Recent News

Spring Senior Projects Zoom Forward

Apr 10, 2020

As COVID-19 spreads across the world, higher education students find themselves quarantined, some stuck in their hometowns while others still are limited to their college town residences. Cal Poly is among the numerous American universities switching to online learning.  

With the “Learn by Doing” ethos that Cal Poly offers, moving courses to this new form of “distance learning” can be difficult.  

CE/ENVE lecturer and senior design project coordinator Paul Valadao notes that, in light of recent events, guiding student online has its positive qualities. It makes the faculty more accessible to the students.  

“It is important to note from the onset the “Learn by Doing” experience is at its core, best harnessed in-person,” Valadao said. “There is no denying this. Although it is also worth recognizing that transferring the spring quarter and latter portion of CE Senior Design to an online distance-learning format has made the faculty more easily accessible to our students.” 

Similar to most departments at the university, CE/ENVE faculty are utilizing the conferencing platform Zoom Video Communications. Through Zoom, more of the focus lies in team-based project submittals, rather than individual exams.  Students are encouraged to take the opportunity to further develop project communication.  

“CE Senior Design students are most successful if they willingly and effectively work together,” Valadao said. “The refined skills derived from this student-team collaboration will be directly applied to our graduate's first job in industry, allowing them to be ready day one.” 

For Valadao, working with the seniors on their final projects is “one of the coveted highlights” of his job. He’s been involved with CE Senior Design for over a decade, and he still looks forward to it every year. 

“I truly cherish the opportunity each academic year and find it tremendously rewarding to take this journey with our graduating seniors in this valuable course,” Valado said. 

GeoWall Competes in Nationals

Mar 9, 2020

This year's GeoWall team competed in the 2020 GeoWall Nationals Competition, held at ASCE GeoCongress on February 26th, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Cal Poly's team comprised of Project Manager Claire Anovick, and team members Ian Kitamura, Eza Gaigalas, and Matthew North.

"Acting as the 2019-2020 GeoWall Project Manager has been incredibly humbling and rewarding experience. This year we’ve developed stronger relationships with advisors and sponsors, navigated a new budgeting system, and improved our construction processes. Most importantly, the team fosters a collaborative and energetic group dynamic that makes project managing a breeze. It has been an honor to lead the team and be a voice to younger members who are excited to learn about our process and the high quality of geotechnical engineering skills we bring to GeoWall." Anovick stated.

The team was tasked to design and build a model mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) retaining wall using paper reinforcement taped to a poster board wall facing. After spending Fall Quarter testing backfill and reinforcement properties, designing the retaining wall, and writing a final design report, Cal Poly was accepted to compete at Nationals.

Poly's GeoWall took home 10th place overall, and enjoyed attending the 2020 GeoCongress. Looking forawrd, Anovick detailed how the team prepares for its upcoming Regionals: "GeoWall has a lot of work ahead of itself before the Regional Pacific Southwest Conference (PSWC) in April! Our team will be spending the next few weeks improving wall design and construction methods after seeing the top-tier competition at Nationals...Regardless of the work ahead of us, we look forward to competing along the rest of Cal Poly SLO’s project teams and representing Cal Poly’s geotechnical engineering program at PSWC." 



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Professor Stefan Talke Receives Funding for Proposal

Professor Stefan Talke Gets Funding for Proposal

Jan 15, 2020

Professor Stefan Talke Receives Funding for ProposalProfessor Stefan Talke has received funding from the National Science Foundation to take part in three workshops on coastal resilience. The proposal is titled “CoPe RCN: Advancing Interdisciplinary Research to Build Resilient Communities and Infrastructure in the Nation’s Estuaries and Bays.” It aims to establish research networks to connect scientists, engineers, practitioners, and policy makers with hopes of improving climate change adaptation in estuaries and bays. 

Professor emeritus Sam Vigil served in the US Navy from 1966 to 1995.

Meet the Faculty: Sam Vigil

Jan 8, 2020

In 1965, Sam Vigil was a student at CSU Hayward (now called Cal State East Bay) studying physics. Vigil’s life took a turn that year when he received a letter from his local draft board on Christmas Eve. 

“So I’m going along, taking 13 to 14 units, and then in 1965, on Christmas Eve, believe it or not, I get a letter telling me that my deferment’s gone and I’m now what’s classified as 1A (available for military service),” Vigil said.  

Despite being a full-time student and originally having a valid student deferment, Vigil had been listed as eligible for the draft. From the experience of his friends, he said there was only about one month to take action in response to the letter before being drafted.   

