Nov. 16, 2016

Contact: Amy Hewes

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

Places Second in National Team Tech Competition

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — For the sixth consecutive year, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) conferred its Gold Award for outstanding overall programming on Cal Poly SWE. The recognition was among numerous honors the club received at the SWE national conference, held Oct. 27-29 in Philadelphia.

Cal Poly 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, one Cal Poly SWE alumna and one current member were honored with national awards:
— Tracy Van Houten (Aerospace Engineering, ’04) received the Emerging Leader Award, which recognizes professional engineers with 10 to 15 years of industry experience who have demonstrated outstanding technical excellence resulting in significant accomplishments. After joining NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 2004 as a deputy systems engineer, Van Houten has advanced rapidly and is currently the flight system lead for the Mars 2020 project. Noted for her passion for mentoring, she is vitally engaged with Cal Poly SWE and heads JPL’s new team to recruit women engineers to the laboratory. She earned a master’s in astronautics and space technology from USC.
— Rebecca Kandell, a biomedical engineering senior and Cal Poly SWE president, received the Outstanding Collegiate Member Award for her contributions to SWE, the engineering community and the Cal Poly campus. Kandell credits her Latina heritage, her family’s strong work ethic, and her mother — a first-generation electrical engineer and Cal Poly alumna — with inspiring her advocacy for women in engineering. Due in part to her development of SWE’s outreach programs, the number of incoming first-year female engineering majors at Cal Poly has increased more than 3 percent since fall 2013, to approximately 27 percent of the class.

Cal Poly SWE was also honored for its Collegiate to Career program, a membership incentive program that benefits students with two or more years of school left or those pursuing an advanced degree. In addition, national SWE scholarships were awarded to computer engineering junior Ty Farris (Dallas), computer engineering sophomore Arlette Alicia Olalde Flores (San Ysidro, Calif.) and mechanical engineering junior Mariah Kirkham (Ladera Ranch, Calif.)

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