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May 21, 2014

Host: Ted Simons

AZ Technology and Innovation: International Science Fair Winner

  |   Video
  • An 18-year-old Corona del Sol High School student from Tempe recently took home the top award for electrical and mechanical engineering at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles. Sarah Galvin will talk about her award and the project she created to win it. Nathan Newman, a professor at Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering, mentored Galvin and will join her on the show.
  • Sarah Galvin - Student and Winner, Intel International Science and Engineering Fair
  • Nathan Newman - Professor, Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering
Category: Technology   |   Keywords: technology, innovation, international, science, engineering, fair, winner, mentor,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: An 18-year-old student at Corona Del Sol high school in Tempe recently took home the top award for electrical and mechanical engineering at the Intel international science and engineering fair in Los Angeles. Sarah Galvin is here to talk about her award-winning project. Also joining us is Sarah Galvin's mentor, Nathan Newman, a professor at ASU's Ira A. Fulton school of engineering. Good to have you both here. Thank you for joining us there. The Intel international science and engineering fair, what is this all about?

Sarah Galvin: Well, it's really the top of the top when it comes to the science circuits for the fairs, and it's fascinating because it was really a conglomeration of 1,700 students and it is the best projects in the world coming together so that we can share ideas and interact on more the level of higher intelligence in a way.

Ted Simons: Were you familiar with the fair before you went out there? Was it anything -- anything about the whole process surprising to you?

Sarah Galvin: The Intel I stuff, it has actually been a dream for a long time. Arizona runs its own series of science fairs for students to prequalify to go to the international fair, and within these fairs I've been interacting at various levels, but I always see on the kind of edges, these people usually wearing suits and they're always the ones who win. I decided a long time ago that is where I wanted to be. So this is the first time I was able to realize that.

Ted Simons: World's largest high school science research competition. That's a lot of kids, that's a lot of folks.

Nathan Newman: Absolutely.

Ted Simons: Talk to us more about, again, how the process -- how the engineering fair developed and your part in all of this.

Nathan Newman: Yeah, so my part is actually just -- we have the privilege of doing research as professors and looking for new knowledge. And part of that is to engage graduate students as the traditional one, but one of the things that ASU does so well is excellence and access. So, the high school students that are interested in preparing for the science fair, we open up our labs, we work with them to choose projects, and we have the great honor of getting these bright, excited young students, and we do all we can to help them succeed and it's really up to them to, you know, learn the fundamentals and then move on to do their project and it gives us great joy to see all of them progress and learn, and some of them, like Sarah, have done so well and just do amazing things that we sit back and watch and are very proud.

Ted Simons: Talk to us now about your project. I understand it’s an innovative approach to improve spin polarization in thin films for spin transport electronics, what am I talking about?

Sarah Galvin: Yes sir, well that is the title of my project, but taking it down to a level that is very understandable, the practical application.

Ted Simons: Yes

Sarah Galvin: I'm working in a field that was developed very recently, spintronics, and that focuses on utilizing a different way of manipulating the materials to produce a new kind of electronics based more on magnetism then like passing current, so it allows us to make things smaller and faster, more efficient, and then within that category I’m focusing on a specific material to optimize if for use in these applications.

Ted Simons: And now the material, correct me if I am wrong here, magnesium oxide is usually used, you found a different material to use?

Sarah Galvin: Yes. Magnesium oxide is usually used because it actually creates a higher quality seaFAST which is what the title abbreviates to, but I found that using another substrate, another base structure, which is substantially less expensive, actually produces a better value that we're looking for in the application into these electronic devices.

Ted Simons: More efficient and less expensive?

Sarah Galvin: Yes, sir.

Ted Simons: No wonder you won the award. So, when Sarah came to you with this idea or said, hey, here is what I'm thinking, what were you thinking?

