16 Cal Poly Students to be Honored by Lawmakers at State Capitol on March 2

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Sixteen Cal Poly students will be recognized for their awards and other accomplishments by state lawmakers on the floors of the state Assembly and Senate in Sacramento on Monday, March 2.

“Our students are doers who take pride in the creative process — building a vehicle that gets people across the country faster; creating a light-weight concrete canoe that slices through the water more efficiently; constructing a bicycle capable of setting speed records; or helping to explore the cosmos by finding — and harvesting — extraterrestrial sources of ice,” said university President Jeffrey D. Armstrong, who is accompanying the group to Sacramento.

“They are our ambassadors of Learn by Doing. They represent like-minded counterparts in all six of our colleges. Their successes, in and out of the classroom, for which they will be recognized by our lawmakers in Sacramento show that these young people are leaders ready to take on real world challenges and succeed.”

The group will be introduced to the Senate by Majority Leader Bill Monning, D-Carmel, and to the Assembly by Assemblywoman Megan Dahle, R-Bieber. Monning represents San Luis Obispo County. Dahle has a son who attends Cal Poly.

Ceremonies will be held in each chamber Monday afternoon.

The majority of the students call California home — from the Bay Area to San Diego — including Nathaniel Morgan from the Central Coast. One is from outside the Golden State —Ohio.

The nine women and seven men represent all of Cal Poly’s colleges: two from the College of Architecture and Environmental Design; three from the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Services; six from the College of Engineering; one from the College of Liberal Arts; two from the College of Science and Mathematics; and a pair from the Orfalea College of Business.

Each has distinguished himself or herself, as an individual or on a team that has received a national industry award or in other high-profile events. 

These include the Tournament of Roses Parade, with its worldwide TV audience of 65 million; Mustang Media, the campus newspaper, radio, TV and online outreach that earned nearly 50 state and national honors; the concrete canoe team that was runner-up in the national championship; a team of engineering students who are helping NASA look for ways to drill for water on Mars and the moon; and an interdisciplinary team that was invited to SpaceX’s competition to build a Hyperloop pod for faster personal and freight travel. 

Participating Cal Poly students are:

Mason Breipohl

Elk Grove, California

Breipohl was part of Cal Poly’s award-winning concrete canoe team that took first in final product and finished second overall at the 2019 National Concrete Canoe Competition held in Florida. As project manager, the civil engineering senior led the team efforts to design, build and race Yggdrasil, named after the tree of life in ancient Norse mythology. The canoe weighed 183 pounds — its hull thinner than the width of a dime — and measured 19.3 feet. Breipohl was also one of the four paddlers who won four of their five races at the Melbourne, Florida, event. “I am so proud of the team and everything that we accomplished this year,” he said. “We had a smaller team, so every member played a huge role. The team worked countless hours and embraced challenges along the way to continue the Cal Poly Concrete Canoe Team legacy.” That legacy includes a fistful of national titles earned in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2017 and 2018. Breipohl, who will graduate in June, chose Cal Poly “because it has one of the top civil engineering programs in the nation, and I really liked the Learn by Doing approach.” Growing up so close to Sacramento makes it special to be part of the group that will be honored at the Capitol. “I have met so many incredible people during my time at Cal Poly and am grateful for all the opportunities and experiences the school has provided me,” the 21-year-old said. 

Cami Christopher

Burbank, California

At the Southwest American College of Sports Medicine Annual Region Chapter Meeting in Costa Mesa, California, last October Christopher and two teammates won the annual quiz bowl competition — edging out the second-place team — also from Cal Poly — by a single point. In addition, the kinesiology senior, who is minoring in statistics, took the top spot in the individual undergraduate student competition. Christopher and her teammates will represent the region at the upcoming national meeting. She said she is looking forward to representing the College of Liberal Arts and the university to state lawmakers. “This is a very special and humbling experience for me,” the 21-year-old said. “The Department of Kinesiology and Public Health has given me so many incredible opportunities to develop both research and professional skills that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I am honored to represent Cal Poly with my research and be a testament to how incredible Cal Poly is.” She was attracted to the university because of its “strong educational foundation and interdisciplinary focus,” and its Learn by Doing ethos. “It allowed me to collaborate on research projects early on in my undergraduate experience,” she said. “Cal Poly’s environment drew me in with the beautiful nature and supportive campus culture.” Christopher will graduate in June.

