For Immediate Release
February 10, 2017
Contact: Jay Thompson
Cal Poly Students to be Honored by Lawmakers at State Capitol on Feb. 13
Twenty students, who garnered a variety of national and regional awards and honors, represent all six of the university's colleges
SAN LUIS OBISPO — Twenty Cal Poly students will be recognized for their awards and other accomplishments by state lawmakers on the floors of the state Assembly and Senate in Sacramento on Monday, Feb. 13.
"I am so pleased to share with our state leaders the can-do Learn by Doing ethos that this group of dedicated and talented students exemplify," said university President Jeffrey D. Armstrong, who will accompany the students to both legislative chambers. "These fine young men and women from all six of our colleges will be future leaders in their respective fields."
The group will be introduced in the Senate by Majority Leader Bill Monning, D-Carmel, and in the Assembly by Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, R-Templeton. Both men represent San Luis Obispo County.
Ceremonies will be held in each chamber Monday afternoon.
In addition, the students will meet with the Office of Gov. Jerry Brown and with representatives from each student's respective Senate and Assembly districts.
Most of the students call California home — from Solana Beach, in San Diego County, to Roseville, near Sacramento — including one from the Central Coast. Four others are from outside the Golden State — Alaska, Hawaii, New Jersey and Oregon.
Each has distinguished him- or herself as an individual or on a team that has received a national industry award or on other high-profile events, including the Tournament of Roses Parade, with a worldwide TV audience of 100 million.
The group also will greet family, friends and alumni at a series of receptions in the East Bay and Sacramento area Sunday and Monday.
Participating Cal Poly students:
Manhattan Beach, Calif.
Naba Ahmed, a journalism major in the College of Liberal Arts, was part of the award-winning Mustang News team that competed at the 2016 Associated Collegiate Press/Media Association's National Convention. The group received 16 national awards. In addition, Mustang News earned first-place honors for Best Social Media Strategy, Online Infographic, Multimedia Feature Story and Breaking News Photo. The team also collected the ACP Online Pacemaker, which is considered the highest honor in college media, for the best design, ease of navigation, writing and editing, graphics and interactivity of a website. Journalism Department Chair Mary Glick credited the Learn by Doing philosophy for the group's success: "I think the kind of faculty involvement and student interest really drives excellence in what we produce." Ahmed's interest in journalism was fanned in high school as a member of the Mira Costa High School's award-winning "Hoofprints" yearbook staff. As a member of Mustang News, she worked as the news editor and reporter.
Santa Maria, Calif.
Jose Alvarez was runner-up in the business pitch contest at the national Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences annual conference held last spring in Jacksonville, Fla. The fourth-year agribusiness major in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences was selected from more than 50 applicants in the U.S. to make his pitch before a panel of three industry judges. He proposed developing a nonprofit or cooperative organization to support the H-2A visa program, which allows a foreign national entry into the U.S. for temporary or seasonal agricultural work. Alvarez transferred to Cal Poly in 2015 from Allan Hancock College, where he received associate degrees in math and agricultural business and management. He also served five years of active duty, including three tours, in the Marines and in the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve.
Eric Bet, a construction management and business finance senior in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design, was captain of Cal Poly's interdisciplinary team that took third at the 2017 National Association of Home Builders Residential Construction Management Competition at the International Builders Show in Orlando, Fla. The team included business, architecture and construction management students who were challenged to prepare a land-acquisition proposal, including building cost estimates, a construction schedule, cash flow and return-on-investment projections, and marketing and risk analysis. The team was runner-up among 35 competitors. It marked the 12th time since 2001 that Cal Poly has finished in the top five at the NAHB. Bet was also the co-captain of the same team in 2016 that finished second among 34 competitors. In addition, Bet received the Construction Management Department's 2016 Outstanding Leadership Award. He served as captain of the Commercial Team at the 2016 Associated Schools of Construction Regions 6 and 7 competition and as president of the Cal Poly Real Estate Club.
Solana Beach, Calif.
Brooke Billmeyer, a senior majoring in industrial technology and packing in the Orfalea College of Business, was part of a three-member team that won the Institute of Packaging Professionals, Southeastern Chapter's 48 Hour Repack Student Design Competition. The team redesigned the packaging of Keurig coffee pods into re-closable and recyclable cardboard dispensers that showcased the five coffee blends available. Their design and promotional video created over two days edged out 45 other entries to claim the $3,000 top prize. "The industrial technology program allows me to design creative innovations to cutting-edge products and packages through exploration of the physical and chemical compositions of these products," Billmeyer said.