Nathan Newman: Oh, I thought it was great. To be honest Sarah had been working in the lab a little bit last year, and so we had been working on this type of electronics, and what we hope it can do eventually is right now computers have memory, and logic in the separate. The devices that Sarah was working on pioneering allows you to make magnetic memory right on chip. So you can have a computer on a chip. We won't need computers that have the separate one. So, when Sarah said she would like to look at a material that is more efficient and choose a substrate that would work better, we made sure the equipment was there, we asked her what the plan was and we let her carry it out. What I usually do is we meet on a regular basis and I ask what did you do, what did you find? What does it mean?

Ted Simons: Right.

Nathan Newman: And then I watch as the project progresses, and it starts with, you know, a seed and it grows. It is real exciting.

Ted Simons: When the project does progress, are you watching every step of the way going, boy, I sure hope this works, and just kind of watching? Because, I mean, it may not work.

Sarah Galvin: Absolutely. That's really what research-based science is. It is very different from my high school classes, for instance, chemistry, where my teacher always knows what the end result of a lab is going to be, because he knows the educational target. But in research-based science, that is really what allows us to expand into the unknown. It’s one of the most interesting parts for me personally.

Ted Simons: So why did you go into this particular, was there something about this idea that got your attention? How did you get started in all of this?

Sarah Galvin: I started working with Professor Newman through ASU’s SCENE program, which is an educational outreach for high school students such as myself, and his lab deals predominantly with these types of projects within the spintronics applications, and a couple of months ago, he said -- I was just finishing another project. He really said find something that interests you, bring it back to me, and if it is viable, we'll go. So I did a bunch of research and I found this material was particularly interesting to me from a physics standpoint and we decided to run with it.

Ted Simons: Run with it you did. Now I’m assuming occasionally a kid will come to you, and you will say no, would you steer them in a different direction? Obviously with Sarah you didn't, but sometimes do you have to kind of nudge a little bit?

Nathan Newman: You try not to say no too often.

Ted Simons: Sure.

Nathan Newman: Because if you do the experiments and you're always right, you're not doing the right experiments. So you have to try new things. Sometimes I'll explain what the limitations are, why I'm concerned, you know, research is such a great way to learn. That's why research is done at the universities. And so when a student comes and they say this is -- this is new and this is something that I'm going to try, I never say no, but I do say here is the conventional wisdom. Do you want to try it?

Ted Simons: Here is what you need to think about.

Nathan Newman: That's right. And hopefully, you know, we learn something and 99% of the time we learn things, not everything works.

Ted Simons: What are you thinking about as far as taking this particular project into the future, taking your education into the future? What's next for you?

Sarah Galvin: Well, I, first of all, I’m going to be attending ASU in the fall. So I’m going to continue working for Professor Nathan Newman because it has been a fantastic opportunity, and with that said, I would like to continue looking into this, because it is very interesting and my results would indicate something that really needs to be spread to the public. So hopefully we will be publishing on something very similar to this and that way the information will get out so others can expand upon it.

Ted Simons: As far as you expanding though, are there other avenues, other things that interest you that once you get to the university, you’re going to think I might nose around over here a little bit?

Sarah Galvin: I think that one of the best parts about ASU is that it is such a large environment, but you can specialize and make it more of a small school experience. So, my work with Professor Newman is fantastic. I really enjoy it. I'm also very interested in government and politics. So maybe I’m going to do a double major or minor in that area. I haven't declared that for my first semester, but it might be second year.

Nathan Newman: I think research scientists are very much needed when it comes to politics. About 30 seconds left here. When you get students coming in, do you have to focus them a little bit or do you want them to spread out and see what they can find?

Nathan Newman: I think it is a combination and it depends. I usually let the students go at their own free will and I watch how it develops. Some students need more step by step guidance and some you stay out of their way. And at the end, we just are there to give opportunities and we hope for success, and so it has been a lot of fun.

Ted Simons: Well very good. Congratulations to you, and congratulations to you. We expect to hear more from you in the future. Thank you so much for being here.

Sarah Galvin: Thank you.

Ted Simons: Thank you both.

