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Mar 17, 2018
Five engineering majors were among 19 Cal Poly students recognized for individual or team accomplishments by state lawmakers on the floors of the state Assembly and Senate in Sacramento on Monday, Feb. 12.
“I was proud to accompany these fine young men and women who are among our best and brightest students,” said university President Jeffrey D. Armstrong. “These campus leaders, representing each of the university’s respective colleges, were able to share with state representatives the value of a Learn by Doing education. In just a matter of months, several will make the transition from campus to careers, where the skills they developed as students will make them future industry leaders.”
The group was introduced to the Senate by Majority Leader Bill Monning, D-Carmel, and to the Assembly by Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, R-San Luis Obispo. Both men represent San Luis Obispo County.
Honorees represented outstanding work accomplished by their respective teams or their own individual achievements — ranging from the Cal Poly Concrete Canoe Team national championship to Cal Poly’s award-winning entry in the Tournament of Roses Parad
Among the Cal Poly Engineering student representatives on the tour:
Ian Buchanan (San Diego) led Cal Poly’s Concrete Canoe Team to a win at the “America’s Cup of Civil Engineering” — the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 30th annual National Concrete Canoe Competition held last June in Golden, Colo. Seeing his team’s entry “Meraki” — Greek for pouring one’s heart and soul into a project —“translated into a major win that was especially uplifting,” said the 23-year-old civil engineering student will receive his master’s degree in June. It’s tricky business crafting a canoe from scratch, its hull thickness smaller than the width of a dime, and a sleek design that can both float and quickly slice through water, but the team has a legacy. The 2017 competition was the team’s fourth national title since Cal Poly first advanced to the finals in 1998. As project manager, Buchanan oversaw the team’s fundraising, finances, scheduling and material procurement for the yearlong project. He also made oral presentations to judges at the regional qualifier and national competition. He ultimately hopes to become a principal partner in a structural engineering firm. Buchanan said it is an honor to represent Cal Poly and the team.
Ali Harake’s handiwork over the past four years has been seen in person by more than a million people — and, by some estimates, hundreds of millions of people throughout the world (on TV). The mechanical engineering major, from Moreno Valley, Calif., graduates and starts a full-time job in June. As president of the 2017-18 Cal Poly Rose Float team, he upheld a uniquely collaborative tradition: Working in tandem with counterparts at Pomona’s California State Polytechnic University, the two campuses produce a succession of innovative, stunningly beautiful floral creations that drive down Colorado Boulevard each New Year’s Day during the classic Pasadena parade. Cal Poly universities’ milestone 70th float, “Dreams Take Flight,” received the Past Presidents Trophy this year for the most outstanding innovation in the use of floral and non-floral materials. The award was icing on the cake for Harake who celebrated his 23rd birthday on the day of the parade. The scale and scope of the entries has burnished both universities’ reputations for creativity and ingenuity among professional float builders. Harake valued meeting lawmakers. “It means a great deal to me to have the honor to represent my college as well as my team for our great achievements,” he said. “Our hard work and dedication has definitely paid off, and we are fortunate to have the opportunity to attend such an amazing university that allows us these kinds of opportunities.”
Civil engineering major Laney Nelson (Chico, Calif.), president of Cal Poly Rainworks, was on the team that won the WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff Student Design Competition, a key student event held during the annual World Environmental and Water Resources Congress held last May by the Environmental and Water Resources Institute, a technical institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers. The competition challenges undergraduate students to solve real-life infrastructure problems with “practical yet innovative” solutions. Nelson, who is also pursuing her master’s degree in a blended undergraduate-graduate degree program, was one of the leaders of the site design team for the club’s Creekside Revival project — a stormwater management plan that uses green infrastructure and Low Impact Development (LID) techniques to manage and treat stormwater from an on-campus site. LID design uses or mimics natural processes “that result in the infiltration, evapotranspiration or use of stormwater” to protect water quality and aquatic habitat, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The competition was a step along the pathway to her dream job as a water resources engineer. “I would like to work on the most important water projects in the state to help secure a sustainable water supply for all Californians,” said the 22-year-old who will graduate in June.
