The Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering at Arizona State University is ramping up its mission to become a world-class college that is light years ahead of the competition.
At a pep rally Friday, the school officially was renamed after Fulton, a Tempe homebuilder who recently pledged a $50 million gift to the ASU Foundation to benefit the school. The Tempe native is CEO of Fulton Homes. He attended ASU and played football in his freshman year.
“I wanted to make a great contribution to this college to move it forward,” Fulton said. “I did it really for the students . . . I'm going to gamble on the future.”
Fulton said he wants to play a role in bringing the entire university to the next level. He also said he believes in university President Michael Crow's vision for the future.
The funds will play a significant role in increasing the caliber of the school's faculty, students and programs, said engineering dean Peter Crouch. The gift already has helped the school, he said.
“We just hired a National Academy of Engineering member in the area of sustainability, John Crittenden,” he said. “Without these funds, we wouldn't have been able to bring in him. We are doing a lot of planning at the moment on other ways we're going to use the funds.”
The school hasn't been able to offer enough scholarships for undergraduates, fellowships for graduates and professorships for various faculty, Crouch said. Also, being able to afford the “very highest-end equipment” for research is something that will differentiate the school from other, competing schools, he said.
“The game is all about differentiation of one university against the other,” he said. “It's par for the course and we're holding our own nicely. ASU is doing a great job, but if you really want to differentiate it against everybody else, you have to make that special effort and you need those types of funds available to make that difference.”
The gift will help leverage state, federal and other monies the school receives, Crouch said.
“We've just got to continue increasing the spectrum of funding in addition to the state funding if we want to make a real difference,” he said.
As for the students, Fulton's gift will increase the value of both future and past graduates' degrees, Crouch said.
“And Mr. Fulton loves students, so you can bet there will be many things that will help the students,” he said.
The ASU Sat Lab is an example of an engineering program that could benefit from Fulton's gift. Helen Reed, program director and professor of aerospace engineering, and many of the program's members were on hand at the pep rally to display their projects.
“They are taking things that they are learning in the classroom and are actually building real satellites that are really launched,” Reed said. “It's a great complement to their engineering education.”
Lauren Egan, student program manager and a senior chemical engineering major, said the program provides students with an opportunity to design, build and launch satellites.
“A lot of students do end up working in related aerospace fields,” she said. “They take the knowledge that they gained on the team and go to work for different aerospace companies, like Orbital Sciences, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Spectrum Astro.”