Samantha Bock, a senior studying biology in the College of Science and Mathematics, was among 34 students in the nation to receive a $50,000 Environmental Protection Agency fellowship. This fellowship included a three-month paid internship working alongside EPA scientists at a Rhode Island lab where she studied the effects of pollutants on the mummichog, a small fish that inhabits brackish and coastal waters on the Atlantic coast. The study focused on the effect of human activities on the fish at molecular, individual, community and ecosystem levels. "This grant allowed me to participate in research addressing questions similar to those I hope to address in my own research in the future," Bock said. "It's a great step in furthering my scientific career."
Journalism major Cameron Bones in the College of Liberal Arts received top honors and $2,000 at the Graphic Arts Education and Research Foundation's 2016 Student Design Competition. More than 400 students from high schools and colleges across the nation submitted entries in the eighth annual contest. They were to challenged to design and create an engaging infographic — a graphic design that presents complex information quickly and clearly — on a topic of their choice. Bones choose coffee consumption in the U.S. and printed her infographic on a coffee mug. She and her instructor, Daria Matza, received a two-day, all-inclusive trip to Orlando, Fla., for GAERF's EXPO '16.
Dorian Capps, a mechanical engineering major in the College of Engineering, was part of Cal Poly's top-scoring American entry that finished third overall at the Shell Eco-marathon Americas in Detroit. The 10th annual contest attracted more than 1,000 students and a record 124 teams from seven countries who competed in energy-efficient gasoline-fueled vehicles they designed and built themselves. He was also the president and powertrain lead of Cal Poly's entry that achieved 1,215 miles per gallon — the top-scoring American entry and third highest overall in the Prototype class, which is for futuristic vehicles. Cal Poly was also recognized by event organizers for participating every year in the Americas competition and being the first-ever winner. Capps also has a passion for aerospace. He is particularly interested in high-performance rocket engines and designing earth-to-orbit launch vehicles that reduce launch costs enough to facilitate large-scale space colonization.
Elizabeth Coffey, a civil and environmental engineering graduate student in the College of Engineering, was a member of the steel bridge team that finished second at the annual American Society of Civil Engineers National Student Steel Bridge Competition. The contest brought together 48 student teams from across the world. Cal Poly's strong showing marked the school's sixth consecutive year of finishing in the event's top-10 and second straight year as runner-up. Coffey served as the team's machining lead in a competition designed as a real-world project that required structural design, fabrication, construction planning and execution, and load testing expertise. It's an extreme test of teamwork and project management that challenges students to produce a scale-model bridge that satisfies stringent requirements in the categories of stiffness, lightness, construction speed, display, efficiency and economy.
Salvador Cortes Soancatl
Salvador Cortes Soancatl is a student in the College of Engineering who received the 2016 Cisco Scholar Award for Outstanding Achievement by the California State University Board of Trustees — one of the system's highest distinctions given to a student who overcomes adversity. The board selects one student from each of the 23 CSU campuses who demonstrates superior academic performance, personal accomplishments, community service and financial need. Soancatl was inspired to pursue electrical engineering after writing an essay on Nikola Tesla, whose experiences as a young immigrant in America resonated with the then-seventh-grader. Cortes was brought to the U.S. at a young age and raised by a mother who lacked a formal education but encouraged her son to pursue a college degree. While in high school, Cortes volunteered at the local library, planning activities for the summer reading program and reading to children about science and space. On-campus, he is active in both the Future Fuels Club and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. His goal is to work for a company built around sustainable energy — like Tesla — while giving back to the community.
Tori Hertz, an architecture student in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design, was a leader of the Cal Poly team that received the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) Chapter Honor Award last year. The team was honored at the organization's 2016 FORUM, the largest gathering of architecture students in the country. Hertz was also the president of Cal Poly's AIAS chapter that was honored for its consistent growth and stability while providing outstanding education and professional programs to its members. The honor that the team received is known to be the highest award available to an AIAS Chapter. "It is clear that (the Cal Poly chapter) leadership is dedicated to culturing a progressive and diverse experience in and out of studio," said Joel Pominville, past-AIAS national vice president. Hertz attributed the recognition to the hard work of the Cal Poly chapter and its members. "We had an array of professional and social events, produced creative and informative marketing materials, and completed a service project for a local family in need," she said. Hertz now serves as the past-president of the chapter, while working part-time at a local architecture firm and in the digital fabrication lab on campus. She is pursuing an architecture license, and plans to practice in California after graduation.
