Alumni in the News - March
Alumni in the News - March 2010
In the Spotlight
Alum Has Dream Job: Roller Coaster Designer, Tester
Cal Poly alum Josh Davis (M.S., Mechanical Engineering, 2008) has what many would consider a dream job: roller coaster designer and tester. His job has taken him around the world. Currently living in Virginia, Davis was profiled recently about the ups and downs of his career. His latest assignment? Designing attractions for the Universal Studios Singapore theme park. In addition to his Cal Poly degree, Davis earned his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from North Carolina State University.
Read more in the Lynchburg News-Advance
State Sen. Abel Maldonado Meets with Student Protesters
While lobbying in Sacramento recently for funding for higher education, some University of California students met with Republican Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria (Santa Barbara), and nominee for lieutenant governor.. Maldonado (Crop Science, 1988) said his own daughter - a student at Cal Poly - accused him of underfunding higher education. But the governor does support funding for the UC and CSU systems, Maldonado told the students -- speaking in Spanish to some of them. Maldonado has been in a string of headlines over the past month. He is Governor Schwarzenegger's nominee to fill the vacant Lieutenant Governor's seat in California.
Read the student meeting story in the San Francisco Chronicle | Read the Business Week story on the Lt. Governor appointment
Alum Inspiring a New Generation to Be Astronauts
NASA astronaut Robert L. “Hoot” Gibson (B.S., Aero Engineering, 1969) was the special guest speaker at the Invention Convention at Middle Tennessee State University. The Invention Convention draws nearly 300 fourth, fifth and sixth graders from across the state. After service as a U.S Navy fighter pilot, Gibson became a NASA astronaut in 1979, flying on five space missions from 1984-1995 to spend a total of 36.5 days in space.
More on Gibson and the MTSU event
Alumna's Non-Profit Wild Animal Shelter Hit by Economic Downturn
Jackie Navarro (B.S., Environmental and Systematic Biology, 1989) operates a wild animal preserve called Wild Wonders in Bonsall, outside San Diego. She's taken in everything from cheetahs to gray foxes, a Burmese python and more. The 120-animal preserve and its nonprofit education program, Zoofari, are struggling because of the economic downturn. She founded Wild Wonders in 1991 with five exotic animals including a parrot, a boa constrictor, an iguana, a chinchilla and a desert tortoise. Zoofari began bringing animal education to the schools.
Read the story in the San Diego Tribune
Food & Wine
Alumna Launches New Line of Natural Foods
Karen Swisher (B.S., Food Science, 1982) has launched the Sierra Madre Grocery Company complete with a new line of gourmet specialty salsas, bruschettas and seasonings. Swisher hosted the company's grand opening March 6. She established Sierra Food Development Company in 1993, specializing in all-natural, organic, low-fat and wheat-free food products. Swisher's new Sierra Madre Grocery Company products will be available in specialty stores, upscale markets and online.
More on Swisher
Alum is a Third Generation Winemaker
Austin Hope (B.S., Fruit Science, 1996) was profiled recently in the Washington Examiner blog. 'Vine Guy' columnist Scott Greenberg called Hope a visionary who "talks about wine the same way that Al Gore talks about global warming." Hope is part of his family's group of wineries based in Paso Robles, including the Liberty School label and Treana (whose name is derived from a "trio" of natural elements) to their portfolio. Austin Hope introduced Austin Hope Wines in 2000 as an upscale label. Candor Wines -- a multivintage concept -- is the latest addition to the Hope family of wines.
Read about Hope in the Washington Examiner
Architecture Alum is Espresso Cart Design Pioneer
Seattle architect Bill Fuller (B.Ar, Architecture, 1977) was profiled recently in the Seattle Times. Fuller designed a mobile espresso cart for a Los Angeles friend in 1977. That friend, Arlene Golant, launched a mobile espresso cart business serving at high-end catered events around L.A. Fuller's design, backed up by a news clip, predated a 1979 Seattle version.
Read about Fuller and espresso in the Seattle Times Coffee City Blog
San Joaquin Farm Bureau President is Cal Poly Alum
As San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation president, Phil Brumley's task is to address the challenges that impact growers today and monitor those that may affect them tomorrow. Brumley (B.S., Ag Business, 1979) grew up on a family farm between Escalon and Farmington.
