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Cal Poly Float Wins Founders’ Trophy at 2017 Rose Parade

Cal Poly universities’ “A New Leaf,” featuring an animated family of chameleons exploring the wonders of a vibrantly colorful world around them, received the Founders’ Trophy for the most beautiful float built and decorated by volunteers from a community or organization at the 128th Rose Parade held Jan. 2 in Pasadena. The float, designed and built by teams of students from Cal Poly and California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, celebrates the 2017 parade theme, “Echoes of Success.” The theme tells the story of how character is developed through the selfless contributions of others and celebrates their inspirational gifts. “The Cal Poly universities’ float is a shining example of our students’ embrace of the Learn by Doing experience,” Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong said of the annual yearlong project. “Students from a range of majors spanning our campus join their peers from Pomona each year to design, construct, shape and decorate a unique creation that delights Cal Poly alumni, family and fans. This year’s entry is no exception. The students continue to develop new innovations that deliver ingenious animation and bring their flower-covered creatures to life.” More on the Rose Float.

Cal Poly Named Best in the West for 24th Consecutive Year

Cal Poly is once again the best public, master’s-level university in the West — the 24th straight year the university has earned the distinction in the U.S. News & World Report’s annual America’s Best Colleges guidebook. The 2017 guidebook lists Cal Poly in a tie with Saint Mary’s College for ninth place overall in the West for regional universities (up from from 10th place last year) and above all other public universities in the region. Cal Poly’s College of Engineering moves up two spots to No. 5 on the list of best master's/bachelor's program in the nation. As well, The Orfalea College of Business appears for the second straight year on the magazine’s list of best undergraduate business programs. 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. More on the rankings.

Cal Poly Engineering Dean Named Provost at Chico State

Debra Larson, dean of Cal Poly's College of Engineering, is leaving the university to take on the position of provost and vice president for academic affairs at California State University, Chico. Larson’s last day with Cal Poly will be Friday, Feb. 24. “Cal Poly’s College of Engineering is ranked among the best in the nation, and we thank Dr. Larson for her stewardship and leadership during her tenure,” said Kathleen Enz Finken Cal Poly’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “We wish her continued success in this next chapter of her career.” Larson has been the dean of Cal Poly’s College of Engineering since 2011. Enz Finken will meet with the Cal Poly’s College of Engineering department heads and chairs, as well as other members of the campus community, prior to naming an interim dean. That announcement, along with details regarding the search for a permanent dean, is anticipated to occur at the beginning of Cal Poly’s winter quarter. More on Larson's departure.

Cal Poly Women Engineers Win Top National Award for Sixth Straight Year

For the sixth consecutive year, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) conferred its Gold Award for outstanding overall programming on Cal Poly SWE. Cal Poly also placed second in the national Team Tech Competition for a catheter localization (mapping) device designed for St. Jude Medical. The sensor-enabled device can track catheter tips as they move through the body without using the X-ray-based imaging technique fluoroscopy. The multidisciplinary team of students, led by aerospace engineering major Sarah Kaye and electrical engineering major Trefor Szabo, included biomedical engineering majors Kathleen Balfour, Keele Peck and Kyra Schmidt; electrical engineering majors Tyler Scholz and Cecilia Yuen; mechanical engineering majors Sarah DeRosier, Alex Kost and Katrina Prodanov; and software engineering major Abby Schmiedt. In addition, Cal Poly SWE alumna Tracy Van Houten and one current member Rebecca Kandell were honored with national awards. More on the awards.

Cal Poly Researchers Awarded $513,000 Department of Defense Grant

A group of Cal Poly researchers in the field of human motion biomechanics have been awarded a three-year, $513,000 grant by the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity to improve the quality of life for military transtibial amputees. Combat safety advances such as battle armor and armored vehicles have saved lives, but more soldiers are returning home with below-knee or “transtibial” amputations. And although prosthetic limb design has advanced rapidly, even state-of-the-art prostheses do not completely restore natural biomechanics. As a result, veterans who use a prosthesis often develop osteoarthritis and joint pain in their remaining limb when they follow common fitness exercise regimens. The Cal Poly team will focus on identifying exercises that maintain intact limb knee and hip joint and cartilage tissue loads at safe levels and, consequently, prevent the onset of osteoarthritis. More on the grant.

Irrigation Training and Research Center is Industry ‘Partner of the Year’

Cal Poly’s Irrigation Training and Research Center (ITRC) has been named “Partner of the Year” by the national Irrigation Association in recognition of the center’s contributions to irrigation and long-standing support of the Irrigation Association. Nominated by irrigation industry members, the ITRC will be honored at the Irrigation Association’s annual convention and trade show Dec. 6 in Las Vegas, Nev. The center is being recognized for contributions that include the high caliber of Cal Poly graduates who gain work experience through the center and for the technical assistance and training it provides to the irrigation industry. Cal Poly’s ITRC has played a leadership role nationwide and internationally in programs that specialize in irrigation district modernization, water and energy optimization, water balances, water conservation, on-farm irrigation design and management, and landscape irrigation design and management. The ITRC supports the irrigation teaching program at Cal Poly through financial and material contributions and provides field experience for faculty and students. It employs 15 full-time staff and hires about 40 student researchers annually. More on the award.

Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Opens New SLO HotHouse Location

Cal Poly’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) has opened a new 15,000-square-foot SLO HotHouse location in the heart of downtown San Luis Obispo. The SLO HotHouse is a collaborative effort with the county, city and local business community, aimed at supporting innovators and entrepreneurs to build a unique startup culture in San Luis Obispo County. “The grand opening of the SLO HotHouse is a major investment in the future of San Luis Obispo that will benefit our community for generations,” said CIE Executive Director Tod Nelson. “Working with our partners in the county, city, and the business community, the possibilities are limitless. Increasing economic development opportunities will have a ripple effect across our region.” More on the new location.

Cal Poly Receives $20 Million Pledge for Multidisciplinary Research and Technology Center

Cal Poly has received a pledge of $20 million from alumnus William L. Frost and his wife, Linda, toward construction of a planned multidisciplinary undergraduate research and technology center on campus. The Frosts have pledged the gift in support of Cal Poly’s comprehensive polytechnic education and in hopes of attracting additional donations to fund the estimated $57 million Science & Agriculture Teaching and Research Complex — a center of at least 64,000 square feet that will feature research labs and technology space for Cal Poly’s Colleges of Science & Mathematics, Liberal Arts, and Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences. “This center will bring Learn by Doing alive for thousands of Cal Poly students across many disciplines,” said Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong. “We are grateful to Bill and Linda for their generosity, vision and leadership on this project and their ardent support for undergraduate research.” The Frosts believe in Cal Poly’s model of involving students in real-world projects. Bill Frost is a 1972 Cal Poly graduate with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry. Linda Frost earned a degree in biology from San Jose State University. More on the pledge.