Four Cal Poly Engineering Students Honored in Sacramento

Twenty-one Cal Poly students, including four engineering majors, were recognized for their awards and other accomplishments by state lawmakers on the floors of the Assembly and Senate in Sacramento on Monday, Feb. 1.

“These fine students are indicative of our Learn by Doing philosophy and reflect what their peers are also accomplishing at Cal Poly,” said university President Jeffrey D. Armstrong, who accompanied the students to both legislative chambers. “We want to honor these students for their success in the classroom and for their extracurricular activities that have been honored regionally and nationally."

The group was introduced to the Senate by Majority Leader Bill Monning, D-Carmel, and to the Assembly by Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, R-San Luis Obispo. Both men represent San Luis Obispo County. Achadjian is a Cal Poly graduate.  In addition, the students met with the Office of the Governor Jerry Brown, Office of the Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and representatives from their respective Senate and Assembly districts.

As an individual or team member, each of the honorees has received a national industry award or been significantly involved in such high-profile events as the Tournament of Roses Parade, with its TV audience of 100 million, and the team that raised $600,000 for a net zero solar home that was judged third best in the nation.

The Cal Poly Engineering honorees:

Kevin Carstens is pursuing master’s degrees in civil and environmental engineering,with a concentration in transportation engineering, in the College of Engineering, and business administration in the Orfalea College of Business. His hometown is Rocklin, Calif. He was president of Cal Poly ITE, a student chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers that was named the institute’s 2015 international chapter of the year. Carstens was also part of the foursome that won the title and $2,000 in the ITE Collegiate Traffic Bowl Grand Championships, which was open to teams from throughout Canada and the U.S. In internships with Reinard Brandley Airport Consulting,San Luis Obispo County’s Public Works Department, and Fehr & Peers, his duties ranged from drafting and editing, to guiding lost tourists through the remote Carrizo Plain. Carstens also develops transit analysis apps for Bishop Peak Technology, and assists Cal Poly professors with their research. His career goal is to work for a transportation engineering firm.

Joyce Lin is majoring in civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering. Her hometown is Kirkland, Wash. She was a member of Cal Poly’s Concrete Canoe team that won the Innovation Award and earned second place overall with their 2015 entry, Jumanji, at the National Concrete Canoe Competition, held in Clemson, S.C., last June. It was the 10th consecutive year that Cal Poly placed in the top five at the annual competition referred to as the “America’s Cup of Civil Engineering.” Students gain hands-on, practical experience in project management and working with concrete mix designs in the competition. This was Cal Poly’s 16th trip to the nationals, including back-to-back national titles from 2010 to 2012. Lin is project manager for the 2015-16 team, oversing fundraising, finances, scheduling and material procurement. She also organizes Open Shed Fridays and Casting Days to increase student interest on campus.

Morgan Montalvo is a mechanical engineering major in the College of Engineering. Her hometown is Woodland Hills, Calif. She was Cal Poly Rose Float construction chair for the award-winning 2016 float, “Sweet Shenanigans.” Montalvo, who drove the 55-foot vehicle, had an unusual perspective of the parade with its 700,000 spectators and a TV audience estimated at 100 million. For the fifth consecutive year, the float earned the California Grown designation from the California Cut Flower Commission, which recognizes an entry decorated with at least 85 percent of cut flowers and plant materials from the Golden State. “I think it is important to us to be California Grown, because we are a California float at heart,” she said. “Cal Poly universities, especially in this parade, help to represent the state.” This was the second straight year the entry received the Lathrop K. Leishman Trophy for the most beautiful non-commercial entry. Working on the float team seemed a natural evolution for Montalvo, who has been designing and building robots since the sixth grade. She received a four-year, $70,000 family scholarship — her mother is an engineer — from the SME Education Foundation. “She was a force to be reckoned with from day one,” one teacher wrote in recommending her for the scholarship. “In a class that was filled with mostly boys, Morgan was never intimidated by the boys.”

Ryan Smith is a graduate student studying structural engineering in the College of Engineering. He earned a bachelor’s in civil engineering from Cal Poly in 2015. His hometown is Carlsbad, Calif. He was president of the Cal Poly Society of Civil Engineers when it received the 2015 American Society of Civil Engineers’ Robert Ridgway Award, which recognizes the most outstanding chapter of 323 student groups in 16 countries. Cal Poly’s group was selected after a rigorous review based on an annual report prepared by student officers. “This distinction is the civil engineering equivalent of the Academy Award,” said college Dean Debra Larson. “It only goes to the best of the best, and it reflects our Cal Poly chapter’s extraordinary efforts, achievements and leadership.” Among the chapter's competitive teams, the Cal Poly Steel Bridge team placed second in the National Student Steel Bridge Competition, and the chapter’s concrete canoe team finished second in the Concrete Canoe National Competition. “These achievements go to the roots of Learn by Doing,” said Smith, who served 14 months as president. “We have such a large group — and long history — of devoted student members who invest their time, interest and energies on extracurricular activities like SCE.” He has also served as SCE chapter treasurer and social director.

For a complete listing of honorees, visit

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Pictured, left to right, Kevin Carstens, Joyce Lin, Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong, Morgan Montalvo and Ryan Smith. 

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