Electrical engineering senior Melinda Ong (El Dorado Hills, Calif.) is a member of the Cal Poly collegiate section of the Society of Women Engineers that received the Mission Gold Award — the highest possible collegiate recognition — at the national organization’s annual convention, held last October in Austin, Texas. The award recognizes student chapters that best embody the organization’s core values and demonstrate improvement and growth as they work to further SWE’s goals. Ong, who is serving as the group’s president, plans to graduate in June, with a goal of becoming a program director and technical expert in electronic systems. The group also received the Boeing Multicultural Award for “best multicultural program to increase and maintain a diverse membership” and picked up two Best Practices awards for leadership development and public policy. In addition, it placed second and third, respectively, in the technical poster and Team Tech competitions. “Cal Poly Engineering and Cal Poly SWE provide a thriving environment for preparing women to be all they can be in their present and future lives and endeavors,” she said. Ong said representing her peers to state lawmakers in Sacramento “was an incredible honor” —and opportunity to share her insights. “The state and federal lawmakers set and assign significant standards to many aspects of the technology field for sustainability, safety and quality, she said. “I am very interested in learning how the importance of our national security is affecting the advancements in technology.”
Colleen Richards (Centennial, Colo.), a biomedical engineering junior, is the president of Cal Poly’s Panhellenic Executive Board of Directors. The campus Panhellenic Association, which oversees the 11 campus chapters and their approximately 2,500 sorority members, received the “Best in the West” Sutherland Award from the Association of Fraternal Leadership and Values, an organization that provides experiences that challenge and encourage fraternity/sorority members to live ethical values and implement best practices. The award recognized the organization for academic achievement, council management, leadership and educational development, membership recruitment, public relations, risk reduction management, self-governance and judicial affairs in its division. “This recognition validates the efforts of Cal Poly’s Greek organizations,” said Keith Humphrey, vice president for Student Affairs. “Their leadership has positively impacted both our campus and the San Luis Obispo community.” Richards, who is seeking a career in research and development, served as Alpha Phi’s vice president of programming and education on the sorority’s executive board. “”I’m excited to give back to my university,” she said. “I’ve always felt so much support from Cal Poly, Panhellenic, the engineering department, and all of the students and staff I’ve interacted with here.”
Civil engineering major Vanessa See (San Francisco) was a member of Cal Poly’s Institute of Transportation Engineers club that for the third time in four years was ITE’s International Chapter of the Year among more than 140 student chapters. The group was honored for the outstanding activities and achievements reflected in its annual report at the organization’s annual conference, held last summer in Toronto. The club also won the ITE Collegiate Traffic Bowl Grand Championship, a Jeopardy!-style competition and became the only student chapter to win the grand championship twice. See, who is this year’s chapter president, plans a career as a transportation engineer after graduting in June 2019. “Transportation is experienced by everyone,” the 20-year old said, “whether it’s noticing a new signal timing feature that makes crossing the street safer, complaining about a late bus or train, or advocating for safer ways to bike, walk or take transit. To me, it's all about the direct impact on the people that makes learning about and working in transportation so rewarding.” Meeting state lawmakers give her more insight into the decision-making process, and underscored the fact that, ultimately, “transportation is as much engineering as it is politics.”
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Mar 12, 2018
Civil engineering Professor Robb
Moss, who was selected as a Fulbright
specialist, will work with universities in Chile over the next three years developing engineering curriculum and faculty education. He specializes in geotechnical, earthquake and risk engineering.
The Fulbright Specialist Program sends U.S. faculty and professionals to serve as expert consultants on curriculum, faculty development, institutional planning and related subjects at academic institutions abroad. Moss’ proposal identified three main areas of engineering education:
Moss will work with faculty and staff at Chilean universities to develop curriculum and programs that address the three areas. Over winter break, he worked with faculty at Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez in Santiago for two weeks. La Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile will be Moss’ next stop and lessons will continue for as long as the universities need. His appointment will run through 2020. Moss will address the difficulty of teaching engineering ethics. His curriculum will use Cal Poly’s capstone classes as models for effective engineering training. These courses give young professionals an ethical basis so that when faced with dilemmas they can respond accordingly. The program also stresses the importance of understanding the social implications of engineering.
“My goal for this program is to bring lessons learned from the Cal Poly capstone classes to other universities so students are able to Learn by Doing,” said Moss.