AJ Goldberg 

Calabasas, California

Goldberg, a fourth-year business administration-marketing senior, is president of the Cal Poly chapter of the American Marketing Association, which formed in 1978 to provide those interested in the field of marketing, advertising, and sales with the tools and tips needed to launch successful careers. He was part of the chapter’s history-making effort at the 2019 AMA International Collegiate Conference in New Orleans. For the first time Cal Poly placed among the top 15 international chapters out of the nearly 400 that attended. The ranking was the result of the chapter’s performance at the conference combined with how active the group is during the school year. Cal Poly placed third in several conference competitions: Marketing Strategy; SABRE Business Simulation; AMA Sales; and Perfect Pitch. Goldberg, who is minoring in psychology, is “extremely humbled to represent Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business in Sacramento,” the 22-year-old said. “I look forward to hearing peers and professionals share their passions, journeys and hardships, as I can learn a lot from their stories. Additionally, I know this honor represents more than just my leadership these past two years. It reflects the incredible efforts of the American Marketing Association team that proved that the college’s Marketing Department is highly esteemed and deserves to be recognized on a national scale.” He applied to the university because of its “forward-thinking business school that utilizes local businesses as clients for classes, a campus that provides ample career and wellness resources, a club life that is socially stimulating, and a beautiful backyard full of hidden gems with a vibrant town.” Living, studying and working on campus was akin to making “your own adventure book,” he said. “I was immediately attracted to the idea of creating my unique adventure in this special place. Not only has Cal Poly exceeded my high expectations, I know my continued journey is only the beginning for an even brighter future.” Goldberg will graduate in June.

Luke Haley 

San Ramon, California

The Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration major was part of a five-person team that won the Professional Convention Management Association’s annual student competition. PCMA is the world’s largest platform for business events professionals. The PCMA North American Student Competition asked teams to create a convention or meeting that encourages in-person interactions for the digital era. In doing so, Haley and team created the “Home Sharing Experience Convention,” or HSX. “After doing much research, we found that within the home sharing industry, property owners often never interact with their customers or with other rental property owners,” Haley said. “HSX is a convention with the intent of providing everything that rental property owners could need to create the perfect homestay, by engaging in face-to-face conversations with other rental property owners, as well as with exhibitors who are there to help improve their rental properties.” The team followed up in January with a presentation at the association’s Convening Leaders 2020 conference in San Francisco. Haley is “super grateful” for the opportunity to showcase with state lawmakers “all the hard work that led to the PCMA North American Student Competition win. Being recognized by President Armstrong and the state of California is a great honor, and I hope to represent my department and university with pride, in Sacramento,” the 22-year-old added. The self-described legacy student chose Cal Poly because it “has done so much for my family, and it was my turn to create my own Mustang Legacy. I saw how much opportunity that my department and major could provide and knew that pursuing a degree would best prepare me for my career in the business events and hospitality industries.” Haley plans to graduate in June.

Kara Hewson

Ventura, California

The mechanical engineering senior is president of Cal Poly Hyperloop, a club with 80 active members who work on pod design, manufacturing, marketing and more. SpaceX, known for its electric vehicles and space rockets, hopes to revolutionize terrestrial transportation with a Hyperloop — a sealed, extremely low-pressure tube that could transport people and freight at high speeds over long distances. The Hawthorne, California-based company conceives of a Hyperloop from San Francisco to Los Angeles with pods capable of traveling at the speed of sound. At 760 mph, such a trip would take about a half hour. Last fall, the group began designing the world’s first Hyperloop pod capable of magnetic levitation and cold gas propulsion. Students hope to complete the fully integrated pod this spring. Last year at this time, Hewson and her peers were completing work on a different pod for the fourth SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition. The Cal Poly team was among 22 finalists — including MIT, Purdue and the Technical University of Munich — chosen from more than 700 entries worldwide. Although it wasn’t among the handful of schools selected to conduct test runs on the milelong SpaceX Hyperloop track, Cal Poly’s invitation was a remarkable accomplishment for a group that wasn’t even a year old. The project presented a number of technical challenges that students needed to overcome: heat doesn’t dissipate in a vacuum, extremely high current can melt some electronics, high speeds cause vibrations that could tear the pod apart, and the pod must be completely autonomous after the team hits go, to name a few. Hewson said Cal Poly Hyperloop provides the opportunity to fully embrace Learn by Doing “by participating in a global competition to challenge existing engineering solutions alongside other prestigious universities.” She is looking forward to meeting with state lawmakers “to represent the hard-work my colleagues and I have put into designing and building a pod for our very first year in the Hyperloop Competition,” the 21-year-old said. “This showcases the amazing engineering and physics talent within our Hyperloop team and within the Cal Poly community.” She chose Cal Poly as much for “its hands-on learning” as for its “friendly environment.” Hewson plans to graduate in December.

