Cal Poly College of Engineering: A Look Back at 2022

Cal Poly College of Engineering had an exceptional year focused on impact. From national awards to a new Noyce School of Applied Computing, our college community changed the world around them. Please enjoy a look at 2022 below. Read more by clicking each headline.

On the Move: Zeeshan Khan’s Startup, Zoetic Motion, Aims to Help Injured Athletes Heal

Having suffered a few broken bones himself through the years, Zeeshan Khan knows there’s an important mental aspect to recovery.

“You have to push,” he said. “You have to remain mobile.”

Those who have suffered injuries can work with a physical therapist, but insurance only covers so many visits, requiring patients perform “homework.” And, Khan learned, only about 35 percent of patients actually do physical therapy at home. So he and a partner came up with a web platform designed to motivate users to continue their rehab.

Materials Engineering Department’s Anniversary Campaign Doubles Original Fundraising Goal, Raising Money for Labs

A fundraising campaign coinciding with the Materials Engineering Department’s 60th anniversary exceeded expectations, nearly doubling its goal, said Department Chair Trevor Harding.

The campaign, which raised close to $45,000, was matched with $50,000 provided by alumnus Bill LaFontaine.

Cal Poly’s Computer Engineering Program Becomes a Department 

For incoming students, the computer engineering program’s transformation to department status was visually evident even before fall classes began, when more CPE faculty were available during Week of Welcome events. And as the school year continues, those students will likely notice more changes, which are expected to help develop a greater sense of identity while allowing the department a greater ability to adapt to rapid industry changes. 

Computer Science & Software Engineering Students Help Nonprofit Provide Crucial Medical Record System to Areas Experiencing a Crisis

More than a decade after Sarah Draugelis volunteered to help earthquake victims in Haiti, there’s one patient she can’t forget.

A pregnant woman with gestational diabetes needed insulin. Yet, sadly, the medical tents that volunteers had set up didn’t have any, and the woman died. Later, Draugelis discovered another team had volunteered in that same village a month earlier.

The Art of Engineering: Paintings and Other Art Will Soon Add Color and Style to CENG Walls

An initiative introducing more artwork to the college will make the walls of multiple engineering buildings more visually appealing — and, according to at least one study, more welcoming to underrepresented students.

Already, paintings donated by a prolific couple have been added to the main computing lab, with more on the way for Building 192 and the Advanced Technologies Lab (ATL). And more art will be added with the 2022 Art of Engineering Challenge, which invites submissions from engineering students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Annual CSU Student Research Competition to Include 10 Student Projects from Cal Poly

Ten student research projects from Cal Poly have been selected to represent the university at the annual California State University (CSU) systemwide competition April 29-30 including one from the Cal Poly Engineering Computer Science and Software Engineering Department.

The delegates were chosen from 39 projects involving 57 Cal Poly undergraduate students, graduate students and recent alumni. Cal Poly’s Academic Senate Grants Review Committee Selected the 10 projects to move forward at the university’s internal competition.

Patrick Perrine (Computer Science Graduate Program) and Trevor Kirkby (Computer Science Graduate Program) will present Computational Choreography Using Human Motion Synthesis. Jonathan Daniel Ventura and Franz Kurfess, both in the Computer Science and Software Engineering Department, are the advisors.

Cal Poly Solar Regatta Club Wins Award

The Cal Poly Solar Regatta Club took home several awards during the Solar Regatta annual competition hosted by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD). 

Members Niko Banks, a March 2022 bachelor’s and master’s degree graduate in mechanical engineering; Emerson Nicholas and Cooper Nichols, both first year mechanical engineering students; and Kaveh Shafiei, first year electrical engineering student, took home 2nd place overall and individual awards for fastest slalom time, best drivetrain and best presentation.

Change the World Challenge Winners Announced 

Sponsored by Bill Swanson, the Change the World Challenge, a university-wide initiative featuring multiple teams developing solutions using a systems approach, awarded $35,000 in prizes at the event on Saturday, May 7. 

This year’s Change the World Challenge theme was Solutions for Living in a Post-COVID World. Student teams spent three quarters balancing technical concerns with social, cultural, economic, historical, political and environmental implications. Through the challenge, a wide range of ideas were considered, and complicated problems required students to take many approaches to solutions, making this Change the World Challenge an interdisciplinary Learn by Doing success.

