Six Cal Poly Engineering Champions Honored in Sacramento
February 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.
Photo: Back row, from left: Dorian Capps, Rebecca Kandell, Nelson Lin; front row, from left, Elizabeth Coffey, Jennifer Tuttle and Salvador Cortes Soancatl.
Professor Jim Meagher Named Interim Dean
February 24, 2017
Jim Meagher, professor and chair of the Mechanical Engineering Department, has been named interim dean of the College of Engineering by Cal Poly Provost Kathleen Enz-Finken. Meagher follows former Dean Debra Larson, who recently left Cal Poly to take a position as provost at CSU Chico. Meagher’s appointment was effective Feb. 13.
“Jim has provided excellent leadership and outreach throughout his time on campus,” said Enz-Finken. “His measured and collaborative approach to leadership, support for diversity and inclusion efforts, and experiences in philanthropy will be assets at the college level.”
Meagher joined the Mechanical Engineering Department in 1988 as an assistant professor; he was awarded tenure and promotion to full professor in 1994. For the past three years, Meagher served as department chair. He earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Akron and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. His areas of scholarship include rotor dynamics and modeling of high-speed rotating machinery.
During his career at Cal Poly, Meagher helped establish the Donald E. Bently Center for Engineering Innovation, a research center in the Mechanical Engineering Department, the Bently Computational Facility, and the Solar Turbines/Bently Nevada Vibrations and Rotor Dynamics Laboratory.
“It was a great privilege to work with Don Bently, a giant of industry,” said Meagher. “I am also gratified that my early collaboration with Munich University of Applied Sciences evolved into a rich exchange of students and faculty. Hundreds of students and half of the mechanical engineering faculty have had the opportunity to study and teach abroad as a result of this ongoing partnership.”
In addition to his teaching and research activities, Meagher served as faculty advisor to the Cal Poly chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers for 25 years. “In this position, I’ve seen first-hand how Cal Poly engineering students collaborate on award-winning projects,” he said. “In fact, what brought me to Cal Poly in 1988 still motivates me today: contributing to student success along with a passion for the discipline.
“As interim dean, I want to continue the positive trajectory set by Dean Larson. I hope, especially, to add momentum to the development of a new Engineering Projects Center, and to enhance diversity and promote inclusivity in the college.”
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