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March 6, 2013

Host: Ted Simons

Arizona Technology & Innovation: New Tech Degree

  |   Video
  • This fall, ASU's College of Technology and Innovation will offer the only Bachelor of Science in Manufacturing Engineering in Arizona. This new program will help to accelerate and advance the transformation of the manufacturing industry in Arizona and nationwide. Ann McKenna of the College of Technology and Innovation will discuss the new degree.
  • Ann McKenna - College of Technology and Innovation, ASU
Category: Technology   |   Keywords: ASU, education, technology, innovation, AZ, ,

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Ted Simons: Tonight's focus on Arizona technology and innovation Looks at a new degree offered next fall at ASU. It's a bachelor of science in manufacturing engineering, and it's based at ASU's college of technology and innovation. Anna McKenna is an associate professor of engineering at the college. And she joins us now. It is good to have you here.

Anna McKenna: Thank you.

Ted Simons: What is the focus of this particular degree?

Anna McKenna: So, if we think of manufacturing broadly, it is an integrated system. So that means if you are focusing on product development, you are focusing on the design of that product, how that product gets manufactured and produced, how the product gets distributed. The supply chain. The marketing of the product and the selling of the product. It is very focused on the customer and customer needs in developing from the engineering perspective as well.

Ted Simons: How would that differ from an engineering degree, a standard engineering degree?

Anna McKenna: The focus of manufacturing is on that integrated system where you are focusing on what is the customer need and designing the product around what that need is and then focusing on all aspects of the design, manufacturing of that project. There is much more emphasis on how you get materials and take the materials and the processes to make that project.

Ted Simons: It sounds like creativity is at the forefront here.

Anna McKenna: Creativity is absolutely part of what we emphasize. If we think of the competitive advantage of the United States in general, it is around the design, invention, creativity, adaptability, and so training our engineering students to be comfortable in that.

Ted Simons: Is this something that students had learned piecemeal, a little here and there and coalesced into one degree?

Anna McKenna: That is an excellent way of describing it. That is always maintaining that system focus. So, whatever you are designing, you have to understand how it moves through the system. And thinking of that as a whole.

Ted Simons: Will students have real-world projects to work on each semester? How’s it going to work

Anna McKenna: Absolutely. One of the things that is happening nationwide is much more emphasize and renewed focus on making things. And that is evidenced by the do it your self-communities, maker communities, incubators, tech shops where you have fabrication facilities available so that you can take any idea and bring it to -- bring it to realization. We embed that emphasis on applying your learning to make meaningful contributions to real problems that exist in the world. So, we have a curriculum that is project based where students work on projects every semester, starting from the freshman year. It is the idea of taking that knowledge, engineering principles and design principles and applying it to a project.

Ted Simons: And are these projects -- are you working with business and industry on these projects? Are they giving suggestions, assignments, how does that work?

Anna McKenna: At the polytechnic campus, core value engaging in industry, and core value of our department. Community, broadly speaking including in this industry throughout our curriculum. In particular, at senior year it is a culminating project where students work on a two-semester industry-sponsored project where we have engagement with industry. They come to us with a particular product, project, and problem in mind, and we have student teams working closely with industry in understanding what those needs are and developing solutions to that need.

Ted Simons: From a distance, I would question can the school keep up with, let's say, Ted Electronics, I want to build a space ship or something. How close can the school stay abreast of cutting-edge technology that is out there in the real world but may or may not be there on campus? How does that dynamic fit in?

Anna McKenna: So, we have state of the art facilities at the polytechnic campus. We have wonderful set of fabrication abilities that we leverage to support the curriculum. And we are also staying ahead of that cutting-edge technology. We are partnering with the tech shop. We have a lot of new prototyping equipment that we are building into our facility.

Ted Simons: Who is the tech shop?

Anna McKenna: The tech shop is entity -- it originated in the -- in California. It is a -- it's an organization that has basic prototyping facilities, and they engage with anyone who is interested in building something. So it is a model to enable the general public to bring in ideas to reality.

Ted Simons: A prototype model --

Anna McKenna: Yes.

Ted Simons: Interesting. The idea behind the degree, I noticed when I was reading about this, it was to help transform the manufacturing industry in Arizona. How much does it need to be transformed? How far along in the transformation are we?

Anna McKenna: I would say maybe not so much transformation, I think about to paraphrase president Obama in one of the State of the Union addresses last year, if we want to build a blueprint for the American economy that is built to last, it has to be built on manufacturing. So, it is an important -- it is important to the American economy to think about what 21st century manufacturing means and to educate our students to be productive in that field. And so it's a way of making a meaningful curriculum experience for our students so that they can contribute to that -- to the economy.

Ted Simons: And not only the Arizona economy, but the -- you are talking aerospace, high tech, whole nine yards?

Anna McKenna: Yes.

Ted Simons: It sounds fascinating and it sounds like you have a lot of work ahead of you.

Anna McKenna: Oh, but it is exciting.

Ted Simons: It sounds like it. Thank you for joining us.

Anna McKenna: You're welcome.

