Jun 21, 2017
Cal Poly’s concrete canoe team — and a canoe named Meraki —took first place at the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) National Concrete Canoe Competition, held June 17-19 at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colo.
"Meraki translates from Greek into pouring one’s heart and soul into a project,” said Ian Buchanan (San Diego), team project manager. And seeing it translated into a major win was especially uplifting.
“It’s surreal,” said construction captain Dillan Quigley (Orcutt, Calif.). “It hasn’t really hit us yet. We’re walking on a cloud right now.”
Other construction captains included Carson Burand (Pueblo, Colo.), Brandon Friedman (Northridge, Calif.), Hailey Bond (Mesa, Calif.) and Jacky Loh (Arcadia, Calif.). Mix captains were Jacky Mata (Oxnard, Calif.), Michael McMahon (Chico, Calif.), Amy Xu (Bakersfield, Calif.), Ashley Cruz (Elk Grove, Calif.) and Kyle Aube (Huntington Beach, Calif). Other team members included Scott Kaufman (Lander, Wyo.) and Grace Melgard (Boise, Idaho).
Cal Poly is no stranger to the concrete canoe winner’s circle. This marks the school’s 11th top-five finish at nationals in the last 12 years, including a three-year run of championships from 2010 to 2012.
“Each Cal Poly concrete canoe team benefits from that long-running legacy,” said Buchanan. “You have a strong base of past captains to help you with every part of the project.”
This year’s event commemorated the 30th anniversary of the National Concrete Canoe Competition, founded by the late R. John Craig, a professor at New Jersey Institute of Technology whose passion for both teaching and canoeing led him to organize the first national concrete canoe event in 1988.
San Diego State University will host the 2018 national competition.
Read more here
Jun 5, 2017
Cal Poly College of Engineering announced its 2017 Outstanding Students at the Engineering Project Expo on June 2. The students included the top senior for academic excellence; three graduating seniors honored for service to the college, university and community; and the outstanding volunteer of the year.
Environmental engineering senior Kimberly Pugel from Grass Valley, Calif., was recognized as the college’s top graduating senior for academic excellence. With a 3.91 grade point average, Pugel made the Dean’s List every quarter except winter 2017, when she had fewer units, and she made President’s List, which recognizes undergraduates who have been on the Dean's List at least three quarters of the academic year, three times since she entered Cal Poly in 2013. While a student, Pugel interned at Arcadis coordinating remediation field activities and served as a project lead for the Global Waste Research Institute winning third place at 2015 Algae Biomass Summit in Washington, D.C., for her research. Active with Engineers Without Borders – Cal Poly, Pugel was chapter vice president and technical project leader for the Thailand team. As chapter vice president for the Real Food Collaborative, Pugel helped bring local organic food to campus. She worked as a primary research assistant on projects sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy.
She graduated with her bachelor’s degree in March. Pugel is seeking a master’s degree in civil systems engineering and a certificate in engineering for developing countries at the University of Colorado, Boulder
Melisa Esquivias, an industrial engineering major from San Bruno, Calif., was named Outstanding Senior for Contributions to the college. She was on President’s List from 2013 to 2014 and earned Dean’s List honors for eight quarters. Esquivias served as an officer for the Radio Frequency Identification Club working to increase club membership and awareness. As vice president of operations, she managed multiple club projects. In organizing an RFID/Internet of Things Conference, Esquivias provided learning opportunities for students and the local community. She also serves as an Engineering Ambassador, and for two years, volunteered as leader of the Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering Open House Marketing Team. As a member of the Latina Interest Sorority, Esquivias conducted research and fundraising projects to provide services to the Latinx community. As student coordinator for the Peer Resources in Student Mentoring, she designed and led mentoring programs to facilitate transition of queer students into the Cal Poly campus.
The Outstanding Student for Contributions to the University is Charly Flores, an electrical engineering senior from San Pedro, Calif. Known for his leadership in the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Flores is passionate about opening paths to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics for underrepresented students. As the society’s vice president of community affairs, Flores planned more than 20 outreach activities, including installing solar panels for low-income families and volunteering at local schools. He currently serves as SHPE president. A parent whose son received a tour of the college from Flores said, “Charly speaking to my son about his experiences as a transfer student truly inspired my son.” Flores has interned as a product support engineer at Rantec Power Systems and at Pacific Gas and Electric. He received a Multicultural Engineering Program Chevron Scholarship because of his leadership and outstanding academic performance.