Vigil initially decided to join the Navy the Aviation Reserve Officer Candidate (AVROC) program but ended up failing the depth perception test in the eyesight portion of the physical. The Navy then called him and asked that he try out for the larger branch called the Reserve Officer Candidate (ROC) program. After trying out for the ROC program – which this time didn’t require a test of strong depth perception – he passed the physical and waited for six months to hear back.  

Vigil officially joined the Navy in May 1966. When he started in his reserve unit, he took a test to become an electronic technician, since that was his “hobby at the time.”   Professor emeritus Sam Vigil served in the US Navy from 1966 to 1995.

“The [Reserve Center] calls me back the next day – again, this is pre-Internet days, so we had to make phone calls – and he said, ‘Well there are no openings [for electronic technicians],’” Vigil said. “He said, ‘There’s another rating that’s very similar called a communication technician.’ And I had no idea what that was, and it turned out to be highly classified, so he didn’t even know what it was. But they had a branch in that rating that worked on electronic equipment, so I said ‘well, I’ll take that.’” 

Vigil transferred to UC Berkeley in winter quarter of 1967, graduating in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. In October 1969, he entered active duty as an ensign. From communication technician to commander, Vigil served in the Navy Reserve and on active duty from 1966 to 1995.  

The military provided him with a range of opportunities, including the chance to live in Puerto Rico for three years as part of the Naval Security Group – the branch of the Navy responsible for signals intelligence gathering and cryptology. 

After earning his master’s degree in civil engineering, Vigil transferred to the Navy Civil Engineer Corps. He served another 20 years in the Navy Reserve with assignments in Navy Construction Battalion Two (also known as the Navy Seabees) and engineering projects in the U.S., Europe and the Philippines. He retired from the Navy Reserve in 1995 with the rank of commander.  

Education still played a crucial role in Vigil’s life alongside his involvement in the Navy and the Navy Reserve. After his release from active duty in 1973, he earned a master's degree in civil engineering from Texas A&M in 1974 and a doctorate in engineering from UC Davis in 1981. Vigil’s graduate education was funded by the G.I. Bill, RA and TA appointments and Navy Reserve pay. 

In 1980, he joined Brown and Caldwell, a major environmental engineering firm in the Bay Area, where he worked on energy conservation, recycling and waste-to-energy projects. In 1982, he joined the faculty of the Cal Poly Civil and Environmental Engineering department where he taught courses in water and waste-water treatment, waste management and sustainable environment engineering. He is now a retired environmental engineering professor at Cal Poly and continues to lecture part-time. 

Vigil credits his Navy experience in the Civil Engineer Corps and his consulting experience at Brown and Caldwell with helping provide his students with “real world” problems.  

In addition to teaching, Dr. Vigil has been involved in various research projects in waste management and sustainability. He is also a co-author of the widely used textbook “Solid Waste Management: Engineering Principles and Management Issues” published by McGraw-Hill in 1963. He is a professional engineer, a board-certified environmental engineer, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accredited professional and a fellow of the Air and Management Association.  

Continue reading Meet the Faculty: Sam Vigil...
Professor Emeritus, Sam Vigil, retired from the United States Navy in 1995.

Meet the Faculty: Veteran's Day

Nov 11, 2019

Sam Vigil is a retired environmental engineering professor at Cal Poly and continues to lecture part-time. Before getting into academia, Vigil served in the United States Navy from 1966 to 1995. At the time of his retirement in 1995, Vigil was a commissioned officer for the U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps on reserve duty. The retired professor began teaching at Cal Poly in 1982 and earned the status of Professor Emeritus in 2009. 


You can find a full profile on Professor Vigil here. 


Continue reading Meet the Faculty: Veteran's Day...

Alumni Spotlight: Evan Perez

Oct 30, 2019

Evan Perez

Evan Perez graduated from Cal Poly in 2013 after completing his MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering and a BS in Civil Engineering. In 2014 he became a licensed professional engineer. Working for Stantec as part of the Sacramento water group gives him the opportunity to work with several of California’s foremost experts in water resources management, including those who influence water policy state-wide.

Growing up in California’s Central Valley, Evan has experienced firsthand how water issues impact communities. This led to his interest in water resources planning and management. It hasn’t taken Evan long to move up the ranks, providing innovative solutions to a variety of clients through stakeholder-driven processes and advanced modeling techniques. Involved with the San Joaquin River Restoration Program as a technical leader, he guided the development of numerous water management tools, data analysis, and facilitated a process to refine guidelines for the program. As a planner for the Friant-Kern Canal Subsidence Correction Project, Evan is developing numerous models to determine impacts, project benefits, and cost-benefit ratios. His work is frequently used to help clients with decision-making, including in environmental documentation, and in planning documents for large water resources projects throughout California.

