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Cal Poly Among Top Hands-On Bladesmithing Teams in Nation
March 17, 2017

The science and art of smithing blades by hand is back on display in the biennial bladesmithing competition organized by the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society.

The art and science of blade-making was alive and well at the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society bladesmith competition, where Cal Poly placed in the top four of 26 international universities. The biennial event was held Feb. 28 in San Diego.

Cal Poly’s five-member team included materials engineering students Dylan Fitz-Gerald (pictured above), Cameron Atwood, Justin Boothe, Kyle Rosenow, and industrial and manufacturing engineering major Josh Ledgerwood.

“I really didn’t want to just make something sharp and pointy. I wanted it to be more than that,” said Fitz-Gerald, team leader.

“Our team participated in the first TMS Bladesmith Competition in 2015, which was a fantastic experience, and, for many of us, this year’s event represented our last chance at the competition,” he said. “It spurred us to use as many of the techniques and materials we’d always wanted to try, and to seek out ways to make the contest as challenging as possible.”

Instead of a more conventional, utilitarian blade, for example, the team opted for the slender elegance of the rapier, which embodied the kinds of challenges in design and production they were looking for.

“Because of the rapier’s size and design, we had to make new tools, such as a spring swage to round the tang to the right size so that we could thread it or a file guide that could accommodate different bevel angles and keep them straight and even,” said Fitz-Gerald. “We even had to build a new furnace to do our heat treatment because there weren’t any available that could handle the length of the blade. We also used an alloy, 51200 steel, that’s been gaining interest, but about which there is little known from a knife-makers’s perspective.”

The team also ventured into the world of ornamental ironworking techniques. Fitz-Gerald designed and built artistic ivy leaf patterns connected to the handle of the rapier, while a teammate made an ornamental cross-guard and another attached a pommel to the end.

The team’s derring-do approach to Learn by Doing sharpened their skills in engineering, metallurgy and science as nothing else could, said Fitz-Gerald. “Not only did we have to figure out how to do new things at every turn, but do it in such a way that it would be good enough that we’d be proud to present it at the international conference.”

The Cal Poly team also produced a video showing their process, a technical report about the blade and a poster presentation.




Cal Poly Named Top Producer of Faculty Fulbright Scholars — with Two from the College of Engineering
March 07, 2017

Cal Poly has been named a top producer of U.S. Fulbright scholars for the 2016-17 academic year by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Five faculty members, including three multi-year recipients, received Fulbright grants — more than any other public or private masters-level university in the nation.

Cal Poly’s Fulbright scholars represent four of the university’s six colleges: Zachary Peterson (top left) and three-time Fulbright scholar Jose Macedo (top right) from the College of Engineering; John Battenburg, a three-time Fulbright award winner in the College of Liberal Arts; Chris Carr, a four-time Fulbright scholar from the Orfalea College of Business; R. Thomas Jones of the College of Architecture and Environmental Design.

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. Its Core Fulbright Scholar Program offers more than 500 teaching, research or combination teaching/research awards in more than 125 countries.

“Being named the top producer of Fulbright scholars in the nation is a great honor and speaks to the high quality and caliber of our faculty,” said Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong. “I am proud of these dedicated educators, who will gain from and be inspired by these teaching assignments abroad, returning with new lessons to share with our students.”

The Fulbright Program also awards grants to U.S. students and teachers to conduct research and teach overseas.

About Cal Poly Engineering’s 2016-17 Fulbright Scholars:

Jose Macedo
Macedo, a professor and former chairman of the Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering Department, will teach at the University of Technology and Engineering in Lima, Peru. He is a three-time Fulbright scholar and was a reviewer for the Fulbright Scholar program for four years. From March to July 2017, Macedo will teach and collaborate in research projects at UTEC. His focus areas include quality, lean management, statistical analysis, and automation, robotics and machine vision. He also plans to conduct a benchmark study of Peruvian manufacturing industry practices in conjunction with UTEC students and faculty. In 2008, he received a Fulbright Scholar award to work at the Universidad Tecnologica de Panama (UTP) for seven months.

