Recent News

Faculty Spotlight | Carole Voulgaris

Aug 20, 2018

Carole VoulgarisCarole Voulgaris joined the department in January 2018 as an assistant professor in transportation engineering. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Brigham Young University.

She worked as a transportation engineer for three years after graduating. She then received an MBA from Notre Dame in 2012. She went back to school to pursue a doctorate in urban planning at UCLA and graduated in June 2017. Voulgaris was named “Outstanding Student of the Year” at the 2018 annual Transportation Research Board conference for her work at METRANS during her doctoral studies.

As an assistant professor, Voulgaris’ focus is on public transportation, intelligent transportation systems, sustainable mobility and transportation planning. She hopes to create opportunities for interdisciplinary work with other engineering majors and hands-on experiences for students.

"Engineers can’t work in a vacuum and need opportunities to work on real projects to gain experience working with external factors that happen in real life," said Carole.

CE/ENVE Student Fund

Aug 20, 2018

Graphic of Student FundThe Civil and Environmental Engineering student fund comprises donations from the Industrial Partnership Program that support instructional activities for student groups such as field trips, student projects, student research, conferences and competitions.

Each year, the Civil and Environmental Engineering Student Fee Initiative Committee is charged with apportioning the funds in this account. The committee includes the department chair, six CE/ENVE students, and two CE/ENVE faculty members.
The CE/ENVE Industrial Partnership Program (IPP) was started in January 2018 to expand employment opportunities for civil and environmental engineering students and increased funding for extracurricular student activities.

Since the start of the program, IPP has welcomed 11 platinum sponsors, two gold sponsors, and 16 silver and bronze sponsors.

Continue reading CE/ENVE Student Fund...

CENG Underdog Wins Athlete of the Year

Aug 20, 2018

SwarnjitEven after getting rejected for a spot on Cal Poly’s running teams a second consecutive year, Swarnjit Boyal left the coach’s office thinking, “This isn’t the last you’ll hear from me.”

Fueled by hard work – measured in miles -- he was heard from in a big way this summer when he was named Cal Poly’s male athlete of the year.

“I’m proud for never giving up on my dream and believing in myself even if the odds were stacked against me to make the team,” said Boyal, who just completed his master’s degree in civil engineering with a focus on water resources.

The Yuba City resident was never even recruited to Cal Poly.

“My senior year of high school, my calculus teacher asked me what I wanted to major in, and I said engineering,” Boyal recalled. “And he recommended Cal Poly to me, being that he was a math major there.”

Knowing Cal Poly had a good cross country and track program, he ran hard the summer after his senior year of high school.

“It wasn’t enough, though, as Coach (Mark) Conover had a strong team, and I just wasn’t good enough to make it,” Boyal said.

Boyal left Conover disappointed but even more determined. He ran for the Cal Poly Distance Club, where Coach Armondo Siqueiros taught him the basics of being a good runner.

Meanwhile, he continued with his engineering studies.

“I love the variety and diversity engineering gives in my life by always having something different to solve or figure out,” he said. “Nothing is ever the same, and you’re always constantly learning.”

That desire to learn carried into his athletics. The following summer, he asked Conover what’d he’d need to do to make the team, and Conover’s answer was simple:

More mileage.

So Boyal ran. And ran and ran.

Yet, that September, Conover told him he still wasn’t ready.

“This crushed me,” Boyal said.

SwarnjitThe following Monday, he took his frustrations out on the trails with the club. And he was so good, Siqueiros contacted Conover. And then Conover reached out to Boyal.

“Swarnjit definitely had to pay his dues and earn a roster spot,” Conover said. “But when he looked me in the eyes and said, ‘Coach, I can beat the guys on your team,’ I knew he had the passion, vision, and desire to do what it takes to be highly competitive at the Division 1 level.”

After making the team, Boyal made sacrifices – skipping vacations, time with friends and loved ones – to dedicate to running.

“He finds pure joy in running and uses it to balance his other academic and work commitments,” Conover said. “He epitomizes the ‘find a way’ motto, whereby one must decide how to live a life of balance while training to a maximum level.”

As a result of his regiment, Conover said, Boyal did get better, culminating this year, when he was named Big West Athlete of the Week three times en route to being selected for the conference’s Men’s Track Athlete of the Year Award.

His cross country highlights include finishing 10th at the NCAA West Region qualifier in Seattle and leading the Mustangs to the Big West Conference championship, earning second place individually, at UC Riverside.

In track, Boyal became the Big West’s first back-to-back champion for the 10,000 meters since Utah State’s Toby Conley in 1995 and 1996. He moved to No. 5 in school history for the distance while coming in second place in the Elite Invitational section of the event at the Stanford Invitational, ranking No. 22 nationally.

Now that he has graduated, Boyal plans to stay in San Luis Obispo, where he works for Monsoon Consultants, a water resource and hydrology firm. And he plans to continue running, competing for HOKA ONE ONE Aggies, an Olympic development team based in San Luis Obispo.

“I can’t just be doing work, work, work all day,” Boyal said. “I need to balance it out. After a busy day, or if I have any stress with school, I love to just lace my shoes on, clear anything on my mind by hitting the trails and taking on the views and just releasing myself by going for a run.”

