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.

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.

Mustang Memories: Industrial Technology and Packaging

Student in class

Orfalea College of Business alumni answer one question: Who was your favorite Cal Poly professor?

Glenn Johnson (Industrial Technology ’00)

Manufacturing Engineer, Lockheed Martin
“Professor Mosher (I.T.) asked what the secret to life was. The answer: attitude. This has stayed with me all these years.”

Kristin Beardsley (Industrial Technology, ’92)
Wireless Team Sr. Recruiter, Apple
“By far, my favorite teacher (and career mentor) was IT Professor Smith (“Smitty”). Not only was he an expert card counter who was banned from Las Vegas for his well-known skills, but he was the nicest guy! He was so smart, and loved to teach about his direct experiences building some of the first SONAR systems for submarines before WWII. He took me under his wing when I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, and he encouraged me to take risks, and use my creativity to find solutions that were unique and fit my personality. Thank you Smitty, for helping me get through Cal Poly, and for encouraging me to follow my spirit!”

James Divinagracia (Industrial Technology, ’98)Cal Poly logo metal casting
Global Supply Manager, NetApp
“In my metals lab with Dr. Mosher for IT majors, we utilized sand casting to make a project with molten metal. Thinking back, it was pretty dangerous due to the heat of the liquid metal, but a great learning experience. The mold I chose was a Cal Poly block of letters. I still have it displayed today in my office. We also used belt sanders, vertical band saws, sand blasting, and polish processes to touch up the imperfections.”

Max Levine (Industrial Technology, ’10)
Technology Implementer, Oztera
“Learning lean with Dr. Olsen was amazing. Learning JIT, Kanban, and Tact times using the Toyota Production System car assembly exercise was awesome. I have utilized this philosophy and skills throughout my professional career and always remember where I first learned about this!”

Lisa Lane (Industrial Technology, ’92)
“‘Smitty’ always made it fun and interesting to learn; from sharing stories about he used to work on a computer that took up a whole room, to making references and comparisons to games of chance in order to make the material presented easier to understand.

Ken Ueltzen (Industrial Technology, ’82)
Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Cokeva
“Going into Smitty’s office, where it was piled high with papers, students lined up out the door and cigarette smoke coming out of the office like it was on fire… circa 1981.”

Do you have a favorite professor from your time at Cal Poly? Share your Mustang Memory at