Students test their wits, showcase intelligence at the ASU Academic Bowl

The annual event puts schools within the University up against each other in friendly competition

ASU has earned a few titles since it was established — some proud titles like “#1 in innovation” and some negative ones like “party school.” Created in 2006, the ASU Academic Bowl was started to showcase student intelligence contrary to a bad reputation.

The ASU Academic Bowl is an annual event in which each school at the University forms a team of four to six students to compete in an academic trivia game with question topics ranging from science to history to pop culture.

Melissa Werner, one of the organizers of the event and the director of University ceremonies at ASU, said students compete to win over $20,000 of scholarship money split between team members. 

“There is a lot of scholarship money involved, so it makes for a really exciting competition,” she said.

Werner said she has been running the event for three years since being asked to keep the ASU Academic Bowl running smoothly when the person originally in charge of it stepped down.

Werner said she has noticed that the competition can get very intense — drama can build up when scholarship money is on the line.

The intensity of the competition is not on accident, however. Werner said she wanted to increase the excitement during these events. She has successfully done so by paying attention to little details such as adding a big countdown clock to the event so that people can see the time ticking down to the last second.

The Academic Bowl is a tournament that follows a bracket system. Once it gets down to the final four, tensions rise as the scholarship money gets closer and closer, Werner said.

Allan Garry is a senior studying aerospace engineering and was the captain of this year’s winning team, Fulton Maroon.

As captain, Garry said he was a bit worried about this year’s competition.

The Academic Bowl is usually held in the fall, but was instead held in the spring this year, which Garry said took the team by surprise and put him under stress to line his schedule up with the change.

In addition, they also faced the challenge of fielding a team largely new to the ASU Academic Bowl, which was a bit nerve-wracking at first. Garry said the team quickly came to realize that many of the new members had already competed in academic and high school quiz bowls, so they were experienced and ready to compete.

He said he enjoyed being able to help the new team members focus for the event, and he takes pride in his ability to prepare a team for the competition.

It was apparent that Garry did a good job in preparing his team when Fulton Maroon came out with the first place trophy. 

Enoch Kim, another member of the Fulton Maroon team and a senior studying computer science, said he was pleased with the win after never making it to finals in his previous three years of competing.

Kim said that most studying done for the Academic Bowl involves just refreshing his memory on what he’s learned in previous bowls rather than learning new material.

“History doesn’t change,” Kim said.

He said he’s glad he stuck around and continued competing until his senior year, especially given the fact that he got to finish with a win.

Kim said he felt a bit defeated having never made it far in the competition previously.

“I thought about not even doing it (this year),” he said.

After struggling for three years in the Academic Bowl, Kim said that sticking around for a win was worth it.


 Reach the reporters at japere38@asu.edu and maatenci@asu.edu or follow @jsphprzprof and @mitchellatencio on Twitter.

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