Alumni Spotlights: Brett Wingo and Francesca Della Cese

Brett WingoBrett Wingo (Industrial Technology, ’88), VP of Home Networking at Cisco

To Cal Poly alumnus Brett Wingo, Learn by Doing is more than just something he learned in school. As a vice president and general manager at Cisco and a veteran of two startups, Wingo says Learn by Doing is an essential part of being a leader in the ever-changing tech industry more than 20 years after his hard-rocking college days.

“You’re always learning,” said Wingo of the technology sector. “Our industry is moving really, really fast, and technology is changing fast. If you take every opportunity as a chance to learn something new about the business you’re in, you start to just think differently.”

As an industrial technology major in the 80s, Wingo was able to learn about the principles of strategy through the lens of a booming technological world. Even in Silicon Valley’s early years, Wingo was drawn to the technology buzz of the Bay Area, where he delved into internships during summer and holiday breaks. “I was able get a breadth of knowledge and experiences from both operations and strategy,” he said. “I enjoyed the perspective of being able to do both.”

But in his spare time, Wingo says his biggest lessons came as manager and drummer of a local rock and roll band called the YaYas. He embraced that opportunity to lead and run the band as a business: managing talent, exploring new partnerships with venues, and making a profit. The band life even brought leadership concepts, like decision theory and business philosophy, into focus. Wingo said he learned by be decisive and not feel weighed down by the “paralysis of analysis.” Through the process, he said he started to see everything as a business, spotting more opportunities to learn and grow.

After graduating from Cal Poly in 1988, Wingo started his career as an engineer at Apple at a time when the company was quickly promoting those with the right abilities, rather than seniority. He moved through the ranks managing different teams, an opportunity he said was partly due to the confidence his IT education instilled in him at school. “IT is not really a discipline on it’s own. It’s about learning to be a generalist,” Wingo said. “That breadth of knowledge gives you the confidence to lead more types of people.”

Wingo left Apple to start a leadership journey of his own as a founding member of Ridge Technologies. Here, he uncovered a passion for entrepreneurship, and later went on to start another start-up, WhereNet, an early player in the “Internet of Things” movement. Although he’s now returned to a large corporation by joining the team at Cisco, Wingo says his entrepreneurial energy has never been higher.

“If you look at my career, it’s a series of startups bookended by two major corporations. But even at Apple and Cisco, there’s room for entrepreneurship,” Wingo observes. “There’s room for entrepreneurship and new thinking in every company, in every aspect, in every management job.”

As a leader of Cisco, Wingo keeps the beat steady in the face of some big challenges, most notably the industry’s broad shift from hardware to software-centered businesses. The change brings greater efficiency and profitability as connectedness becomes the standard, but forces business to maintain a faster cadence. The growing weight of software means that the cost of starting a business has declined significantly. Wingo sees this as a boon for entrepreneurs, who now have the opportunity to disrupt major industries, even with only a handful of employees.

Brett hopes he can continue to bring his knowledge of the corporate and entrepreneurial worlds back to Cal Poly. He currently serves as a Dean’s Advisory Council member for the Orfalea College of Business, where he has the chance to offer students and members of the Cal Poly community opportunities to learn from his experience in the same way he’s learned from others.

“Even if I can do one thing for the college, or have an impact on one student, that’s worth it to me.”

Francesca Delle Cese

Francesca Delle Cese (B.S. and M.S. in Industrial Technology), Packaging Engineer at Apple

In less than two years after graduating from Cal Poly, Francesca Delle Cese can confidently say that she has found her dream job. As a packaging engineer at Apple, Delle Cese works on designing innovative new packaging products that customers around the globe see every single day.

“When you launch a product at Apple, you get to see the customers’ reactions not only in stores, but online as well,” says Francesca. “That part has been really great.”

Francesca was originally a biochemistry major at Cal Poly, but switched into industrial technology after a friend recommended she take IT 330: The Fundamentals of Packaging in the Orfalea College of Business.

“The cool thing [in IT 330] was that you made something that was tangible. There was that mixture of science and design. So, I stuck with it… and liked it so much that I decided to go to grad school!”

She joined the industrial technology’s masters program in 2012, where she had the chance to do thesis research and take courses in advanced business and technology topics. Delle Cese also enjoyed the chance to teach classes and work closely with professors like Jay Singh and Koushik Saha.

“I loved the attention they give to students,” she says. “I was able to get the one-on-one attention that I may not necessarily have gotten out of another grad program.”

