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.
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."
Sep 14, 2016
Cal Poly Engineering helps put the 'best' in Cal Poly's 'Best in the West' U.S. News ranking.
Cal Poly boasts the best state-funded undergraduate engineering program — and the top environmental engineering program — in the nation, according to the latest edition of the U.S. News and World Report’s American’s Best Colleges guidebook.
Cal Poly as a whole enjoys its 24th straight year as the best public, master’s-level university in the West.
In overall listings, the College of Engineering moved up two spots, placing fifth behind private institutions Rose-Hulman, Harvey Mudd College and Olin College and the federally funded U.S. Military Academy. Among state-funded schools, Cal Poly’s civil, electrical and mechanical engineering programs maintained their No. 1 positions.
“It is so exciting and such an honor to see Cal Poly Engineering’s continuing and growing prominence in the prestigious U.S. News rankings,” said Debra Larson, dean of the College of Engineering. “Our engineering programs exemplify the innovation, staying power and success of Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing model, which attracts those who like hands-on experimentation, complex projects and dreaming — and doing — big.
“What we're doing is all the more notable when you factor in scale,” said Larson. “Based on 2015 data, Cal Poly Engineering’s undergraduate enrollment was 5,974, while the combined enrollment for the top four schools totaled 4,070.”
The 2017 guidebook lists Cal Poly in a tie with Saint Mary’s College for ninth place overall in the West for regional universities, public and private, up from 10th place last year. The Western regional list includes 124 public and private institutions in 15 states that provide “a full range of undergraduate and master’s-level programs but few, if any, doctoral programs.” (Universities that grant doctoral degrees, such as those in the University of California system, are listed in a separate category.)
Cal Poly ranks in the Top 10 behind (in order): Trinity University, Santa Clarita University, Loyola Marymount University, Gonzaga University, Mills College, Chapman University, University of Portland, and Seattle University.
Cal Poly also ranks sixth in the West (up from 10th last year) for most veteran-friendly universities — a listing that shows military vets and active-duty service members which top-ranked schools offer benefits that can help them make pursuing a college education more affordable. Cal Poly is also the top-ranked public university in this category.
The U.S. News rankings are available at the U.S. News & World Report website.
Jun 15, 2016
Cal Poly’s Steel Bridge team was tops among national competitors and finished second overall at the annual American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) National Student Steel Bridge Competition, which brought together 48 student teams from across the world.
École de Technologie Supérieure, from Montreal, placed first, and the University of Florida finished third at the competition hosted by Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, May 27-28.
Cal Poly’s strong showing marked the school’s sixth straight year of placing in the event’s top 10, and its second straight year as runner-up.
The competition—which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year—is designed as a comprehensive, real-world student project that includes structural design, fabrication, construction planning and execution, and load testing. It’s an extreme test of teamwork and project management as students race to produce a scale-model bridge that satisfies stringent requirements in the categories of stiffness, lightness, construction speed, display, efficiency and economy.
Cal Poly Steel Bridge team members included senior captains Steven Haugaard, project manager; Elizabeth Coffey, machining lead; Drew Glover, welding lead; Jimmyhee Quach, construction lead; Tyler van Iderstein, design lead; junior captains Matthew Ramos, Stephen Hager, Jessica Ramirez, Hannah Lancaster, John Stern, Jonathan Diaz, Sara Lashanlo, Kai Ling Liang; and rookie captains Michael Clark, Sarah Shaffer, Gabriela Pascualy, Mitra Fakhry, Brandon Marchell, Julian Lodi, Elaina Ryan, Hayat Hakim and Ryan Harrington. Eric Kasper is faculty advisor.
Complete rankings are available at www.nssbc.info. Next year’s national competition will be held May 26-27 at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore.
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Elizabeth Coffey, a Cal Poly Steel Bridge captain, holds the ASCE Pacific Southwest Conference award. It was the team’s ticket to the National Student Steel Bridge Competition, where Cal Poly placed second overall and was the top-performing U.S. team. Other team captains pictured, left to right: Drew Glover, Tyler van Iderstein, Jimmyhee Quach and Steven Haugaard.
Jun 2, 2016
For the third year running, the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) of Cal Poly reigns as the western region’s top student chapter. The club won the Western District Student Chapter of the Year award based on the club’s annual report, which ranked first out of 23 reports received from universities across the 13-state region. The event was held in Albuquerque, N.M., July 10-13.
“Overall, this year’s report reflected our interest in boosting the profession and not just our chapter,” said Krista Purser, president. “We coordinated a nationwide teleconference, for example, to discuss effective leadership, organization and successful events with other campus’ student leaders.”
Other 2015-16 Cal Poly ITE officers included Ashley Kim, vice president; Ryan Caldera, secretary; Edward Tang, treasurer; Nivedha Baskarapandian; Luis Descanzo, historian; Amy Chin, professional coordinator; Erica Madrigal, social coordinator; Jonathan Howard, coordinator of the Transportation Engineering Student Project Area; Mark Howard, marketing coordinator; and Kevin Carstens, past president.
The chapter collected a total of seven awards at the event, including:
- First place in the Collegiate Traffic Bowl, a “Jeopardy!”-style competition designed to test students’ knowledge of transportation engineering. Team members included fourth-year student Jonathan Howard and graduate students Kim and Purser, as well as fourth-year student Caldera, an alternate team member.
- Outstanding student awards that honored Carstens as outstanding graduate student, and Kim as outstanding undergraduate student.
- Student Chapter Annual Meeting Award for the highest amount of participation in the event’s competitions, student sessions and student presentations.
- Student Website Award — a first for the chapter — recognizing the effectiveness of the website’s design and communications produced by Baskarapandian, webmaster; Descanzo, photographer; and Mark Howard, social media coordinator.
The Cal Poly chapter will compete at the international level at ITE’s annual conference August 14-17 in Anaheim, Calif.
The Institute of Transportation Engineers is an international association of nearly 17,000 transportation professionals and more than 140 student chapters.
Cal Poly ITE Student Chapter
Institute of Transportation Engineers
Photo: Cal Poly ITE student chapter members accepted the regional Student Chapter Award, Student Chapter Annual Meeting Award and Student Website Award among numerous others at the ITE Western District annual conference.