AZ Technology and Innovation: Teen Tech Interns

  |   Video
  • See how teens are helping people of all ages learn today’s technology at Phoenix public libraries.
Category: Technology   |   Keywords: technology, innovation, teen, tech, interns, phoenix, public, libraries, learn,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Tonight's focus on Arizona technology and innovation looks at a program that involves teenagers passing on their tech knowledge to others. Producer Christina Estes and photographer Scott Olson have the story.

Leah Gessel: Mission one is the first game you will be playing.

Joel Leon: You're doing so far so good right now.

Christina Estes: On the fourth floor at Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix --

Anthony Joshlin: Are you guys enjoying your guy’s game?

Christina Estes: Anthony Joshlin and his fellow interns lead a class on video game design.

Anthony Joshlin: I do have him you know do-sit-ups, have them do double jump, you can have him talk, you can have him think. Basically it’s whatever you want him to do, he will do it if he has that function available.

Christina Estes: Thanks to government grants, Phoenix hired 13 high school interns to support classes in the maker’s space, also known as Mach 1.

Terry Ann Lawler: Mach 1 stands for makers, artists, crafters, and hackers and we do everything from paper engineering to science experiments to computer classes and tech classes.

Christina Estes: Youth services manager Terry Ann Lawler says, there’s a special focus on science, technology, engineering, and math often called STEM.

Terry Ann Lawler: When they graduate from high school nowadays, they need to be prepared to go on to college or they need to be prepared to work in the STEM industry. The nice thing about classes in the library that are stem-based, is that they are ungraded, there’s not any pressure for them to perform. It is more of a play-like atmosphere.

Christina Estes: Playing with the 3-D printer is pretty popular.

Anthony Joshlin: It’s an auto clip-on band like hero type things like that. It’s like people actually call and ask if we can make them things from here and from our 3D printer and stuff like that. Our ultimate goal by the end of this year is to actually make a small model house, maybe 10 feet by 10 feet house basically from what we have here.

Terry Ann Lawler: From working here, they get a lot out of it. They get customer service skills, they get tech skills, they get trouble-shooting skills, and they learn how to work in a team.

Leah Gessel: Good job.

Christina Estes: Ask the interns what they learned, and a theme quickly emerges.

Anthony Joshlin: I have a lot more patience than I thought I had.

Joel Leon: I have more patience than I probably thought I did or that I gave myself credit for. This job, when it comes to like I said teaching older people things, you have to be patient. Sometimes they have the attitude like they're willing to learn and other attitude where it’s just like hurry up and get me through what I need to do.

Leah Gessel: I have had adults come in and they will be asking what the class is, and when they find out I'm the teacher, they always kind of look at me funny. Like oh, it's you. But it’s really interesting getting to teach adults just because you don't expect to have that, the roles reversed like that. But I guess in the world of technology, my generation has grown up used to a lot of these things so the older generation is learning from us now.

Christina Estes: We didn't find older people in this class. These students ranged from six to 16.

Joel Leon: So, now you have the choice to put that character in one of the games and you can start making them.

Christina Estes: When the internships end, Joel and Leah plan to attend college, while Anthony will enter the army. He’s already working out with his platoon and applying lessons he’s learned at the library.

Anthony Joshlin: Time is like you know really important in here and in the military, because time, classes have a start time, then the end. Kids have to leave, you know come back, things like that. Also making me aware of things at all times, cause when kids are here, I have to like be able to watch in my peripheral vision to make sure they aren’t wandering off or make sure they are doing the right thing over here, just make sure they are on task things like that.

Joel Leon: Are you guys still on the same level?

Christina Estes: The library hopes to bring on new interns this fall and it sounds like they will have a tough act to follow.

Terry Ann Lawler: I think that anyone of my teens could be president and I would be happy about that.

Ted Simons: These services manager says that they are always looking for adults to share what they've learned or volunteer to teach classes.