Throughout her time at Cal Poly, Delle Cese engaged in a variety of internships with major brands like Safeway and Dow Chemical, where she used her skills to design and test packaging concepts. In 2014, her dream job became a reality as she joined Apple’s packaging team. Delle Cese says that the Learn by Doing approach to both her graduate and undergraduate education set her apart from others in the job hunt and at leading companies.

“The nice thing about Cal Poly is all the lab time that we get, not only with software but with equipment,” she said. “It’s good to know how it works and how it’s being run so that you can explain it to a cross-functional team. I’ve met people from other schools who unfortunately haven’t had the same experience.”

Delle Cese also noted that Cal Poly’s quarter system instilled a work ethic in her that conditioned her for a deadline-driven career. “I do think the quarter system helped prepare me for a fast pace work environment,” Delle Cese said. “With only 10 weeks per quarter, students learn to manage their time well and to stay focused.” With a substantial amount of Learn by Doing in her resume, Delle Cese made a home for herself at Apple in the Bay Area.

Apple is, of course, known for developing product packaging so beautiful that many hesitate to throw it away.  While Delle Cese can’t say exactly which projects she works on, she can say she’s not the only Cal Poly proud alumnus in Cupertino. She joined the Mustang family at Apple in 2014, which boasts more than 450 alumni from a number of majors in the Orfalea College of Business as well as other colleges at Cal Poly.

“We all have our Cal Poly gear! We’re proud to represent Cal Poly packaging!”


From Lab to Real Life: Industrial Technology Student Projects Take Off

Cal Poly’s Industrial Technology and Packaging students have been busy in the labs this year designing new products, prototyping products, and manufacturing their innovative solutions for use in the real world. These Learn by Doing projects provide students the chance to work together, utilize industry-leading equipment, and analyze industry trends, all contributing to career-ready confidence.

Hitch HiderIn the capstone course IT 407: Applied Business Operations, students have the chance to design, manufacture, and sell a self-made product. They invest their own money into producing 80 to 100 units and must then market and sell their creations to the community. Some of this year’s innovative designs include an outdoor barbecue caddy, a trailer hitch hide-a-key, a golf tee organizer, and magnetic bottle opener. To learn more about each product and team, visit the IT 407 page.

Students in the Industrial Technology Society also helped Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong create custom spatulas as gifts for the holiday season. Students manufactured hundreds of metal and wood spatulas, which featured an engraving of the Cal Poly logo. The spatulas were then bundled with Cal Poly salsa and seasoning in custom packaging designed by the students. Student holds a new Cal Poly spatulaThe Industrial Technology and Packaging Area is now selling these spatulas. To purchase or for more information, contact Ray Kisch at

Students have also had the chance to showcase their packaging skills outside of the Cal Poly campus. In January, two groups of industrial technology, packaging and art and design students participated in the 48-Hour RePack competition, where students from around the world work to design and prototype a new-to-the-world package from scratch in just one weekend. Both teams worked together, self-directed, and even shared feedback with each other, despite the fact that they were direct competitors. Each team engineered new packaging and created a video to market the design.

Pacific Roast packagingTeam Pacific Roast created a hexagonal modular dispenser for single-use coffee pods. Team Barbie created the School’s Out Barbie: Color and Play integrated traditional doll packaging with a coloring book for buyers to use or keep instead of throwing the package away. Professor Colleen Twomey from the Graphic Communication Department and Professor Mary LaPorte from the Art & Design Department supported the teams along with Orfalea’s packaging faculty.

Donations Bring New Equipment to Industrial Technology and Packaging Labs

Where does your donation go?

Since July, more than 50 alumni and industry partners have given back to the Industrial Technology and Packaging Area at Cal Poly. Thousands of dollars have poured through your individual donations, recurring contributions and gifts matched by employers. So what specifically do your contributions support?

Lab equipment.

This fall, the Orfalea College of Business introduced a new Haas vertical mill and lathe into Cal Poly’s fabrication lab. The equipment was added to support the area’s digital fabrication or “d-fab” capabilities. This includes computer aided design (CAD), solid modeling, 3-D scanning and printing, computer aided manufacturing (CAM), and computer numerically controlled (CNC) machining on our new mill and lathe.tee mate small

The equipment arrived in fall 2015, just in time for students in IT 407: Applied Business Operations to utilize the new capabilities to manufacture their senior projects. The course requires students to design and prototype a unique product, invest in materials, and manufacture 80-100 units with tools in Cal Poly’s labs. Students used the mill and lathe while creating the Hitch Hider tow hitch cover, the Uncapped bottle opener, the Tee Mate golf accessory organizer, and the Grill N’ Chill cooking caddie. For more information on each project, visit the IT 407 web page.

