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News & Events 2019-2020

To skip to past News/Events & Magazines click here!

ARCE Students Place Second in EERI Seismic Design Competition

March 2nd-6th 2020

A team of Cal Poly architectural engineering (ARCE) students placed second in the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) Seismic Design Competition (SDC) in early March in San Diego.

The Cal Poly team competed against 46 other university teams from throughout the U.S. and countries such as Canada, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Malaysia, Mexico, Turkey and Romania.















The Cal Poly team’s months-long preparation involved writing a design proposal; constructing a 5-foot-tall balsa-wood model to survive two shake-table ground motions; refining computer simulations to accurately predict the model’s performance; and developing communication materials, including a poster and oral presentation. Their efforts led to a second-place award for presentation and poster, third in proposal, and fifth for architecture.

Fourteen students were accompanied by ARCE Assistant Professor Anahid Behrouzi, Cal Poly’s EERI student chapter faculty advisor. Of this group, 12 undergraduates participated in the competition. Jenna Williams, graduate student and, past EERI seismic design competition team captain, served as this year’s chair. Students Alejandra Bravo and Nicholas Slavin presented research with Behrouzi during a talk titled “Leveraging ArcGIS Mapping: Investigation of Concrete Building Damage after 2017 Mexico Earthquake.”








“Our Top 10 performance in the competition sub-categories led to significant bonus points for our team,” Behrouzi said. “The students’ quality construction and the model’s outstanding seismic performance under shake-table testing helped the team rank second overall.”

In conjunction with the competition, team members Autumn Wagner and Ryan Millward coordinated office tours to three firms — longtime Cal Poly supporters were KNA Structural Engineers in Irvine and LPA and KPFF in San Diego — for discussions on their recent projects involving novel seismic design solutions.








Sponsors of the Cal Poly team included: John A. Martin & Associates, KNA Structural Engineers, Harris & Sloan, FTF Engineering, the Cal Poly Instructionally Related Activities program, and the ARCE Department.

Technical advisors included Behrouzi and other ARCE faculty members Peter Laursen, Graham Archer, Kevin Dong, and John Lawson; Civil Engineering faculty and staff members Robert Moss, Charles Chadwell, and Xi Shen; and industry members David Cocke of Structural Focus and Alex Mueller of KPFF.

Cal Poly has participated in the EERI Seismic Design Competition since 2007 — taking first out of 19 teams in 2009 and placing second out of 28 teams in 2011.

30th Annual Structural Forum

February 8th 2019

The 30th annual Structural Forum took place on February 8th, 2020. Structural Forum Chair, Doug McArthur, along with the members of the Structural Forum Committee worked extremely hard to organize this incredible event. This year’s theme was Designing Visions, Building Reality. At the morning portion, guest speaker Erin Andes spoke about her specialty in building enclosure consulting in order to achieve durable, watertight, and energy efficient building enclosures. Brian Katz, Senior Managing Engineer with Hinman, gave a speech about his work on the assessment of risk and resilience to extreme event mitigation and management planning. Troy Morgan of Exponent in New York, spoke about his work on sophisticated techniques and applications of advanced seismic protective systems.















In the evening portion, students mingled and engaged with industry professionals during the resume-free career fair at the Madonna Inn. After the career fair was a delicious three course meal where students and industry professionals were able to celebrate the evening and the future of the profession. During dinner, Mark Guberman, Design Partner at Foster + Partners and Keynote Speaker, gave a speech about the importance of interdisciplinary work between Architects, Engineers, and Construction Managers. Following the evening portion of Structural Forum, attendees were invited to continue the events of the night in a more informal setting at an after party in downtown San Luis Obispo.















Structural Forum is the most common way current ARCE students find their internships and jobs, because it allows them to get to know professionals based on their interaction, not just their resume. Structural Forum is one of many excellent resources Cal Poly ARCE students have to expand their networks, make connections that will benefit their future, and inspire their drive and passion for the structural engineering profession.

