Ted Simons: That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening

Phoenix Budget

  |   Video
  • The Phoenix city council voted to pass a budget that closed a $37-million budget gap. One of the most controversial parts of the budget was a pay cut for employees. Dustin Gardiner, who has been covering the story for the Arizona Republic, tells us more about the budget.
  • Dustin Gardiner - Journalist, Arizona Republic
Category: Government   |   Keywords: government, phoenix, budget, cuts, arizona, council, employees,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: The Phoenix city council voted yesterday to pass a controversial budget that closes a $38 million dollar shortfall. Covering the story for the "Arizona republic" is Dustin Gardiner. He joins us now. Good to see you here.

Dustin Gardiner: Hi, Ted.

Ted Simons: Going through this from the get-go, what exactly now did the council vote on?

Dustin Gardiner: So last night the council voted on a plan to balance its budget Phoenix is facing a $38 million deficit in the upcoming fiscal year, which starts July 1st. This deficit is a result of several things, one of them is overly optimistic revenue projections. Phoenix was way under its projections for the current year, but beyond that expenses are rising much faster than revenues. The city's pension costs, health care costs are all skyrocketing and the city is trying to find a way to keep up with that given the sluggish revenue numbers.

Ted Simons: Now this is the city manager Ed Zuercher, this is his budget or is this budget piggybacked onto someone else’s budget?

Dustin Gardiner: Okay so Ed Zuercher, the new city manager, he was put in the job permanently in February. He inherited this situation from his predecessor, David Cavazos the prior city manager, and so he is trying to clean up the mess after this year's budget, that contains the shortfall. He’s projected into the next year, he is projecting how the city can dig back from the $ 38 million hole.

Ted Simons: Did he-- I thought his original budget had far more in the way of cuts, correct?

Dustin Gardiner: Initially Ed had warned that the city would have to cut city services by about $29 million if it did not increase taxes or force employees to take pay and benefit cut. But those service cuts, which were pretty drastic, included things like pools, senior centers, recreation programs, fire inspectors, those are all off of the table because the city council agreed to a plan that includes tax and fee increases, as well as city employee pension -- sorry -- salary and benefit cuts.

Ted Simons: Right. So, let's go through this now. The employee pay and benefit cuts, are these all city workers, union workers, both? What is going on here?

Dustin Gardiner: This is all city workers, all five unions, even the non-unionized employees, it’s about 14,000 city workers who are affected by this.

Ted Simons: And as far as the unions now, four of the five unions have already gone ahead and agreed to this, how much of a percentage cut here now?

Dustin Gardiner: So it’s 1.6% in the upcoming year and then the following year,second year of the contract, it’s .9%. All of the city's unions have been forced to take contracts with these provisions. Four of the unions agreed to those contracts, kind of, you know, towards the end of the process for most of them. The 5th union, the police employee union, they did not accept the contract but the council took the unprecedented step of imposing this on that union. And now the union is trying to fight that and they're organizing and collecting signatures to trigger some sort of a referendum election or if not a referendum about initiative that would force the council to go back and take back the cuts that they are being forced --

Ted Simons: That imposition on the police union -- I know there is a lot of fussing and fighting leading up to yesterday, what happened yesterday?

Dustin Gardiner: You know, it has been quite a dramatic process, and there were -- there were some debate yesterday, but yesterday was strikingly undramatic for the whole process. You know, throughout this process, we have had hundreds of employees, police officers filling the council chambers, protesting this budget,protesting the cuts. Last night, it sort of ended with a whimper. We had the council come in and the votes were clear on both sides and without a whole lot of fanfare they put it through.

Ted Simons: You mentioned tax increases, what kind of tax increases, it sounds like it’s just one thing?

Dustin Gardiner: Most of the new revenue is coming from a new tax on residents' water bills, this is based on water meter size and for the average resident, it will be about $1.50 a month. That is the bulk, the vast majority of these revenue increases, but beyond that, there are some fee increases on things like city recreation centers, senior centers, and those are bringing in a little bit more money, but most of it is the water bill tax.

Ted Simons: It is the size of the water, what, the water meter?

Dustin Gardiner: The water meter.