A Hard Look at Concrete Frisbee

Jul 2, 2018

Read the original story here.

Concrete is not the first material that comes to mind when designing a Frisbee. It’s heavy, brittle, and your dog probably would not be as eager to fetch with it. But, a concrete Frisbee does have some value – not as a fun toy, but as a learning experience.Student holding concrete frisbee

At the Pacific Southwest Conference this year, groups of engineers sought to defy these expectations by taking their concrete Frisbees to the air. Cal Poly – which also took first place in the concrete canoe and steel bridge competitions – won the concrete Frisbee contest with their van Gogh-themed disk.

The strong performance from Cal Poly should be no surprise, given San Luis Obispo’s long history with the flying discs people have come to know and love. Fred Morrison, San Luis Obispo resident, invented the modern Frisbee in 1957. Since then, plastic has been used and later perfected for its optimal flight, weight, and comfort.

Now, in 2018, Cal Poly engineers are challenging the roots of the Frisbee by creating one made out of concrete. The concrete version does not look too different than the neon plastic discs thrown at parks across the nation in shape and size – it flies and catches just as one would expect. The only difference is the time, effort, and deliberation that goes into getting a disc made out of concrete to fly in the first place.

At the Pacific Southwest Conference (or PSWC), the concrete Frisbee was just one of several engineering challenged students are tasked to overcome. While the competitions ranged from making steel bridges to concrete canoes, the concrete Frisbee competition inspired students to create a flying disc made out of concrete that not only flew through the air successfully, but also met criteria for retention, accuracy, distance, and was aesthetically pleasing.

PSWC gives engineering students the opportunity to get hands-on experience with the skills of their major. The competition aligns perfectly with Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing philosophy – each of the events are practical demonstrations of engineering approaches. Rebecca Cooter, a third year civil engineering student at Cal Poly, was one of the members of the concrete Frisbee team who traveled to Arizona for the 2018 PSWC.

“It relates to civil engineering because reinforcing concrete is very important,” said Cooter. “We do a lot of mix designs for projects, and it is a practical application of that. It is cool to say, ‘We built this, we made the design.’”

The design was not the only creative aspect of the project. The concrete Frisbee team had the chance to express themselves through the aesthetic criteria of the competition -- something that they were more than happy to do. 

“After letting it cure for about a week, we had to paint it,” Cooter said. “We chose the theme ‘van Gogh,’ because that was the same as the concrete canoe, and we thought it would be fun to match them.”

The concrete canoe team recently won the national championship in San Diego.

After everything was finalized, the concrete Frisbee team took their design to the competition in Arizona. There, the teams gathered in a grass field to put their Frisbees on display. When it came to the throws, there were two different rounds, one for accuracy, and one for distance.

“For distance, we had 40 or so people from Cal Poly line up to make sure that if the Frisbee actually went past the grass that someone would catch it,” said Cooter. “Unfortunately, it ended up slamming directly into a tree and falling. It got a little chip out of it, but it’s still in one piece.”

The experience for the concrete Frisbee team was a pleasant one in the end, according to Cooter.

“We were all pretty experienced with concrete, so it was really relaxed,” she said. “The team was really cool. Overall, it was a ton of fun.”

Continue reading A Hard Look at Concrete Frisbee...

Students Awarded CEENVE Industrial Advisory Board Professional Advancement Award

May 22, 2018

Civil and Environmental Engineering students Emily Miller and Delaney Nelson were awarded the Civil and Environmental Engineering Industrial Advisory Board Professional Advancement Award at the Spring Industrial Advisory Board meeting on May 4th. The award is given every year to students in the department who are making significant strides towards their career goals.Industrial Advisory Board

The CEENVE Industrial Advisory Board Professional Advancement Award was created to help prepare students for professional advancement by rewarding students who have demonstrated a commitment to their career goals through campus involvement. 13 students from both civil and environmental engineering were nominated for this year’s award. Emily and Delaney received $1,000 scholarships to help with future career endeavors.

Emily is a 4th year environmental engineering student and an officer for the Society of Environmental Engineers and student chair for the Student Funds Initiative. Emily helped plan the SENVE career fair and did undergraduate research with both Dr. Ludquist and Dr. Oulton.

“It was an honor to hear I was nominated for the award and even more so to win. I was up against very intelligent, hardworking students who have all been very involved in the department,” said Emily.

Delaney is a graduate civil engineering student and president of the Rainworks club, which allows students to get involved in environmental and water resources design competitions. She is grateful for the preparation the department has provided her.

“It is wonderful to have a department that supports its students and provides them with opportunities to get involved,” said Delaney.

The CEENVE Industrial Advisory Board (IAB) Professional Advancement awards were presented during the department’s bi-annual Industrial Advisory Board meeting. The IAB consists of 30 environmental and civil engineering professionals who provide industry insight to the department. 50 faculty, staff and students attended the IAB meeting at the Monday Club.

Ken Lindberg, a 1979 Civil Engineering Cal Poly graduate and past IAB president, explained that the meetings are beneficial to both the school and the students.