Read the story in the Stockton Record
Alum is Named Kern Cattleman of the Year
The Kern County CattleWomen's Association and the Kern County Cattlemen's Association honored Jay Hershey III (B.S., Ag Business, 1968) for his contributions toward advancing the beef industry's interests. Hershey, 64, and his wife own Rivermere Ranches at Deer Creek, an assortment of range ground in Edison and parts of Tulare County that they lease to Rube Cattle Co. Hershey has enjoyed a 25-year career as a commercial loan officer, followed by several more years as a financial advisor. He worked his family's ranch nights and weekends.
More on Hershey in the Bakersfield Californian
Roadside Stand Turns into Cheese Experience Center with Help from Alum
Bravo Farms is south of Kingsburg on Highway 99. It began in the 1970s as a Highway 99 fruit stand midway between Bakersfield and Fresno and has evolved into a "field of dreams" for an old-time Visalia dairyman and alumnus Jonathan Van Ryn (B.S., Dairy Science, 2004). Van Ryn grew up on his father's Tulare County dairy, studied cheese making as a Cal Poly student. He's helped turn Bravo Farms into an award-winning gourmet cheese maker, and the dairy and creamery into a little slice of old California.
Read the full story in the Bakersfield Californian
Alumna Steps Down from University of North Texas Presidency
Gretchen M. Bataille (B.S., English, 1966, M.A., 1967) is stepping down after three years as president of the University of North Texas. "When I accepted the UNT presidency, I made the commitment to serve as a transformational leader. I saw a great opportunity to forge a clear direction for the university's future and to take it to new heights," said Bataille."As a university community, we have made significant progress in many areas, including academics, arts, research, athletics and image and reputation. A better infrastructure is in place to achieve our strategic goals and to embrace new opportunities. Pride in our university is at an all-time high, and we have achieved unprecedented levels of state and national recognition. I am proud of these accomplishments." The system's chancellor praised her for excellent work.
Read the UNT News Release | Read the Dallas Morning News item on Bataille
Pacific Bank Corp Brings In Alum to Oversee Finance
Pacific Capital Bancorp announced it has hired Paul B. Alexander (B.S., Business Administration, 1978) as special assets manager to oversee the firm’s team of “special-asset officers,” who manage and resolve criticized and classified loans and leases. Pacific Capital is the owner of Santa Barbara Bank & Trust. “The addition of Paul as the bank’s special-assets manager strengthens our overall credit administration department and will improve our ability to effect satisfactory resolutions to problem loans,” said George Leis, president and chief executive officer of Santa Barbara-based Pacific Capital.
Read more about Alexander in the Daily Sound
Alum Named Vice President of Finance at Pacific Life Insurance
Gregory Keeling (B.S., Business Administration, 1995) has been named vice president of finance at Pacific Life Insurance Company. Keeling joined Pacific Life in 1999 as a financial analyst in the Annuities and Mutual Funds Division
Read more on Keeling in Earth Times
Hilliard Architects Appoints Alumna Karen Thomas Partner
Hilliard Architects, a San Francisco women-owned architectural firm specializing in sustainable design, has named Karen Thomas a partner. Thomas (B.Ar., 1984), has 25 years of architectural experience, and has been with Hilliard Architects since 2005. During that time, she has served as a lead on projects for the Department of Veterans Affairs, California Department of Forestry, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and a wide variety of affordable housing construction and substantial rehabilitation efforts. Most recently, Thomas managed the design of the state-of-the art Veterans Affairs Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation Center in Martinez, Calif.
Read more on Marketwire.com
Alum Named to Board of American Society of Golf Course Designers
Schmidt-Curley Design announced that co-founder Brian Curley (B.S., City and Regional Planning, 1982) has been named to the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) Board of Governors. After graduating from Cal Poly, Curley joined Landmark Golf Company as a land planner, eventually focusing entirely on course design and construction. Curley who started Schmidt-Curley Design with Lee Schmidt in 1997. He has more than 25 years of design experience. The firm has offices around the world.
Read about Curley at WorldGof.com
Construction Management Grad Helps Company Makes the Right Stuff for U.S. Olympian's Skis
When Shannon Bahrke skied to an Olympic bronze medal in freestyle moguls at the Winter Olympics, it was a special thrill for Moment Skis, the company that designed and manufactured the skis. Mitch Dufour (B.S., Construction Management, 2009), is in charge of the wood-core component for Moment, a small firm based in Auburn.
Read more in the Auburn Journal
Alumna Wins Endorsement of Teachers' Union in Race for Central Coast Assembly Seat
Santa Maria City Councilwoman and California Assembly candidate Hilda Zacarias (B.S., Business Administration, 1989) has picked up the endorsement of the California Federation of Teachers. Zacarias, a CPA, is executive director of the Santa Barbara Family Care Center. She is the only announced Democratic candidate for the 33rd Assembly District, which stretches from San Miguel to Lompoc. Republicans running for the position include Cal Poly alumnus and current San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Katcho Achadjian (B.S., Business Administration, 1976).