Haas mill partStudents and alumni consistently talk about how Learn by Doing projects completed in the industrial technology and packaging labs made the biggest difference their education. With the right tools in hand, students build the confidence and work-ready skills to launch a fulfilling career. Orfalea College of Business faculty and staff work constantly to bring the right tools into the labs for students to use as they innovate, collaborate and

Funds from the Orfalea endowment at Cal Poly paid for the upfront costs of the machines, but the Industrial Technology and Packaging Area is raising funds now to repay those costs. Contributions made this spring will go toward this machinery.

Cal Poly to Host Central Coast Lean Summit Feb. 18–19

Central Coast Lean Summit PresenterThe Central Coast Lean program in Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business will showcase “lean” advances in healthcare, accounting, entrepreneurship, local government and higher education during a two-day summit Thursday and Friday, Feb. 18 and 19, in the Performing Arts Center on campus.

The fifth annual Central Coast Lean Summit has chosen “Leadership on Board” as its theme and will focus on innovations, trends and best practices to help managers lead meaningful change. Organizers also hope to foster a community of local leaders who can build their network with likeminded managers engaged in lean strategies.

The lean concept seeks to maximize efficiency in many facets of business. The philosophy originated in manufacturing but has influenced other sectors to streamline processes and require less human effort, less space, less capital, and less time to make cost-effective products and services with fewer defects.

“Lean is really coming of age on the Central Coast. More organizations are recognizing the need for a systematic approach to continuous improvement just to stay competitive,” said Eric Olsen, Cal Poly’s Industrial Technology and Packaging Area chair. Olsen also serves as director of Central Coast Lean, a research project in the Orfalea College of Business.

Programs throughout the event will be led by industry professionals with real-world experience in implementing lean processes in a variety of environments. The event will begin with two pre-summit workshops on Feb. 18 to delve into lean accounting and production preparation processes applicable in industries such as healthcare. The workshops will be followed by a lean networking reception for attendees.

The summit on Feb. 19 will feature a keynote address by Sam MacPherson, co-founder and executive director of The Lean Leadership Academy and former chief of training for the Elite U.S. Army Special Forces, known as the Green Berets. MacPherson’s presentation, “Leading a Culture of Excellence,” will focus on building leadership teams capable of navigating and sustaining a lean transformation.

Central Coast Lean Summit AttendeeThe summit will also include interactive workshops led by Ken Snyder, executive director of the Shingo Institute; Steven Kane, director of Customer Success at Gemba Academy; Jonathan York and Lori Jordan from Cal Poly’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Paul Stamper, Lean Six Sigma master black belt and deputy executive officer for Ventura County; and Kim Brown Sims, a chief nursing officer at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center.

Throughout the event, a “coaching café” with lean expert Beau Keyte, president of the Keyte Group, will discuss lean challenges and offer best practices during a facilitated peer group discussion. Attendees will be able to network with lean experts from throughout California and collaborate with Cal Poly faculty.

“The summit is our annual opportunity to bring lean thought leaders from across the country to Cal Poly and delve into the most current best practices. It is an opportunity to learn from the best as we think about how we can improve our own lean programs in the coming year,” Olsen said.

For more information and to register, go to

Industrial Technology and Packaging Scholarships

In spring 2015, the Orfalea College of Business awarded scholarships to 15 outstanding students to support their education at Cal Poly. Scholarships help ensure that the brightest students have the resources to fully participate in all of the Industrial Technology and Packaging Area’s Learn by Doing opportunities.

These scholarship funds represent several of nearly 100 partial and full student scholarships at the Orfalea College of Business. To make a direct impact on students and support a scholarship, visit

Scholarship Recipient
Tommy L. Jones Scholarship Tyler Harwood
Barry Banducci Family Scholarship Janel Takeda
Barry Banducci Family Scholarship Justin Connolly
Barry Banducci Family Scholarship Nick Abbatelli
Barry Banducci Family Scholarship Sarah Lawler
Nelson Smith Scholarship
Bert W. Martin Scholarship
Catlin Khamashta
Lockheed Martin Business Scholarship Autumn Lopez
Larry Bennett Memorial Award Christopher King
Roy Whleeler III Memorial Scholarship Hannah Giorgi
Bert W. Martin Scholarship Sarah Pilegard
Bert W. Martin Scholarship Patrick Salibi
Bert W. Martin Scholarship Reina Stephenson
Bert W. Martin Scholarship Sarah Ma
Bert W. Martin Scholarship Juli Pini
Bert W. Martin Scholarship Jack Mullen