out there are in much more difficult situations than I am in,” Lemay said. “So the fact that I can take care of myself and do so much, those are all blessings.”

Arizona opened his eyes to many of them.

A whole new world

After one of his friends talked up Arizona and urged Lemay to tag along on a trip, it didn’t take long for him to fall in love with the Valley of the Sun.

“I was just amazed at how flat everything was out here,” he recalled. “I fell in love with the weather, and I fell in love with how everything was just so accessible. I felt a larger sense of freedom.”

Lemay landed at Arizona State University in 1992, graduating three years later with a degree in accounting. He immersed himself in this work for some time before launching an IT management company.

A simple Google search led him to change careers.

Lemay was on the hunt for an all-terrain wheelchair and stumbled upon a company in the United Kingdom named TerrainHopper that was manufacturing exactly that — electrically powered off-road mobility vehicles that can conquer the type of challenging terrain a normal wheelchair can’t. Yet they weren’t shipping to the U.S. — that is, until Lemay persuaded them to send him one a year later.

For the first time in his life, when he returned to his summer home in Maine, he enjoyed beach trips in a way he only previously had in dreams.

“I didn't have to have someone push me and set me in one spot and that's where I would stay until they moved me,” he said. “I can go out on the beach with my wife and hold her hand. I was never able to do that before. I love the ocean, and for my entire life I’ve only been able to enjoy it from the end of the parking lot.

“It opened up a whole new world for me.”

Open for business

Everywhere he went with his TerrainHopper, he was routinely stopped. The same question always came: Why is there not something like this in the U.S.?

So Lemay again pleaded with TerrainHopper, this time for an even bigger ask. He requested licensing, manufacturing and U.S. distribution rights, insisting “that if they’re going to do something here in the U.S., I’m the right person to help them do that.”

Lemay opened his own shop in Tempe in 2017, replicating the work of his friends in Europe to create customizations that can accommodate almost every physical disability. TerrainHopper USA was born.

“We license the technology from them, so we don’t import anything from them, but we actually manufacture everything from the ground up here in Tempe,” he said.

Lemay, who has donated several of these vehicles to nonprofits around the area, was featured in an article in the Phoenix Business Journal around the time he started full production last fall, prompting ASU President Michael M. Crow to offer congratulations in a handwritten letter.

Shortly after the new year, a student convinced Lemay that ASU should have one.

Spreading the joy

Christina Chambers was already well-versed in the TerrainHopper. The ASU student was managing two of them while interning with Ability360, which offers programs to empower people with disabilities. Chambers was ultimately connected with Lemay, who requested her help with some photography. She, too, uses a wheelchair and sees life much like Lemay.

During a meeting one day, Lemay was pleasantly surprised to hear Chambers is majoring in parks and recreation — but also heartbroken to find that her disability prevented her from joining many off-site classes in different parks.

Hiking has become one of Lemay’s favorite hobbies since obtaining a TerrainHopper. San Tan Regional Park is a short drive from his house, and he frequents it often with his wife, Letitia.

“You look at that park with hundreds of acres and dozens of trails, and with the normal wheelchair you could probably access maybe 2% of that,” he said. “When I got my TerrainHopper, we started going out and doing a different trail every weekend and it turns that we can do about 95% of that park now.”

Lemay wanted Chambers to have that same experience. Chambers wanted it for every ASU student.

“One of the first classes we take in parks and rec talks about the important things everybody in life needs to succeed and be happy,” Chambers said. “The outdoors and nature are essential to happiness, and I was missing that component of my life for so long.”

Expanding possibilities

Chambers recently celebrated the 10-year anniversary of what she calls her “Life Day.”

“It’s the day I celebrate being alive and accepting this as my new life,” she said. “I woke up one morning paralyzed from the chest down.”

Her immune system attacked her spinal cord, causing permanent injury when she was 12. Looking back, she believes that’s when she was given her purpose, even though she didn’t know it at the time.

“I was meant to be in this community and help out those in my community and kind of introduce them to all that they are capable of,” Chambers said.

For Chambers, who will graduate in December, Lemay offered the same for her. She admires the immense joy he brings, “in his own life, in his own acceptance, and in his own journey.”

She wants to help him spread that.