Alex Krenitsky 

Piedmont, California

Krenitsky is part of a five-member team of mechanical engineering students working on NASA’s Moon to Mars Ice & Prospecting Challenge, which aims to further the agency’s goal of prolonged space missions. Humans haven’t been on the moon since Apollo 17 landed in 1972. Meanwhile, a 34 million-mile voyage to Mars has previously only been a far-fetched fantasy. But NASA’s primary goals include returning humans to the moon by 2024, having a sustainable human presence there by 2028, and eventually landing astronauts on the Red Planet. Prolonged stays in space, though, may ultimately hinge on finding and harvesting water — which is critical for sustaining life. Krenitsky and the others, who began working in early October, submitted a 34-page report summarizing their project: Sub-lunar Tap-Yielding eXplorer (STYX). “We took on a very accelerated pace for the project, and the scope is massive,” said Krenitsky, who leads the linear motion and drilling systems effort. “We paid for our success in sleep, but it was worth it, and we are excited to continue the grind.” Armed with a $10,000 NASA development grant, the students are building and testing their systems. In June, they’ll travel to NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, to perform a technology demonstration of their prototype’s capabilities. The goal is to extract as much water as possible from the simulated slices of lunar and Martian surfaces. The 22-year-old is excited to discuss his team’s efforts during the trip to Sacramento. “Both Piedmont and Cal Poly have been welcoming places to me, and I feel honored to be considered a good ambassador for the university,” he said. “The College of Engineering is extremely supportive to all its students, and I look forward to recognizing Cal Poly’s efforts to train professionals in their fields.” Krenitsky was attracted to the university by its highly ranked engineering program and Learn by Doing philosophy. “I toured the college before attending and was completely impressed with how Cal Poly resources were made available to students for any purpose, trusting us to make the most of those opportunities,” he said. “A perfect example is the mechanical engineering machine shops, which provide necessary training and tooling to any student for club, class or even personal projects.” He is pursuing a master’s degree in mechanical engineering through the Cal Poly’s blended degree program and expects to graduate with both degrees in the spring of 2021.

Lilliann Lai

Sacramento, California

The architectural engineering senior led a student team that won the inaugural national Timber-Strong Design Build Competition that was held during the National Council of Structural Engineers Association annual conference in Anaheim in November. Lai and her five teammates designed and constructed a two-story wood-framed structure in addition to producing design drawings, a technical report and display poster. Together, the team built the structure on-site in 90 minutes, after which students were judged on a 10-minute presentation. The Cal Poly entry featured unique design and construction decisions, which included balloon framing, a building technique where both floors are created as one piece and then tilted up for faster assembly, rather than standard platform construction used by the other five teams. This winning structure featured a curved roof and an architectural protuberance on the front wall of the second story to develop a more aesthetic building form. “The competition established an invaluable bridge between learned classroom concepts and hands-on practice for engineering and construction management students,” Lai said. “Without a doubt, our team has grown exponentially in terms of structural design and analysis confidence, handyman and handywoman prowess, and timber-construction literacy.” The 21-year-old chose Cal Poly for its “affordability and value” of the education. “I was unaware of Cal Poly’s reputation and academic excellence but am glad I made the right decision to be here,” she said. Lai is honored “to be selected as a representative of the College of Architecture and Environmental Design and Cal Poly as a whole to state lawmakers.” She plans to graduate in June.

