October 04, 2012

Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering team wins 2012 ASU Academic Bowl

Posted: October 04, 2012
The ASU Academic Bowl champions: the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering team. The team is comprised of (left to right) Wesley Fullmer, John Ernzen, Albert Stanton, Pradyumma Kadambi and Katelyn Keberle (not pictured).
Photo by: Tom Story

Engineering last won the title in 2006

Just moments before the final buzzer sounded, the Bolshevik Revolution was among the last answers to be uttered in the championship round of the 2012 ASU Academic Bowl – ultimately dethroning the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences from their five-year championship reign and declaring a new winner: the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering (maroon team).

Engineering had advanced through several nail-biting matches Thursday night, in the Eight, Arizona PBS studios, before a live television audience, not losing a single one. Barry Ritchie, vice provost of academic personnel and professor of physics, served as moderator for all the matches.

The winning team will take home $24,000 in scholarship money, divided among its members. 

A Western hero who fired silver bullets was among the first set of bonus questions in the first matchup of the semi-finals, which pitted the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering Maroon team against the College of Technology and Innovation team. Though Engineering did not recognize the Lone Ranger, they knew a handful of others questions – enough to help themselves to an early 60-point lead, which quickly snowballed into a score of 120-0.

Calling out with certainty the answers to questions about the empirical formula, the quadratic formula and the theory of relativity, the Engineering team dominated the CTI team much like the Greek gods, nearly all of whom they knew. 

"Mission Impossible" was not just another correct answer Engineering threw out like a strike over the plate – it began to look more like a taunt to CTI's dream of victory. Through the civil rights movement, "Moby Dick," and Harriet Beecher Stowe, the engineers would not let up. They buzzed often and rarely missed. With pencil and paper, they solved for x and won yet another opportunity for a set of bonus questions.

When the match was over – much to CTI's relief – the scoreboard read 410-0, and Engineering continued on their way to the winner's match.  

Knowing their transition metals, the W. P. Carey team got right down to business in the second matchup of the semi-finals against the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Maroon team, who had not one chance to buzz in by the time the business majors already had added a hundred points to their score. 

But in typical fashion, CLAS came back; they managed to snag a bonus round and scored a quick 40 points. Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna helped them to a few more, as Business watched their comfy lead fade into the blinding light of the Eight television studios. 

With five minutes to go, CLAS suddenly found themselves in the lead by nearly 50 points. Answering questions about the American Civil War, they cranked their lead up by a few more. But Business won the next toss-up, answered correctly and impressively sped through a set of bonus questions to even the score. 

What happened next was pivotal and, from what I've observed over the last six years of Academic Bowl play at ASU, an unprecedented move. Lightning fast W. P. Carey slowed their speed considerably during a bonus round that ultimately gave them a 45-point lead. With the clock on their side in the final moments of the match, the business majors closed the deal with a smooth stroll – resulting in a strategic win with a score of 215-170.

Joining the Ira. A. Fulton Schools of Engineering in the winners' round, the W. P. Carey School of Business could not get on the board as quickly as their opponent. However the two teams kept a balanced pace. Engineering successfully fired through a set of questions on Indian literature, as Business shouted out the name of the mother of the goddess of youth. 

The capital of Helsinki, the Winter War and Russian rule lent 40 points to Business' score, and although Engineering won the next toss-up, the team botched a few answers, confusing Salem with Portland, Ore. They redeemed themselves though with their proven knowledge of Southern writers.

And there must have been a musician on the Business team because they aced not one, not two, but all three bonus questions on music composition – but it didn't help them much. Engineering soon won with a final score of 255-190.

In the losers' match, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Maroon team met up with the College of Technology and Innovation. CLAS gained a 90-point lead polished off by Pascal's Triangle. William Jennings Bryant and Tom Brady helped CTI narrow their deficit, as they charged ahead in a bonus set on comic books. But CLAS would not have it; they won the next toss-up and put the match to bed.

Nicholas Tesla, a value of zero and the House of Lords were all correct answers that led the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Maroon to a 240-65 victory over CTI.  

With the College of Technology and Innovation eliminated, the W. P. Carey School of Business faced off once again with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Maroon team in the fifth match of the night – a match that would determine who would advance to the final round against the Engineering team. Having competed against each other earlier in the night, the two teams fell into a familiar rhythm, sparring over the Reformation, Broadway shows and Albert Einstein. For much of the match, the dual scoreboards looked reflected as though in a mirror.

However when CLAS took a 100-point lead, it was not certain how long they'd keep it – sure, Business had some catching up to do, but they had done it before and won. The Battle of Bunker Hill brought Business back to life, followed up by a fruit fly-themed bonus set which threw a few more points their way. CLAS led by a mere 30 points when they won the next toss-up with less than two minutes in the round, and while Business fought admirably, they just couldn't keep up with the almighty CLAS.

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences had borrowed a page from the Business book by slowing their pace with the clock, winding down, and the points on their side. A final score of 235-195 confirmed W. P. Carey's elimination, and CLAS advanced to the finals. 

The Sumerian Empire was the first answer given in the final round of the 2012 ASU Academic Bowl – 10 points taken swiftly by the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering Maroon team, who had their eyes on one last win that would earn them the championship. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Maroon team had a little more work to do – needing to beat Engineering twice to win the trophy in a final seventh match – and work they did. CLAS matched Engineering's 50 points and then some. Cleopatra, Marc Antony and the Battle of Actium gave CLAS a 35-point lead over Engineering. 

But the lead was fleeting. The island of Crete, "The Lord of the Flies," and "The Last of the Mohicans" put Engineering back on top. With a 100-point lead, Engineering correctly answered questions about thermodynamics and entropy, but missed one on pressure (probably due to the pressure). CLAS made a solid attempt to fight back, but Engineering was relentless, buzzing in for nearly every toss-up and using the time wisely as they answered bonus questions.

When the buzzer sounded, there was a clear winner of the 2012 ASU Academic Bowl. Engineering had defeated the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 315-120, to become the Academic Bowl champion for the first time since 2006.

Britt Lewis, britt.lewis@asu.edu
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