“It’s contagious,” Chambers said. “I post on social and I'm like, come visit me, stay at my house, we will go hiking, I will take you out on the TerrainHoppers.”

Kelly Ramella, an associate instructional professional serving as the coordinator of the therapeutic recreation program and faculty with the School of Community Resources and Development, has witnessed the impact this vehicle has had on students like Chambers.

Adventure is now accessible for all.

“She wanted to be a part of everything that all other students have an opportunity to do, even climbing “A” Mountain,” Ramella said. “Her being able to use the TerrainHopper to experience ASU like everyone else was really quite emotional for me because it's something that's really important for all of our students. We want to ensure that we’re being as inclusive as we possibly can.”

In September, Chambers and Ramella were on hand when Lemay gifted a TerrainHopper — they start at $18,000  — to the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions and invited Dean Jonathan Koppell to get in the driver’s seat.

“You realize what it gives individuals is independence,” Ramella said. “It gave them the ability to navigate the outdoors in their own way and at their own speed.”

Bridging the gap

Chambers was recently hiking the Buffalo Park Loop in Flagstaff when she met a man who had sustained a broken neck and a brain injury in a dirt bike accident, changing the way he experienced the outdoors. He missed the old way. 

Chambers got him on the TerrainHopper, which introduces a sensation similar to riding a dirt bike, and took in the biggest smile.

“He was crying,” she said. “His girlfriend was crying, because here he is hiking and off-roading just like he used to. That is why I advocate for this, because it not only changed my life, but I see the opportunity for it to change so many lives.

“You don’t look at it and think, that’s a wheelchair, or that’s a medical device. You look at it and you’re like, ‘Whoa, that’s really cool. I want to try it.’ I think it bridges that gap of how people view disability and what it actually is.”

 Jane Lee

Copywriter, ASU Enterprise Partners


Aiming to elevate construction education at ASU

The PENTA Building Group Professorship will boost students’ career opportunities through stronger alumni and industry connections

October 3, 2019

Associate Professor Jim Ernzen found his professional passion more than 23 years ago when he began teaching construction management at Arizona State University.

What he realized even then is how much learning students need beyond classroom instruction to get a complete education and a solid jump-start on their careers. Jim Earnzen PENTA Building Group Professor at Arizona State University Associate Professor Jim Ernzen’s responsibility in a new endowed professorship role in the Del E. Webb School of Construction is to enrich undergraduates’ educational experience by strengthening their connections to the school’s alumni and other industry leaders, and to get them involved in student construction competitions and conferences on a national level. Photo by Tim Trumble Download Full Image

Especially vital to students’ success, Ernzen says, are mentorships, internships to get firsthand job experience, research training and connections to leaders in the industry.

Personal commitment and financial backing by benefactors outside the university are critical to providing students those opportunities. But attracting such support requires focused relationship-building and fostering a strong sense of institutional purpose to sustain the allegiance of those supporters.  

“You need to deeply engage your professional community. You need to strengthen generational connections with alumni,” Ernzen said. “That’s how to open a wider path for our students to get the kind of education we want for them.”

So now, in addition to his teaching, Ernzen will lead the charge to achieve these goals as the first PENTA Building Group Professor for Construction in the Del E. Webb School of Construction.

Ernzen’s overall directive in the position is to enhance the experience of undergraduate students in the school, which is part of the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, one of the six Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at ASU.

Strengthening students’ connection with alumni and industry

Ernzen will work with faculty advisers of student organizations to increase student interaction with alumni and industry and support students’ participation in industry events, including national conferences.

Additionally, Ernzen will help form student teams to enter national and international collegiate competitions sponsored by prominent construction industry associations and institutes — and provide mentorship for those teams.

His to-do list also includes helping students develop closer relationships with alumni and industry professionals to raise their awareness of Del E. Webb School’s continuing growth and broadening academic and research excellence. 

“We want to make sure our graduates walk out of here with a thorough knowledge of what they will do in their jobs and what they need to do to advance in their careers,” Ernzen said. “Strong connections with our alumni in the industry are going to enable them to do that.”

These relationships will enhance students’ learning experiences, giving them invaluable insight into the field.