Materials engineering senior Erika Hansen from San Luis Obispo, Calif., was named the Outstanding Student for Service to the Community for her commitment to help others and make the world a better place. She worked with EPIC, Cal Poly’s engineering summer camp, and was involved with outreach activities for the Materials Engineering Department. As outreach officer for the Alpha Sigma Mu Materials Honor Society, Hansen has organized outreach efforts, such as the MATE lab for the campus chapter of the Society of Women Engineers Building an Engineer Day, and visits to an after-school program at Fairgrove Elementary in Grover Beach, Calif. Hansen served in several leadership positions with Engineers Without Borders – Cal Poly, including project lead for a water distribution system for the Nicaragua team. Hansen also volunteers locally, and has served as a WOW orientation leader. An internship with the TenCate Advanced Composites company helped her expand her knowledge and skills with the manufacturing and testing of composites.
The 2017 Outstanding Student Volunteer of the Year is Dina Alarian, an electrical engineering senior from Folsom, Calif. As president of the Engineering Ambassadors, Alarian has made numerous improvements that benefit the college and this hardworking group of volunteers, who serve at college events. In addition to organizing and leading Ambassador and group officer meetings, she revamped the bylaws, and reworked and edited tour routes and training materials to better reflect the college on tours. She has revamped how to track Ambassadors' duties and reworked its budget to include more social events, and she began a fundraising campaign with industry contacts to provide new opportunities for group. Alarian serves on the search committee for a new College of Engineering dean.
The top undergraduate and graduate students for academic excellence by department included the following:
Outstanding Bachelor's Degree Graduates
Charles Aaron Ward Aerospace Engineering
Derek Denardo Aerospace Engineering
Samantha L Smith Biomedical Engineering
Corina Mary Espelien Biomedical Engineering
Steven Ellis Ambers Civil Engineering
Chase Redd Hemming Civil Engineering
Justina Tran Civil Engineering
Matthew T Lindly Computer Engineering
Matthew A Coats Computer Engineering
Cody Daniel Rhoads Computer Science
Andrew Trong Khuong Tran Computer Science
William Cary Tran Electrical Engineering
Dylan James Kirkby Electrical Engineering
Kimberly Ellen Pugel Environmental Engineering
Lauren Ingrid Miller Environmental Engineering
Kendyl Jaclyn Cohn General Engineering
Anna Colleen Laird General Engineering
Jesse Elliot Yap Industrial Engineering
Fiona Catherine Blackburn Industrial Engineering
Jared Marshall Olson Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies
Eric Colin Hill Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies
John Francis Brown Manufacturing Engineering
Joseph A Hanacek Manufacturing Engineering
Kenneth Blain Ainslie Materials Engineering
Cory Jacob Hughes Materials Engineering
Alexander Rodney Nichols Mechanical Engineering
Christopher Michael Gonzales Mechanical Engineering
Myra Cherise Lukens Software Engineering
Brittany Ashley Berlanga Software Engineering
Outstanding Master's Degree Graduates
Reed Danis Aerospace Engineering
Matthew Richardson Aerospace Engineering
Steven Maclean Aerospace Engineering
Daniel Fugett Aerospace Engineering
Tiffany Shen Biomedical Engineering
John Gerrity Biomedical Engineering
Jennavive Lillie Biomedical Engineering
Kristina Bishard Biomedical Engineering
Nupur Garg Computer Science
Katherine Davis Computer Science
Ivan Pachev Computer Science
Christopher Hunt Computer Science
Sean Bayley Computer Science
Christian Skylar Durst Computer Science
Brandon Livitski Computer Science
David Ritter Electrical Engineering
Travis Taylor Electrical Engineering
Zhaoci Hu Engineering Management
Spencer Martinez Engineering Management
Alisha Bender Engineering w/Integrated Technology Management
Austin Lynch Engineering w/Integrated Technology Management
Jonathon Chiu Engineering w/Integrated Technology Management
Joakim Larsen Fire Protection Engineering
Colin White Fire Protection Engineering
David Otsu Industrial Engineering
Nandan Thor Industrial Engineering
Joshua Ledgerwood Industrial Engineering
Victor Espinosa III Mechanical Engineering
Ryan Baskett Mechanical Engineering
Nick Bonafede Mechanical Engineering
Samuel Artho-Bentz Mechanical Engineering
Michael Schier Mechanical Engineering
Connor Sullivan Mechanical Engineering
Kevin Carney Mechanical Engineering
Ruben Diaz Mechanical Engineering
May 18, 2017
Four of the seven startup companies were created or co-created by engineering students
Cal Poly’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) has accepted seven startup companies into this year’s SLO HotHouse Summer Accelerator program.