Maya MacGregor

Manhattan Beach, California

Journalism junior MacGregor is news director of KCPR 91.3 FM, Cal Poly’s radio station that is part of Mustang Media Group, the Journalism Department’s student-run media organization. Mustang Media Group received 33 awards in journalism, broadcasting and advertising at the joint convention of the Associated Collegiate Press and College Media Association in Washington, D.C., in the fall. Under MacGregor’s leadership, “Mustang News on KCPR” earned first place for Best Radio Newscast in the nation. The student newspaper, Mustang News, won its first ACP newspaper Pacemaker Award, one of the top honors available to student print publications. KCPR also came in second among four-year schools in the Radio Station of the Year category in the CMA’s Pinnacle competition. Mustang Media Group also received national recognition from three of college media’s most distinguished organizations last spring in La Jolla, California. Cal Poly students returned from a joint CMA, ACP and College Media Business and Advertising Managers conference with 46 awards across multiple categories, including Best Website and Best Print Weekly Newspaper. MacGregor said that Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing philosophy gives her an edge. “Having the opportunity to be an anchor and reporter as a freshman allowed me to get ahead in the world of broadcast and build a solid foundation needed for a future career in journalism,” the 21-year-old said. “I would not have been able to gain hands-on experience if it was not for the small class sizes and learning philosophy that drew me to the university in the first place.” She feels honored to represent the College of Liberal Arts and university at the statehouse. “I am so grateful for the recognition I am receiving for the work I have done,” she said. “It inspires me to continue to challenge myself every day.” MacGregor will graduate in December.

Emma Manoukian

Healdsburg, California

The agricultural communication senior was part a four-student team that won the Food Distribution Research Society’s National Student Food Marketing Challenge last October in Seattle, edging out six other university teams. It was second straight year that a Cal Poly team had won the challenge that gives university students the opportunity to play the role of consultants competing to give a live presentation for a client company. The Food Distribution Research Society is an international leader for providing a discussion forum for food distribution issues and research. The College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences students created a marketing plan for a Washington state pear cider company that wanted to increase domestic brand awareness and break into the European beverage market. They presented their findings to academia and industry judges, with three teams advancing to the final round to present to representatives of the client company. “This contest was a perfect example of Learn by Doing, as we had the opportunity to work with a real-world industry client, gather research, develop recommendations, and then present and defend them in a clear and professional manner,” said. She is no stranger to the university’s hands-on approach to education. “As a third-generation Cal Poly Mustang, I have bled green and gold since I can remember,” she added. “Growing up in Sonoma County, in the heart of California’s wine country, I always knew I wanted study agriculture. Cal Poly was an easy choice.” She looks forward to discussing with lawmakers an issue vital to her future and all Californians: “Now more than ever, Sacramento needs to hear strong voices from individuals with backgrounds in agriculture,” the 21-year-old said. Manoukian, who is minoring agribusiness, plans to graduate in June.

Collin Martin 

San Rafael, California

Martin lead a team of six other construction management students to a pair of first-place victories in two national construction management competitions. He was captain of Cal Poly’s Project Management Team that won at both the 2019 Associated Schools of Construction Region 3 Division Competition in Chicago and the 2020 Associated Schools of Construction Region 6/7 Division Competition in Reno, Nevada. In the competition, the teams are given construction documents and tasked with creating a proposal, including a full construction schedule, a budget, a site logistics and safety plan and a risk mitigation plan, for the prospective project. He chose to attend Cal Poly because of his desire to work in the construction industry. “I also knew that it has the best Construction Management Program in the country,” the 20-year-old said. “In addition to superior academics, Cal Poly gives me the opportunity to make lifelong connections, friends and memories on the beautiful Central Coast.” He feels proud to represent his peers at the statehouse. “I am extremely honored to represent the College of Architecture and Environmental Design and Cal Poly,” he said. “Three years ago, I was humbled to even be accepted into Cal Poly, and to now be representing my college and the entire university is surreal. It is very gratifying to recognized.” He plans to graduate in the spring of 2021.

Nathaniel Morgan

Atascadero, California

The biology senior who overcame childhood homelessness and dyslexia to pursue a career in science received a 2019 California State University Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement. The awards are presented at the beginning of the academic year to one student from each of the CSU system’s 23 campuses. Like his counterparts throughout the state, Morgan was selected for superior academic performance, personal accomplishments, community service and financial need. He also received a $6,000 scholarship as the state’s Trustee Emeritus Kenneth Fong Scholar. “It is an honor to receive this award, because it means that someone out there recognizes the hard work I have been putting into my education over the last few years,” said Morgan, who moved to Atascadero to attend Cuesta College about five years ago. “I feel that for college students, having someone remind you that you are working hard and putting in the effort is important, especially during those times when you are tired and feel like you have been in school forever.” A project researching population genetics led to the professor offering him a research assistant job on campus that also provides academic credit. Representing Cal Poly to state lawmakers is yet another dividend of pursuing his dream of a university education. “I feel that there are thousands of students at Cal Poly and others in colleges worldwide that have been working hard day in and day out without much outside encouragement,” said the 25-year-old. “When you are the first in your family to go to college or if you don’t have the emotional support of a nuclear family behind you — something that is becoming increasingly common for minority and lower-income students — it sometimes becomes hard to stay motivated. It really does help to have someone notice the last few years of your life and say, ‘Good job, keep going.’” He plans to graduate in June.