As part of the Fulbright award, Moss is required to bring learned experiences in Chile back to Cal Poly. He is hoping to establish faculty and student exchanges in the next few years.
“As a college, we want to prepare engineers for a global workforce. Knowing how engineering works in other countries is good because a lot of our students will go to work for different organizations, ” said Moss
The Land Conservancy acquired the Pismo Preserve in September 2014 with the goal of creating a space for hiking, biking and equestrian use. It envisioned a project that provides safe access to different users while being sensitive to the surrounding communities. The Pismo Preserve is the first project of this magnitude to be developed by the Land Conservancy. The site will have restrooms, picnic facilities and a wheelchair-accessible trail.
While doing initial environmental studies on the site, it was discovered that the project location contained sensitive cultural resources belonging to the yak tityu tityu yak tilhini (ytt), Northern Chumash tribe. The Land Conservancy worked with ytt leaders on a plan that reduces impacts to sensitive resources. To mitigate impact on the site, the project size was reduced and minimal excavation was done. These measures ensure sensitive resources are protected while still providing safe public access.
The presence of sensitive resources limits the amount of remedial grading that can be done in the area. To create a level parking area, about 12 feet of soil will be used to fill the sloped project area and will then be supported by a retaining wall.
King and Derbidge are donating their geotechnical engineering and soil testing services. Derbidge and student assistant Jack Christy conducted a soil-testing program to measure the compressibility and strength characteristics of the onsite soil.
King was responsible for taking data generated by Derbidge to assess soil settlement in the final retaining wall design.
The Land Conservancy hopes that by providing this space the general quality of life will improve for residents and visitors alike. The Pismo Preserve is expected to open in late 2018.
Mar 8, 2018
In honor of International Women's Day, we're celebrating some of the countless trailblazing women in engineering.
Feb 27, 2018
Environmental Engineering commemorated its 50th anniversary with a May 4-6 celebration and renamed the Air Pollution Control Lab for Professor Emeritus Hal Cota, one of the founders of the program.
Cota was hired in 1966 and taught advanced courses in what was then the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Department. Cota helped spearhead the addition of the air pollution control concentration in the department, which would later become an important part of the curricula for the environmental engineering program.
With his help, former AC&R Department Chair Jim McGrath and then-university President Robert Kennedy in 1968 established the Environmental Engineering Department.
Cota believed that a curriculum that combined chemical and environmental engineering was best for providing students the training needed to tackle the nation’s environmental issues.
Fifty years ago, there were no undergraduate environmental engineering programs in the country, making Cal Poly’s one of the first of its kind. The first environmental engineering class of 14 students graduated in 1968. Between 1968 and 1982, environmental engineering was its own department until civil engineering was added.
His contributions have made a lasting impression on generations of students over the years. In the past 50 years, more than 1,500 students have graduated thanks to Cota’s efforts. College of Engineering officials say renaming the department lab will keep his contributions alive for generations of students to come.
“He had such a big impact on my life because he created this program in a way that fits me personally. He created something unique – a combination of environmental and chemical engineering,” said Yarrow Nelson, a Cal Poly environmental engineering professor.
Feb 25, 2018
Katrina Watkins, who graduated in 2013 with a degree in civil engineering, attributes her successful career to her Cal Poly education, involvement on campus and on-site construction experience.
While a student, she was involved as a WOW (Week of Welcome) leader, executive board leader for the Society of Women Engineers local chapter, a member of the Concrete Canoe Team and sat on the executive board for Chi Epsilon, the Civil Engineering Honor Society.
Watkins spent three years as a staff engineer at Langan, an engineering and environmental consulting firm in San Francisco, while training to become a licensed professional engineer.
At Langan, she worked on construction sites to make certain contractors installed items correctly and soil was being treated properly. She took a year off to pursue a master’s degree in civil engineering at UC Berkeley and graduated in July 2018. She is now a senior staff engineer and PE in Langan’s geotechnical department.
“Getting to work in civil engineering is so rewarding because you get to see the fruits of your labor on the skyline in the cities that you work in. I love problem-solving, and getting to do this on a day-to-day basis is very rewarding,” said Watkins. Langan is a sponsor of the CEENVE department and offers various internship and entry level positions for students. Openings can be viewed on the department’s Job & Scholarship listing page.
