Feb. 6, 2015

Contact: Amy Hewes

Cal Poly Society of Women Engineers Honors Five Outstanding Members

SAN LUIS OBISPO — The Cal Poly Society of Women Engineers (SWE) announced five recipients of the 2014 Outstanding Women in Engineering (OWE) award at this year’s Evening with Industry held Thursday, Jan. 22, at the Avila Beach Golf Resort. More than $32,000 in scholarships were also awarded.

Attended by almost 300 students, faculty, staff and representatives from 27 companies, the banquet honored student accomplishments. In addition to the OWE honorees, 29 students were recognized with scholarship awards from Boeing, Cal Poly SWE, Chevron, Eaton, Fluor, Lam Research, Mazzetti, NetAPP, Orbital Sciences, Parker Aerospace, Phillips 66, Raytheon, Skyworks, Solar Turbines and Trane.

The Outstanding Women in Engineering awardees were chosen based on four criteria: faculty recommendations, demonstrated leadership, related work experience and grade point average. Each of the winners is actively engaged in extracurricular activities. The recipients are:

Kristina Bishard: A biomedical engineering senior from Arvada, Colo., Bishard immersed in the world of academic research. A member of the department’s skin research lab since her freshman year, she developed stand-out research and leadership skills that have made her, in the words of faculty advisor Lily Laiho, the de facto lab manager. Bishard was recently awarded a grant from the Hannah-Forbes Fund to continue her research as a senior project. In another senior design project, for Edwards Lifesciences, she is helping optimize manufacturing of one of the company's heart valves. She has also had two summer internships at the University of Colorado, Denver, involving geriatric clinical research and in-vitro diabetes research. When not in the lab, Bishard is active in student philanthropy. As a member of the Gamma Pi Beta Panhellenic sorority, she coordinated events that raised more than $4,000 for the national foundation of Building Strong Girls, and as someone who lives with diabetes, she has been an especially passionate member and fundraiser for the Cal Poly Diabetes Club.

Allie Davis: A civil engineering senior from Boulder, Colo., Davis has a bent for international work and study. As a member of Engineers Without Borders (EWB)-Cal Poly, she has been project manager for the chapter’s Thailand program since her freshman year, overseeing water sanitation, agricultural and hydroelectric projects. Another significant component of Davis’ education has included her international exchange and living experiences in East Asia, Santiago, Chile and, most recently, Spain, where she is took courses at the Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya in Barcelona, a renowned engineering school. An internship in Sacramento last summer with MWH Global Inc., an international consulting firm in water and energy infrastructure, deepened and broadened her future plans to work as a consultant for agencies, government and communities pursuing development.

Cristina Formaini: A computer science senior from Stevenson Ranch, Calif., Formaini credits being one of the first women to graduate from Cal Poly’s new cybersecurity program with immediately landing her a job with Apple’s product security team. Similar trailblazing traits were reflected in her role as president of the computer science department’s two largest clubs – WISH (Women Involved in Software and Hardware) and White Hat, an organization for students interested in making the Internet a safer place – where she used her leadership positions to open doors and create new learning environments for women in computing and those interested in pursuing the emerging field of cybersecurity.

Nicole O’Hearne: From San Francisco, Calif., O’Hearne is an architectural engineering senior with a distinguished record for academics and student leadership development. She has facilitated student leadership training for Cal Poly’s nationally ranked orientation program, Week of Welcome (WOW), and is president of the Structural Engineers Association of California, where she has built a range of programs to sustain, enhance and expand student connection and involvement. Following her graduation in June, she will begin a summer internship at Degenkolb, an structural engineering firm based in San Francisco. It will build on her internship experience last summer at Holmes Culley, an international practice specializing in earthquake-resistant engineering. O’Hearne’s next steps include postgraduate studies in earthquake engineering.

Jessica Pease: As a woman in the world of computer science, Pease is often an anomaly, but the computer science senior from Elk Horn, Calif., aims to change that. As president of the Computer Science Department’s White Hat and WISH clubs, simultaneously, Pease organized one of the largest student groups to attend one of the world’s largest gatherings of women technologists — the Grace Hopper Conference for Women in Computing. As a club officer, Pease also started and ran a Lean-In circle to help students explore some of the issues facing women in computing. Pease’s leadership bridging the gender gap in the cybersecurity field has also been acknowledged by industry leaders: In the past year, she received prestigious scholarships from Hewlett-Packard and Apple, and was profiled in Fast Company. She recently studied at KTH, the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden.

Photo caption: The Cal Poly Society of Women Engineers Outstanding Women in Engineering recipients for 2014 included, left to right, Kristina Bishard (Biomedical Engineering), Cristina Formaini (Computer Science), Nichole O’Hearne (Architectural Engineering), Jessie Pease (Computer Science) and Allie Davis (Civil Engineering).

# # #