To learn more about Structural Forum follow this link!

To view more photos of the event click here!

Fall 2019 Order of the Engineer Ceremony

December 14th 2019















The ARCE Department conducted its most intimate Order of the Engineer ceremony ever in conjunction with the Fall Commencement on December 14th. ARCE graduates David Hsu and Joseph Martin were both inducted into the Order as they signed an oath to serve the public and Department Head Al Estes placed stainless steel rings on the pinkie fingers of their working hands. Both graduates had many family members and friends on hand. The Order of the Engineer is generously sponsored by Barrish-Pelham in Sacramento – a Degenkolb Company.








The Fall Commencement ceremony speaker was Ashraf Habibullah, the founder and President of Computer and Structures Incorporated (CSI). Ashraf has been extremely generous to the ARCE program by sponsoring a laboratory and supporting the travel expenses of our Structural Engineering Students for Humanity (SESH).

26th Annual ARCE Advisory Board Meeting

December 6th 2019

The ARCE Advisory Board met on December 6th on campus for their twenty-sixth consecutive semi-annual meeting since we reconstituted this group in 2007. The Board reviewed the annual ARCE program assessment, discussed the obstacles and cost associated with growing the Master’s program, and provided some input required for our upcoming accreditation. We were visited by Dean Christine Theodoropoulos, Senior Director of Advancement Jessica Otten, and Director of Real Estate Education Initiatives John Day.








We also received a research presentation from ARCE masters students Jenna Williams and Tracy Doan, as well as visits from Master’s Coordinator Cole McDaniel and CM Department Head Jeong Woo. We also took advantage of the fact that the Civil Engineering Advisory Board was meeting on the same day and had a joint session together. Interdisciplinary collaboration continues to be a priority.











The Board members in attendance were Ron LaPlante (Chair), Abe Lynn (Emeritus Faculty member), Michael Parolini, Jen Hiatt, Chris Haight, Evan Reis, Elisa Suarez, Margaux Burkholder, Matt Melcher, and Randy Collins.

ARCE Undergraduate Nick Slavin Presents Research at International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition in Salt Lake City, Utah

November 13th 2019

On November 13th, ARCE undergraduate senior Nick Slavin presented research at the International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition in Salt Lake City, Utah. Although the conference was geared primarily toward mechanical engineers, Nick presented his work at a poster session for all NSF-funded student research, which featured a wide variety of engineering disciplines.











Nick has been working with faculty supervisor Anahid Behrouzi to investigate reinforced concrete building damage in Mexico City from the 2017 Puebla earthquake. His poster illustrated relationships between damage, building characteristics, and site attributes. Nick enjoyed interacting with students and professionals and gained valuable experience presenting research at a conference. The highlight of his trip was meeting an engineer from a town near Puebla who had experienced the 2017 earthquake and was directly impacted by the event.

Cal Poly ARCE Wins Timber Strong Competition

November 12th 2019















Six ARCE students led by ARCE senior Lillian Lai won the inaugural iteration of the national Timber Strong competition. The competition was held in Anaheim on November 12th as part of the National C Structural Engineers Association (NCSEA) annual conference. While 12 teams originally signed up, six actually competed: Cal Poly SLO, Sacramento State, UCLA, University of Minnesota, University of Southern Florida, and University of Kentucky. The competition required the design and construction of a two-story timber structure. Students produce design drawings, a technical report, a poster, and a structure that is constructed on site in a 90 minute timed event. The structure features a cantilevered beam on which a 150 pound weight is hung and its deflection is measured. Students must calculate the carbon footprint of the structure. After constructions, students are graded on a ten minute presentation in which all six team members must participate.