“We need many people in the industry to share their knowledge and skills with our students,” said Associate Professor Anthony Lamanna, chair of the construction management program. “Many are alumni and program supporters who are pioneers in new construction methods, procedures and businesses. We need to ensure our students can effectively learn from them, and Jim is excellent at creating and maintaining that link between them and our current students.”

Ehrets’ contributions are raising construction school’s stature

Support for Ernzen’s new endeavor comes through ASU construction management alumnus Jeff Ehret, CEO of the PENTA Building Group, and his wife, Mary.

portrait of Jeff and Mary Ehret

In addition to funding the PENTA Building Group Professorship, Jeff and Mary Ehrets' support of Arizona State University’s construction education programs includes helping to fund construction of the building that houses those programs, provides a student recruiter and enables students to participate in industry-sponsored events. Photo by Jessica Hochreiter/ASU

The Ehrets’ contributions have been helping to fuel the advance of ASU’s construction education programs for most of the past two decades.

Most notably, the PENTA Building Group has funded a program since 2005 that annually awards a scholarship to a student, providing up to four years of financial assistance to pursue an undergraduate degree in construction management or construction engineering at ASU.

The Ehrets also established an endowment that provides funds annually for students to participate in regional and national competitions. The PENTA Building Group was also a significant donor to the capital campaign to fund construction of the College Avenue Commons building where the Del E. Webb School is housed.

Professorship position key to attracting new faculty and students

Ehret says the PENTA Building Group’s success has enabled him to put his philanthropy to work at ASU, where his time earning a bachelor’s degree in construction management in 1976 and an MBA from the business school three years later was “a fantastic, life-changing experience.”

His service is “all in the spirit of giving back to an institution that absolutely prepared me well to accomplish what I’ve done in my profession,” Ehret said.

Funding a new professorship, Ehret says, “just makes sense at this point” to ensure an improvement in the quality of education needed to maintain the growth trend. Such prestigious positions can enable the school to recruit and keep the top-notch faculty members who, in turn, will attract and retain more top students, he says.

Hardy goals with credentials to match

As the first to fill that the role, Ernzen brings a broad range of expertise and leadership experience to the job.

Bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Notre Dame and a doctoral degree in civil engineering from the University of Texas at Austin equipped him for the job he held as a project engineer and construction manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for almost a decade, and later as deputy director of the Corps’ Concrete Laboratory for three years before spending another three years on the civil and mechanical engineering faculty at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

He joined the Del E. Webb School’s faculty in 1996, serving for two years as director of undergraduate studies, then as the school's director for four years.

Ernzen’s work has earned special recognition from the Design Build Institute of America, the American Institute of Steel Constructors and the Arizona Chapter of the American Concrete Institute, which gave him its Lifetime Membership Award.

He is a director of the American Concrete Institute’s Arizona Chapter and currently advises the organization’s student chapter at ASU. He also co-advises the Fulton Schools student military veterans organization.

To accomplish the goals laid out for the PENTA Building Group Professorship, Ernzen says he will need every skill learned from the many responsibilities he has undertaken over the past 40-plus years as an engineer, construction professional and teacher.

“We need more well-educated people, across the entire spectrum of our industry, from the PhDs who will become professors and researchers to the construction equipment operators on the ground,” he said.

Fulfilling that aspiration presents him with a multidimensional set of tasks, including fundraising; cultivating more connections between students and faculty, alumni and industry partners; and recruiting more faculty with the knowledge and expertise to raise the level of students’ academic experiences.

Ready to take educational endeavors to the next level

Professor Ram Pendyala, interim director of the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, is confident Ernzen is up to the task.

“Our students have greatly benefited from the learning opportunities, educational experiences and mentoring that Jim has tirelessly provided over the past few decades,” Pendyala said. “So, we are looking forward to benefiting further from his dedication to developing the next generation of construction professionals in his new role as the the PENTA Building Group Professor.”

Former and current students echo those expectations of Ernzen.

“He provided great guidance and input during my undergrad years, as well as support for establishing a new student organization,” said Jeremy Meek, a 2009 construction management graduate. He is now a principal of Desert Star Construction, a Scottsdale-based luxury homebuilding company that funds two scholarship programs for Del E. Webb School students.