Legislative Update

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  • Join us for our weekly update from the Capitol with a reporter from the Arizona Capitol Times.
Category: Legislature   |   Keywords: legislative, update, legislature, ,

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Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. There are signs that the legislature is getting restless over the pace of budget negotiations. Here to tell us more in our weekly legislative update With the Arizona capitol Times is cap times reporter Luige del Puerto . What is going on down there?

Luige del Puerto: Legislature has a self-imposed 100 day deadline to end the session. The Senate president Biggs had been optimistic that they would reach the deadline and get out of here in a short while. Yesterday -- I'm sorry, this morning when I spoke with him he did not sound very optimistic at all. I asked him why? He said it is essentially about the budget discussions. Some days he feels like they're making progress and moving ahead, and on some days he doesn't think there is much progress. Today is one of those days. In addition to that, we have been hearing from rank and file members expressing concerns about essentially the lack of progress. There has not been to their minds a ramping up those discussions of budget negotiations that you would see or they would love to see at this point in the session.

Ted Simons: Not really any sense of urgency going on.

Luige del Puerto: So far none. And that -- to -- many members I had spoken to, some privately, basically said we should be ramping up those discussions between the governor's office and the state legislature and they're not seeing that yet.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about the Medicaid expansion idea. I know there is controversy there. I'm guessing all sides not seeing the same thing.

Luige del Puerto: No, of course not. As you know, the governor has been courting the republican districts at the county and legislative district levels, and essentially trying to convince them to rally behind her proposal. What is happening seems to be that the opponents of the plan are the ones that are getting ahead in persuading the districts and the counties. In fact, we have -- we are now beginning to see the districts and the counties approving resolutions basically saying, Mrs. Governor, we don't want you to go ahead and expand Medicaid.

Ted Simons: With that in mind -- she had a rally down there at the capitol, didn't she, with a bunch of health providers and doctors and such?

Luige del Puerto: Yes. And she has been going out, been trying to get the public to get behind this proposal. The potential complications for the governor is that if the district PC -- the guys that do all of the work actively, active at the grass roots level -- if they come out and say we don't want you to go ahead -- we don't want you to expand Medicaid, potentially that could -- that could have an impact on the votes of republicans who might be supportive of the proposal.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about the votes. We can't figure out whether legislatures need the two-thirds majority on this or not whether it is a tax or assessment.

Luige del Puerto: That is certainly a part of the discussion right now. For those who are opposing the proposal, they are saying, you know what, if at the end of the day you are going to vote on this Medicaid expansion, we want to remind you that this requires a two-thirds vote. This is what the constitution says. This is a proposition 108 issue. It will be a tax, provider, assessment fee, it will be a tax. If you are getting revenues -- if you are increasing revenues as a result, it will be a tax and as a result, this should require two-thirds vote.

Ted Simons: What about the sales tax, her idea of revamping and streamlining the sales tax? Cities and towns not happy about that. What is going on there?

Luige del Puerto: There has been a significant development in this issue. Last Friday, the governor's office had offered a proposal to the mayors to try and address their concerns about the potential hit of the -- to their bottom line. What the governor is proposing is a bifurcated system where on the one hand the state will eliminate the investigation of prime contracting, sticking issue -- one of the sticking issues up to this point, and ensure that the material, the tax on the materials would be paid at the point of sale. For example, if you are a subcontractor, you are buying roles and roles of carpets for example or kitchen material. You will be paying the tax at the point of sale. At the home depot, at the store where you are buying it. Statement the -- at the same time, governor is still allowing the cities to -- the way it is envisioned, once a subcontractor has completed the work, let's say a kitchen, the cost of that will be folded into the overall cost of the house and the city will be able to tax the -- that amount, the construction costs.

Ted Simons: So, that sounds like it is not quite as streamline as originally intended.

Luige del Puerto: In some ways it bifurcates the system. Now all of the taxes would be collected at the point of sale. I would say this is major concession on the governor's part.

Ted Simons: It sounds like there is a lot going on. Even if much is not going on.

Luige del Puerto: That's true.

Ted Simons: Thank you for joining us. We appreciate it.

Luige del Puerto: Thank you.

Real Estate Update

  |   Video
  • The real estate market in Arizona is showing signs of vitality. Values are up, investors are still buying, but more regular buyers are entering the market. Arizona Republic real estate reporter Catherine Reagor will bring us up to date.
  • Catherine Reagor - Real Estate Reporter, The Arizona Republic
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: real estate, housing, market, update, ,

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Ted Simons: Phoenix area housing Sales and home prices were Up in January. It's the latest in a series of positive signs for the valley's housing market. Joining us now to help make sense of it all is "Arizona republic's" real estate Reporter Catherine Reagor. Always a pleasure. Good to have you here.

Catherine Reagor: Good to be here.

Ted Simons: Home values are increasing. How much are they increasing and why are they increasing?

Catherine Reagor: Up 16 %, and that is different than the median price. That is based on home sales. That was up 34 %. Home values includes every value of the home whether sold or not. When the assessor, all homeowers should have now -- this is the first time residential assessed values in Maricopa county have gone up in six years.