To learn more about Langan, visit www.Langan.com, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Twitter.
Feb 12, 2018
Over winter break, the Cal Poly Engineers Without Borders (EWB) team visited the small Nicaraguan village of La Rinconada to begin plans for a water purification and distribution system for the 300 residents.
Most of the residents rely on natural spring water that flows through a pipe that is subject to cracking because of its shallow burial. In addition, the pipeline doesn’t reach all 87 homes. Some homes have wells. The water is often polluted by livestock manure, however. Illnesses have been attributed to the lack of clean water in the community.
Cal Poly EWB has been working with local community leaders and a non-governmental organization since October 2017. More than 30 Cal Poly students have been working together to design the water process system. The final design will take about six months to complete and will be approved by a professional engineer.
The water distribution and purification system will provide clean water for all 87 homes and will completely cut off the old water source. The students plan to drill the well in spring 2018 and hope to be done with the entire pipeline distribution system by summer 2019.
Jan 6, 2018
Department Chair, Dr. Charles Chadwell, has officially initiated the new Industrial Partnership Program for the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. We thank Ken Lindberg, Vice President and co-founder of Power Engineering Construction Co. for being one of our first donors through the program.
Ken Lindberg graduated from Cal Poly in 1979, when there were not as many concentrations offered in civil engineering as there are today. Ken’s focus in structural engineering at Cal Poly led him to a career in construction engineering. He always appreciated the down-to-earth attitude and “learn by doing” mentality at Cal Poly. He continues to support and grow the education of the civil and environmental engineering students here by participating on the Industrial Advisory Board. With his generous donation, he hopes to provide more opportunities for student projects that will further enhance their education. He also hopes to spark the interest of civil engineering students to consider a career in construction engineering.
Power Engineering Construction Co. specializes in marine, heavy civil, and design-build projects. Founded in 1986, the firm pursues excellence in civil engineering by focusing on the technical aspects of their designs. Power Engineering Construction Co. has grown to roughly 80 employees and regularly recruits Cal Poly Students as part of their team. They have worked on many projects in Northern California, including the expansion of the San Francisco Ferry Terminal and construction of water treatment plants in Redwood City and Palo Alto.
If you would like to learn more about Power Engineering Construction Co., please visit their website at: https://www.powerengconstruction.com/
Dec 8, 2017
Cannon’s partnership with the College of Engineering’s Hydraulics Laboratory stems from a commitment to excellence in water resource infrastructure development and a long-standing partnership between Cannon and Cal Poly.
Cal Poly’s Water Resources Laboratory, or also referred to as the Hydraulics Laboratory, is an educational and hands-on resource for the College of Engineering’s undergraduate and graduate students. As a requirement for all Civil and Environmental Engineering majors, this laboratory provides students with the opportunity to “Learn by Doing” where students are able to learn about principles and applications of flow measurement in pipes and open channels, rainfall runoff, and discharge through a weir. Recently, the Hydraulics Lab was awarded a three-year sponsorship totaling $15,000 to fund student research projects and purchase new equipment. This generous donation was provided by local engineering firm, Cannon.
Cannon’s partnership with the College of Engineering’s Hydraulics Laboratory stems from a commitment to excellence in water resource infrastructure development and a long-standing partnership between Cannon and Cal Poly. This funding partnership allows Cannon to stay at the forefront of water resources in the areas of desalination, low impact development, and improved efficiencies for water treatment. Beyond achieving financial benefits from this partnership, students and Cal Poly receive additional benefits.
Students have the opportunity to meet regularly with engineers from Cannon who are in-the-field designing and implementing the very types of projects that are being studied within the laboratory setting. Having this resource provides students with an opportunity to investigate ideas, concepts, or theories with experienced engineers.
Oct 23, 2017
"The Robert Ridgway Award is presented annually to the single most outstanding Student Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Each year we submit an annual report that includes information and pictures about our goals, social events, community service events, project teams, mentorship program, general meetings, career fair, conferences, and everything else our chapter is involved with. It is a huge honor to be awarded this and we are proud to say this is our 7th time receiving the award. We have been a finalist 11 additional times."
-Cate Kraska, SCE President
Eight Cal Poly SCE Members and one advisor were able to attend the ASCE National Convention in New Orleans because they won the Robert Ridgeway Award.