Cal Poly Student Team Takes Second Place at National Home Builders Competition

An interdisciplinary team of Cal Poly students earned second place at the 2018 National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) Residential Construction Management Competition held Jan. 8-10 in Orlando, Florida.

The Cal Poly students, all members of the university’s NAHB student chapter, competed against 33 other university teams, including first-place winner Penn State University, Brigham Young University (third place), and the University of Denver (fourth place).

The NAHB Student Competition, a highlight of the International Builders’ Show, charges students with completing a management project/proposal. This provides them the opportunity to apply skills learned in the classroom to a real construction company. Proposals are submitted to a group of construction company executives serving as judges. Students defend their proposals to the judges in front of an audience.

This year, teams were asked to prepare a proposal to acquire (or decline to acquire) a 72-arce parcel in Okemus, Michigan. The proposal included a market analysis; product design and selection, site design; cost estimate and schedule; site management and logistics; sales and marketing strategy; financial analysis; risk analysis; and sustainability.

The Cal Poly team was led by construction management seniors and team captains Jeremy Suryadi of Fresno, California, and Jeffrey Hammond of Paso Robles, California. They were joined by architecture students Alexander Gama, of San Diego, California, and Tyler Hall, of Denver, Colorado; business finance students Tyler Ingel, of Carlsbad, California, and Carter Jones, of Encinitas, California; city and regional planning student Eric Martinez, of Rialto, California; and construction management students Abraham Ahmed, of Oakland, California, Sarah De Los Reyes, of Long Beach, California, Thomas Fuentez, of Arroyo Grande, California, Trevor Nally, of Valencia, California, and Jeffrey Phunmongkol, of Orinda, California.

The team was advised by construction management faculty members Scott Kelting and Stacy Kolegraff.

“I’m extremely proud of the proposal and presentation our team created over the course of the competition,” Suryadi said. “The competition is no easy task and truly exemplifies Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing motto. The competition will be remembered as a valuable experience in our education as we move forward with our careers.”

Cal Poly’s interdisciplinary team has consistently placed in the top three spots in the annual competition. The team was awarded third place in 2017, second place in 2016 and second place in 2015.

Photo Information: NAHB Team.jpg — Cal Poly team members (left to right): Stacy Kolegraff (faculty adviser), Eric Martinez, Jeffrey Hammond, Tyler Hall, Alexander Gama, Trevor Nally, Sarah De Los Reyes, Thomas Fuentez, Jeremy Suryadi, Tyler Ingel, Jeffrey Phunmongkol, Carter Jones, Abraham Ahmed and Scott Kelting (faculty adviser).

Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business Celebrates Alumni with Inaugural Spotlight Awards

Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business hosted the inaugural Spotlight Alumni Awards in San Francisco on Saturday, January 20. More than 200 alumni, faculty and students gathered to network and celebrate the success of business graduates.

The event included remarks from Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong and Orfalea College of Business Dean Scott Dawson about the future of business education and how the network of more than 28,000 alumni can shape opportunities for students.

The event established the Spotlight Awards, given by the college’s Dean’s Advisory Council. The honor is given to alumni who have achieved inspiring career success through ethical leadership, innovation and philanthropic work. Alumni submitted nominations to the committee, which selected two winners.

The Green Spotlight Award went to Jessie Becker (Business Administration, ‘11), who co-founded medical device company InPress Technologies. Becker worked as the first Innovation Coordinator at Cal Poly’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship when she helped found InPress Technologies, which manufactures a patented device that stops post-partum hemorrhage in new mothers without medication or surgery. The company has completed first in woman trials in Indonesia and is currently enrolling in their pivotal study in the United States and Uganda.

The Gold Spotlight Award was given to Gary Erickson (Business Administration, ‘80), founder, co-owner and co-chief visionary officer of Clif Bar & Company. Erickson and his wife, Kit Crawford, transformed a small bakery into one of the biggest, privately-held food brands in the world through an expanding line of energy bars, organic foods and drinks. The company now employs more than 1,000 employees across locations in Emeryville, Calif. and Twin Falls, ID. In addition to emphasizing organic ingredients and carbon-neutral power for its facilities, Clif Bar consistently ranks as one of the best places to work.