Ted Simons: We're talking pre-recession times then.

Catherine Reagor: Yes.

Ted Simons: What is going on out there? Why is this happening?

Catherine Reagor: Home market is going. We have buyers. Investors have been snatching up homes. We watched that. They are the big investors. They're buying from the small investors. People who want to take advantage of the low interest rates. First-time home buyers trying to buy, competing, and in some cases able to buy finally because home values have increased, those homeowners who have been setting in their house for seven years, eight year, feeling trapped, a lot are freed and they can sell and move up.

Ted Simons: So, what price ranges are moving the most?

Catherine Reagor: Really $250,000 below.

Ted Simons: Still that market.

Catherine Reagor: Yes. Surprisingly, the luxury market, $500,000, and above, they thought it would be years before it started to recover. But these great values that have drawn many people from out of the country, out of the state, Canadians have bought those luxury homes and really that market is now improving as well.

Ted Simons: Interesting. As far as investors, you mentioned how much are they driving this market?

Catherine Reagor: Well, in the past year, they have made up a significant portion. But as home prices have gone up and there are -- there are not as many foreclosure homes at all to purchase or short sales. They're a smaller part of the market but they're still buying. Good news for the overall market and stability. Number of regular buyers and regular sellers, you know, not using a short sale or foreclosure, is now 65 % of the market. Two years ago it was 30% of the market. That is stability. Homeowners can sell and regular buyers can buy we are going in the right direction.

Ted Simons: These are people who would buy the home to actually live in. What a concept.

Catherine Reagor: Yes.

Ted Simons: Investors, are they buying them to flip them or buying them to hold?

Catherine Reagor: I have asked several of them. Blackstone, colony capital, American residential, they have a lot of wall street money. Wall street loves these firms and they love Phoenix. Wall street loves Phoenix right now. They say to hold. They have this formula. These people who lost their homes to foreclosure and they want a short sale and they can't buy anything yet. They want to live in that neighborhood. They don't want to be in an apartment, they want to be in a four bedroom, three bath, same school district. So far it has not oversaturated the market, not too many rentals. We are hearing that, you know, last summer rentals -- good rents were going in days and people were lining up. Now it is taking longer. Supply and demand are kicking in. We are watching to see what they do. They say they will not sell all at once. If they did, some of these neighborhoods --30 %, what would that mean --

Ted Simons: You mentioned foreclosures down. What about pre-foreclosures.

Catherine Reagor: Those are down as well. Foreclosures fell below a 1,000 a month in February and that is the first time they have fallen below a thousand since 2007 . It is just not the indicator of the housing market anymore, which is good news. That also means also there is fewer cheap foreclosure homes for investors and others to buy.

Ted Simons: And in that regard, you mentioned more regular folks buying homes to live in. Are we seeing a loosening with the banks as far as lending is concerned?

Catherine Reagor: Not really. There is still very much in many cases -- unless you can get one of the government backed loans, FHA or a BA, you know, it is 20 % down. Many housing analysts say this is a good thing. You know, if you can't afford to put to 10 or 20% down not the right time to buy a house. Save and be in that position. The flipping mode for a profit, unless you can get a foreclosure house for $50,000, and flip it a couple of months later for $80,000, you cannot find them anymore. It is not out there. We go back to living in our houses.

Ted Simons: The tighter credit, that forces the rental market to stay strong because these folks are waiting to get to the20 %.

Catherine Reagor: Investors are all paying cash. You can't compete with that. They don't need appraisals and anything like that. They believe they have a formula. And some of these wall street investors they have very smart minds behind it. A lot is riding on it in our housing market for their decisions.

Ted Simons: You mentioned the $500,000 and up luxury market if you will. Investor activity there as well?

Catherine Reagor: Some, but not a lot. It is really second home buyers. People, Canadians -- Canadian home prices have jumped, you know. Surprising -- $1 million home here would be $2 million there. Just an example. These are considered great deals. And people are still very interested in investing in a nice home, a second home. And we are drawing buyers from around the world.

Ted Simons: And you mentioned that wall street was liking what they saw or it saw in Arizona. There is an IPO out there, home builders getting ready to make big-time bucks?

Catherine Reagor: Yes, Taylor Morrison Based in Scottsdale, last December went out and wanted to raise $250 million dollars. A couple of weeks ago, they refiled, and this was a nod from wall street, they could raise up to half a billion.

Ted Simons: Oh, my goodness. That is a sign that wall street thinks that -- investors think that Arizona is on the uptake.

Catherine Reagor: We are really in our home price and home building market we are leading the nation. We led it down and we are leading it up.

Ted Simons: Are people still concerned that --

Catherine Reagor: I don't hear that concern. There is not this big inventory of foreclosures out there. That is slowing. Home prices climbed a lot last year but are moderating. And buyers -- and we're still an affordable market. That has been our big draw for a long time. And we are creating jobs.

Ted Simons: We usually have you on when the market does a belly up. It is good to have you here with good news.

Catherine Reagor: I'm glad to be here.

Ted Simons: Thank you.