Visitors at Night of the Open Door on the Polytechnic campus tour ASU labs and participate in hands-on activities organized by Fulton Schools faculty and students. Photographer: Nick Narducci

ASU Fulton Schools outreach benefited thousands in 2016: What will 2017 bring?


Rose Gochnour Serago

Arizona State University was recently named to the 2015 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll in all four categories: Education, Economic Opportunity, General Community Service and Interfaith Community Service. 

This award is among the highest honors a college or university can receive for volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement — and the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering has contributed to ASU’s prominence in these areas.

In particular, the Fulton Schools’ is a key player in the honor roll’s education category, which recognizes institutions for their strong commitment to improving PreK-14 educational outcomes. On the honor roll, ASU was named one of four finalists for the Education Award.

In 2016, Fulton Schools engineering students — many within the Fulton Schools’ 60-plus student organizations — shared their energy and passion for science, technology, engineering and math with more than 11,000 elementary and secondary students throughout Arizona in various educational outreach programs, including 24 camps with multiple sections, totaling around 45-promoted opportunities for students to engage.

“We are very proud of the significant contributions our faculty, students and staff are making to educate, excite and engage these young students to the opportunities available to them in engineering,” says James Collofello, vice dean for Academic and Student Affairs and computer systems engineering professor.

Programs continue to excel

In summer 2016, the Fulton Schools involved more than 500 students — elementary through high school aged — in various programs offered as part of the Fulton Schools Summer Academy. Offerings included coding, robotics, video game and app camps, the free and weeklong National Summer Transportation Institute, as well as SEE@ASU: a weeklong, overnight campus visit, in which students become familiar with the different labs and types of engineering available at ASU.

Students study the creation of asphalt as part of the free and week-long National Summer Transportation Institute, a program in the Fulton Schools Summer Academy.

Students study the creation of asphalt as part of the free and weeklong National Summer Transportation Institute, a program in the Fulton Schools Summer Academy. Photo by: Jessica Hochreiter/ASU

The Fulton Schools are already gearing up to offer another stellar summer academy featuring dozens of programs. This summer a new intermediate coding camp for fifth- through seventh-graders has been added. Program registrations open in February 2017.

For the sixth year, the Fulton Schools are also supporting the upcoming February Night of the Open Door events on both the Tempe and Polytechnic campuses, which provides a yearly opportunity for faculty and their students to open their labs and share their projects with the community.

EPICS High, an extension of the Engineering Projects in Community Service program, also had another landmark year with 25 schools — 50 percent from low income or underserved areas — and more than 1,100 students participating. The program has also branched out to include middle schools and now has around 400 students participating. They’ve also launched a pilot program at Estrella Mountain Community College in Avondale, Arizona.

Continually invested in First Lego League 

In 2015-2016, the Fulton Schools also continued to invest in Arizona FIRST LEGO League (FLL) programming. As part of the summer academy, the Fulton Schools hosted FLL Jr., Intermediate and Introduction summer camps, including a girls-only camp.

Donned in colorful eagle hats, members of the Eaglebots team, from Hope Christian Academy in Chandler, Arizona, prep their robot's first run at the FIRST® LEGO League state championship tournament on January 15, 2017.

Members of the Eaglebots team, from Hope Christian Academy in Chandler, Arizona, prep their robot’s first run at the FIRST® LEGO League state championship tournament on Jan. 15, 2017. Photo by: Jessica Hochreiter/ASU

In December 2015, the Fulton Schools hosted the state FLL tournament, which brought together nearly 600 students on more than 60 teams along with team coaches, mentors, teachers, parents and competition judges to compete at the spirited event. Nearly 100 staff, faculty and students volunteered to support the effort.

The Fulton Schools kicked off 2017’s outreach efforts on Jan. 14-15, with this year’s state tournament, turning out even larger numbers for the event themed, “Animal Allies.” The tournament featured 96 teams, and both of the winnings teams were all girls’ teams.  

New additions to programming

For four years, the Fulton Schools also hosted DiscoverE Days, a yearly engineering open house that brought hundreds of students to the Tempe campus for hands-on engineering learning opportunities and lab tours. This year, the Fulton Schools switched their focus to promoting small-sized fields trips called “A Day in the Life Of…”, and expect to have twelve events throughout the year bring around 1,500 students to visit campus and learn about the different facets of engineering and engineering education.

The Fulton Schools are also launching the Young Engineers Shape the World program, which will be test piloted in seven schools and coordinated by Tirupalavanam Ganesh, a Tooker Professor and Assistant Dean, and Lauren Preble, a Fulton Schools Outreach Coordinator. The program offers scholarships, and aims to support young women in high school seeking to earn a degree in the Fulton Schools.

Through these outreach activities, the Fulton Schools further their commitment to the fact that engineering affects students, the community and the larger world, for the better, every day.

“We will continue to make this effort a priority in the Fulton Schools,” says Collofello.

“With millions of unfilled STEM jobs expected by 2018, it is incredibly important that the Fulton Schools continues to bring awareness, engagement, opportunity, interest and understanding in various pathways to PreK-14 students and their families from all backgrounds and areas in Arizona,” says Hope Parker, Associate Director for Engineering Education and Outreach.

All of these programs and efforts aim to inspire the next generation of critical thinkers and leaders by sparking their interest and providing mentors and role models.

“Kids need to see themselves in roles in industry and community, and this is where students, faculty and the community come in,” says Parker.

“The Fulton Schools’ dedication to taking an active approach to guiding and developing the next generation will help to ensure that our world is better for generations to come.”