Committed to supporting efforts of federal, state, and local water agencies and districts, Evan’s goal is to promote sustainable solutions that improve water supply reliability, flood management, and water management. In 2016 he became an Envision™ Sustainability Professional (ENV SP), is a member of the AWRA (American Water Resources Association), and a graduate of the Water Education Foundations 2018 Water Leaders Program. Evan is continuously learning about industry-wide issues and becoming part of an influential professional network.

Continue reading Alumni Spotlight: Evan Perez...
Stefan Talke is a new faculty member for the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Cal Poly SLO.

Professor Stefan Talke Recognized for Award-Winning Paper

Oct 30, 2019

Professor Stefan Talke will be recognized as third author, alongside colleagues Robert Chant of Rutgers University and Christopher Sommerfield of University of Delaware, for the honor of the Pritchard Award for best physical oceanography paper in the journal “Estuaries and Coasts” of 2017-2018.  

The paper, titled “Impact of channel deepening on tidal and gravitational circulation in a highly engineered estuarine basin,” explores the effects that deepening estuaries has on water quality and tidal dynamics.  

According to the website for the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF), the award is named in honor of Dr. Donald W. Pritchard, whose “insightful research on the physical dynamics of coastal systems set the stage for much of the research in physical oceanography that is being conducted today.” The Pritchard Award is given out to papers published in the two-year span between CERF conferences.  

2019 Scholarship Recipients

Oct 28, 2019

Allyson Swain

Constant J. and Dorothy F. Chrones Scholarship--Environmental Engineering

Environmental Engineering, Senior

Allyson SwainWhile I’ve been a member of many groups such as Society of Environmental Engineers (SENVE) and Society of Women Engineers (SWE), I have found my home away from home with Cal Poly Cycling. I started as a simple member, became the Community Outreach Coordinator, and I am now the first female president for the group.

My most recent research with Cal Poly was on the degradability of Sinclair fruit labels in a variety of aerobic digestion, anaerobic digestion, and compost settings. We tried to simulate existing facilities and practices to see the actual breakdown of these labels in the waste stream.

I am transitioning into the blended master’s program this winter quarter. I am narrowing my focus to groundwater hydraulics and plan to use a groundwater model to study the changing conditions of an aquifer in Arroyo Grande for my thesis.


Ashley Green

Chevron Scholarship for Environmental Engineering

Environmental Engineering, Senior

Ashley GreenI am a fourth year Environmental Engineering student from Dallas, Texas. I currently serve as the President for the National Society of Black Engineers and I am committed to improving diversity and inclusion initiatives within this institution. With this commitment, I have also helped pilot a new pre-WOW orientation program for incoming multicultural students called CORE (Creating Opportunities for Representative Engagement). In the ENVE department, I have been in multiple competition teams such as the Pacific Southwest Conference where I was a co-project manager and we won 2nd place. I have also participated in Environmental Challenge International where our team won 1st place at the AWMA conference. For two years, I interned locally at the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board and last summer I interned at LA Sanitation and Environment where I learned about California water regulation and water quality management. Recently, I have started a research project with Dr. El Badawy looking into nanoclay applications in filtration systems for removing disinfectant by-products and I am thrilled to have more hands on experience in the lab. In my (limited) free time, you can find me filling out grad school applications, cooking, and watching The Great British Baking Show.

After undergrad, I see myself working in the water quality management field to help provide equal access to clean, affordable water to communities in need. I aim to get a PhD to become more specialized in this field and conduct research. After attending graduate school and most likely working in the public sector, I would love to go back to academia and teach.


Casey Boyle

Chris Rockway Scholarship Endowment

Civil Engineering, Junior

Casey BoyleI am a third year civil engineering major. I am the sociability chair of the Civil Engineering honors society Chi Epsilon. In addition to that I help Dr. Hansen with his research on landfill gas emissions. I am also a member of the Mustang Marching Band. After graduation, I hope to attend grad school where I can specialize in structural analysis.