Read more in the San Luis Obispo Tribune
Mustang Athletics Hall of Fame Member is Atascadero Business Award Winner
Robyn and Keith Schmidt received the Atascadero Business of the Year award. The Schmidts’ volunteer work surround physical activity, something they’re both passionate about as serious athletes. Robyn Schmidt (Biochemistry, 1986) once competed in the Olympic trials and is in the Cal Poly Hall of Fame and Keith is an Ironman triathlete. She was a walk-on at Cal Poly in 1982, a member of five Division II Cross Country and Track & Field National Championship teams; 1984 Division II Cross Country Regional champion and the 1985 Division II 10K champion and 5K runner-up. She went on to run in the New York Marathon and qualified for the Women’s Olympic trials twice.
Read more in the Atascadero News
Alum Named to Head Central Coast Regional Council of Governments
The San Luis Obispo Council of Governments, the association of local governments in the San Luis Obispo County Region, will be led in 2010 by Atascadero Mayor Pro Tem Tom O'Malley (M.A., Education, 1978). In addition to his Cal Poly degree, O'Malley holds a bachelor's degree in economics from UC Santa Barbara.
Read more in the Paso Robles Press
Ag Alum is New Manager of Patterson Irrigation District
Peter M. Rietkerk (B.S., BioResources and Ag Engineering, 2005) took over as manager of the Patterson Irrigation District in February. Rietkerk spent summers interning at the district while earning his degree at Cal Poly. He went on to earn a master of science degree in civil and environmental engineering from UC Davis.
Read more in the Patterson Irrigator
Industrial Technology Alum Ditches Day Job to Launch Three Independent Music Labels with Friend
When lifelong friends Tyler Stover (B.S., Industrial Technology, 2003, M.S., Industrial & Technical Studies, 2004) and Matt Halverson started Banter Media five years ago, they never expected to be where they are now. The partners now have one employee, several interns and are running three music media companies full time out of a mid-town Sacramento office. Stover's senior project was writing the business plan for Banter Media. After graduating he worked through last fall for a medical supply firm testing packages to ensure FDA approval.
More on Stover and Banter Media in the Sacramento Press
Architecture Alum is a Hot Mod - in Computer Modifications
Nick Falzone (B.Ar., Architecture, 2009) is making a name for himself in the world of computer modifiers. His work was featured among 30 computer modifiers, or "modders," from all over the country on display recently in San Francisco's Exploratorium titled "Rods & Mods: The Kustom Kulture of Radical Computer Modification." Falzone specializes in custom computer cases and displayed three of his best pieces. (He's known as "Greensabbath" in the modding world).
Read the story on InsideBayArea.com | Read about Falzone in the Contra Costa Times
Alumna Helps in Haiti
Recent Cal Poly graduate Heidi Swangler (B.S., Biological Science, 2009) headed to Haiti in February on a medical mission in Port-au-Prince. Swangler, of Atascadero, assisted physicians from Oregon in a makeshift clinic beside a collapsed hospital. A volunteer with Virgin Islands nonprofit Haiti Community Support, Swangler held the hands of toddlers receiving stitches, created mixtures of sugar and salt to combat infant dehydration, and more.
Read about her experience in the San Luis Obispo Tribune
Bruce Robert Chandler Sr.
Bruce Robert Chandler, Sr., (B.S., Aero Engineering, 1957) passed away Wednesday, Feb. 3. Chandler came to Cal Poly after serving in the U.S. Army, where he served in Germany for 18 months. He spent his career in the aerospace industry as an engineer and project manager.
Read the Obituary in The San Luis Obispo Tribune
Richard Brians (B.S., Architectural Engineering, 1967) passed away on Saturday, Feb. 6, at the age of 67 of natural causes. While attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Richard met his wife of many years, Diana Green, daughter to Frank and Kay Green of Dixon.
Read the obituary in the Vacaville Reporter
Erin Louis Norton
Erin Louis Norton (Social Studies, 2000), 39, of Pismo Beach passed away Thursday, Feb. 4. He graduated from Bishop Montgomery High School in 1988 and attended El Camino Jr. College, Hancock College Jr. College and Porterville Jr. College, where he played baseball at all three schools. He later attended Cal Poly.
Read the obituary in the San Luis Obispo Tribune