Cal Poly Honors Faculty, Staff Who Received $32 Million in Grant Funding in 2015-16

Entrance to Cal Poly's campus

Cal Poly honored faculty and staff who received a record $32 million in grants and whose research resulted in five patents for the university in the 2015-16 academic year.

The patented inventions include an automotive air-conditioning system, an in-wall air-filtration system, CubeSats (or small satellites that launch as secondary payloads), a computer-implemented process to allow the visually impaired to transform touch into an audio response, and an environmentally benign packing design.

“I just want to say how proud I am of the work that you are all doing,” Dean Wendt, dean of research in the Office of Research and Economic Development, told about 80 faculty and staff members gathered at the annual reception held in the fall. “We are celebrating an unprecedented year of externally funded research activity at the university.”

Grant funding for research projects was up 25 percent over last year’s $26 million, and “ranks as the highest amount of external funding on record at Cal Poly,” Wendt said.

“Let me put that number in context for you: The annual base budget for the College of Science and Mathematics is around $37 million, and it includes all the salaries and wages and operating budgets for the college,” he said. “The $32 million is a significant contribution you are making to our institution and to the education of our students.”

There are other benefits to campus research, Wendt said. The grants contributed to more than $250,000 in tuition, fees and scholarships for students; funded more than $650,000 in lab equipment in the university’s six colleges; supported the wages of 58 Cal Poly Corporation employees; and paid $1.8 million in wages to more than 800 student researchers.

President Jeffrey D. Armstrong praised the faculty, who in addition to their teaching duties also apply for and oversee the research, and the staff of the Sponsored Programs and Grants Development offices who administer the more than 500 grants.

“You are impacting lives. You are helping students succeed,” he told the group. “And your careers are just blossoming and growing. It’s very, very exciting.”

Five university centers that each received more than $1 million and those who manage them were singled out: Stuart Styles and Charles Burt of the Irrigation Training and Research Center; John Keller and Chance Hoellworth of the Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education (CESaME); Sam Blakeslee and Christine Robertson of the Institute for Advanced Technology and Public Policy; Wendt of the Center for Coastal Marine Sciences; and Suzanne Phelan of the Center for Solutions Through Research in Diet and Exercise (STRIDE).

In addition, four individuals who secured a combined $50 million in grant funding over their Cal Poly careers were honored. Styles and Burt, director and chairman of the board respectively for Cal Poly’s Irrigation Training and Research Center, each has procured more than $20 million in external funding. Blakeslee, IATPP director, and Trevor Cardinal, an associate professor of biomedical engineering and director of the Regenerative Medicine Program, each has procured $5 million in grant funding.

The patent holders from the 2015-16 academic year are:

— Jay Singh and former student Evan Cernokus, patent for “System, Method and Apparatus for Making and Using Flex Column Void-Based Packing Materials.” Their system for forming space-consuming, shock-absorbing packing materials uses a three-sided flex-column to eliminate the need for non-recyclable polystyrene packing peanuts and better protect shipped items saving time and money in a manner that is also easier on the environment.

— Patrick Lemieux, patent for “Air-Cycle Environmental Control Systems and Methods for Automotive Applications.” This air-cycle air-conditioning invention uses an automotive turbocharger as the system core to maximize cooling while minimizing weight and space, as well as impacts on engine performance.

— Jordi Puig-Suari and Austin Williams of aerospace engineering, patent for “CubeSat Systems, Method and Apparatus.” These nano-satellites piggyback on the launches of larger satellites. The basic CubeSat unit is a box about 4 inches square; larger CubeSats are multiples of that unit.

— Dennis Fantin and Art MacCarley, patent for “Transforming a Tactually Selected User Input into an Audio Output.” Fantin, blind since age 12, and MacCarley developed a computer-implemented process to assist the visually impaired, transforming the touch of a selected Braille key into an analog audio signal output as human speech with an electro-acoustic transducer.

— Carmen Trudell and student Natacha Schnider, patent for “System and Method for Air Filtration Via Cyclone Separators Enclosed Within Exterior Walls.” The invention uses cyclone separators mounted within walls to purify the air in buildings.

Wendt recognized the individuals who had the highest grant funding totals in their colleges:

— Orfalea College of Business: Stephen Hamilton, economics.
— College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences: Stuart Styles, bioresource and agricultural engineering.
— College of Architecture and Environmental Design: Cornelius Nuworsoo, city and regional planning.
— College of Engineering: Trevor Cardinal.
— College of Liberal Arts: Patrick Lin, philosophy.
— College of Science and Mathematics: Stan Yoshinobu, mathematics.

Cal Poly Named Top Producer of Faculty Fulbright Scholars Among Nation’s Public and Private Master’s Universities and Colleges

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: 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; and, from the College of Engineering, Zachary Peterson and three-time Fulbright scholar Jose Macedo.

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.”