Christopher Aslo

Harold Frank Engineering Scholarship

Civil Engineering, Sophomore

Christoper AsloI joined Cal Poly’s SCE club in my first year and am currently the Social Director. In conjunction with being in SCE, I was a member of the club’s technical events committee for the Pacific Southwest Conference, where we planned and executed major technical events. Beginning in winter 2019, I have been training with the Cal Poly SLO platoon under the Santa Barbara Marine Officer Selection Office. This process involves rigorous physical training, academic requirements, a well-rounded application with extracurriculars, volunteering, and work experience, all needed to ensure being selected to attend Officer Candidate School in Virginia over the next two summers of my college career. When I succeed in all these areas, I will be commissioned as an officer in the Marine Corps and begin active duty after graduating from Cal Poly. I have also interned at a construction management company in San Diego last summer and am currently in the process of seeking another internship with a heavy civil construction company for next summer, which will be done after complete Officer Candidate School. After I complete my time as an active duty Marine Corps officer, I will begin my career in the construction industry.


Davis Ross

Don Chapin Company Scholarship

Civil Engineering, Junior

Davis RossI am the Vice President for Chi Epsilon Civil Engineering Honors Society SLO Branch, the Newsletter Editor for the Society of Civil Engineers, and the Vice President for the Cal Poly Distance Club. I am also a tutor for the Study Sessions that the Academic Skills Center hosts and a TA for Dr. Noori’s Engineering Statics Class (ME 211). Previously, I have had two internships; I’ve been a Structural Engineering Intern for Mesiti-Miller Engineering Inc. and a Geotechnical Engineering Intern for Butano Engineering Inc. Moreover, I worked as a Residential Advisor last year for University Housing.

After Graduation, I plan on pursuing my masters in Structural Engineering. Although I haven’t chosen a school yet, some schools I am considering are UC Berkeley and the University of Washington. Another option I am considering is joining the Navy as an officer, serving in the Civil Engineering Corps. Through the Navy, I still plan on pursuing my masters in Structural Engineering.


Ella Herrmann

Chevron Environmental Education Scholarship EndowmentCivil Engineering, Junior

Ella HerrmannI am a fourth year Environmental Engineering major. I am the current president of the Society of Environmental Engineers (SENVE), the professional organization of my major. Last year, I was one of three coordinators for the Pacific Southwest Conference (PSWC), where I organized the Cal Poly team of 120 people to ensure that each team was at their appropriate event and watched as the team won first place in the competition. I was on the Environmental Competition Build Team for PSWC my second year, where the team placed third in their event, and Cal Poly won first place overall. I have also participated in Department of Energy funded research for two quarters at Cal Poly, where I assisted grad students in their thesis work, researching the most efficient way to grow algae to convert to bio fuels.

I currently intern at Water Systems Consulting, in SLO, where I am getting hands on experience working on water and wastewater design projects and learning about construction management for the Cayucos Sustainable Water Project.

After graduation, I would like to continue my education and obtain my master’s degree at Cal Poly to specify my knowledge on water treatment and design.


Eric Golant

Cord Meier Memorial Civil Engineering Scholarship

Civil Engineering, Junior

Eric GolantI would like to get involved with concrete kayak, steel bridge, and/or geowall in the future. I recently just moved down here from Sonoma County and am still getting acclimated--I also live in Atascadero, but plan to more closer to campus after this quarter to get more involved. This past summer, I worked as a structural engineering intern for Hogan Land Services in Santa Rosa. There, I prepared and drafted plans and preformed structural calculations for headers, beams, and joists. I've also worked for a geotechnical engineering company in Sonoma called PJC & Associates for almost two years.


Grant Smith

John Tracy Jr Engineering Scholarship

Civil Engineering, Junior

Grant SmithI am an active member of the Society of Civil Engineers, Cru, and Alpha Gamma Omega. I am pursuing a second major in music and perform regularly on the piano as a soloist, accompanist, and chamber musician. I was a winner of the Cal Poly Solo Competition and performed on the Forbes Pipe Organ in the PAC with the Cal Poly Symphony in March 2019. In Summer 2019, I interned with Cornerstone Structural Engineering Group in Fresno. I worked on AutoCAD drafts, simple designs, cost estimates, and accounting as part of my internship. I plan to study abroad in Munich, Germany in Spring and Summer 2020.

I plan to earn my Professional Engineer license and work in structural engineering after graduating. I am considering attending graduate school to study business administration, structural engineering, or acoustical engineering.