General Engineering Student Awarded Advanced Energy 2022 STEM Diversity Scholarship

Advanced Energy Industries, Inc. (Nasdaq: AEIS) – a global leader in highly engineered, precision power conversion, measurement and control solutions – today announced the recipients of the 2022 Advanced Energy STEM Diversity Scholarship Program. Awardees are Ashleigh Hunt, Rochester Institute of Technology; Manuel Alva, University of Colorado Boulder; and Nick Campbell, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

In addition to a $20,000 grant towards tuition cost, the three recipients will receive professional mentoring and an internship opportunity at Advanced Energy, where they will work on real-world projects that enable customer innovation in complex precision power applications.

Cal Poly College of Engineering Receives Transformational Gift to Create The Noyce School of Applied Computing

Cal Poly is pleased to announce the establishment of The Noyce School of Applied Computing, a new interdisciplinary school (the first of its kind at Cal Poly) combining three departments under one umbrella — Electrical Engineering, Computer Science and Software Engineering, and Computer Engineering — to create interdisciplinary collaboration opportunities for departments and faculty doing applied computing across the university in fields such as statistics.

The Noyce School is made possible by donations received from the Robert N. Noyce Trust — with its current intention to make a future eight-figure bequest to Cal Poly’s College of Engineering. Robert N. Noyce was a co-founder of Intel and inventor of the integrated circuit, which fueled the personal computer revolution and gave Silicon Valley its name. Nicknamed the “Mayor of Silicon Valley,” Noyce’s impact on the field of computing and society at large cannot be overstated.

Paddling Into the History Book: Cal Poly’s Concrete Canoe Team Sets a Milestone Winning its Sixth National Title

Back in the water after a two-year delay because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cal Poly concrete canoe team returned to its winning ways at the 2022 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Concrete Canoe Competition on June 3-5, at Louisiana Tech University. The victory marks Cal Poly’s sixth championship in the 35-year history of the competition.

Biomed Student Wins CSU Research Competition

Cal Poly biomedical engineering student Tanvi Gehani took first place in her category at this year’s CSU Research Competition with her project, “A study into different types of saturated fat sources and their effects to the liver and overall gut health.”

Cal Poly Students Take First Place at Inclusive Design Competition

A team of three Cal Poly industrial and manufacturing engineering students took first place at this year’s IDEATE Engineering Competition with their senior project: the eZcart, a janitorial cart designed to help reduce fatigue and discomfort for those with mobility impairments.

Cal Poly Engineering Professor Obtains Earthquake Protection Patent 

Working in collaboration with colleague Dr. Narjabadifam in Iran, Cal Poly Mechanical Engineering Professor Dr. Mohammad Noori has recently obtained a patent for inventing a novel earthquake protection system.  

Noori has been involved in the development of seismic isolation systems since the mid-1980s. Research and development into the subject have produced several “smart” materials with unique properties including the basis behind Noori’s patent: an alloy that is able to return to its original shape after being deformed. 

Cal Poly Supermileage Team Wins 2022 Shell Eco-Marathon Competition 

On April 13th, the Cal Poly Supermileage team took first place in the Prototype Battery Electric category at the 2022 Shell Eco-Marathon event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 

Overcoming long odds after a year spent building up the team again following two years of virtual instruction, the Cal Poly team won with an efficiency of 139.7 miles per kilowatt hour, besting second place by over 45 miles per kilowatt hour. 

Cal Poly Team Wins Environmental Challenge International (ECi) 

A team of environmental engineering Cal Poly students proposed a regulatory plan to reduce emissions from vessels in the San Francisco Bay and won the Environmental Challenge International (ECi) at the Air and Waste Management Association Conference in San Francisco. 

Congressman Salud Carbajal Celebrates Educational Partnership with Cal Poly and Air Force Research Lab 

Congressman Salud Carbajal celebrated the future of space with the opening of the school’s vacuum chamber, used for testing spacecraft or spacecraft parts under a simulated space environment, during a tour at Cal Poly on Aug. 11. 

Carbajal championed the partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory that funded roughly $2.5 million to enhance the university’s Aerospace Engineering Department and boost its mini-satellite program, which was the catalyst for a substantial expansion of space research two decades ago. 

