Recent News

Alumni Spotlight | Thomas Wukadinovich

Apr 3, 2018

Thomas Wukadinovich alumni spotlight

Thomas Wukadinovich graduated in 2013 with a bachelor’s in civil engineering. A background in construction management has given him opportunities on a wide array of projects.

He works for Long Beach-based Traylor Bros., one of the nation’s leading heavy civil engineering contractors, as a professional engineer.

Wukadinovich is working on the Los Angeles MetroRail’s Purple Line Extension, a four-mile spur from Beverly Hills to Westwood. Since August of 2017, he has worked in support of soil excavation, steel supports and ventilation for the project.

Because of its proximity to the La Brea Tar Pits, hydrogen sulfide gas release is a concern to the project. To reduce the risk of explosion, several precautions have been implemented including prohibiting electronics in the tunnel unless protected by explosion-proof cases. The project is expected to continue through the rest of the year.

“Your interest in a subject is going to make it easier to work harder. What I do is more of a lifestyle than it is a profession, and working in this industry is fulfilling,” said Wukadinovich.

Traylor Bros. is a platinum sponsor of the CEENVE department and offers various positions for students. Openings can be viewed on the department’s Jobs and Internship listing page. For more information about Traylor Bros., visit


Chi Epsilon Elects New Board and Reflects on Accomplishments This Year

Apr 2, 2018

Chi Epsilon elected new leadership for the 2018-19 school year and prepares to pass on the torch to new president, Jason McShane. As the year comes to a close, former Chi Epsilon president Mindy Zhang reflects on the chapter's accomplishments this year. 

Chi Epsilon is a national civil engineering honors society started in 1923 at the University of Illinois. The Cal Poly chapter was started in 1986 and currently has 40 members. Chi Epsilon executive boardMembership is only offered to the upper one-third of the Cal Poly civil and environmental engineering class. During the year, Chi Epsilon hosts industry speakers and conducts professional development workshops tailored to member needs addressing topics like resume-building and LinkedIn.

Mindy is majoring in environmental engineering and pledged Chi Epsilon her sophomore year. Jason is a third year civil engineering student and served as his pledge class president this past winter.

“Chi Epsilon is a small community with like-minded individuals that are academically-oriented. I saw the leadership development that was possible and this inspired me to join,” said Mindy.  

During her presidency, Mindy made it a priority to create an environment where members can connect and saw Chi Epsilon as a resource and not an obligation. Mindy worked with her board to develop programming and events to engage the new pledge class.  Among many of their accomplishments this quarter, the Chi Epsilon leadership began plans for a mentorship program that is set to be implemented in upcoming pledge classes.

This year, Chi Epsilon sent 5 board members to the annual Pacific District Conference (PDC) to compete against 13 other chapters from the west coast and won 4th place. Chi Epsilon also created an Alumni group during winter quarter to connect current members with past. The board is learning from other well-established chapters like San Jose State University to develop an efficient platform.

 Chi Epsilon banquetJason, incoming Chi Epsilon president, hopes to implement programming that keeps members engaged throughout the year. He wants to increase participation in Intramural Sports and the annual PDC.  He hopes to create an environment where members are excited to meet new friends. 

 “The main reason I joined was that it was cool recognizing people from Chi Epsilon in my classes. There are lots of like-minded people that take school more seriously and make it their priority,” said Jason.

2018-19 Chi Epsilon Leadership

President - Jason McShane

Vice President/FE Review Session Committee Lead - John Ross

Treasurer - Brad Williams

Secretary - Alana George

Pledge Marshals - Alex Murray, Patrick Butler

Editor, Webmaster, & Engineering Student Council Rep - Renzel Balance

Character Directors - Julia Sullivan, Isabel Brady

Speaker Coordinator - Chris Neisius

Alumni Coordinator - Mindy Zhang

PDC Coordinator - Ryan Harrington

Mentor Coordinator - Tony Park

Faculty Advisors - Dr. Anurag Pande, Dr. Carole Voulgaris


To learn more about Cal Poly Chi Epsilon, visit

Outstanding Cal Poly Student Endeavors Honored in Sacramento

Mar 17, 2018

Five engineering majors were among 19 Cal Poly students recognized for individual or team accomplishments by state lawmakers on the floors of the state Assembly and Senate in Sacramento on Monday, Feb. 12.