Zachary Peterson
The associate professor of computer science visited last fall at University College London, the United Kingdom’s largest postgraduate institution and regarded as one of the world's leading multidisciplinary research universities. His project title was: This Is Not a Game: Advancing Cybersecurity Research and Education Through Play. He will continue some of his ongoing research in the use of games and play for teaching computer security concepts to new, younger, and non-technical audiences. He said being named a Fulbright scholar was the result of a package of increased U.S.-U.K. cyber-security cooperation that grew from bilateral meetings in January 2015 between then-President Barack Obama and former U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron. Peterson leads Cal Poly’s computer cybersecurity program.

More online:
- For more information about the Fulbright Program, visit
- For lists of Fulbright Scholar recipients, visit

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Professor Jim Meagher Named Interim Dean
February 13, 2017

Jim Meagher, professor and chair of the Mechanical Engineering Department, has been named interim dean of the College of Engineering by Cal Poly Provost Kathleen Enz-Finken. Meagher follows former Dean Debra Larson, who recently left Cal Poly to take a position as provost at CSU Chico. Meagher’s appointment was effective Feb. 13.

“Jim has provided excellent leadership and outreach throughout his time on campus,” said Enz-Finken. “His measured and collaborative approach to leadership, support for diversity and inclusion efforts, and experiences in philanthropy will be assets at the college level.”

Meagher joined the Mechanical Engineering Department in 1988 as an assistant professor; he was awarded tenure and promotion to full professor in 1994. For the past three years, Meagher served as department chair. He earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Akron and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. His areas of scholarship include rotor dynamics and modeling of high-speed rotating machinery.

During his career at Cal Poly, Meagher helped establish the Donald E. Bently Center for Engineering Innovation, a research center in the Mechanical Engineering Department, the Bently Computational Facility, and the Solar Turbines/Bently Nevada Vibrations and Rotor Dynamics Laboratory.

“It was a great privilege to work with Don Bently, a giant of industry,” said Meagher. “I am also gratified that my early collaboration with Munich University of Applied Sciences evolved into a rich exchange of students and faculty. Hundreds of students and half of the mechanical engineering faculty have had the opportunity to study and teach abroad as a result of this ongoing partnership.”

In addition to his teaching and research activities, Meagher served as faculty advisor to the Cal Poly chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers for 25 years. “In this position, I’ve seen first-hand how Cal Poly engineering students collaborate on award-winning projects,” he said. “In fact, what brought me to Cal Poly in 1988 still motivates me today: contributing to student success along with a passion for the discipline.

“As interim dean, I want to continue the positive trajectory set by Dean Larson. I hope, especially, to add momentum to the development of a new Engineering Projects Center, and to enhance diversity and promote inclusivity in the college.”

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'New Leaf' Rose Float Wins Founders' Trophy
January 05, 2017

Cal Poly universities win 'Most Beautiful Float' award in the 128th Rose Parade

“A New Leaf,” Cal Poly Universities’ 2017 Rose Float, won the Founders’ Trophy in the 128thRose Parade, which was held on Jan. 2 in Pasadena, Calif.

The Founder’s Trophy honors the most beautiful float built and decorated by volunteers from a community or organization. The Cal Poly Universities entry — the parade’s only float that’s built entirely by students — reflects a time-honored collaboration between students at Cal Poly and their counterparts at Cal Poly Pomona.

The 52-foot long float featured three giant chameleons exploring their tropical world, paying homage to the value of family in creating individual success. Covered in more than 60,000 fresh flowers, the float earned the “California Grown” designation from the California Cut Flower Commission.

