Impact Award + Convocation Speaker, Fall 2022
Melvin Gatewood’s fascination with electricity began after he saw “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” in 1977. Not long after, Gatewood decided he wanted to be an electrical engineer.
Gatewood went on to join the U.S. Navy in 1989 and served in the Persian Gulf War’s Operation Desert Storm. After his service, he began working in the information technology industry. He has been in IT since the 1990s, but he never forgot his dream of a career in electrical engineering.
About five years ago, Gatewood researched college electrical engineering programs available online. He discovered Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and was impressed by the opportunities offered in electrical engineering and ASU’s support system for students who are veterans of the U.S. military.
“I knew ASU was the place for me when I saw that the Fulton Schools of Engineering starts convocation with a ceremonial lightsaber, so I became a Sun Devil,” he says.
Gatewood graduated with his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering in Fall 2021. He continued his studies in the Fulton Schools’ electrical engineering accelerated master’s degree program, and in the past year has earned a graduate degree in the field.
During his time at ASU, Gatewood got involved as much as possible in the ASU community. He became an officer in Sun Devil Engineers, joined the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and the Eta Kappa Nu electrical engineering honor society, and became a teacher’s assistant for Professor of Practice Steven Millman.
Among his achievements at ASU, Gatewood considers his senior capstone group project a high point in his academic experience. His group built an application for use by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to monitor radioactive fallout after a nuclear power plant disaster, which could help the agency make disaster response decisions and provide the public with timely information about radioactivity in affected areas.
With his new degree, Gatewood hopes to work in the defense industry near his home in Dallas, Texas. Although his studies at ASU have ended, he says there are memories of his time in the Fulton Schools he knows will stay with him.
“The first thing that comes to mind,” Gatewood says, “is all of the dedicated staff and faculty members who helped me succeed at ASU.”