The companies’ creators or co-creators represent a variety of engineering disciplines including biomedical engineering, civil engineering, computer engineering, materials engineering and software engineering.
The intense 13-week program is designed for students and recent graduates who have developed new ventures and want help making them succeed.
The program provides $10,000 in seed money, hands-on strategic business guidance from faculty and mentors, and dedicated office space during the summer at the SLO HotHouse. Companies receive training, introductions to investors and resources to help move their ventures forward. At the culmination of the program, they will have an opportunity to pitch their ideas to investors during Demo Day.
The ventures represent a variety of concepts, including health foods, innovative footwear, sustainable building materials and smart solutions for San Luis Obispo house renters.
“Our accelerators are tackling the startup world head on,” said Lori Jordan, director of student innovation programs, who oversees the program. “We are giving them the tools they need to grow their company, and we are excited to see where their venture takes them and how they make an impact locally, nationally and throughout the world.”
Applicants representing disciplines from across campus competed for a place in the seventh annual accelerator program. Thirteen finalists presented their ideas to a panel of judges who chose the final seven companies.
“This program encourages risk takers, innovators and dreamers to pursue their passion,” said the CIE Executive Director Tod Nelson. “The accelerators are encouraged to think without limits. Through creativity, guidance, ambition and grit, these startups will grow to become pillars of the economy and supporters of our community.”
This year’s accelerator companies are:
- Atsá Foods LLC is an innovative food company that is turning Native American superfoods into everyday nutritious snacks and returning value to the Navajo Nation Reservation. It was conceived by Rafael Pintor, agricultural business; Peter Haverkamp, food science; Neal Gorris, industrial technology and packaging; and Sam Baber, art and design. https://www.atsafoods.com/
- Bluezone uses augmented reality, gamification and big data to inspire discovery and connection between users. It was developed by Brett Foreman and Jimmy Kang, business administration.
- DTE Materials manufactures hemp-based, high-performance, non-toxic and sustainable building insulation material. Created by Tanner Jolly, materials engineering, and Jose Urizar, civil engineering.
- LocalzOwn is building a platform that its founders say is the smartest and easiest way to source and sell local artisan food products. It was started by Joseph Lyman, biomedical engineering; Michael Fekadu, computer engineering; and Leonel S. Farias, agricultural education.
- Pashion Footwear has designed an adaptable shoe that can easily convert from a pump into a flat that is an innovative and pain-free approach to women’s footwear. It was designed by Haley Pavone, business administration, and Tyler Unbehand, industrial technology and packaging. https://pashionfootwear.com/
- PolyRents has created technology that simplifies the housing rental process for landlords and their prospective tenants. It was created by Cameron Wiese, psychology, and Alexander Kavanaugh, software engineering. http://www.polyrents.com/
Yellow Glass Media creates and curates socially relevant and unbiased media content to inspire viewers to listen, learn and empathize. It was conceived by Nesrine Majzoub, sociology, and Daniel Hornett, civil engineering. http://www.yellowglassmedia.com/
About the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
The CIE opens a world of entrepreneurial opportunity to Cal Poly students, faculty and community members, and promotes entrepreneurial activity and dialogue across the university and throughout San Luis Obispo County. For more information, go tohttp://cie.calpoly.edu/.
About the SLO HotHouse
The SLO HotHouse is a community space created through the efforts of Cal Poly, the city and county of San Luis Obispo, the business community and the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The goal of the SLO HotHouse is to support students and community members as they work to create new innovations and start business ventures. For more information, visit http://cie.calpoly.edu/slo-hothouse.
May 2, 2017
A team of seven Cal Poly environmental engineering students won the Intel Environmental Innovation Award and $2,500 at the International Environmental Design Contest for their use of ion-exchange resins to filter metals out of storm water.
The competition, held April 5-7 in Las Cruces, N.M., was hosted by New Mexico State University and WERC, a consortium for environmental education and technology development.
“What helped us win was the practicality and usefulness of our design,” said junior Andrew Ledezma, team lead. “The client — the U.S. Navy — can simply attach our downspout extension to existing downspouts to prevent copper from exiting the base. “There being no modifications to the existing building; the safety and ease of implementation and maintenance; and cost effectiveness won us the prize.”
Other team members included seniors Hayley Aarsvold, Joelle Arakaki, Enrique Molina, and Gavi Orman; and freshmen Emely Coreas and Joey Velasquez.