Trevor Houghton, a construction management major in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design, won two awards in 2016. He finished second in the inaugural ARCHICAD Student Design Competition at the annual American Institute of Architects Convention in Philadelphia. Students from across the nation enrolled in architectural or interior design programs were asked to design a temporary, mobile visitor center with shipping containers as the primary material using the company's software. ARCHICAD is the leading Building Information Modeling (BIM) software application used by architects, designers, engineers and builders to professionally design, document and collaborate on building projects. "Using a variety of BIM software during my college career has helped me see that no one tool is 'perfect for' every job," he said. "However, I do prefer the ease of use found in ARCHICAD and love the fact that rendering within the model is so quick." Houghton has used the software since starting at Cal Poly, citing the Learn by Doing experience as a key to his success. He was also a member of the Cal Poly's Virtual Design and Construction team that won the 2016 Associated Schools of Construction, Region 6 and 7 competition. The contest challenged teams of six students to solve real-life construction management problems in 18 hours and present to a panel of industry experts on such topics as modeling, estimating, scheduling and site logistics.
Rebecca Kandell, a biomedical engineering senior in the College of Engineering, was part of the team that received the Gold Award for outstanding overall programming from the Society of Women Engineers. In addition, Kandell, the SWE chapter president, received the Outstanding Collegiate Member Award for her contributions to the organization, the engineering community and the Cal Poly campus. She 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, and now includes more than one in four members — 27 percent — of the class. Kandell is interested in research, tissue engineering and imaging. "I enjoy tackling tough engineering challenges and gaining hands-on experience through projects," she said.
Nelson Lin, who is studying mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering, was part of the team that won the 2016 American Society of Mechanical Engineers' Student Design Competition. The five-member team, which also received the $4,000 top prize, displayed a battery-powered, model-sized manufacturing system that fired paper projectiles through the air. The team competed against some 200 engineering students from colleges and universities from 11 countries. "What made our entry stand out was its simplicity, which we achieved by reducing the number of moving parts, together with a modular design that we developed to optimize size and mimic a real process line," Lin said. "It was through that design-build-test process that, two months into our design work, we discovered our winning idea: a dart-shaped design — the only such projectile there — that beat out the second-place Hong Kong team by four times their score." Lin's other interests include student government, manufacturing design and standup comedy.
Graphic communication major Lindsay Mitchell studies in the College of Liberal Arts and is working on minors in packaging and integrated marketing communications from the Orfalea College of Business. She was part of the eight-member student team that received the Excellence Overall Award in the Phoenix Challenge Flexo Packaging Competition at the Flexographic Technical Association's 2016 Forum. The yearlong project challenged students to help a local company rebrand and market its business with materials using the flexographic print process — a technique that uses a flexible plate to print on a variety of materials. The Cal Poly team competed with nine other schools in Fort Worth, Texas. Mitchell and her teammates worked alongside B.R.A.T., a pediatrician-recommended diet drink that combines bananas, rice, applesauce and toast into a medicinal beverage for children and adults who are prescribed this type of diet when ill. As part of the competition, the team redesigned packaging graphics and structures, and created a child-size container with a glow-in-the-dark game on the label for kids, a shrink sleeve bottle for adults and a point-of-purchase in-store display. On campus, Mitchell sits on the executive board of University Ambassadors, known as Poly Reps, is one of three students on the Graphic Communication Advisory Board, and was involved in the Technical Association of the Graphic Arts, New Student and Transition Programs and National Society of Collegiate Scholars.
Kapaa, (Kauai) Hawaii
Dawn Mones is majoring in agricultural and environmental plant sciences in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. She was a member of the student team that won the American Institute of Floral Designers' Floral Design Challenge at the organization's 2016 symposium in Anaheim, Calif. "I have a passion for horticulture, floral design and botanical research," Mones said. "I believe plants can change the world and hope to find a career where I can share that with others." That love of flora came in handy as the floral design team earned first place and placed fourth in the individual competition. The Cal Poly contingent edged out 11 other colleges and 52 contestants, including Texas A&M and Missouri State University. Mones placed second for the People's Choice award and finished fourth overall as an individual.
Palo Alto, Calif.