Cal Poly WISH (Women Involved in Software & Hardware) Named 2022 Inspiring Program in STEM 

INSIGHT Into Diversity has recognized Cal Poly WISH (Women Involved in Software & Hardware) as a 2022 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award recipient for their unique efforts to welcome individuals from marginalized populations to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. 

A Basketball Injury Ended Lauren Reny’s Sports Career but Provided a Path to Leadership 

Lauren Reny heard a pop in her knee and thought, That’s not normal.  

The guard with the Christian Village High School basketball team had collided with another player during a tight regular season game, sending the Los Angeles resident to the floor, writhing in pain. When she was carried off the court, it marked the last time she would appear in a varsity game. 

Providing Hope: EMPOWER Club Gives Students Hands-on Experience While Helping Real People with Challenges 

Pearse Lipscomb realized the impact he could have at Cal Poly when a Cuesta College student strummed a guitar for the first time using a prosthetic hand Lipscomb helped create.  

“He was a little bit emotional,” Lipscomb said. “All of us were. It was a beautiful thing.” 

Three years later, Lipscomb is president of the club that made that moment possible. Now named EMPOWER (Endeavors to Move People Onward with Engineered Results), the club’s 4-person leadership team includes three biomedical engineering students. 

Cal Poly SWE President Achieves National Recognition 

Computer Engineering student and Cal Poly Society of Women Engineers President Alyssa Liu was recognized for her involvement in the club and professional success, achieving the Outstanding Collegiate Member award presented by the national SWE organization. 

The award is only given to 10 SWE members nationwide each year who exhibit exceptional club activity, academic proficiency, and professional pursuits. 

Multitasking on the Mountain 

As he and his wife prepared to hike iconic Mt. Kilimanjaro to promote kidney organ donations in March, Ben Hawkins figured he could use the bucket list event to assist his product research. Sarah Hawkins, a student affairs professional at Cal Poly, became a kidney donor herself in 2019, after discovering the father of an elementary school classmate had been on dialysis for six years and needed a transplant.  Now she’s a founding member of the Kidney Donor Athletes Board of Directors, who helped brainstorm The One Kidney Climb to show how active people can be after donating. 

Michael Whitt Joins Sister in Rutgers Hall of Fame 

While students have often benefitted from Michael Whitt’s mentorship, the assistant professor is thankful for the inspiration his students have provided.   

“Not many people have jobs where they can come to work in a bad mood, and their job can help improve their mood and perspective on things,” Whitt said. “In that respect, we are pretty lucky as teachers.” 

Cal Poly College of Engineering Rises to 6th Best in Nation in U.S. News & World Report Rankings 

The Cal Poly College of Engineering continues to make a national impression with its Learn by Doing approach, moving up to sixth on the list of best undergraduate engineering programs in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges guidebook. In the guidebook, Cal Poly was named the best public, master’s-level university in the West for the 30th straight year in U.S. News & World Report’s annual Best Colleges guidebook. 

National Science Foundation Awards $1.8 Million Grant to Cal Poly and Five California State University Campuses 

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $1.8 million grant to Cal Poly and five other California State University (CSU) campuses to help transform the early curriculum experience of historically marginalized students studying computer science with the goal of retaining higher numbers of these students.   

Cal Poly students win first place during Cisco intern competition 

Cal Poly engineering student Michael Cassetti earned accolades during his internship with Cisco when he helped developed a solution to a supply chain problem using skills learned in one of his favorite classes.   

Cassetti and over 30 other interns were tasked with creating decision-making models to combat supply chain issues faced by so many companies over the last few years. 

COMPASS Initiative Receives $2.89 Million Grant for Undergraduate Regenerative Medicine Program 

Cal Poly will receive $2.89 million from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to fund an undergraduate program focused on regenerative medicine. 

The initiative is part of CIRM’s statewide Creating Opportunities through Mentorship and Partnership Across Stem Cell Science, or COMPASS program. CIRM’s mission is to accelerate world-class science to deliver transformative regenerative medicine treatments in an equitable manner to a diverse California and world. 

Engineering Students, Faculty Present Collaborative Project to Enhance Keysight’s Interferometer System 

Cal Poly engineering students and faculty visited Keysight Technologies’ facility in Santa Clara on Sept. 15 to present their collaborative project enhancing Keysight’s cutting-edge interferometer system.   