Karin Finney

Constant J. and Dorothy F. Chrones Scholarship--Environmental Engineering

Environmental Engineering, Senior

Karin FinneyI am a member of Society of Environmental Engineers and Society of Women Engineers. I have participated in WESTT algae research and assisted in a graduate research project with Dr. Nelson researching the end-of-life behavior of different types of Sinclair fruit labels in different environmental conditions. This past summer I interned at a local government office working on projects including a feasibility and environmental impact study for solar power implementation projects, sustainability initiatives planning, and an assessment stormwater infrastructure and LID compliance.

After graduation I hope to attend graduate school and focus on sustainable urban development with an emphasis on stormwater and water resources. After grad school I hope to work for a consulting company preferably in Southern California.


Madeline David

Wood Rodgers Civil Engineering Scholarship

Civil Engineering, Junior

Continue reading 2019 Scholarship Recipients...
Anurag Pande is a civil engineering professor who specializes in transportation engineering.

Meet the Faculty: Anurag Pande

Oct 28, 2019

Anurag Pande earned his Bachelor of Technology degree in civil engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay in 2002. The summer after his sophomore year, Pande did research for a professor, working in travel demand forecasting while also doing surveys and data analysis. The research eventually became his senior project, and the experience got him interested in applying for graduate school.  

 University of Central Florida offered Pande a fellowship in 2002, where he earned his doctorate in transportation engineering. While his work as an intern in graduate school was “good,” Pande said it didn’t excite him. After speaking with his advisor who encouraged Pande to consider a career in academia, he finished his degree and worked for a couple of years as a post-doctorate research associate.  

Anurag Pande is a civil engineering professor who specializes in transportation engineering.In 2008, Pande came to teach in the civil and environmental engineering department at Cal Poly, and the professor says he’s loved his job ever since.  

“You know, that’s the great thing about a faculty position, because you pretty much never have to do work that you don’t like to do, right?” Pande said. “You always get to teach your classes that you love to teach, and in terms of research, it’s always the work that [you] want to do.” 

For Pande, producing “good work with good students” has been a highlight of his time at the university.  

“What I’ve found is [my students] have really valuable feedback and I’ve been able to work on my teaching,” Pande said. “Not only have I found I’ve become a more effective teacher by looking at that feedback, but because I’m planning a little bit more ahead of time, I’ve become more efficient.” 

Amongst the list of research projects on Pande’s plate, two that he said he is most excited about concern the “big picture idea” of looking at before-and-after situations in a different light. Pande said a naïve approach focuses strictly on outcomes before and after a change and simply compared the two.  

“That’s really somewhat of a flawed idea,” Pande said. “Because you don’t really want to look at what happened before versus what happened after; what you want to look at is what happened after versus what would have happened had you not applied that change.” 

Alongside other researchers, Pande said he’s looking at the impact of Uber and Lyft and what the total vehicle miles travelled (VMT) would be in San Luis Obispo had those ridesharing companies not been in town.  

One thing that Pande said he missed as a young engineering student was “learning the ability to focus” and understanding the value of learning how to learn.  

“I think the secret is that pretty much everything that you will do in your careers is going to depend on your skills to be able to learn new ideas and approaches, because things change, from what we learned in school,” Pande said. “So you should absolutely try to learn what is being taught in the classroom, but not necessarily only for that content, but to gain an ability to learn new things.” 

Continue reading Meet the Faculty: Anurag Pande...
Robb Moss's 2nd edition of Applied Civil Engineering Risk Analysis was published in July 2019

Professor Robb Moss Publishes Textbook

Oct 21, 2019

Robb Moss is a civil engineering professor at Cal Poly with specialties in geotechnical engineering. In July 2019, Moss’s “2nd Edition of Applied Civil Engineering Risk Analysis” was published by Springer.  

Robb Moss's 2nd Edition of Applied Civil Engineering Risk Analysis“This is a senior/grad-level text that introduces students to probability of failure analysis for components and/or systems, and other conceptual and mathematical tools to help solve engineering problems and to quantify the risk  These concepts can be applied to a wide range of engineering problems in both Civil and Environmental Engineering.  The texts uses many examples to demonstrate the utility of quantifying uncertainty and propagating that uncertainty through any engineering problem.  Solutions are provided analytically as well as computationally using MatLab and R,” Moss wrote. 

Moss earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from North Carolina State University, Raleigh in 1995. He then studied geotechnical engineering, earning a master’s degree from Utah State University, Logan in 1997 and a doctorate from UC Berkeley in 2003.  Professor Robb Moss has taught at Cal Poly since January 2006

Moss started teaching at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in January 2006 and is coming up on his 14th year as a professor.  



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