Samantha Phan 

Union City, California 

Phan, a business administration senior with a focus on consumer packaging, was part of an interdisciplinary team that won the Paperboard Packaging Council’s 2019 Student Design Challenge in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in October. PPC is dedicated to North American converters of paperboard packaging and their suppliers. Cal Poly was among 50 teams from 13 universities. Students were challenged to design packaging for a gaming platform that enhances the unboxing experience and can be used while playing the system. Cal Poly’s top entry was “Party Box,” an innovative portable packaging system for a gaming console that becomes a projector and gameboard. Phan and her three teammates presented to executives from top paperboard packaging manufacturers. The challenge, considered the most rigorous packaging design competition in the nation, is open to North American universities. It seeks to foster awareness and appreciation of paperboard packaging with university educators and the next generation of packaging design decision-makers and their suppliers. The competition was another example of the Learn by Doing ethos that initially attracted her to attend Cal Poly. “It was always harder for me to grasp concepts or remember things I learned when I did not try them out for myself,” the 21-year-old said. “Along with the smaller class sizes in upper division classes, this has helped me optimize the learning experience.” She is looking forward to meeting with elected representatives. “It is an honor to represent Cal Poly to share what is possible when students are supported by their university,” Phan said. “It is important that each major and concentration are supported financially — funds to support students as well as the teachers who help us get to where we are.” And time permitting, she might lobby for additional funds for equipment “so that we can compete with the other programs in the nation,” she said. “Luckily our professors push us to think of ways to solve these problems in unconventional ways to get around these obstacles.” Phan plans to graduate in June.

Kyra Schmidt

Irvine, California

Schmidt and her teammates’ yearlong project to shatter a 27-year-old speed record at international competition in Nevada last September was not without drama. On their last possible run after six days of attempts, their human-powered vehicle, nicknamed Ambition, broke the American collegiate speed record during the 20th annual World Human-Powered Speed Challenge in Battle Mountain. The new record, 63.68 mph, eclipsed the previous mark of 61.29 mph, set by a team from UC Berkeley in September 1992. While Cal Poly has had a human-powered vehicle team since 1978, this was the first time it attempted to set a speed record at Battle Mountain — an optimum location in central Nevada thanks to its thin air at 4,619 feet, which reduces aerodynamic drag. After working on the vehicle for a year, the team had to make multiple significant changes in the days leading up to the race, adding a windshield and fixing a chain that repeatedly fell off. “We had issues, but we knew we had time to fix them,” said Schmidt, the team’s manufacturing lead and a mechanical engineering senior. The day before leaving for Nevada, though, they had a promising test run, Schmidt said, which gave them confidence. This year, the team hopes to return to Battle Mountain and set an even faster record: 70 mph. The effort to create — she and a teammate developed the frame of the recumbent bicycle — was an offshoot of the Learn by Doing philosophy that first attracted her to Cal Poly. “I knew I wanted to go to a school where I could get involved in and outside of classes,” she said, “and when I toured the school, I saw all of the varied clubs, labs and projects students were working on. I wanted to be a part of it.” With fewer than 16 weeks until graduation, she’s looking forward to this Sacramento visit. “It is a huge honor to be able to represent Cal Poly and the Mechanical Engineering Department on such a high level,” the 23-year-old said. “I have learned and grown so much in my time here, and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be able to showcase that. I would not be where I am today without all of my mentors, professors, coworkers and teammates at Cal Poly — and I hope to represent them well.”