Ernzen “invested countless hours, energy and passion” into ensuring students’ success in schoolwork and into preparing them for careers, Meek says. “The construction program would not be what it is today without him and others like him.”

Macy Canete, a construction management senior on course to graduate in the spring of 2020, says Ernzen “goes above and beyond” to make sure students “are not just memorizing their lessons to pass tests” but fully comprehending what he is teaching.

“He is a great role model who is having an impact on our profession because he’s igniting our desire to strive to be better at whatever we do,” Canete said.

Ernzen says his new title comes with the most daunting array of job duties he’s ever had, but also the most exhilarating prospects for making a significant difference.

“We want to elevate everything we are doing,” he said of the Del E. Webb School leadership and faculty, “and it’s really energizing to be a part of building an enduring legacy for the future.”

With the PENTA Building Group endowed professorship, Ernzen joins a distinguished group of Del E. Webb School faculty members. Anthony Lamanna is the Sundt Professor of Alternative Delivery Methods & Sustainable Development and G. Edward Gibson Jr. is the Sunstate Chair of Construction and Engineering.

The school also has an endowed AGC Lecturer position held by Barry Kutz and funded by the Arizona Chapter of the Associated General Contractors, as well as an endowed Beavers Heavy Construction Chair position named in honor of longtime school supporters Bill Ames and Wink Ames. The chair is held by Professor of Practice Wylie Bearup. Kutz and Bearup have each had decades-long leadership roles in their construction industry careers.

These endowed positions are building the foundations on which the school can achieve increasingly robust educational excellence and further establish a legacy of impact on the construction industry.

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


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A first-of-its-kind instrument enables one-of-a-kind student experience

October 1, 2019

What’s better than spending a hot Arizona summer working in a cool basement? Spending a hot Arizona summer in a cool basement, building a scientific instrument expected to be the first of its kind in the world.

Beneath Biodesign Institute building C, five Arizona State University students put their education to work this summer, aiding in the first phase of the compact X-ray free electron laser (CXFEL), a miniaturized high-fidelity X-ray source.

While most free electron lasers are miles long and cost billions to construct, ASU’s CXFEL fits neatly in a traditional lab space at a fraction of its peers’ massive cost. Housed in the Beus Compact X-ray Free Electron Laser Laboratory, the instrument will accelerate electron bunches to nearly the speed of light through a series of three linear accelerators. Powerful magnets will focus and direct the electrons to collide with focused infrared laser pulses. This collision — which generates the power of 100 Hoover Dams, but for only one-millionth of one-millionth of a second — produces X-ray pulses.

This elaborate process will enable scientists to peer into atomic- and molecular-scale structures with unmatched clarity. The CXFEL holds promise to advance discoveries in drug development, medical imaging, materials science, quantum materials and sustainable energy.

The project’s first phase, the compact X-ray light source, is taking shape under the direction of ASU Regents Professor Petra Fromme and Associate Professor Bill Graves, as well as their team in the Biodesign Center for Applied Structural Discovery.

The undergraduate students’ internship was made possible by a $50,000 donation from local philanthropists Bill and Susan Levine to advance the ASU CXFEL. Bill Levine is an investor, real estate developer and founder of Outdoor Systems, an advertising firm. Susan Levine is the director emeritus of Hospice of the Valley and previously served 23 years as the organization’s executive director before retiring in 2016.

“The Levines’ gift created this fantastic opportunity for the undergrads,” said Mark Holl, deputy director of the CXFEL project, who is overseeing the assembly of the instrument and led the student team. “Emphatically, I could not be happier with this team.”

The team’s primary focus over the summer was the physics modeling, design, assembly and testing of the precision thermal control water systems that are used to control the temperature of different CXFEL components. An integral part of the instrument, these systems demand an incredible level of precise water temperature control. One of the three systems requires control within one-hundredth of a degree Celsius, says Holl, who also serves as the chief engineer on the CXFEL.

Two men work with electrical equipment in a lab. The caption reads: Mechanical engineering student Alex Gardeck and engineer Steve Rednour work on an electrical control panel of the Compact X-ray Free Electron Laser.

Mechanical engineering student Alex Gardeck and engineer Steve Rednour work on an electrical control panel of the compact X-ray free electron laser. The students worked alongside the engineering team to bring the first phase of the instrument online. Photo by Andy DeLisle/ASU

The students were smoothly integrated into the team, assembling this system and other instrument components. The work provided them the opportunity to employ their coursework in a professional setting.

