A Moment with the Dean

A Moment with the Dean


A Message from the Dean

September 27, 2013

Dean Larson with the Cal Poly Concrete Canoe

Dean Larson with the Cal Poly Concrete Canoe

We’re delighted to welcome our incoming engineering students, who as a class, reflect both quantity and quality. 

Engineering students — 1,417 of them — account for approximately 30 percent of the university’s total enrollment of first-time freshmen. This number represents a 24percent increase over last year. Moreover, with a median 4.03 GPA, this engineering class has the highest incoming GPA in Cal Poly’s history. 

We’re also pleased that 22 percent of our first-year students are women, up from 18 percent just three years ago. This gain is encouraging; it shows progress in our strategic plan goal to attract and graduate a more diverse student body. 

As we usher in these future engineers, we’re also very aware of the learning outcomes we hope to instill in them over the course of their Cal Poly education. In fact, these learning outcomes are ever more on our minds as we anticipate our upcoming ABET review. ABET is the recognized U.S. accreditor of college and university programs in applied science, computing, engineering, and technology. 

As part of our ABET assessment, we collaborated with University Career Services to develop an employer survey designed to evaluate the quality of our graduates. I’d like to share some of the survey results with you. 

Employers rated the overall quality of our graduates very high: 4.5 on a 5 point scale. Likewise, Cal Poly engineers ranked 4.4 on industry readiness. These two ratings help confirm that our Learn by Doing program transforms students into highly competent, practice-ready professionals.

And Cal Poly graduates are also securing jobs. According to the most recent Graduate Status Report (2011-12), 78 percent of graduates obtained full-time employment, while 8 percent went on to graduate school. Sixty-six percent of graduates actually got hired before they graduated!  The median starting salary for Cal Poly engineers? $64,000. 

Employers also ranked our graduates high on specific program outcomes, such as ethical behavior, multi-disciplinary team experience, problem solving and technical practice. It’s interesting to note that employers in the field of computer science feel that it’s very important that employees are proactive and innovative regarding current issues when implementing engineering solutions. Happily, our computer science grads ranked high in this category. 

I think the importance of this learning outcome is tied to the fact that the computer science field is in many ways driving technology advances and responding to new economies in the communications market, such as cybersecurity and big data. Awareness of contemporary issues, however, is important for all engineers, as we strive to develop solutions to global challenges.

So, by many measures, Cal Poly Engineering is on the right track. I’m excited to welcome all our new and returning students, and I look forward to working with faculty, staff, alumni and industry partners as we move this exceptional college forward. 

Debra Larson, Ph.D., P.E.


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