A Moment with the Dean

A Moment with the Dean

Message from the Dean

October 06, 2015

As we kick off a new academic year, I thought you might like a snapshot of our student population and numbers. The university strives to meet a target enrollment based on capacity. With the unofficial headcount this fall at 20,764, campus enrollment is slightly larger than last year. 

Because of our reputation for excellence and value, Cal Poly’s application pool keeps growing. Both the university and the College of Engineering, in fact, experienced another record-breaking year in the number of applicants and in the quality of new students. 

Cal Poly received 46,819 freshmen applications and accepted 31 percent of them. More than a third of those applicants — 16,116 — hoped to enter the College of Engineering. The college acceptance rate was 22 percent. We enrolled 1,246 engineering freshmen who had an average high school grade point average of 4.08, an ACT of 31, and an SAT score of 1384. Wow! 

One of the numbers I’m most proud of is the percentage of women in our engineering freshmen class: 27 percent. This number has been steadily increasing over the last five years from 18.5 percent in 2010. And, as of 2014, Cal Poly ranked 20th in the nation for engineering bachelor's degrees awarded to women. (We also ranked 12th for bachelor's degrees awarded to Hispanics, another strong national standing.)

Our track record in attracting and retaining female students in the College of Engineering is due to a collective effort. For some time, we’ve been putting out programs and services to encourage girls to consider science, technology, engineering and math as an educational and career path. 

Eight years ago, we launched EPIC (Engineering Possibilities in College) summer camp, and the program has proved highly popular. This past summer, we hosted 480 EPIC campers, 38 percent of whom were female. Almost a quarter of the attendees were from low-income, first-generation families. So, EPIC has been successful in exposing a diversity of middle and high school students to engineering. 

In addition to EPIC and other outreach programs, we have important on-campus clubs and efforts to support and retain women in engineering, including an engineering and technical science sorority, the Women’s Engineering Program (WEP) and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). 

Founded in 2012 by five female students, the Cal Poly Beta Iota Chapter of Alpha Omega Epsilon now includes more than 50 sisters from all College of Engineering majors, Architectural Engineering, Applied Mathematics, and Bio-resource and Agricultural Engineering. 

One of the largest and most acclaimed chapters in the nation, Cal Poly SWE again won the Gold Award, the highest honor presented to a collegiate section, for the fourth year in a row and the 11th time since 2002. SWE, Beta Iota and WEP support Cal Poly women engineering students through a variety of academic, leadership and social activities which help students connect to their peers and to alumnae, faculty and industry representatives role models.

Finally, I’d like to give a shout out to our Computer Science Department, which has made recruitment and retention of female students a high priority. In the fall of 2010, only nine percent of the offers of admission to the department were women. For fall 2015, 23 percent of the incoming class are women. Dr. Ignatios Vakalis, chair of the department, has built structured communities for female students, including a group called Women in Software & Hardware, and he has actively fundraised to raise funds to send students to the annual Grace Hopper Conference, the world’s largest gathering of women in computing. 

To produce the best engineers, folks who will lead the state and nation in designing and building the best products and systems, we need a diverse student body who bring a wide variety of perspectives and skills to the academic table. I’m happy that we’re moving in the right direction. 

Let’s have a great year.

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