Philippe Napaa is a senior studying bioresource and agricultural engineering in the College of Engineering. As president of the 2016-17 Rose Float team, he led efforts by the 50-member San Luis Obispo campus team, who with their counterparts at Cal Poly Pomona, designed and built "A New Leaf," the universities' 69th entry in the Rose Parade. The 55-foot float featured an animated family of chameleons exploring the wonders of a vibrantly colorful world. It was the 10th time in the schools' history that the entry had won that honor. In addition, the entry also earned a California Grown certification in recognition that approximately 95 percent of flowers and floral materials used to decorate the float were grown in the Golden State. The entry was the fifth that Napaa worked on. Over the years, he designed and installed a new hydraulic brake system for float chassis drivetrain and supervised construction of the float's infrastructure and mechanical systems. In 2016, he led a project in the Bioresource and Agricultural Engineering Department to design and fabricate a new frame for the Rose Float that featured a narrowed wheelbase and lowered front end. This allowed for majestic float designs such as "A New Leaf." On the 2014 entry, "Bedtime Buccaneers," a depiction of a young brother and sister sailing the mighty seas of their imagination in search of a bountiful treasure, he oversaw the manufacturing of more than 10,000 moving parts for the float's "animated deco" mechanism. Away from the workshop, Napaa loves to sail. As a high school senior, he was part of a crew who returned a 37-foot sailboat from Hawaii to San Francisco.
Hannah Poplack, a senior studying finance in the Orfalea College of Business and co-founder and co-president of Cal Poly's Women in Business Association, was selected as a "Nominated Changemaker," joining hundreds of other nominees last June at the White House's first United State of Women Summit in Washington, D.C. Organized by the White House Council on Women and Girls and hosted by then-first lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey, the summit focused on advances made in gender equity. It featured speakers and workshops from then-President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along with Amy Poehler, Cecile Richards, Gloria Steinem and others, centered around such key topics as economic empowerment, female entrepreneurship and innovation. "I feel tremendously grateful for this opportunity to represent Cal Poly, my Women in Business founding board, and collegiate women from across the nation," Poplack said. "I left the summit profoundly inspired to continue creating change for young women and empowered with a new level of understanding about the issues impacting women today." Poplack is a five-time U.S. Presidential Service Award Winner (Gold Level), a U.S. Jefferson Award recipient, and she was named 2016 Cal Poly Panhellenic Women of the Year.
Matt Ruby, who is studying dairy science in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, was part of the dairy cattle judging team that competed at the 2016 at the National Intercollegiate Dairy Cattle Judging Contest at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis. The team was the seventh-best in the U.S., and Ruby was 10th overall in the nation as an individual in the competition that challenged some 70 students from 19 universities across the U.S. to evaluate an animal's physical attributes, rank cows in their respective class and provide a six-point rationale for the rankings. As a result, the junior was named an All-American and received a lifetime membership in the National Dairy Shrine, joining some 19,000 dairy producers, scientists, students, educators, marketers and others who work to preserve dairy heritage and keep the industry strong. In addition, Ruby was part of another judging team that placed second overall at the 2016 Southwestern Livestock Exposition Collegiate Dairy Judging Contest in Fort Worth, Texas. The Cal Poly team placed first in Holsteins and second in presenting reasons. Ruby placed sixth in the latter category.
Jennifer Tuttle, a civil engineering major from the College of Engineering, led a 20-member student team whose bicycle-powered maize mill won the 2016 Premier Project Award from Engineers Without Borders USA. The Engineers Without Borders-Cal Poly Malawi team designed the mill for residents of Kumponda, Malawi, who face a limited growing season and other food-production challenges. In order to ground maize into flour to make nsima, a food staple of the region, community members must travel several hours by foot multiple times a month to access a costly electric maize mill vulnerable to power outages. The student-design makes maize production more economical and reliable. In advance of the award, Tuttle and three other students visited the community to demonstrate how to use and build the mill from locally available parts. Cal Poly was one of only three student chapters out of more than 200 nationwide to receive the award.
Marshall Zia, who is studying business administration in the Orfalea College of Business, was a member of a student team that was runner-up in the American Marketing Association's annual International Collegiate Business Simulation competition held at the annual International Collegiate Conference in New Orleans. Zia and his three teammates placed second among 30 schools in the SABRE (Strategic Allocation of Business Resources) business simulation competition. The team also took second in the Best Community and Social Impact video and Collegiate Website categories. In addition, it was ranked in the top 25 of AMA's collegiate chapters for outstanding performance in chapter planning, professional development, membership, communications, fundraising, and social impact/community service — the highest Cal Poly's chapter has ever received. Zia has been involved in a host of marketing efforts on-campus and off — including an eight-month stint in 2015 as marketing and business development manager of AppScrolls, a student-run startup that sought to build the largest online community to connect, educate and entertain mobile gamers. The startup was invited to participate in Cal Poly's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship SLO HotHouse Summer Accelerator program, an intense 13-week program aimed at helping new ventures succeed. Zia helped grow AppScrolls from concept to viability, working to close the company's first key accounts.