Sydney Strong

Rancho Bernardo, California

Strong is the 2019-20 president of Cal Poly Rose Float, one of the university’s oldest and best-known clubs on campus and off. It partners with California State Polytechnic University in Pomona each year (since 1948) to create a massive bouquet to the world that rolls down Colorado Boulevard each New Year’s Day. The Cal Poly universities’ playful “Aquatic Aspirations” received the Director Award for the most outstanding artistic design and use of floral and non-floral materials at the recent 131st annual Pasadena classic. The float featured a submarine exploring a sunken shipwreck that is also home to a colorful array of marine wildlife. “We’ve never won the Director Award before,” said the industrial engineering senior. “It’s both related to the design and the decorations of the float.” The Rose Parade® venue provides perhaps the highest profile event for Cal Poly students. Parade officials estimate that 700,000 people see the parade in person, while 37 million Americans and an international audience of 28 million tune in to watch it on TV. The Learn by Doing ethos is exemplified in all facets of the float program, as students in technical and non-technical majors get hands-on experience welding, metal shaping, machining, foam carving, woodworking, painting and flower harvesting — ultimately competing on an international stage against professional float builders with corporate sponsorships. Strong, 21, is proud to represent the club, the university and the College of Engineering. “It is exciting to see the recognition that Cal Poly Rose Float has received both on the university level and beyond,” said the resident of a suburb on the northern edge of San Diego. “I am excited to share my experiences at Cal Poly with state lawmakers,” she said. Strong plans to graduate in June.

Tina Truong

Milpitas, California

The cheese that Truong and other College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences students made is better than good — it’s award-winning gouda. The co-president of the Cal Poly Food Science Club was part of the effort that earned a bronze medal for its student-produced Grand Gouda against some of the nation’s top cheesemakers at the 2019 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest held in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The university also placed fifth with its Smoked Gouda. Much of the credit for Cal Poly’s success goes to about 20 students who work part time in the dairy plant and help manufacture cheeses and other products, such as chocolate milk and ice cream, under the supervision of Creamery Plant manager. In the fall of 2018, the university introduced three new cheeses, including the two winners, as part of a larger revisioning of the Creamery’s facility, equipment and products. “The gouda is what I have worked with the most,” said Truong, a food science senior. “It feels absolutely fulfilling to tell my friends that a cheese I helped make won an award and to hear in response that they can’t wait to try it.” Each wheel of the Grand Gouda is handcrafted, coated with a traditional yellow rind and aged on wooden boards. The cheese earned 98.75 points out of 100 and missed the gold medal by only 0.10 points. There were 27 cheeses entered in the category. Cal Poly also placed fifth out of 27 entries in the Smoked Gouda category, earning 99.45 points out of 100. Truong was inspired to study food science by watching Food Network and the Cooking Channel — as well as a love for ice cream. The Creamery helped her adapt to university life. “For most freshmen, including myself, transitioning into the Cal Poly environment was slightly difficult. But spending time crafting cheese at the Creamery helped me find a passion in dairy science, and I hope to pursue a master’s degree in food science focusing on more dairy products technology,” the 20-year-old said. Over the past two years there, “I was able to oversee the formulation for the gouda improve,” she added. Representing her classmates and fellow cheesemakers in Sacramento is a proud moment for her. “I never could have imagined that this would happen, and I am extremely grateful,” she said. Truong plans to graduate this spring.


Noah Wheeler

Shaker Heights, Ohio

Wheeler and another Cal Poly Racing Team student were the first Americans to win the VI-grade Virtual Formula competition for electric race cars. The 23-year-old and teammate Carl Stoye, both mechanical engineering students, won the international competition by using VI-grade vehicle dynamics software to optimize a virtual formula car to compete in a series of race events. They edged out teams from Brazil, China, Germany, Greece, Italy and Spain. “The competition has been run for 10 years or so now, and this is the first time that an American team has won,” Wheeler said. Winners are invited to the annual VI-grade International Conference and the Maserati Innovation Lab in Modena, Italy — an area in the Po Valley known as much for its balsamic vinegar and opera heritage as it is for Ferrari and Lamborghini sports cars. While in Italy, the pair toured some other famous car sites as well, including Ferrari and Lamborghini museums and the Pagani factory, said Wheeler, who also trekked to the Dallara race car factory and Stuttgart, Germany, to visit another student formula racing team and friends who work at HWA AG, which runs the motorsports program for Mercedes-AMG. Cal Poly Racing teams design, manufacture and test three innovative race vehicles — two formula cars and a Baja off-road vehicle — every year and compete across the United States. VI-grade supports the program with multiple software licenses. “We are able to use the software to gain a competitive advantage through simulation both in the design phase and the driving phase,” he said. “Knowing the software makes us and other Cal Poly Racing students very desirable to companies utilizing the software.” The 23-year-old chose Cal Poly because of the racing team and Learn by Doing so he “could immediately get involved in racing and start learning both in and out of the classroom.” He looks forward to sharing with elected representatives his affiliation with both the university and racing team.


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