A Moment with the Dean

A Moment with the Dean

A Message from the Dean

January 14, 2013

Something marvelous happened recently when members of Engineers Without Borders – Cal Poly (EWB) gave a presentation on their activities to the Cal Poly Retired Faculty and Staff Club.

The emeritus faculty and staff were so impressed by the dedication, professionalism and service of the students, that they passed the hat (in this case, a bread basket) around the room and collected $250 on the spot to support EWB’s work implementing sustainable engineering projects in developing communities around the world.

Dean Larson with Concrete Canoe

EWB is just one of many outstanding engineering student organizations that put Learn by Doing into action. These groups – like our three-time national Concrete Canoe champions – utilize the knowledge gained from in-class coursework to design and build projects. Clubs give students the opportunity to try new skills and take new risks. They enable students to gain experience in teamwork, project and personnel management as well as budgeting.

One of the most impressive things about our engineering clubs (EWB, the Steel Bridge and Concrete Canoe teams, the Society of Women Engineers Team Tech, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Supermileage Vehicle and many more) is that the student members undertake projects that require hundreds of hours of work. The sense of community that clubs develop is inspiring. And their work pays off big time for the university, enhancing our national reputation by earning honors and awards in national competitions.

Because club activities add so much to the Cal Poly education, one of my strategic goals is to institutionalize club activities and projects as part of our curricular offerings. Recognizing the educational value of clubs, the Mechanical Engineering Department is already making club activities one of its senior design options.  Likewise, the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department runs the Steel Bridge and Concrete Canoe as senior design projects.

Another dream is to establish an endowment to ensure support for student clubs and projects. Taking a cue from the Retired Faculty and Staff, we can call it the Pass the Hat for Student Clubs Endowment!

In the meantime, join me in cheering for all our engineering student clubs and teams. They are a great source of pride for the entire Cal Poly community.

Deb Larson, Ph.D., P.E.


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