November 2, 2015

Contact: Jane Lehr

‘Solving Society's Audacious Challenges’ Topic of Nov. 16 Talk at Cal Poly 

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Aaron Opdyke, a Cal Poly civil engineering alumnus now working as a research assistant, will present “Solving Society's Audacious Challenges: The Nexus of Engineering and the Humanities” at 6:10 p.m. Monday, Nov. 16, in theAdvanced Technology Laboratories (Building No. 7) at Cal Poly. After the talk, he will answer questions from the audience.

At the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in September, 193 nations committed to three extraordinary tasks: end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and address climate change. Opdyke will discuss the need for interdisciplinary teams to solve these pressing societal challenges.

Opdyke, who works at the University of Colorado, Boulder, will also present best practices in high-stakes interdisciplinary collaboration by sharing his recent research in post-disaster recovery. Specifically, he will examine how such collaborations played an integral role in post-disaster recovery efforts following Super Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines in 2013.

His talk is co-sponsored by the new science, technology and society (STS) minor program in Cal Poly’s College of Liberal Arts. Students in the program explore the interconnections of science, technology and society and how each impacts and influences the other and the world.

“The STS program is designed to empower students to tackle the biggest challenges and questions we face in the 21st century,” said program Director Jane Lehr. “We need leaders like Aaron who can understand, innovate and create bridges between diverse disciplines and professions to solve today’s and tomorrow’s complex problems.”

The event is co-sponsored by Cal Poly’s College of Liberal Arts Lottery Fund, the Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies Program, and the Cal Poly chapter of Engineers Without Borders, of which Opdyke is past president. This event is part of the Cal Poly Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority and Underrepresented Student Participation in STEM Program’s Students for Social Change series.

About Aaron Opdyke

Aaron Opdyke earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Cal Poly in 2013 and his master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he is a doctoral candidate. As a construction engineer, Opdyke worked on dam, hospital and bridge projects with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Flatiron Construction, and Kiewit before transitioning to work on post-disaster humanitarian projects. He assisted in response efforts to the 2013 Colorado floods and recently consulted for the organization Build Change in response to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. In his current position as a research assistant in the Mortenson Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder, Opdyke is working in partnership with non-governmental organizations, local governments and communities involved in reconstruction in the Philippines to investigate coordination, stakeholder participation and training strategies in ongoing recovery efforts. His research seeks to build community resilience to natural hazards through improving the social interface of engineered solutions.

About Cal Poly’s College of Liberal Arts
The College of Liberal Arts comprises 15 departments and two interdisciplinary minors offering highly selective programs in the arts, humanities, communications and social sciences. Providing nearly one-third of the university’s instruction, the college serves as an essential component of liberal arts education for all students at Cal Poly. The college fosters excellence within its cutting-edge disciplinary and interdisciplinary courses while diversifying, extending and enriching the broader polytechnic environment.

- College of Liberal Arts:

- Science, Technology & Society Minors Program:

- Liberal Arts & Engineering Studies Program: 

- Cal Poly Engineers Without Borders:

- Cal Poly Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority & Underrepresented Student Participation (LSAMP) in STEM Program:

- Aaron Opdyke:


# # #