“I was proud to accompany these fine young men and women who are among our best and brightest students,” said university President Jeffrey D. Armstrong. “These campus leaders, representing each of the university’s respective colleges, were able to share with state representatives the value of a Learn by Doing education. In just a matter of months, several will make the transition from campus to careers, where the skills they developed as students will make them future industry leaders.”

The group was introduced to the Senate by Majority Leader Bill Monning, D-Carmel, and to the Assembly by Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, R-San Luis Obispo. Both men represent San Luis Obispo County.

Honorees represented outstanding work accomplished by their respective teams or their own individual achievements — ranging from the Cal Poly Concrete Canoe Team national championship to Cal Poly’s award-winning entry in the Tournament of Roses Parad

Among the Cal Poly Engineering student representatives on the tour:

  • Ian Buchanan (San Diego) led Cal Poly’s Concrete Canoe Team to a win at the “America’s Cup of Civil Engineering” — the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 30th annual National Concrete Canoe Competition held last June in Golden, Colo. Seeing his team’s entry “Meraki” — Greek for pouring one’s heart and soul into a project —“translated into a major win that was especially uplifting,” said the 23-year-old civil engineering student will receive his master’s degree in June. It’s tricky business crafting a canoe from scratch, its hull thickness smaller than the width of a dime, and a sleek design that can both float and quickly slice through water, but the team has a legacy. The 2017 competition was the team’s fourth national title since Cal Poly first advanced to the finals in 1998. As project manager, Buchanan oversaw the team’s fundraising, finances, scheduling and material procurement for the yearlong project. He also made oral presentations to judges at the regional qualifier and national competition. He ultimately hopes to become a principal partner in a structural engineering firm. Buchanan said it is an honor to represent Cal Poly and the team.

  • Ali Harake’s handiwork over the past four years has been seen in person by more than a million people — and, by some estimates, hundreds of millions of people throughout the world (on TV). The mechanical engineering major, from Moreno Valley, Calif., graduates and starts a full-time job in June. As president of the 2017-18 Cal Poly Rose Float team, he upheld a uniquely collaborative tradition: Working  in tandem with counterparts at Pomona’s California State Polytechnic University, the two campuses produce a succession of innovative, stunningly beautiful floral creations that drive down Colorado Boulevard each New Year’s Day during the classic Pasadena parade. Cal Poly universities’ milestone 70th float, “Dreams Take Flight,” received the Past Presidents Trophy this year for the most outstanding innovation in the use of floral and non-floral materials. The award was icing on the cake for Harake who celebrated his 23rd birthday on the day of the parade. The scale and scope of the entries has burnished both universities’ reputations for creativity and ingenuity among professional float builders. Harake valued meeting lawmakers. “It means a great deal to me to have the honor to represent my college as well as my team for our great achievements,” he said. “Our hard work and dedication has definitely paid off, and we are fortunate to have the opportunity to attend such an amazing university that allows us these kinds of opportunities.”

  • Civil engineering major Laney Nelson (Chico, Calif.), president of Cal Poly Rainworks, was on the team that won the WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff Student Design Competition, a key student event held during the annual World Environmental and Water Resources Congress held last May by the Environmental and Water Resources Institute, a technical institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers. The competition challenges undergraduate students to solve real-life infrastructure problems with “practical yet innovative” solutions. Nelson, who is also pursuing her master’s degree in a blended undergraduate-graduate degree program, was one of the leaders of the site design team for the club’s Creekside Revival project — a stormwater management plan that uses green infrastructure and Low Impact Development (LID) techniques to manage and treat stormwater from an on-campus site. LID design uses or mimics natural processes “that result in the infiltration, evapotranspiration or use of stormwater” to protect water quality and aquatic habitat, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The competition was a step along the pathway to her dream job as a water resources engineer. “I would like to work on the most important water projects in the state to help secure a sustainable water supply for all Californians,” said the 22-year-old who will graduate in June.

  • Electrical engineering senior Melinda Ong (El Dorado Hills, Calif.) is a member of the Cal Poly collegiate section of the Society of Women Engineers that received the Mission Gold Award — the highest possible collegiate recognition — at the national organization’s annual convention, held last October in Austin, Texas. The award recognizes student chapters that best embody the organization’s core values and demonstrate improvement and growth as they work to further SWE’s goals. Ong, who is serving as the group’s president, plans to graduate in June, with a goal of becoming a program director and technical expert in electronic systems. The group also received the Boeing Multicultural Award for “best multicultural program to increase and maintain a diverse membership” and picked up two Best Practices awards for leadership development and public policy. In addition, it placed second and third, respectively, in the technical poster and Team Tech competitions. “Cal Poly Engineering and Cal Poly SWE provide a thriving environment for preparing women to be all they can be in their present and future lives and endeavors,” she said. Ong said representing her peers to state lawmakers in Sacramento “was an incredible honor” —and opportunity to share her insights. “The state and federal lawmakers set and assign significant standards to many aspects of the technology field for sustainability, safety and quality, she said. “I am very interested in learning how the importance of our national security is affecting the advancements in technology.”