“Celebrating the success of alumni like Jessie and Gary is the ultimate validation of our mission,” said Dean Dawson, “and is a shot of adrenaline for all of the Orfalea College of Business community.”

Proceeds from the event will support student scholarships for Orfalea International Business Tours sponsored by the college. The 10-day excursions provide international experience to students who many not be able to study abroad. During the event, business senior Brittany Oliveira of San Jose also shared highlights from tours where she learned from business leaders and cultural experiences in China, Japan, Vietnam and Taiwan.

Cal Poly to Provide Free Tax Preparation for Underserved Communities

Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business is providing free tax return preparation assistance through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program at clinics in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties.

Cal Poly’s on-campus VITA clinics will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays from Feb. 3 through March 17. Cal Poly students and faculty will also serve clients in other locations in San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria.

More than 125 Cal Poly accounting students will prepare tax returns as part of this year’s VITA program, which is sanctioned and coordinated by the Internal Revenue Service and California Franchise Tax Board. These IRS-certified students will prepare returns; Orfalea College of Business faculty and volunteer certified public accountants will review and file the returns. Students will prepare basic forms for local individuals and families earning less than $54,000. These include 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ, 540, 540A, 540EZ and some supporting forms.

Participants need to bring their ID, Social Security card and/or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, 2016 tax returns and all 2017 tax-related documents, including child care expenses and health insurance coverage information.

The Cal Poly clinic will be held on the third floor of the Business Building (No. 3). Visitors should enter the campus on California Boulevard and follow the signs to the Orfalea College of Business. Parking is free and available in lots C4 and C7 near the Business Building. The clinic is wheelchair accessible. No appointments are needed; people will be served on a first-come basis. Community members should arrive at Cal Poly before 1 p.m. to allow sufficient time to complete returns accurately.

Clients have the option of filling out necessary forms available on the VITA program website, dropping them off at the clinic, and returning the following weekend to review the tax return and sign necessary documents. Beginning Feb. 10, Cal Poly students and faculty will also provide a free weekly financial literacy seminar to participants at 10:30 a.m.

Students will also staff additional VITA clinics at two other Central Coast locations in partnership with the United Way of San Luis Obispo and Northern Santa Barbara Counties. These include:

  • America’s Job Center of California
    880 Industrial Way, San Luis Obispo
    10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, Feb. 3 through March 17
  • Allan Hancock College Community Education Center (Building S)
    800 S. College Drive, Santa Maria
    10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, Feb. 3 through March 31 (closed Feb. 17 and March 24)
    By appointment only; call 805-922-0329, ext. 105

Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business has hosted VITA clinics on campus since 1992. In 2017, Cal Poly students helped prepare nearly 650 returns for local clients. The clinics serve as a valuable, hands-on senior project, allowing students to prepare returns, interact with clients and help underserved communities.

Students also have the chance to work with faculty members and tax professionals. This year’s VITA program is led by Cal Poly faculty members Trisha Daughtrey and Catherine “Michelle” Curry of San Luis Obispo-based Glenn Burdette, Certified Public Accountants.

For more information, call 805-756-2667 (English and Spanish) or visit For more details on the United Way clinics, call 805-922-0329, ext. 105.

For media inquiries, contact Cal Poly faculty member Trisha Daughtrey at 805-756-2931 or

Cal Poly Student’s Poster Presentation Earns First Place at MIT Symposium

A Cal Poly industrial technology major won the student poster competition for a presentation on insulated solar electric cooking at MIT’s sixth annual Clean Energy Education and Empowerment (C3E) Women in Clean Energy Symposium.

Madison Fleming, a Santa Barbara native who is also minoring in sustainable environments, competed against graduate student teams from Columbia, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Stanford, UC Berkley and Yale. She was the only undergraduate student presenting in the competition held last fall.

Fleming is part of a team researching solar stoves for the global poor through Cal Poly’s appropriate technology courses. Small solar panels power a slow cooker and eliminate deadly emissions from open fires often used for indoor cooking, she said. Globally, 4 million people — mostly women and children — die each year from illnesses attributed to indoor cooking fumes from burning coal or biomass.