Two other Cal Poly teams tackled challenges involving passive solar distillation of acid rock drainage waters and construction of remotely operated weather stations that measure renewable energy potential. Faculty advisor for the teams was Environmental Engineering Professor Tracy Thatcher. Seniors Andrew Kaneda and Nicholas Hardy served as student advisors.
A significant portion of the competition teams’ expenses were funded by the Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center (NAVFAC EXWC) as a result of Hardy’s two summer internships there. The connections made by Hardy helped lead the way to a partnership between NAVFAC and the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department that is providing environmental engineering students with ongoing opportunities to work on U.S. Navy engineering projects with professional engineers.
WERC’s International Environmental Design Contest is an annual event that brings industry, government and academia together in search of improved solutions to environmental challenges.
For more information, visit https://iee.nmsu.edu/.
Apr 11, 2017
Garrett Rutherford (on far left), a civil engineering student, is on Cal Poly’s A Team, which will be competing at the American Mock Trial Association National Championship Tournament in Los Angeles on April 21-23. This is the first time Cal Poly has earned a spot in the prestigious national tournament.
More than 600 teams competed in this year's AMTA competitions. Cal Poly’s A Team is now one of only 48 teams in the nation that will compete at the championship level — the final round of the AMTA's annual national tournament structure.
In addition to Rutherford (Girdwood, Alaska), other team members are political science students Deeksha Kohli (San Jose), Zackery Michaelson (Visalia) and Jesse Quiroz (Orange); business student Chloe Loomer (Los Gatos); and mathematics student Rod Rahimi (San Luis Obispo).
Under the direction of Justin Cooley, a lecturer in Cal Poly's Political Science Department, 32 students from across the university participated in Mock Trial during the 2016-17 season. The teams competed in five invitational tournaments and two scrimmages, including their first invitational outside of the state of California. Three teams competed in two regional tournaments; one at the Pomona/Claremont McKenna Colleges and one at Arizona State.
Every year, AMTA publishes a fictitious legal case, and teams from across the country argue the case in front of real judges. Universities field teams that compete during rounds that last about three hours, during which one college represents the prosecution and the other represents the defense.
- American Mock Trail Association (AMTA): www.collegemocktrial.org
Apr 5, 2017
Mark Pestrella (Civil Engineering, ’87) was officially sworn in March 6 by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to lead the largest municipal public works agency in the United States.
As director of the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works, Pestrella will also serve as the county engineer, road commissioner and chief engineer of the Los Angeles County Flood Control District. With an annual budget of more than $2.5 billion and a workforce of 4,000 employees, Los Angeles County Public Works provides vital public infrastructure and civic services to more than 10 million people across a 4,000-square-mile service area.
A native of Southern California, Pestrella attended Cal Poly, where he received a bachelor's degree in civil engineering with concentrations in structural engineering and water resource management. He is a California-licensed civil engineer and has taught post-graduate classes in civil engineering and land development entitlement at UCLA.
Over the last decade, Pestrella has been instrumental in department leadership development, the adoption of county, state and federal policies related to Clean Water Act compliance, integrated water resource management, ecosystem restoration and infrastructure sustainability.
Pestrella is also an active member of the American Public Works Association, American Society of Civil Engineers, American Water Works Association, Association of California Water Agencies, National Association of Flood and Stormwater Management Agencies (board member), Southern California Water Committee and Urban Water Institute (board member).
Apr 2, 2017
Cal Poly swept top honors at the annual Pacific Southwest Regional Conference (PSWC) held April 6-8 at UC Irvine in Irvine, Calif. The annual event was sponsored by the ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers).
Led by its Concrete Canoe, Steel Bridge and Environmental Competition teams, Cal Poly was a dominant force among 19 universities from Southern California, Southern Nevada, Hawaii and Arizona.
“This year, a change in rules precluded our painting the canoe or adding a new aggregate to the concrete,” said Ian Buchanan (San Diego), project manager of the Cal Poly Concrete Canoe team. “Our construction team created a beautiful canoe, nonetheless, by handcrafting the bulkheads and designs, while our mix design team create a concrete that’s less dense than water.”
In addition to Buchanan, a senior from San Diego, concrete canoe team members include mix design captains Jacky Mata(Oxnard, Calif.), Michael McMahon (Chico, Calif.), Amy Xu (Bakersfield, Calif.), Ashley Cruz (Elk Grove, Calif.) and Kyle Aube(Huntington Beach, Calif.), and construction captains Carson Burand (Pueblo, Colo.), Dillan Quigley (Orcutt, Calif.), Brandon Friedman (Porter Ranch, Calif.), Hailey Bond (Costa Mesa, Calif.) and Jacky Loh (Azusa, Calif.)