The project, led by three Cal Poly faculty members – Dr. Siyuan Xing and Dr. Charlene Birdsong from Mechanical Engineering and Dr. Joseph Callenes from Computer Engineering – aims to develop new tools facilitating the integration and application of interferometer systems for Keysight users without expertise in motion control and system identification. 

‘Inspiring The Next Generation Of Engineers’: Cal Poly SWE Honored With Boeing Multicultural Award 

Future engineer Paige Ross looks back to the isolating experience of being the only woman in her engineering class, which strengthened her commitment to create a culture of belonging for all women in STEM at Cal Poly.   

Ross now is president of Cal Poly’s Society of Women Engineers, which was recently honored with the Boeing Company Collegiate Multicultural Award for increasing and retaining a diverse membership in an inclusive environment.   

Art of Engineering: Exhibit Showcases the Connection Between Engineering and Art 

As engineers and creators, faculty, staff, alumni and students were invited to explore the interplay between engineering and art through the Art of Engineering Challenge. Participants considered the beauty enabled and expressed through engineering, such as physical assembly, CAD, coding and other elegant visualizations of data, information or design, and, alternatively, used traditional artist’s mediums like paint, pencil, photography and engineering know-how to share the beauty of the engineering design process. 

Seeking Sustainable Solutions to Post-Disaster Debris 

When a natural disaster leaves a staggering amount of debris in its wake, cleanup efforts kick into high gear as workers fast-track materials to local landfills – a practice the engineering and science communities are aiming to correct.    

SWE Members Place First in National Team Tech Competition 

Cal Poly’s Society of Women Engineers team placed first in the national Team Tech Competition, where they presented their prototype model to solve the problem of empty seats on commercial planes.  

Five members of Cal Poly SWE were selected to share their anthropomorphic cargo system model in Houston, Texas this fall. 

Herbie Bounces Back from Adversity  

When Professor John Seng’s colleagues discovered he was planning a Halloween visit between his robot Herbie and a group of preschoolers, they launched into a debate. Who would win, Herbie or the preschoolers?   

“They all said the preschoolers would win,” Seng said.   

Cadence Empowers Future Engineers Through Computational Software Donation to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo 

Cal Poly announced an agreement with Cadence Design Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq: CDNS) that enables students, faculty and staff access to a vast array of computational software products. The agreement is intended to empower students to explore the development of advanced electronics, utilizing new design methods, allowing them to enter professional life with hands-on experience using widely utilized software. 

‘Star Wars’ Droid Coming to Cal Poly 

Professor John Seng needed a project to jump-start the Robotics Club after COVID, so he turned to “Star Wars” for inspiration.   

Having built Herbie – the college’s current autonomous robot – Seng was confident he could guide students as they built their own. 

Cal Poly Amateur Radio Club Celebrates 75th Anniversary 

Students and alumni came together to honor the Cal Poly Amateur Radio Club’s 75th anniversary. The weekend-long celebration incorporated activities ranging from barbecues and hikes to learning the club’s history and testing radio devices.   

Cal Poly Engineers Without Borders Team Implements Rain Catchment Tanks in Fiji 

The Cal Poly Engineers without Borders team took a trip to Fiji in the summer as part of their project to implement sustainable water systems.  

Members of the student-run nonprofit organization first formed a partnership with the villages of Nakawaga, Ligualevu and Vesi on Mali Island, Fiji, in 2017. The initial project was developed to combat coastal erosion, but after an assessment of the villages, the project focus pivoted to the issue of water quantity and quality. 

Cal Poly’s Pyxis, Lunar Lads Teams Selected for Phase Two of NASA Micro-g NExT Challenge 

Cal Poly’s Team Pyxis and Team Lunar Lads have been selected to move into Phase II of NASA’s 2023 Micro-g NExT challenge. Micro-g Neutral Buoyancy Experiment Design Teams (Micro-g NExT) challenges undergraduate students to design, build and test a tool or device that addresses an authentic, current space exploration challenge. 

Alumnus Helps Provide Clean Cookstoves Abroad 

Alumnus Leo Taranta-Slack with Prakti testers

When alumnus Leo Taranta-Slack (Mechanical Engineering, ‘21) learned about an organization with the goal of providing clean cookstoves to households throughout the world, he decided to put his engineering skills to work. His background made him a good fit for Prakti.