“It's been an incredible experience working on this project, because it's been a direct application of everything that I've learned in my undergraduate career,” said Alex Gardeck, a mechanical engineering student in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. “Really, we’re just living the everyday life of engineers, encountering problems and figuring out creative ways to solve them.”

Gardeck’s responsibilities included assembling and testing components for the instrument, some of which he 3D modeled using SolidWorks, a computer-aided design and engineering program.

“Hands-on assembly experience will help my designs in the future. When I'm doing a 3D model, everything lines up perfectly, but until I'm starting to torque these wrenches I don’t always see the reality of it,” he said while working on the instrument’s cooling system.

The project also provided students with an opportunity to learn from fellow interns.

Engineering students Brett Liebich and Brandon Cook, who work as electromechanical research technicians at the center, brought a wealth of experience they were able to pass along to the rest of the team. Veterans of the U.S. Navy, Liebich and Cook had previously served on nuclear submarines as a machinist’s mate and electrician's mate, respectively.

“After a decade in the Navy, we were able to get a skill set that you really don't see in a lot of interns or college students,” said Liebich. “Working with some guys who haven't done any of this, we get to not only mentor them a little bit, but also learn from the project engineers. We're engineering students, so the more eyes we can get looking at different things that we might end up doing, it's all good experience.” 

While moving from working on nuclear submarines to constructing complex scientific instrumentation isn’t exactly a one-to-one transition, the former sailors nevertheless found similarities between the two jobs. 

“The attention to detail, procedural compliance and problem solving that we learned in the nuke program is just being applied in a different fashion here,” said Cook.

Two young men peer at an array of scientific components. The caption: Students Alex Gardeck and Brandon Cook examine the precision thermal trim unit water systems that controls the temperature of components in the radiography/fluoroscopy room.

Students Alex Gardeck and Brandon Cook examine the precision thermal control water systems that regulate the temperature of components in the radiography/fluoroscopy room of the Beus Compact X-ray Free Electron Laser Laboratory. Photo by Andy DeLisle/ASU

Physics students Dakota King and Albert Wang also spent their summer working on the CXFEL. 

“This opportunity is rewarding because it's really hands-on and applied,” said King, who graduated in spring 2019 with his bachelor’s degree. “Physics is a lot of theory. It's cool getting into the engineering side of things.”

“When we’re taught about an instrument or experiment in class, it’s easy to understand why we’re talking about it or the outcomes that made it important,” said Wang, who had previously worked with CXFEL Science Director Graves. “With the CXFEL, it’s almost surreal to work on something that is on the forefront of science. We’re on the precipice of so many possibilities, and while it’s a challenging project, it’s a great opportunity for growth.”

Gardeck, King and Wang were instrumental in the developing both 3D and mathematical physics models of the precision thermal trim unit water systems, according to Holl. 

“Initially, we only had a control resolution on the order of one-fourth of a degree Celsius,” said Holl. This was a far cry from the one-hundredth required from the system.

Following the team’s modeling work, they were able to identify the right water flow regulating valves and actuators needed to achieve the precise temperature requirement.

“The students completed the full engineering process, from specifications to modeling the system physics incorporating the properties of real components,” said Holl. “This is a perfect example of an integrated project team with engineering and physics skills brought to bear on a challenging problem. That integration allowed us to achieve a critical need for this accelerator.”

Four of five of the students have remained working on the instrument through the fall semester, contributing as their academic schedules allow. Gardeck, who expects to graduate in the spring, is basing his honor’s thesis on the thermal trim water system.

“I’ve been obsessed with accelerators since I was a kid and I first learned of the Large Hadron Collider,” says Gardeck. “So to be able to work on the CXFEL is a dream come true, and I’m extremely grateful to the Levines for the opportunity.”

Top photo: Alex Gardeck, a mechanical engineering student, examines one of the precision thermal trim unit water systems that is used to control the temperature of various components of the compact X-ray free electron laser, or CXFEL. Photo by Andy DeLisle/ASU

Pete Zrioka

Managing editor , Knowledge Enterprise