  • Colleen Richards (Centennial, Colo.), a biomedical engineering junior, is the president of Cal Poly’s Panhellenic Executive Board of Directors. The campus Panhellenic Association, which oversees the 11 campus chapters and their approximately 2,500 sorority members, received the “Best in the West” Sutherland Award from the Association of Fraternal Leadership and Values, an organization that provides experiences that challenge and encourage fraternity/sorority members to live ethical values and implement best practices. The award recognized the organization for academic achievement, council management, leadership and educational development, membership recruitment, public relations, risk reduction management, self-governance and judicial affairs in its division. “This recognition validates the efforts of Cal Poly’s Greek organizations,” said Keith Humphrey, vice president for Student Affairs. “Their leadership has positively impacted both our campus and the San Luis Obispo community.” Richards, who is seeking a career in research and development, served as Alpha Phi’s vice president of programming and education on the sorority’s executive board. “”I’m excited to give back to my university,” she said. “I’ve always felt so much support from Cal Poly, Panhellenic, the engineering department, and all of the students and staff I’ve interacted with here.”

  • Civil engineering major Vanessa See (San Francisco) was a member of Cal Poly’s Institute of Transportation Engineers club that for the third time in four years was ITE’s International Chapter of the Year among more than 140 student chapters. The group was honored for the outstanding activities and achievements reflected in its annual report at the organization’s annual conference, held last summer in Toronto. The club also won the ITE Collegiate Traffic Bowl Grand Championship, a Jeopardy!-style competition and became the only student chapter to win the grand championship twice. See, who is this year’s chapter president, plans a career as a transportation engineer after graduting in June 2019. “Transportation is experienced by everyone,” the 20-year old said, “whether it’s noticing a new signal timing feature that makes crossing the street safer, complaining about a late bus or train, or advocating for safer ways to bike, walk or take transit. To me, it's all about the direct impact on the people that makes learning about and working in transportation so rewarding.” Meeting state lawmakers give her more insight into the decision-making process, and underscored the fact that, ultimately, “transportation is as much engineering as it is politics.”

Read more here

CE Professor Selected for Fulbright Specialist Program

Mar 12, 2018


Dr. Robb MossCivil engineering Professor Robb
Moss, who was selected as a Fulbright
specialist, will work with universities in Chile over the next three years developing engineering curriculum and faculty education. He specializes in geotechnical, earthquake and risk engineering.

The Fulbright Specialist Program sends U.S. faculty and professionals to serve as expert consultants on curriculum, faculty development, institutional planning and related subjects at academic institutions abroad. Moss’ proposal identified three main areas of engineering education:

  • Soft skills – Ethics, technical communication, emotional intelligence, licensure, the importance of continuing education.
  • Active learning techniques – Training for university professors to implement a Learn by Doing approach.
  • Senior design capstone courses – Education on structuring senior design programs to achieve desired outcomes outlined by ABET (Accreditation Board forEngineering and Technology).

Moss will work with faculty and staff at Chilean universities to develop curriculum and programs that address the three areas. Over winter break, he worked with faculty at Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez in Santiago for two weeks. La Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile will be Moss’ next stop and lessons will continue for as long as the universities need. His appointment will run through 2020. Moss will address the difficulty of teaching engineering ethics. His curriculum will use Cal Poly’s capstone classes as models for effective engineering training. These courses give young professionals an ethical basis so that when faced with dilemmas they can respond accordingly. The program also stresses the importance of understanding the social implications of engineering.

“My goal for this program is to bring lessons learned from the Cal Poly capstone classes to other universities so students are able to Learn by Doing,” said Moss.

As part of the Fulbright award, Moss is required to bring learned experiences in Chile back to Cal Poly. He is hoping to establish faculty and student exchanges in the next few years.