The ARCE team consisted of Anna Luehrs (4th year ARCE), Audrey Luu (2nd yr ARCE), Dolores Herrera (4th yr ARCE), Jonathan Lin (3rd yr CM), John Leone (4th yr ARCE), and Lilliann Lai (4th yr ARCE). The rules prescribed that at least one student be an underclassman (freshman or sophomore) and at least one be from a different discipline. Professor Kevin Dong served as the team’s faculty advisor. The team was sponsored through generous donations provided by C.W. Howe Partners Inc. in Culver City and Lionakis in Sacramento.

The Cal Poly ARCE team won by making some unique design and construction decisions. They used balloon framing for their construction rather than the more standard platform construction used by all of the other competitors. Their structure features a curved roof and an architectural protuberance on the front wall that added to the aesthetic quality of the building. The winners ( Cal Poly SLO: first place; UCLA: second place; and University of Kentucky: third place) were announced at the NCSEA opening reception and were honored by NCSEA President Jon Schmidt. The competition is sponsored by the American Wood Council, the American Plywood Association, and Simpson StrongTie.

KPFF Lab Dedication

November 8th 2019

The ARCE department formally dedicated the kpff Computer Laboratory on November 8th. This newly sponsored lab was completely renovated over the summer, so the students returned to a totally new facility in the Fall. Nick Murphy (ARCE 2004) and Tyler Krehbiel (ARCE 2008) attended on behalf of the kpff Irvine office.















In partnership with Cal Poly facilities, the summer work consisted of removing a raised floor, installing new carpet, painting the walls, replacing a projector and screen with big-screen TV’s, new furniture, and new computers. To celebrate the kpff culture and heritage, kpff created a mural on the rear wall that features key projects from the various kpff offices in Irvine, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle. Kpff has hired a large number of ARCE graduates over the years and the department is very grateful for their generous five-year sponsorship of this lab.













Associate Dean Mark Cabrihna represented the CAED at the ceremony which featured words of thanks, a check presentation to SEAOC student officers Sophia Looney and Rob Garland, a ribbon cutting, many photos, and a cake-cutting ceremony.








The dedication was followed by a catered lunch for all who attended. Dave Norton, the facilities Project Manager, also attended, spoke, and assisted with the plaque unveiling.

Mustang Family Weekend Barbecue

October 26, 2019

On October 26th, the ARCE department hosted its 11th annual Mustang Family Weekend Barbecue. While exploring San Luis Obispo and the Cal Poly campus, families were invited to enjoy a central coast style barbecue lunch in between other Mustang Family Weekend activities. Lunch was provided and cooked by Cal Poly's student chapter of SEAOC (Structural Engineers Association of California).












While enjoying lunch, ARCE families mingled with ARCE faculty and staff, took photos at the family photo booth, and met other supporters. Following lunch was an informatory presentation given by department head Al Estes to give an inside look at the state of the department and to provide an open space to ask and answer questions. Topics included everything from test score statistics to study abroad opportunities, all showing the ways ARCE Cal Poly leads to a successful career!

SEAOC Fall Trip to San Francisco

October 24-26, 2019

Cal Poly SEAOC student chapter traveled to San Francisco this fall. While there, they visited the offices of Strandberg, Degenkolb, Holmes, and Arup. They also went on a site visit to a house that used to belong to actor Danny Glover.












The SEAOC Young Members sponsored a meet and greet between the students and a number of industry professionals in the area, including quite a few Cal Poly alumni. During their free time, the students had fun exploring the city, eating good food, visiting Salesforce Park, and riding around the city in the BART.

Week of Welcome Barbecue

September 16, 2019

During the annual Week of Welcome, new freshman ARCEs were welcomed to the ARCE department. They received their first ARCE t-shirt and took their first group photo while SEAOC provided and cooked the barbecue meal.












During lunch they were able to mingle with their fellow classmates and begin forming life long connections to the tight knit ARCE community. After the meal, they were given an introductory presentation to ARCE by department head Al Estes so that they could learn all they have to look forward to in their next four years at Cal Poly as an ARCE student!

