June 9, 2015

Contact: Amy Hewes

Cal Poly Engineering Announces 2015 Outstanding Graduates

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Cal Poly Engineering announced its 2015 Outstanding Graduates at the collegewide Project Expo held May 29. The students honored included the top senior for academic excellence and three graduating seniors recognized for service to the college, university and community. The Student Volunteers of the Year were also announced.

Environmental engineering senior Nathaniel Homan from Glendale, Calif., was recognized as the College of Engineering’s topmost graduating senior for academic excellence. With a 3.988 GPA, Homan made the Dean’s List and President’s List every quarter from 2011 to the present. He has been a member of the Cal Poly Marching Band for three years. For the past year, Homan has served as an intern with the San Luis Obispo Air Pollution Control District working to update the district’s emissions inventory. He also contributed to a student team that won second place at the 2014 New Mexico State University Institute for Energy and the Environment Competition for its design of floating solar panels. Homan notes that a class on water and wastewater engineering taught by Professor Rebekah Oulton helped form his professional goal to generate engineering solutions to water resource challenges. After graduation, Homan will attend UC Davis to earn a master’s degree in environmental engineering.

Mechanical engineering senior Haden Cory from San Francisco was named Outstanding Graduating Senior for Contributions to the College of Engineering. As the lead shop tech in the College of Engineering’s student project shops for the past two years, Cory has been responsible for a staff of 30, including scheduling and training, and shop safety, efficiency and maintenance. In addition to providing volunteer support to clubs, teams and individual students of all skill levels, Cory has served on a collegewide committee to provide input on needs, features and equipment for a proposed new student projects building. According to a faculty nominator, “Haden has really given back to Cal Poly in his involvement in the hands-on education that we emphasize in the shops.”

The Outstanding Graduating Senior for Contribution to the University was computer science senior Cristina Formaini from Stevenson Ranch, Calif. Formaini held various leadership positions in two high-profile Cal Poly computer science clubs: Women Involved in Software and Hardware (WISH) and White Hat, a security and anti-hacking group. As president of both groups this year, Formaini instituted organizational practices and new programming that enhanced co-curricular learning content and resulted in increased membership. As the outreach officer for WISH, Formaini instituted a hands-on outreach program for local elementary schools. She also developed a mentoring program for incoming first-year female students, which boosted female retention rates in the Computer Science Department. The success of the program led to Formaini’s participation in a panel at the SoCal Women in Computing Conference in San Diego. Formaini is considered a role model for other women in computing on and off campus.

Industrial engineering senior Jeffrey Silva from La Habra, Calif., was named the Outstanding Graduating Senior for Service to the Community. Silva has been actively involved in the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, the largest Hispanic club on campus. He provided leadership that helped the organization thrive, including serving as president for the past year. For two years, he worked as an ambassador with Partner Schools, California public high schools that have low percentages of students advancing to college. In that role, Silva conducted outreach at high schools and led campus tours for student groups from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds. Silva’s community contributions also include volunteering with the Center for Community Engagement and organizing Alternative Breaks to New Orleans, a program to help rebuild homes devastated in Hurricane Katrina.

The Engineering Ambassadors were announced as the Student Volunteers of the Year. Now in its 21st year, the 80-member group represents the college to prospective students and parents by leading visitor tours. During this academic year, Engineering Ambassadors provided 160 two-hour tours for roughly 4,500 visitors. Ambassadors undergo a rigorous application and training process that includes 10 hours of mandatory training sessions with quizzes and mock tours. According to Zach Meyer, 2014-15 Engineering Ambassadors president, the student volunteers are motivated by their positive experience at Cal Poly and their desire to give back. “Sometimes, it’s hard to put on your smiling ‘game face’ for 30 guests when you’re thinking of the midterm that you’ll be taking right after the tour,” said Meyer, “but it’s very rewarding when students on campus come up to you and say, ‘I chose Cal Poly because of you.’”

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