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Cover of Engineering Advantage Magazine, Fall 2018 issue

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Down Under

An artist rendering of this year's float features a submarine exploring sea life living in an old shipwreck. The float will appear at the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year's Day.

While last year’s Rose Float team was inspired by space exploration, this year’s team has decided to return to earth, with a float featuring exotic ocean exploration.

This year’s entry for the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association’s annual Rose Parade, as shown in an artist rendering, will feature a submarine navigating around a sunken shipwreck that has become home to colorful marine wildlife. The title of the float, “Aquatic Aspirations,” was announced over the weekend, though it was actually decided a few months ago.

“This year, we started our concept contest in January, where we collect concepts from the community and our team,” said Sydney Strong, president of the Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo team.

Students from the Rose Float team, including President Sydney Strong, left, Vice President Dexter Yanagisawa, middle, and Design Chair Shannon Cardoza, a mathematics major, planted flowers in July. 

The San Luis Obispo campus works on the float year-round with a team of students from Cal Poly, Pomona. After getting 110 concepts, the Cal Poly Universities Float team narrowed the list to five and ranked them, before sending to the Tournament of Roses, which has to approve. The organization had previously set this year’s theme: The Power of Hope.

The Cal Poly team is coming off a successful year. Last year’s rockin’ space-themed float, “Far Out Frequencies,” won the prestigious Extraordinaire Award – the first time Cal Poly had received the honor.

“I was so excited about last year’s float,” said Strong, an industrial engineering major, who served as decorations chair last year. “It was really, really a moment of pride seeing the float turn around the corner on Colorado Boulevard and getting such a prestigious award that we were never expecting to get. I think it has really inspired us this year.”

The underwater theme, she said, allows them to play with underwater creatures, Strong said. 


A student on the Rose Float team welds together some of the frame for this year's Cal Poly Universities float. 

“Cal Poly is kind of known for our fun, cartoony floats, so we’re excited to play around with something a little more elegant this year,” she said.

As usual, the College of Engineering at the San Luis Obispo campus is well represented on the team. Ten of the 19 SLO leadership roles are from the college, including Strong serving as president and mechanical engineering student Dexter Yanagisawa as vice president.

In July, the team planted some of the flowers that will be used at the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo campus. And construction on the frame has already begun.

Walter Trygstad, the construction chair of the Rose Float team in San Liuis Obispo, performs grinding work on a steel plate. Trygsdad, a manufacturing engineering student, will also drive the float on New Year's Day. 

The float, which will be driven by Walter Trygstad, a manufacturing engineering student, will feature animated turtles, swimming fish, a rocking ray and swaying kelp. The submarine will rock back and forth, and there will be an octopus that glides 13 feet high while waving its tentacles toward the crowd.

This will be Cal Poly’s 72nd entry to the parade, held annually on New Year’s Day. Last year’s parade was seen by 700,000 people in person and more than 70 million worldwide on television.


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