SESH Trip to Myanmar

August 2019

This summer, our Structural Engineering Students for Humanity (SESH) team traveled to Myanmar. The team partnered with Miyamoto Relief to work on seismic retrofits of college buildings in the city of Yangon. ARCE Professor James Mwangi joined the team along with Mark Broughton from Miyamoto Relief.














The group split up into two teams, one to work on the Main Building at Yangon Technological University and one to work on the University Library at Yangon University. Both teams proposed multiple options of how to retrofit the structures and presented to board members from both universities. After the projects were completed the team traveled to Bagan, Myanmar to tour the temples.














The group split up into two teams, one to work on the Main Building at Yangon Technological University and one to work on the University Library at Yangon University. Both teams proposed multiple options of how to retrofit the structures and presented to board members from both universities. After the projects were completed the team traveled to Bagan, Myanmar to tour the temples.








To see more photos click here!

ARCE Students Study Abroad in Lithuania

July 2019

This summer, 25 Cal Poly students studied abroad in Vilnius, Lithuania. ARCE Professors Edmond Saliklis, Peter Laursen, and Brent Nutall also went on the trip to teach the courses, which included ARCE 302, Structural Analysis, ARCE 352, Structural Computing Analysis, and ARCE 371, Structural Design Lab. For the first time this year, the Cal Poly students stayed at a hotel in the city of Vilnius, instead of on the campus, so that they could be more central to the city, becoming fully immersed into the country’s culture. The hotel was in walking distance of the classes, grocery stores, and Old Town Vilnius.











The Cal Poly students studied alongside 4 Lithuanian Students studying Civil Engineering at Vilnius Gediminas Technikas Universitetas (VGTU). During the six week long program, they attended classes from 9 am to 6pm, as they had to complete 7 units in such a short period of time.











Aside from school work, the students also had the opportunity to explore the unique city of Vilnius and country of Lithuania. Their weekends were free of homework to do as they liked, and they went on two guided weekend excursions, one to the city of Anykščiai and the city of Palanga on the Baltic coast. Some highlights of these excursions was a horse museum, a live archeaology festival, and a ropes course.

















This study abroad program, offered to ARCE students going into their third year of study at Cal Poly, is the experience of a lifetime for many!

Al Estes and Jessica Otten visit Industry Partners in the Los Angeles Area

July 9-10, 2019

ARCE Department Head Al Estes and CAED Senior Director for Development Jessica Otten visited industry partners in the Los Angeles area on July 9-10.
















The first visit was lunch with John Labib, Principal and Founder of John Labib and Associates (JLA). In addition to thanking him for the latest ARCE scholarship, we made initial plans to host an ARCE alumni event at his office.













The next visit was with Martin Guzman (ARCE 2009) who recently became a Principal at C.W. Howe and Associates in Culver City. Al and Jessica next met with Kurt Clandening (ARCE 1987) and Kal Benuska (ARCE 1985) who both recently became partners in John A. Martin and Associates (JAMA) to discuss their future involvement with the ARCE program.












The next visit was the new LPA office in Irvine for a lunch meeting with Bryan Seamer who just finished a tour on the ARCE Advisory Board, Kirk Snell (ARCE 2002), and Lindsay Hayward to discuss the LPA-sponsored interdisciplinary studios that will occur in fall and winter quarters of the upcoming year.









Finally, Al and Jessica met with Nick Murphy (ARCE 2004) and Managing Principal Roger Young at the Irvine office of kpff to discuss the on-going renovation of the kpff-sponsored computer laboratory.  The Irvine kpff office has hired a large number of recent ARCE graduates to include Alejandro Lopez (2016), Brad Stevens (2012), Stewart Hooks (2017), Alan Tonissen (2009), Adrian Saraf (2017), Andy Vallejo (2013), Marketa Jelinkova (2016, Master’s), and Lacy Williams (2016).

News/Events and Magazines Archive

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