The Cal Poly team will compete in the Concrete Canoe National Competition, June 17-19, at Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colo.
Cal Poly’s Steel Bridge Team project manager, senior Hannah Lancaster (Orange, Calif.), attributes the team’s win to an “amazing” combination of teamwork, workspace and legacy.
“Fabricating a bridge like ours would not have been possible without a space of our own in the Mechanical Engineering shops,” said Lancaster. “How well the bridge performed is truly a testimony to our outstanding team. Add to that the experience of returning team members and the high standards set by previous teams — and how could we not be inspired to succeed?”
In addition to Lancaster, the Steel Bridge senior captains included Matthew Ramos (Carmichael, Calif.), design lead; Stephen Hager (San Diego), fabrication lead; Jessica Ramirez (Union City, Calif.), machining lead; John Stern (Vacaville, Calif.), construction lead; and Jonathan Diaz (San Bruno, Calif.), software lead.
The Steel Bridge team will compete at the ASCE National Student Steel Bridge Competition on May 26-27 at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore.
The Cal Poly Environmental Competition team prevailed in a competition that presented students with a hypothetical earthquake situation requiring their constructing a filter to treat contaminated water using only readily available household materials. PSWC team veterans Wyatt Andersen (Farmington, Utah), Kelly McGartland (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) and Mikel Sangroniz (Boise, Idaho) led team members Erik Mawn (Ship Bottom, N.J.), Sara Passantino (Westlake Village, Calif.), Sean Reece (San Luis Obispo, Calif.), and Sergio Vergara (Hayward, Calif.).
The American Society of Civil Engineers represents more than 150,000 members of the civil engineering profession in 177 countries. Founded in 1852, ASCE is the nation’s oldest engineering society.
ASCE stands at the forefront of a profession that plans, designs, constructs, and operates society’s economic and social engine — the built environment — while protecting and restoring the natural environment.
Feb 24, 2017
Twenty Cal Poly students, including six engineering majors, were recognized for their awards and other accomplishments by state lawmakers on the floors of the state Assembly and Senate in Sacramento on Monday, Feb. 13.
“I am so pleased to share with our state leaders the can-do Learn by Doing ethos that this group of dedicated and talented students exemplify,” said university President Jeffrey D. Armstrong, who accompanied the students to both legislative chambers. “These fine young men and women from all six of our colleges will be future leaders in their respective fields.”
The group was introduced in the Senate by Majority Leader Bill Monning, D-Carmel, and in the Assembly by Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, R-Templeton. Both men represent San Luis Obispo County. Ceremonies were held in each chamber Monday afternoon. In addition, the students met with the Office of Gov. Jerry Brown and with representatives from each student’s respective Senate and Assembly districts.
Most of the students call California home — from Solana Beach, in San Diego County, to Roseville, near Sacramento — including one from the Central Coast. Four others are from outside the Golden State — Alaska, Hawaii, New Jersey and Oregon.
Each has distinguished him- or herself as an individual or on a team that has received a national industry award or was involved in other high-profile events, including the Tournament of Roses Parade, with a worldwide TV audience of 100 million.
The group also greeted family, friends and alumni at a series of receptions in the East Bay and Sacramento area Sunday and Monday.
The Cal Poly Engineering honorees include:
Dorian Capps (Maplewood, N.J.), a mechanical engineering major, was part of Cal Poly’s top-scoring American entry that finished third overall at the Shell Eco-marathon Americas in Detroit. The 10th annual contest attracted more than 1,000 students and a record 124 teams from seven countries who competed in energy-efficient gasoline-fueled vehicles they designed and built themselves. He was also the president and powertrain lead of Cal Poly’s entry that achieved 1,215 miles per gallon — the top-scoring American entry and third highest overall in the Prototype class, which is for futuristic vehicles. Cal Poly was also recognized by event organizers for participating every year in the Americas competition and being the first-ever winner. Capps also has a passion for aerospace. He is particularly interested in high-performance rocket engines and designing earth-to-orbit launch vehicles that reduce launch costs enough to facilitate large-scale space colonization.