The research team’s solution is an inexpensive, low-power solar panel combined with an insulated cooking device would provide a cost-effective, efficient cooking method for communities lacking access to electricity.

“What distinguishes Maddi is her dedication and ownership of the project as well as the breadth of her vision including technology, business and sociology considerations,” said Pete Schwartz, a Cal Poly physics professor leading the appropriate technology curriculum. “Because she has a broad understanding of every aspect of the project, she connects with others and presents our work well, which is likely responsible for her win at MIT.”

Schwartz worked with Fleming and 10 other students to coauthor research on solar stoves — titled “Insulated Solar Electric Cooking — Tomorrow’s healthy affordable stoves?” — that appeared in the journal Development Engineering. Several members of the team were recipients of Cal Poly’s Frost Undergraduate Student Research Award.

The group worked with a school and the nonprofit organization Aid Africa to refine their prototype and use resources appropriate to cultural norms of the region. Fleming and three classmates spent a month in a community in Uganda learning about village life and introducing two cooking prototypes in 2016. The trip was made possible by the Warren J. Baker and Robert D. Koob Endowments.

“Hopefully, we will be returning this summer to implement upwards of 100 insulated solar electric cooking units,” Fleming said. “This is my last year at Cal Poly, but I look forward to continuing my ties with this project and seeing how future students and Professor Schwartz continue to develop this technology.”

The C3E initiative and symposium was started in 2010 by the 25-government Clean Energy Ministerial to increase the number of women in science fields and recognize that all members of society are essential to tackle clean energy challenges. The event unites students and professional women with other governments to build a network. For more information, visit

Orfalea Students Explore Tokyo and Taipei

In December, 24 Orfalea College of Business students ventured to Taipei, Taiwan and Tokyo, Japan to explore Asia’s evolving industries on the latest Orfalea International Business Tour. The students, who represented a variety of the college’s business concentrations, were led by Dean Scott Dawson and Assistant Director of Advising Lily Clark.

The adventure began in Taipei on Dec. 11 with a sight-seeing tour of the city, where the group learned about Taiwan’s relationship with China and how that impacts connections with the U.S. and beyond. The next day, the group began its business visits with a stop at the American Institute in Taiwan, which aims to advance the interests of the U.S. and protect American citizens in Taiwan. Next, the cohort explored Big Sun, which manufacturers solar photovoltaic (PV) cells.

Thanks to a series of Cal Poly alumni connections, the students were able to connect with EY’s Taipei office to discuss global accounting and assurance careers. Solidlite was the group’s last stop, including a survey of the corporation’s LED light production and discussing how the company is growing into the horticultural lighting space.  The group finished its time in Taiwan with a cultural tour to the mountainsides of Wulai where they learned about the indigenous Atayla tribe through folklore, wedding ceremonies, song and dance.

After a short flight to Tokyo, Cal Poly’s students were ready to immerse themselves in Japan’s distinct culture and business practices. The group learned quickly of the nation’s effort to change office culture and the shift in worker expectations. No longer are workers expected to spend their entire career at one company; the country is trying to encourage more innovation.

The adventure began with visits to CBRE, a Tokyo commercial real estate leader, and Softbank. After a tour through Tokyo’s sights and cuisine, the students took a day trip to Kamakura to explore its famed temples and shrines while learning about the region’s religions and cultural practices.

Back in the city, the students were wowed by an exclusive tour of the Tokyo Applestore. They were also treated to exclusive access to the city’s Salesforce office, thanks again to the help of alumni in the company. The final business visits included Square Enix, a video game developer, publisher and distribution company that produces role-playing games like Final Fantasy. The group’s last stop was one of the most enthralling: Olympus. The cohort toured the camera manufacturer to talk about the evolving industry of media, video and online content.

In just 10 days, the group was back in the U.S. with a wealth of insights they plan to take back to their classes, clubs and internships. The trip is just one of many Orfalea International Business Tours happening throughout the year to give students access to international perspectives and new career opportunities. Tours have recently ventured to Ireland, Spain, Morocco, Germany, Cuba and New Zealand. For more information, visit