“We [members] have all been there and been successful so we know what works and what to do for them to be successful too,” said Ken Lindberg, 16-year IAB member and co-founder of Power Engineering Construction Co.


Cal Poly College of Engineering Partners with Granite

May 8, 2018

Cal Poly graduates see greater opportunities through the college's partnership with Granite.

Cal Poly's College of Engineering and College of Architecture and Environmental Design have launched a unique partnership with Granite Construction to create a more robust pipeline of diverse Cal Poly graduates skilled in both construction management and civil engineering.

“This new partnership creates a path forward for talented and motivated students by helping them overcome financial barriers with the support of industry leaders and future thinkers,” said James Meagher, interim dean of the College of Engineering.

“It will also bring together two of our most reputable programs in a way that will supply distinctively skilled graduates to the industry.” Granite employees

The Granite Heavy Civil Engineering and Construction Program is a unique cohort program, bringing together students from both colleges. Under this program, students in construction management will have the opportunity to become more proficient in heavy civil engineering fundamentals, and students in heavy civil engineering will have access to more construction management classes. The uniqueness of the program is furthered by a series of classes that students in both programs will take together. Students will complete at least two internships during the program.

"With a Learn by Doing atmosphere, coupled with an excellent curriculum and high standards for student participation, Cal Poly has been able to help place highly qualified candidates throughout the Granite organization,” said James Roberts, president and CEO of Granite Construction Inc. “We enjoy seeing bright, energetic, hard-working graduates coming out of the Cal Poly programs who have the desire to build careers and help Granite succeed.”

Beavers Charitable Trust, having endowed other professorships at universities nationwide, joined Granite by making a substantial gift to support the Granite program at Cal Poly. Roberts hopes others will follow Granite’s and Beavers’ lead.

“This partnership between Granite, Beavers and Cal Poly can be a leading opportunity for corporations and higher education institutions across the country to partner going forward as we build America’s infrastructure,” he said.Granite employees

Under the program, the Granite Beavers Heavy Civil Engineering and Construction Endowed Chair will support one full-time faculty chair with academic expertise and professional background in the heavy civil construction and engineering sector.

This role will provide leadership for the program through an innovative joint appointment to construction management and heavy civil engineering departments, and provide increased mentoring opportunities for students. Granite Construction has always sought to be impactful. Beginning with early founders and those who built Granite bit by bit, one theme remained: to impact the world around them and the people within it. That is where their support for student success comes in.

“The idea behind the funds was based on a couple of principles,” explained Philip DeCocco, senior vice president, human resources, at Granite Construction. “Granite is an industry leader, and as such, we believe it is important to lead by example, similar to the Cal Poly Learn by Doing motto. It is also important to us to have Granite’s name and reputation tied to a top-notch program like Cal Poly. “Lastly,” DeCocco added, “Granite is passionate about creating a program where we partner with Cal Poly. We want to ensure that students who mirror the many communities we serve across the country have an opportunity to succeed in our industry.”

Cal Poly Students Win at 2018 WERC Competition

Apr 30, 2018

A group of ENVE students received two awards at the 28th annual WERC competition at New Mexico State University from April 8-11.WERC competition team The WERC Environmental Design Contest brings industry, government and academia together in search for improved solutions to environmental and sustainability-related challenges. Two of the three Cal Poly student-led teams won awards in their respective categories. The International Space Station team created a system to remove methanol and ethanol from water and took second place in their combined category and first place in their specific task. The urine treatment team created a method of treating urine on military bases and won the EPA Pollution Prevention award. Students worked in teams to conduct research, test and build solutions for their tasks. Students learned to create plans for full-scale implementation that also took into consideration economic impacts.

Cal Poly Students Win 20 Awards at 2018 PSWC

Apr 16, 2018

Students cheering at PSWC competition.

106 Cal Poly students competed in ASCE’s annual Pacific Southwest Conference (PSWC) at Northern Arizona University April 12-14. Over 1,500 students from 18 schools competed in the events this year. Teams competed in a variety of events including  concrete canoe, steel bridge, environmental design, geotechnical design, surveying, technical paper, concrete bowling, scavenger hunts, and several sport tournaments. The Cal Poly team took home 20 awards including first place for the PSWC award.


2018 PSWC Awards

Kan Jam – 1st

Concrete frisbee – 1st

Soccer - 2nd

Environmental – 3rd

Sustainability – 2nd

Concrete Canoe (Men’s Endurance) – 1st

Concrete Canoe (Women’s Endurance) – 1st

Concrete Canoe (Men’s Sprint) – 1st

Concrete Canoe (Women’s Sprint) – 1st

Concrete Canoe (Co-ed Sprint) – 1st

Concrete Canoe (Final product) – 1st

Concrete Canoe (Design Report) – 1st

Concrete Canoe (Presentation) – 2nd

Concrete Canoe (Overall) – 1st

Steel Bridge (Construction Speed) – 1st

Steel Bridge (Lightness) – 1st

Steel Bridge (Stiffness) – 1st

Steel Bridge (Structural Efficiency) – 1st

Steel Bridge (Overall) – 1st

PSWC 2018 – 1st


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