Cal Poly CIE Welcomes Three New Faculty Fellows

Cal Poly’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) has named three professors to its Faculty Fellows program: construction management professor Phil Barlow, industrial technology & packaging professor Ahmed Deif, and marketing professor Stern Neill join the multidisciplinary cohort in preparing students to become emerging entrepreneurial leaders.

These three new CIE Faculty Fellows become part of an interdisciplinary community that is committed to inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs. CIE Faculty Fellows raise awareness of CIE programs and provide guidance to students and faculty with an interest in innovation and entrepreneurship.

Dr. Deif’s project drives innovation in the rapidly evolving and increasingly entrepreneurial value chain space and opens up opportunities for the formation of startups. Dr. Barlow will focus on fostering cross-disciplinary collaboration to spur innovations that impact the built environment. Dr. Neill will focus on curricular and co-curricular innovation to bring customer discovery and creation skills to Cal Poly startups, which will enhance their chances for survival and success.

The 2017-2018 class of CIE Faculty Fellows joins fellows David Askay, communication studies; Graham Doig, aerospace engineering; Enrica Costello, art and design; Bob Crockett, biomedical engineering; Dale Dolan, Electrical Engineering; Lorraine Donegan, graphic communication; Charmaine Farber, graphic communication; Mary Glick, journalism; Brian Granger, physics; David Janzen, computer science; Lynn Metcalf, marketing; Clare Olsen, architecture; Christiane Schroeter, agribusiness; Lynne Slivovsky, computer engineering; Taryn Stanko, management & human resources; and Umut Toker, architecture.

Cal Poly Students Place Among Nation’s Best at a Supply Chain Competition

Cal Poly Students at Supply Chain Competition An interdisciplinary team of Cal Poly students took eighth place in the North American round of the Global Student Challenge, an annual supply chain finance competition hosted by the Supply Chain Finance Community on March 9 in Los Angeles.

The team of four competed in a timed business simulation where they aimed to maximize profits for a hypothetical company while balancing 200 variables including production needs, customer financing, marketing, loan financing and shipment deliverables while avoiding risk of supplier defaults and managing currency exchange changes.

Team members included industrial technology and packaging seniors Karan Singh (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) and James MacMillan (Larkspur, Calif.); information systems senior Makenzie Lary (Thousand Oaks, Calif.); and marketing senior Michael Di Dio (San Ramon, Calif.). Cal Poly was the highest-placing undergraduate team out of 450 master’s-level and undergraduate teams in the North American competition. Industrial technology and packaging students Paige Topole (Mountain View, Calif.) and Atlanta Nguyen also helped Cal Poly’s team advance in previous rounds of the challenge.

“The competition really tested our effectiveness in communicating and decision making,” Lary said. “We had to pool all our existing knowledge that we learned at Cal Poly about finance, sales, operations and supply chain, and weigh the consequences of making certain decisions within the simulation.”

Cal Poly’s team assembled and qualified for the Global Student Challenge last fall after taking Professor Ahmed Deif’s Industrial Technology 410 course: Operations, Planning and Control, which included a Learn by Doing simulation exercise. The students placed among the top 10 percent of 150 teams in the Western United States regional competition held in February. The students advanced to the United States round, where the team placed among the top 16 teams.

For more information about the competition, visit

The Orfalea College of Business Leads Spring Break Trips Abroad

Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business led two student groups on international trips abroad during spring break. The excursions are part of the college’s push toward making international experience a key part of its career-readiness initiatives.

Students in CubaInformation systems Professor Barry Floyd led a cohort of 22 students on the college’s first official trip to Cuba. Throughout the week-long journey, students visited with business leaders in a variety of business sectors, including agriculture and art. Students attended a discussion on U.S./Cuban Relations lead by Paul Rodriguez from the University of Havana as well as a round-table discussion with Ricardo Torres, a macro-economist at the University of Havana, about the changing forces of Cuba’s economic structure. The group also took time for cultural immersion, from touring historical sites including Cuba’s most famous landscape, Valle de Vinales, to taking a salsa dance class. The trip coincided with President Obama’s visit to the nation as diplomatic relationships with the Unites States begin to ease. Director of Student Services Amy Carter and Advisor Katelyn O’Brien also led the trip with Professor Floyd.

Students in BrazilAt the same time, industrial technology and packaging Professors Ahmed Deif and Javier de la Fuente took a class of Cal Poly students to Florianoplois, Brazil. The excursion was part of BUS 304: Doing Business in Brazil, a course that looked closely at supply chains in the South American nation. Throughout winter quarter, 21 students studied different industries in the region; the trip allowed students to then visit major players in the supply chain in telecommunications, agriculture and healthcare. Students also embraced Brazilian culture on the tour by visiting an indigenous tribe and learning the samba with a local instructor.

These trips allowed students the opportunity to “learn by going” and see how the concepts they learned in class applied to the real world. The students not only saw how the local businesses were run, but they also got to immerse themselves in the local culture and hear from local business experts. As they toured historic landmarks and interacted with the locals, students were provided with the opportunity to learn and experience different cultures.

As the students return back to Cal Poly, they will carry with them the lessons they learned about business and local culture that will no doubt help them as they continue to pursue their degree and a career in business.

Industrial Technology Professor Explores the Gamification of Curriculum

In the spirit of Learn by Doing, industrial technology professor Ahmed Deif is conducting research on how the “gamification” of curriculum — incorporating interactive games into the learning process — affects students’ understanding and application of lean manufacturing concepts.

Dief says his interest in the research stemmed from industry trends towards gamification in lean consulting for professionals. He says that classrooms have fallen behind by sticking to traditional lecturing methods to explain core concepts.

“The classical way of using slides and presentations Cal Poly master's students work through a gamification experimentexplaining the concepts isn’t used anymore, even in industry,” Deif said. “When it comes to universities, that [approach] should be the same.”

In his research, which spans across graduate and undergraduate classes, Deif matches lean six sigma concepts to physical games. After a brief lecture, students work in teams to complete the game and then share their thoughts on a number on factors such as attention span, the game’s relevance, confidence in applying the concept, and perceived cognitive effort. Deif says he sees students apprehending detailed concepts during the games, even without an explanation in the lecture.

He first presented his lean gamification research proposal at the Institute of Industrial Engineers Lean Six Sigma Conference in Sept. 2015. After receiving support from an Orfalea College of Business career readiness research grant as well as funding from the Industrial Technology and Packaging area, he was able to implement the games in the 2015 fall quarter. Deif will be using the games throughout the remainder of the year, and hopes to have an accurate sample of student assessments to determine which games are the most effective.

Eventually, Deif hopes that the success found in gamification could be applied to other disciplines to improve student learning.

“I’m trying to jump into a new world with this idea. There are a lot of concepts out there without games or exercises to explain them. I want to understand from the already established games… and, in the next phase of the research, design new games.”