“As a college, we want to prepare engineers for a global workforce. Knowing how engineering works in other countries is good because a lot of our students will go to work for different organizations, ” said Moss

Faculty Volunteers Work to Improve Pismo Preserve

Mar 12, 2018

Cal Poly faculty members Judd King and Nephi Derbidge are helping The Land Conservancy of San Luis County create a parking area and trailhead for the Pismo Preserve, a nearly 880-acre property with sweeping views of Pismo Beach and 11 miles of trails for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy.Student performing lab testing

The Land Conservancy acquired the Pismo Preserve in September 2014 with the goal of creating a space for hiking, biking and equestrian use. It envisioned a project that provides safe access to different users while being sensitive to the surrounding communities. The Pismo Preserve is the first project of this magnitude to be developed by the Land Conservancy. The site will have restrooms, picnic facilities and a wheelchair-accessible trail.

While doing initial environmental studies on the site, it was discovered that the project location contained sensitive cultural resources belonging to the yak tityu tityu yak tilhini (ytt), Northern Chumash tribe. The Land Conservancy worked with ytt leaders on a plan that reduces impacts to sensitive resources. To mitigate impact on the site, the project size was reduced and minimal excavation was done. These measures ensure sensitive resources are protected while still providing safe public access.

The presence of sensitive resources limits the amount of remedial grading that can be done in the area. To create a level parking area, about 12 feet of soil will be used to fill the sloped project area and will then be supported by a retaining wall.
King and Derbidge are donating their geotechnical engineering and soil testing services. Derbidge and student assistant Jack Christy conducted a soil-testing program to measure the compressibility and strength characteristics of the onsite soil.

King was responsible for taking data generated by Derbidge to assess soil settlement in the final retaining wall design.

The Land Conservancy hopes that by providing this space the general quality of life will improve for residents and visitors alike. The Pismo Preserve is expected to open in late 2018.

International Women's Day | Women in Engineering

Mar 8, 2018

In honor of International Women's Day, we're celebrating some of the countless trailblazing women in engineering.

(1898-1983) Elsie Eaves was the first woman admitted as a full member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). She completed a degree in civil engineering from the University of Colorado and worked for the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads, the Colorado State Highway Department and the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. Her research in construction trends was used by various organizations but was most influential in construction planning after the Great Depression. (Source: Engineer Girl (1885-1957) Olive Dennis was the second woman ever to graduate from Cornell University with a degree in civil engineering and the first female member of the American Railway Engineering Association. During her 30-year career, she worked for the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad and was the railroad’s first service engineer. She was tasked with improving passenger experience and is credited with creating reclining seats, stain-resistant upholstery, patented window vents and air conditioning. (Source: Transportation History)
(1883-1971) Nora Stanton is one of the first women in the United States to earn a degree in civil engineering and the first woman to be admitted as a junior member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). She worked for the American Bridge Company, New York City Board of Water Supply, and as an assistant engineer and chief draftsman for the Radley Steel Construction Company. (Source: ASCE) (1878-1972) Lillian Gilbreth is considered by many as the “mother of modern management” and is credited with developing industrial management techniques still used today. She held a doctorate in psychology and was the first female professor at Purdue’s college of engineering. She was the first female member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and was awarded the Hoover Medal by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). (Source: ASME)
Shudabeh is the second woman ever to be awarded the Hoover Medal by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASME). Shudabeh earned a master’s degree in civil engineering from Purdue and is currently the Assistant Director of Engineering and Public Works for the city of Vista, CA. She co-founded CHILD, an organization dedicated to educational opportunities and self-sufficiency programs in Iran, Afghanistan, Mexico, Turkey, India and Belarus. (Source: ASME)  

Alumni Spotlight | From Cal Poly to Geotechnical Engineer at Langan

Feb 25, 2018

Katrin Wakins Alumni spotlight

Katrina Watkins, who graduated in 2013 with a degree in civil engineering, attributes her successful career to her Cal Poly education, involvement on campus and on-site construction experience.

While a student, she was involved as a WOW (Week of Welcome) leader, executive board leader for the Society of Women Engineers local chapter, a member of the Concrete Canoe Team and sat on the executive board for Chi Epsilon, the Civil Engineering Honor Society.

Watkins spent three years as a staff engineer at Langan, an engineering and environmental consulting firm in San Francisco, while training to become a licensed professional engineer.

At Langan, she worked on construction sites to make certain contractors installed items correctly and soil was being treated properly. She took a year off to pursue a master’s degree in civil engineering at UC Berkeley and graduated in July 2018. She is now a senior staff engineer and PE in Langan’s geotechnical department.