Elizabeth Coffey (Fremont, Calif.), a civil and environmental engineering graduate student, was a member of the Steel Bridge team that finished second at the annual American Society of Civil Engineers National Student Steel Bridge Competition. The contest brought together 48 student teams from across the world. Cal Poly’s strong showing marked the school’s sixth consecutive year of finishing in the event’s top 10 and second straight year as runner-up. Coffey served as the team’s machining lead in a competition designed as a real-world project that required structural design, fabrication, construction planning and execution, and load-testing expertise. It’s an extreme test of teamwork and project management that challenges students to produce a scale-model bridge that satisfies stringent requirements in the categories of stiffness, lightness, construction speed, display, efficiency and economy.
Salvador Cortes Soancatl (Livingston, Calif.) received the 2016 Cisco Scholar Award for Outstanding Achievement by the California State University Board of Trustees — one of the system’s highest distinctions given to a student who overcomes adversity. Soancatl was inspired to pursue electrical engineering after writing an essay on Nikola Tesla, whose experiences as a young immigrant in America resonated with the then-seventh-grader.
Rebecca Kandell (Ridgecrest, Calif.), a biomedical engineering senior, was part of the team that received the Gold Award, for outstanding overall programming from the Society of Women Engineers. In addition, Kandell, the SWE chapter president, received the Outstanding Collegiate Member Award for her contributions to the organization, the engineering community and the Cal Poly campus. She credits her Latina heritage, her family’s strong work ethic, and her mother — a first-generation electrical engineer and Cal Poly alumna — with inspiring her advocacy for women in engineering.
Nelson Lin (Escondido, Calif.), who is studying mechanical engineering, was part of the team that won the 2016 American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ Student Design Competition. The five-member team, which also received the $4,000 top prize, displayed a battery-powered, model-sized manufacturing system that fired paper projectiles through the air. The team competed against some 200 engineering students from colleges and universities from 11 countries.
Jennifer Tuttle (Anchorage, Alaska), a civil engineering major, led a 20-member student team whose bicycle-powered maize mill won the 2016 Premier Project Award from Engineers Without Borders USA. The Engineers Without Borders-Cal Poly Malawi team designed the mill for residents of Kumponda, Malawi, who face a limited growing season and other food-production challenges.
Cal Poly Engineering’s social media student assistant, Naba Ahmed, was also among the Sacramento honorees. A journalism major and news editor and reporter for the Mustang News, Ahmed was part of the award-winning Mustang News team that received the highest honor in college media at the Associated Collegiate Press/Media Association’s national convention, first place for Best Social Media Strategy, and more than 16 other college media awards.
For a complete listing of honorees, go here.
Jan 5, 2017
It was as a student at Cal Poly that Ben Nielsen (Civil Engineering, ’05) first discovered the joys of surfing, without knowing he was already getting his feet wet in his future career. Now living and working in Denver, Nielsen may be far from the ocean, but he’s making waves — that’s his job. As the project engineer for McLaughlin Whitewater Design Group (a division of Merrick & Co.), he designs and engineers river projects with recreational whitewater, including the Boise River Park “which was ground zero for river surfing projects in America,” he said.
“The recent explosion of river surfing has required a totally fresh approach to wave design,” said Nielsen, “and that’s where Learn by Doing kicks in: Surfing requires a much higher-performing wave, and our wave designs are an innovative application of fluid dynamics theory, with no manual or criteria to draw from.”
The projects are known not only for their innovative “pure wave” hydraulic jump engineering but also for design that complements the river environment.
“Our focus is urban river revitalization,” said Nielsen. “There’s been a huge push throughout the nation to re-engage these rivers and enhance them for people and the environment. Most of the features we design, such as the South Platte River Run project near Denver, are integrated into other infrastructure and perform multiple objectives such as diversions, river stabilization, fish passage and flood control.”
A presenter at many U.S. and international conferences on various topics related to river recreation design, Nielsen recently spoke on the future of river surfing wave design at the prestigious Forum Flusswellen in Germany.
Oct 12, 2016
Civil engineering major Diego Rivera was among 30 Cal Poly students honored at the third annual "Fresh Voices" Award Reception held Oct. 7 in the University Art Gallery.
Cal Poly's "Fresh Voices: Composition" is the 10th edition of the paperback textbook that features a collection of student essays and artwork.
"The essays in the collection are typical of the intellectual engagement encouraged in Cal Poly writing classes," said Brenda Helmbrecht, an instructor in the English Department and director of writing and editor of the compilation.
"These works, selected from hundreds of submissions, represent the effort, commitment and talent of students who complete first-year composition courses," said Helmbrecht. "As the Composition Program reflects, students learn a great deal about writing by reading and studying the work of their peers."