To give the huge chameleons their bumpy texture, the team used 20,000 button mums, a variety of citrus and red onion. To achieve the detail on the eyes, the team used a mixture of dried materials. For the purple chameleon, it included blue corn, yellow split pea, cranberry seed, mung beans, red and white millet, Bougainvillea petals and ground statice. The tiered base held more than 10,000 roses intermingled with more than 8,000 gerbera daisies. Other flowers include carnations, snapdragons, tulips, marigolds and orchids. Approximately 94 percent of the flowers on the float are California grown.

“A New Leaf” also reflected a floatload of engineering, including a mechanism that raises and lowers some of the flowers on the largest chameleon, making its stripes appear to change color from orange to yellow.

Among Cal Poly Engineering students contributing to the float’s success: Cecilia Allor (mechanical engineering), decorations team; Gregory Baghdikian (computer engineering), engines and hydraulic lead; Tyler Couvrette (electrical engineering), electronics assistant; Mason Garcia (industrial engineering), lead structural welder and donations coordinator; Ali Harake (mechanical engineering), assistant construction chair; Margaret Kennedy (aerospace engineering), vice president; Tyler Koski (mechanical engineering), engines and hydraulics assistant; Marie Scholl, manufacturing engineering), assistant structural welder and construction team member; Kendall Searing (who holds a bachelor’s in electrical engineering and a master’s in mechanical engineering), electronics lead; Helena Yanez (biomedical engineering), assistant design chair; and mechanical engineering and construction team members Sergio Gutierrez, Morgan Montalvo, Justin Sherrell and Dexter Yanagisawa.

Cal Poly executive team members include Philippe Napaa (bioresource and agricultural engineering), president; Sara Novell (mechanical engineering), construction chair; Zachary Cooperbank (architectural engineering and math), design chair; and Belen Castillo (forestry), decorations chair.

“A New Leaf” is the 69th Rose Parade entry from Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, whose successful partnership has now won 57 awards.


Cal Poly Engineering Ranks High in U.S. News Best Colleges Guide
September 14, 2016

Cal Poly Engineering helps put the 'best' in Cal Poly's 'Best in the West' U.S. News ranking.

Cal Poly boasts the best state-funded undergraduate engineering program — and the top environmental engineering program — in the nation, according to the latest edition of the U.S. News and World Report’s American’s Best Colleges guidebook.

Cal Poly as a whole enjoys its 24th straight year as the best public, master’s-level university in the West.

In overall listings, the College of Engineering moved up two spots, placing fifth behind private institutions Rose-Hulman, Harvey Mudd College and Olin College and the federally funded U.S. Military Academy. Among state-funded schools, Cal Poly’s civil, electrical and mechanical engineering programs maintained their No. 1 positions.

“It is so exciting and such an honor to see Cal Poly Engineering’s continuing and growing prominence in the prestigious U.S. News rankings,” said Debra Larson, dean of the College of Engineering. “Our engineering programs exemplify the innovation, staying power and success of Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing model, which attracts those who like hands-on experimentation, complex projects and dreaming — and doing — big.

“What we're doing is all the more notable when you factor in scale,” said Larson. “Based on 2015 data, Cal Poly Engineering’s undergraduate enrollment was 5,974, while the combined enrollment for the top four schools totaled 4,070.”

The 2017 guidebook lists Cal Poly in a tie with Saint Mary’s College for ninth place overall in the West for regional universities, public and private, up from 10th place last year. The Western regional list includes 124 public and private institutions in 15 states that provide “a full range of undergraduate and master’s-level programs but few, if any, doctoral programs.” (Universities that grant doctoral degrees, such as those in the University of California system, are listed in a separate category.)

Cal Poly ranks in the Top 10 behind (in order): Trinity University, Santa Clarita University, Loyola Marymount University, Gonzaga University, Mills College, Chapman University, University of Portland, and Seattle University.

Cal Poly also ranks sixth in the West (up from 10th last year) for most veteran-friendly universities — a listing that shows military vets and active-duty service members which top-ranked schools offer benefits that can help them make pursuing a college education more affordable. Cal Poly is also the top-ranked public university in this category.

The U.S. News rankings are available at the U.S. News & World Report website.