“Getting to work in civil engineering is so rewarding because you get to see the fruits of your labor on the skyline in the cities that you work in. I love problem-solving, and getting to do this on a day-to-day basis is very rewarding,” said Watkins. 

Langan is a sponsor of the CEENVE department and offers various internship and entry level positions for students. Openings can be viewed on the department’s Job & Scholarship listing page.

To learn more about Langan, visit, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Twitter.

Cal Poly EWB Begin Plans for Water Distribution and Purification System

Feb 12, 2018

La Rinconada residents raise their hands.

Over winter break, the Cal Poly Engineers Without Borders (EWB) team visited the small Nicaraguan village of La Rinconada to begin plans for a water purification and distribution system for the 300 residents.

Most of the residents rely on natural spring water that flows through a pipe that is subject to cracking because of its shallow burial. In addition, the pipeline doesn’t reach all 87 homes. Some homes have wells. The water is often polluted by livestock manure, however. Illnesses have been attributed to the lack of clean water in the community.

Cal Poly EWB has been working with local community leaders and a non-governmental organization since October 2017. More than 30 Cal Poly students have been working together to design the water process system. The final design will take about six months to complete and will be approved by a professional engineer.

The water distribution and purification system will provide clean water for all 87 homes and will completely cut off the old water source. The students plan to drill the well in spring 2018 and hope to be done with the entire pipeline distribution system by summer 2019.


First Official Participant in the Industrial Partnership Program: Ken Lindberg

Jan 6, 2018

Department Chair, Dr. Charles Chadwell, has officially initiated the new Industrial Partnership Program for the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. We thank Ken Lindberg, Vice President and co-founder of Power Engineering Construction Co. for being one of our first donors through the program.

Power engineering lab

Ken Lindberg graduated from Cal Poly in 1979, when there were not as many concentrations offered in civil engineering as there are today. Ken’s focus in structural engineering at Cal Poly led him to a career in construction engineering. He always appreciated the down-to-earth attitude and “learn by doing” mentality at Cal Poly. He continues to support and grow the education of the civil and environmental engineering students here by participating on the Industrial Advisory Board. With his generous donation, he hopes to provide more opportunities for student projects that will further enhance their education. He also hopes to spark the interest of civil engineering students to consider a career in construction engineering.

Power Engineering Construction Co. specializes in marine, heavy civil, and design-build projects. Founded in 1986, the firm pursues excellence in civil engineering by focusing on the technical aspects of their designs. Power Engineering Construction Co. has grown to roughly 80 employees and regularly recruits Cal Poly Students as part of their team. They have worked on many projects in Northern California, including the expansion of the San Francisco Ferry Terminal and construction of water treatment plants in Redwood City and Palo Alto.

If you would like to learn more about Power Engineering Construction Co., please visit their website at:

Cannon Corp Sponsors Cal Poly CE/ENVE Water Lab

Dec 8, 2017

Cannon’s partnership with the College of Engineering’s Hydraulics Laboratory stems from a commitment to excellence in water resource infrastructure development and a long-standing partnership between Cannon and Cal Poly. 

Cannon lab

Cal Poly’s Water Resources Laboratory, or also referred to as the Hydraulics Laboratory, is an educational and hands-on resource for the College of Engineering’s undergraduate and graduate students. As a requirement for all Civil and Environmental Engineering majors, this laboratory provides students with the opportunity to “Learn by Doing” where students are able to learn about principles and applications of flow measurement in pipes and open channels, rainfall runoff, and discharge through a weir. Recently, the Hydraulics Lab was awarded a three-year sponsorship totaling $15,000 to fund student research projects and purchase new equipment. This generous donation was provided by local engineering firm, Cannon.

Cannon’s partnership with the College of Engineering’s Hydraulics Laboratory stems from a commitment to excellence in water resource infrastructure development and a long-standing partnership between Cannon and Cal Poly. This funding partnership allows Cannon to stay at the forefront of water resources in the areas of desalination, low impact development, and improved efficiencies for water treatment. Beyond achieving financial benefits from this partnership, students and Cal Poly receive additional benefits.

Students have the opportunity to meet regularly with engineers from Cannon who are in-the-field designing and implementing the very types of projects that are being studied within the laboratory setting. Having this resource provides students with an opportunity to investigate ideas, concepts, or theories with experienced engineers. 



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