Ted Simons: Okay. So that basically says if you've got a bigger water meter, you're essentially using more or how much water – kind of confusing there.

Dustin Gardiner: Yeah, it is not based on water usage, it’s just based on meter size.It doesn't really reflect, you know, any amount of water that is being used. It's a -- for most residential customers it would be the $1.50. For a larger meter like in a commercial setting, it would be more than that, but that's the average for a homeowner.

Ted Simons: And the fee increases, again parking meters will be increased, correct?

Dustin Gardiner: Yeah so parking meters was part of that. That is not going to add a whole lot of revenue. That is a piece of it. The city, currently all of the parking meters, anywhere you are in the city, even if you know you’re outside of the Super Bowl, it’s you know $1.50.But they want to change that to a range of 50 cents to $6 dollars per hour.

Ted Simons: $6 per hour?

Dustin Gardiner: That would be like for a premier event, you know say the Super Bowl, or athletic event downtown I think is what the city is suggesting.

Ted Simons: Goodness gracious. Alright but as far as now city services, senior centers, pools, fire inspection, code inspection, those things not cut at all?

Dustin Gardiner: Yeah, that’s all off the table.

Ted Simons: Okay, but there are fee increases for using senior centers.

Dustin Gardiner: Right.

Ted Simons: And using athletic centers, are they big fee increases?

Dustin Gardiner: You know, I -- I guess it is a matter of perspective. For a resident who uses a senior center currently they're paying $ 10 per year for an annual pass. That a lot of people might think that’s not very much. Now they will be asked to pay $20. I have heard some complaints about that. For the most part, I think a lot of seniors who came to the city budget hearings, they said they are willing to pay a little bit more if you can keep this service open for us.

Ted Simons: Interesting. Alright so the council voted it was 5-4, who opposed and why?

Dustin Gardiner: Okay so the opposition was primarily made up of the council’s fiscal conservatives. You have Sal Diciccio, Jim Waring, Bill Gates, and their stance was that the city has a lot of excess that it could cut rather than raising taxes, they wanted to cut those things like lobbying, PR, travel, things that they felt are unneeded and they would rather cut that and not ask residents to pay more. The fourth vote was councilman Michael Nowakowski, his reasoning was a little different, actually siding more with the employee union saying it is unfair to ask them to take these cuts given that they have faced cuts in the last you know five years or so since the recession.

Ted Simons: And so is this a done deal or will we see tinkering here?

Dustin Gardiner: There’s some formal votes that have to take place before July to finish all of this up, but for the most part, this is essentially a done deal. They could always go back, but at this point, it's clear that the majority of the council has sided with the plan that Ed Zuercher suggested.

Ted Simons: You mentioned kind of going out with a whimper last night, yesterday, not really a heck of a lot of fire and brimstone going on huh?

Dustin Gardiner: Not yesterday. But before that when we had the police coming, it’s been an unprecedented budget process in Phoenix. Especially with the union contracts being imposed. It has been a pretty contentious process, so last night wasn't really representative of the drama that’s had gone on, if you will.

Ted Simons: Before we let you go, and you referred to this earlier, regarding why the city is in this position, the revenue position, they were just too rosy and were off the mark. Is there any urgency to learn why those projections were so off the mark and to avoid that kind of thing in the future?

Dustin Gardiner: That was the common theme at the meeting last night. You had a lot of council members walking away saying we have to learn something from this, this is a wake-up call, and to do that the council has pushed the city manager to launch an organizational review, so the city will spend the next summer and following months reviewing its organization and how it prepares revenue projections and trying to find out what can it do to make sure that this deficit isn't a repeat in future years and how do you prevent these, you know, overly glossy projections from being an issue again.

Ted Simons: I would think you would have to find a new crystal ball if we’re going through the same kind of thing in the next budget process.

Dustin Gardiner: Right.

Ted Simons: All right. Well great work, it’s good to have you here, and we will continue following you, following the city council.

Dustin Gardiner: Thank you

Ted Simons: Good to have you here.