A Moment with the Dean

A Moment with the Dean

Message from the Dean

January 29, 2014

Let’s talk safety. 

The culture of safety in universities nationwide is maturing, and not just because of a number of serious accidents and near-misses that have delivered a sobering message. 

We must take every possible step to ensure the safety of our students. But, furthermore, at Cal Poly we realize that our student projects have become ever more sophisticated. Our engineering students are delivering real things and full-up prototypes to industry sponsors. We need to make sure, therefore, that these prototypes are developed and documented with appropriate safety test plans and strategies. 

Above all, we have a duty to instill awareness of safety and to teach best-practice procedures to students, who will carry this knowledge with them into industry.

As a world-class engineering college with a lab-intensive environment, Cal Poly’s role around safety is to lead — and our intention to do so has been met with open arms by faculty, staff, students, cross-university colleagues and industry partners. 

We have taken a number of steps to improve safety practices in the near term and to foster a highly visible and active culture of safety. To help navigate this overall improvement effort we have leveraged Cal Poly assets, including Risk Management and Environmental Health & Safety.

To put more “boots on the ground” in our labs, we have also launched an Earn by Doing safety tech employment opportunity for students. We’re grateful to Stantec for sponsoring the first safety position, a job that will not only provide income for educational expenses, but also give students greater insight to safety practices.

We envision our college safety techs undertaking safety inspections and training, helping to follow protocols when incidents occur, sharing best practices, creating safety-oriented content for instructional lab manuals and supporting events, such as Open House and the collegewide Project Expo. 

Basically, we’re investing in safety with personnel, planning and education because the payoff is huge: we’re talking about accidents avoided and about helping improve safety in the workplace as our graduates take jobs in industry.

Above all, investing in safety is just the right thing to do.    

Before signing off, I want to plug some exciting upcoming events. First, save the date for Open House: April 11-13. We’re pleased to feature alumna Jen Overgaag (B.S., Computer Engineering, 2005) as the keynote speaker for admitted students. Jen has used her engineering know-how to design and implement solar-powered computer centers all over the underserved world. Read about her at http://cpe.calpoly.edu/newsletters/cpe-fall-2013-newsletter/re/

Immediately following Open House on Saturday, April 12, the College is hosting a Wine & Beer Garden @ Engineering Plaza, an event for alumni to connect and reconnect with fellow grads and their former professors. 

Then, on May 31, you’ll have a chance to view over 200 student projects at the Project Expo. We’re opening this event to alumni, parents and corporate partners because there is no better way to see what Cal Poly Engineering is all about and to get a first-hand glimpse of inventions by some of the nation’s brightest and most innovative young engineers. 

We’ll keep you informed about all these activities. Meanwhile, be safe!

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



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