Also named to the top-producer list of master’s institutions, with three scholars each, were: College of Staten Island (The City University of New York); Ithaca College (New York); Jacksonville State University (Alabama); James Madison University (Virginia); Salem State University (Massachusetts); and two California schools: Mills College and San Jose State University.

The University of South Florida in Tampa was the top school among research institutions with 12 Fulbright scholars. Cal Poly also ranked 16th in the nation overall after such institutions as University of Washington and University of Texas at Austin, each with six scholars.

Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 370,000 participants — chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential — with the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. Since 1984, Cal Poly faculty have received 44 Fulbright scholar awards.

The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by Congress to the Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations abroad and in the U.S. also provide direct and indirect support.

In the U.S., the Institute of International Education’s Council for International Exchange of Scholars administers and coordinates the activities relevant to the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program on behalf of the Department of State, including conducting an annual competition for the scholarships.

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

About Cal Poly’s 2016-17 Fulbright Scholars:

John BattenburgCal Poly Faculty Member Battenburg Named U.S. Fulbright Scholar
College of Liberal Arts
Battenburg, a professor in the English Department, is teaching at Cadi Ayyad University in Marrakesh, Morocco. His project is titled: Preparing Effective and Innovative English Language Teachers. This is his third Fulbright grant; previously he served in Tunisia, 1995-96 and 1996-97. He has also served as U.S. AID consultant in Costa Rica and was named a U.S. State Department academic specialist in Morocco, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Austria. His work on the California Central Coast Online Dictionary, which was compiled by his students in 1999, was featured in the New York Times.




Chris CarrCal Poly Faculty Member Carr Named U.S. Fulbright Scholar
Orfalea College of Business
Carr is the recipient of the 2017 U.S.-Italy Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Business award. A business law and public policy professor, Carr also served as associate dean for the college from 2004-09. He will visit the University of Naples Parthenope to collaborate on research with faculty primarily from the Department of Management and Quantitative Studies. He will also teach doctoral seminars in law and economics, entrepreneurship, and presentation design. Distinguished Chair awards are considered the Fulbright organization’s most prestigious award. Carr was selected for one of just two chaired positions offered in Italy this year. He is also a prior three-time Fulbright award recipient, having been selected to advise as a senior specialist at top science and engineering universities and business schools in Tunisia, Pakistan, and Mongolia.




R. Thomas JonesCal Poly Faculty Member Jones Named U.S. Fulbright Scholar
College of Architecture and Environmental Design
Architecture Professor Jones, who served as dean of the college from 2001 to 2012, directs Cal Poly’s San Francisco Urban Program. As a Fulbright scholar at Cardiff University in Cardiff, Wales, in the United Kingdom from September to December 2016, he joined faculty and students of the Welsh College of Architecture on a multidisciplinary academic and community partnership project. His work focused on citizen participation and large-scale urban design methods, and the integration of architecture students into public planning efforts in Cardiff’s Grangetown neighborhood.




Jose MacedoFaculty Member Macedo Named U.S. Fulbright Scholar
College of Engineering
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 PetersonFaculty Member Peterson Named U.S. Fulbright Scholar
College of Engineering
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



Cal Poly Students Win 48 Hour Repack National Competition

48 Hour Repack student team with checkAn interdisciplinary team of three Cal Poly students took first place in the 48 Hour Repack, a national student packaging design challenge presented by the Institute of Packaging Professionals’ Southeast Chapter.

The competition’s organizers selected a series of consumer products in need of packaging innovation and challenged students to create new designs in two days.

Cal Poly industrial technology and packaging seniors Brooke Billmeyer of Solana Beach, Calif. and Macintyre Peek of San Marcos, Calif. teamed with art and design sophomore Samuel Baber of Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. for the contest. Over the course of a weekend in January, the team developed a new idea for packaging Keurig K-cup individual coffee pods.

Pacific Roast k-cup designThe team created an interlocking hexagonal tube made from a single piece of recycled paperboard to protect and showcase the coffee pods. The concept’s re-closable dispenser system also featured graphics branded as “Pacific Roast” that could be displayed on a countertop and differentiate different blends of coffee. The team also created a promotional video for the product.

A panel of four judges surveyed more than 45 entries before naming Cal Poly the winner. For the final round of competition in March, the team traveled to Atlanta, Ga., where they were also awarded $3,000. Cal Poly took second place in last year’s 48 Hour Repack.

Business Students Among First Graduates of Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs Program

Silicon Valley EntrepreneursThe first cohort of 17 Cal Poly students immersed in an intensive 10-week entrepreneurship and innovation “boot camp,” will graduate from the new program this month.

The Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs: A Study-Away Entrepreneurship Immersion Program is a collaborative effort involving Cal Poly’s Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CIE) and Extended Education, and Draper University. Students from all disciplines throughout Cal Poly took part in a unique entrepreneurial experience in the world’s capital of technology innovation: Silicon Valley.

Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business and College of Liberal Arts co-sponsored a concentrated three-week course, followed by seven weeks in San Mateo at Draper University. The aim was to help would-be entrepreneurs embrace risk and find the motivation to innovate.

Of the 17 students representing Cal Poly, 10 were business students concentrating in everything from economics, to industrial technology, to finance. Cal Poly’s cohort of undergraduate students studied alongside master’s degree candidates and working professionals at Draper University.

“As a freshman, I needed to complete some prerequisite courses in order to take some of the entrepreneurship classes I was interested in,” said Katie White, business administration major. “This program offered me a chance to take those classes and to spend 10 weeks with driven, ambitious, smart entrepreneurs in an environment that would help me take my idea much farther than I could solely on campus.”

The program touched on broad issues such as finance, the legal system, creativity and survival. Courses focused on such varied topics as venture capital, sales and digital marketing, negotiation, prototyping, and the important lessons of failure.

The program culminated with a pitch competition in Silicon Valley where more than 30 teams pitched to an audience of venture capital investors. Cal Poly students led three teams that placed in the competition’s top five. Industrial Technology senior Tiffany Keller took second place in the competition with PolyLabs, a smart keychain that remotely accesses apps with the push of a button thanks to Dingbot technology. Economics sophomore Eli Burch and business administration freshman Katie White took third place with Clock’d, a bluetooth enabled app that allows hourly employees to clock in and out of work while recording data for improved work efficiency. Fifth place went to business major Tommy Espinoza, who partnered with fellow Draper student Yoni Dejene; their concept for Investful imagines an online school with interactive and project-based courses on trading stocks.

Both PolyLabs and Clock’d have been accepted in to the CIE’s Hatchery, Cal Poly’s on-campus incubator for student projects and startups.

“This program has better prepared me to become an entrepreneur in many ways,” said industrial technology senior Matt Prout. “I have gained invaluable insight on creating a company from successful entrepreneurs and experts in many different fields. I’ve learned important lessons and have done activities that pushed me in various aspects of my life. All of these skills and experiences directly translate to life as an entrepreneur.”

Cal Poly Business Students Prepare to Study Away in Silicon Valley

Cal Poly business students will help pilot the university’s Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs program in winter 2015. The program will give 17 Cal Poly students the opportunity to study away in Silicon Valley with Draper University as part of a universitywide effort to bolster entrepreneurial resources for students across campus.

Ten Orfalea College of Business students will participate in the program – the largest contingent from any college at Cal Poly.  Business majors, along with art, political science, computer science and kinesiology students, will spend three weeks at Cal Poly before studying at Draper University for the remaining seven weeks of winter quarter.

“I’m proud to see so many business students leading the way in this program,” said Orfalea College of Business Dean Scott Dawson. “We’re preparing graduates to make an impact on day one of their careers, and when it comes to entrepreneurship, I can’t think of a better training ground than this program.”

Orfalea College of Business professors Tom Katona and Tod Nelson will teach entrepreneurship courses complemented by business ethics curriculum taught by Cal Poly philosophy professor Kenneth Brown. Katona, Nelson and Brown will visit Silicon Valley periodically to work with students in and out of the classroom. Students will also have the chance to engage with Cal Poly alumni and guest speakers from the valley’s startups and venture capital firms.

“This is much more than just an academic experience for our students,” said Katona of the program. “This is an immersive experience into the entrepreneurial culture that is thriving in Silicon Valley and driving business globally.”

Orfalea College of Business students studying industrial technology, finance, entrepreneurship and economics will participate in the program. The cohort includes Katie White, a business administration freshman and winner of the Audience Choice Award at the 2014 Ray Scherr Pitch Competition. Entrepreneurship sophomore Nicholas Sinai will also participate in the program. He was named University Innovation Fellow by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter) in 2014. Alfredo Espinoza, business administration freshman and a member of the Cal Poly Wrestling Team, will also be part of the cohort.

The Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs program is a partnership between Draper University and Cal Poly that aims to amplify the Learn by Doing philosophy. As part of the Cal Poly’s larger effort to build innovative curriculum and programs, the university and its Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship have developed a spectrum of resources for students to develop and sharpen new products, create startups, and collaborate across disciplines while working toward their degree. Those resources include the SLO HotHouse, the on-campus Hatchery and the Innovation Sandbox.

Draper University was founded by venture capitalist Tim Draper to “teach entrepreneurship to people who are relentless in their desire to change the world and make things happen.” Draper is the founder and managing director of Menlo Park, Calif.-based venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson. The company — with more than $7 billion in capital commitments and affiliate offices in more than 30 cities worldwide — has funded many well-known technology companies, including Hotmail, Skype, SpaceX and Tesla Motors.

For more details about Draper University, visit

For more on Cal Poly’s Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs program, visit: