Olsen and Mac Namara co-taught a course in architecture and engineering at Syracuse. After giving a presentation about their experience, Routledge approached them about writing a book. Olsen and Mac Namara agreed and researched 10 case studies from some of the most prominent firms in the world.
“It was so enriching, and gave us so much content, and helped us in our teaching,” Olsen said about writing the book.
“We wanted to demonstrate that innovative work does not happen through just architecture or engineering,” Olsen said. She went on to say that innovative work happens when a lot of different people from different backgrounds work together in a collaborative process.
They also used case studies to highlight the mentorship that some architects and engineers experienced, as one way to illustrate that these professionals did not know how to do everything at first.
“We are trying to teach students that it’s okay not to know something,” Mac Namara said. Olsen and Mac Namara also taught this idea in their class, requiring architecture and engineering students pair up to complete a project. The students learned none of them could complete the project without their teammate.
Olsen and Mac Namara talked about some commonalities they saw in most of the case studies.
“You found that a lot of these people [in the case studies] came from the same background and were mentored by the same people,” Mac Namara said. She also said that most everyone thought that engineering students needed to know how to draw.
They also found that every architect had their story of an engineer who either helped or hurt their design project. Architects can sometimes clash with engineers when they’re too focused on design, and not very focused on the structure.
“I’m in the not-falling-down business. I do not care what it looks like,” Mac Namara joked.
Historically, the architect and engineer was a combined role, not divided like it is today, Mac Namara said. Now, not only has it been split into two jobs, but the people in those roles usually do not collaborate on their designs and projects.
“Now is a good time to look at why we are so separated and teach people about collaborations,” Mac Namara said.
“Collaboration is an important skill to teach,” Olsen added.
You can find a podcast of the conversation on SoundCloud.]]>
When Cal Poly opened as a technical school in 1903, there were only 3 major programs offered: Agriculture, Domestic Science, and Mechanics. When Cal Poly closed its doors to women students in 1930, administrators dropped the domestic science program from all of the course catalogs. This major reappeared as Home Economics in 1956 when women were welcomed back on to campus, and continued on as a program until 1994.
This program is interesting because it reflects the gender norms that have perpetuated American society since the early 18th century. Although the description and function of the program changed over time, the majority of graduates continued to be women. Although this major no longer exists any more, we here at Special Collections and University Archives wanted to feature the Home Economics department because of their contribution to the experience of many Cal Poly women.
The 1903 Course Catalog describes the Domestic Science Program as a program to “help [women] to a more thorough understanding of the many duties required as a housekeeper.” Pictures of women in this program (shown above) reveal the skills that they acquired included sewing, putting out fires, cooking, and how to take care of a household. This transitioned in the early 1920s to allow the program to accommodate “preparatory training for girls who wish to fit themselves for nursing.” Later, in the 1950s and into the 1960s, the Domestic Science program restarted under the title of Home Economics and catered to “persons interested in homemaking, in teaching homemaking in secondary schools, or in occupations closely related to homemaking, and to contribute to the general education of students.” The classes listed for Home Economics majors at this time include home management, textile construction, family planning skills, but also classes related to the Food Science and Nutrition major that we offer today.
I find it interesting that the description of the major in the 1956 Course Catalog explains that the program is designed not only to “increase the employability of the student,” but also to “afford a substantial basis for successful marriage and family life.” Robert E. Kennedy, former president of Cal Poly (1967 – 1979), stated in a speech entitled “The Role of Woman,” that he was Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences during the formation of the program and that it was “designed exclusively for women students.” This information is revealing because it shows the paternalistic attitudes that Cal Poly had towards women students at this time and the gender norms that they reinforced through designing this program only for women and training them for marriage.
Women in the Home Economics Club at Cal Poly from 1968-1973 considered marriage as a way to put their major to practical use. In the Home Economics Club Scrapbook, newspaper clippings of wedding announcements from Cal Poly Home Economics graduates emphasize this trend. One bride, Mrs. Robert Gubser, not only married a Cal Poly man, but she also “made her wedding dress, her going away outfit, her mother’s dress and coat, and the bridesmaids’ dresses.” Another Home Economics graduate, Mrs. Richard Ziegler, “made her own wedding gown, a floor length Italian silk linen A-line trimmed in wide Belgium lace with a matching lace train.” Mrs. Robert Gubser and Mrs. Richard Ziegler were celebrated for their marriages and their supreme sewing skills.
This rigid definition of gender roles is best exemplified by an excerpt from a Home Economics News Bulletin published on April 1, 1970. The bulletin states:
No other choice that you will make during your lifetime will have as much influence on the lifestyle that you will follow, as will your choice of husband. It is the husband’s occupation, regardless of whether or not the wife works, that both prescribes and limits the life style of the family. It’s the husband’s occupation which provides the primary line of financial resources with which to buy the goods and services desired. The second most important choice that you will make will be the planning and spacing of children. Be sure these central choices are not chance-choices, but rather are a true reflection of your long-term values.
The author, Ann D. Rice, proves to be stuck in these rigid gender roles when she identifies herself as “Mrs. Mike Rice” and encourages Cal Poly women to make choices that align with marriage and family planning.
Stay tuned for more information about the Home Economics Department at Cal Poly and its end in 1994. If you were a part of this department, we would love to hear your stories and insights about Home Economics in the comments below. If you know someone who was a part of this department, please share this post with them! We love hearing from all of our Cal Poly Alumni.
 “Plan of Instruction,” in California Polytechnic School First Annual Catalogue, (Sacramento: W.W. Shannon, Superintendent State Printing, 1903), 12.
 The California Polytechnic Bulletin: A State Institution of Agriculture, Mechanics, Engineering, Aeronautics, Printing and Home Making with Junior College Division, (San Luis Obispo: California Polytechnic Print Shop, 1928), 23; 1956-1957 Catalog: California State Polytechnic College Bulletin, (San Luis Obispo: California State Polytechnic College, 1956), 166. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Catalog 1992-1994, (San Luis Obispo: California Polytechnic State University, 1992), 30.
 “Plan of Instruction,” California Polytechnic School First Annual Catalogue, 12.
 The California Polytechnic Bulletin, 23.
 1956-1957 Catalog, 166.
 Robert E. Kennedy, “The Role of Woman (Community and Education),” Address to the San Luis Obispo Monday Club, April 7, 1969. Robert E. Kennedy Speeches, University Archives, California Polytechnic State University.]]>
Dr. J. Kevin Taylor, Chair, Department of Kinesiology, was recognized in the category of published research for “Learning Design through the Lens of Service: A Qualitative Study,” published in the Journal for Service Learning in Engineering (v. 9 n. 1, Spring 2014). The committee also acknowledged the team of co-authors: Dr. David Hey, Dr. Brian Self, Dr. Lynne Slivovsky, and Dr. James Widmann. The award includes $2,000.
“I am deeply honored by this award and would like to thank the committee for their work in reviewing applications,” Dr. Taylor said. “This award also recognizes my students and faculty colleagues, without whom my work would not have been possible. For me Learn by Doing often involves Learn by Teaching because I learn so much from my students.”
Dr. Steffen Peuker, the James L. Bartlett, Jr. Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering, was recognized in the category of planned and in-progress research for a proposal highlighting three pedagogical innovations: team based learning, service learning, and a challenge to students to design their process for becoming a “world class engineering student.” The committee also acknowledged the collaboration of Dr. Jennifer Mott. The award includes $1,000.
“There are so many colleagues who exemplify outstanding Learn By Doing here at Cal Poly,” said Dr. Peuker. “I am truly honored to be chosen together with my collaborator Dr. Mott. Learn by Doing is more than a motto to me. In my opinion, it is the best approach for student learning and success.”
Faculty were selected by a committee of peers from every college.
“The inaugural award committee was impressed to see how Learn by Doing is interpreted in every discipline across Cal Poly,” said Jeanine Scaramozzino, member of the selection committee and College of Science & Mathematics, School of Education, and Data & GIS Services Librarian. “Faculty are doing incredible work.”
The award was established and funded by members of Information Services’ external advisory board and administered by the Robert E. Kennedy Library.
Read the press release at Cal Poly News. For more information: lib.calpoly.edu/faculty/learn-by-doing/
See additional photos from the reception at the University Art Gallery.
Featured photo (l-r): College of Science and Math Dean Phil Bailey, Dr. J. Kevin Taylor and President Jeffrey Armstrong]]>
Big Brother is no exception. The set-up here is a pair of estranged siblings — Pandora (and I don’t think Shriver chose that name lightly) is a former caterer who has recently been wildly successful at her business of making customized talking dolls. Her brother Edison has always been the cool one, with a solid career as a jazz pianist, but they’ve been out of touch for a few years. Pandora gets a call from one of Edison’s friends, hinting that maybe she should get in touch with him. She extends an open-ended invitation to him to stay with her family (including inflexible health fanatic husband Fletcher, and his two teenagers), opening a (sorry!) Pandora’s box of trouble that’s impossible to close.
Here, she picks him up at the airport:
While passengers threaded from the arrivals hall and clumped around the belt, I loitered from a step back. In front of me, a lanky man in neat khaki slacks — with a tennis racket slung over a shoulder and the remnants of a summer tan — was conversing with a slender brunette…
“I can’t believe they gave him a middle seat,” said the tennis player.
“I was grateful when you offered to switch,” said the woman. “I was totally smashed against the window. But letting him have the aisle didn’t help you much.”…
“What gets me,” the woman grumbled as luggage emerged on the belt “is we all get the same baggage allowances. Our friend in aisle seventeen was packing a quarter ton in carry-on. I swear, next time they try to charge me extra because one pair of shoes has pushed me over twenty-six pounds, I’m going to offer to eat them… Oh, that’s mine…By the way, on the plane with that guy, what I really couldn’t stand? Was the smell.”
I was relieved the woman’s suitcase had arrived, since the pariah whom she and her seatmate had so cruelly disparaged must have been the very large gentleman whom two flight attendants were rolling into baggage claim in an extra-wide wheelchair. A curious glance in the heavy passenger’s direction pierced me with a sympathy so searing I might have been shot. Looking at the man was like falling into a hole, and I had to look away because it was rude to stare, and even ruder to cry.
“Yo, don’t recognize your own brother?”
From here on out, Pandora is running between her brother, trying to figure out what’s happened to him and how to reverse it, and her increasingly pissed off husband, who rapidly gets to the “it’s him or me” stage. Along the way, she has to ask herself some hard questions: what do I owe my brother? is it possible to will him back into caring for himself? who gets priority, my husband or my brother? and who takes care of me in the meantime?
The plot takes a couple of sharp turns towards the end. And I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to learn that Shriver did have a brother who was morbidly obese.
author photo: Steve Forrest for the New York Times]]>
From 1934 to 1988, the election of a Poly Royal Queen was a vital part of the Poly Royal open house celebrations. Because women couldn’t enroll at Cal Poly between 1930 and 1956, the Poly Royal Queen had to be selected from the outside community–first from the county schools and then, by 1941, candidates were selected from co-ed state colleges. This Poly Royal tradition concluded in 1989, when a group of male and female Poly Royal Ambassadors were selected to represent and publicize the Open House event. It is interesting to see how these queens were portrayed in the public media, and how the Poly Royal Queen Contest turned into much more than a “beauty pageant.”
Jane Horton Bailey was named the first “Miss Poly Royal” in 1934. Although we don’t have much information about Miss Bailey’s role as “Miss Poly Royal,” the role of her succeeding queens included publicizing Poly Royal throughout the state, and the coronation ball on Saturday night of Poly Royal weekend when a new queen was crowned each year. As the event grew bigger, queens continued to “reign” over the event and were a part of several publicity stunts (1). In 1952, Poly Royal Queen Geraldine Cox “reigned over” the Poly Royal festivities. Out of all of the Poly Royal Queens, we have the most photographs of her that document what she participated in.
The Poly Royal committee photographed her posing in classrooms, holding farm animals, and being near the men of Cal Poly who were ostensibly teaching her about the “Learn by Doing” philosophy. In several of these photographs she is seen as almost a trophy-like figure or a prop that can be placed anywhere, but is not part of the action. In the photograph below, she looks out of place and in need of help to fix a mechanical engine. This stereotype of women can be seen in photographs of the queen and her court, especially in this 1952 picture of the Poly Royal court “sitting pretty” atop of a plane in the Aeronautical Engineering department. For many Poly Royal queens, their job was to highlight Cal Poly’s “Learn by Doing” accomplishments, but not to actively participate.
In 1957, when women were welcomed back as students on campus, Val DeGeus became Cal Poly’s first queen selected from the student body. As the population of women grew on campus, the duties of the Poly Royal Queen changed. According to Queen Contest history, “The Poly Royal Queen serves as a spokesperson or representative for Cal Poly. As Poly Royal Queen, the woman selected will travel throughout the state representing Cal Poly and promoting Poly Royal” (2).
One of the most famous instances of a Poly Royal Queen acting as a state representative for Poly Royal was in 1967. During the 35th annual Poly Royal, Queen Tee Carter traveled up to the state Capitol Building to meet with Governor Ronald Reagan. This year also marked one of the biggest publicity stunts Poly Royal ever accomplished. Not only did Tee Carter meet with the Governor, but in honor of the Pony Express, they sent off two horseback riders to carry a letter from Reagan in Sacramento all the way to San Luis Obispo. On their route, they passed out brochures and stopped in several towns in order to spread the word about Cal Poly’s annual event. With the help of Poly Royal Queens and a great publicity team, Poly Royal grew into a tradition that would never be forgotten.
By the 1980s, Poly Royal Queens were given much more agency, and women at Cal Poly started to break typical gender roles on campus. In 1982, women at Cal Poly began majoring in horticulture, computer science, aeronautical engineering, and architecture, all male-dominated departments (3). Angela Darnell broke a color barrier in 1985 when she became the first African-American Poly Royal Queen (4). In 1988, the Poly Royal executive planning team decided to replace the Poly Royal Queen with six representatives to publicize and promote the annual event, allowing both men and women to participate in this time-honored tradition. After Poly Royal ended in 1990, Open House continued to use student representatives to plan the event.
To learn more about Poly Royal history and see some interesting historical artifacts, come check out the exhibit When Poly Was Royal: From Farmer’s Picnic to Open House in Special Collections and Archives, Room 409 of Robert E. Kennedy Library. See more digitized Poly Royal items at our online collections!
(1). Lori L. Robinson. “Developmental sketch of Poly Royal.” Liberal Studies Dept., California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California, 1979.
(2). “The Queen,” Poly Royal Queen Contest 1988, Cal Poly University Archives, Robert E. Kennedy Library, San Luis Obispo.
(3). Sharyn Sears, “Women: the image changes,” Mustang Daily, May 19, 1982.
(4). Sandra Thornburgh, “1985 Poly Royal Queen Crowned on Tuesday,” Mustang Daily, February 7, 1985.]]>
Yun started off his talk by identifying a major problem with maps and historical documents: they are locked away in filing cabinets, inaccessible to most people. In addition to the maps being inaccessible, it’s often very hard to find the information you’re looking for.
“What good is information if no one uses it?” Yun asked.
Yun has a better way to store historical documents and maps using GIS software. In this process, the maps are scanned, GIS layers are created and then saved with location tags. So, if you want to look up maps for a particular location, all you have to do is search that location and the relevant maps come up. This process can be used to digitize any type of map or historical document. Yun teaches this process to his students, and then gives them real world projects to apply what they’ve learned.
In a side by side comparison, we’re able to look at San Luis Obispo maps from 1905, 1950 and 2014 using GIS. Troy Lawson (who started off as Yun’s intern, then went on to be his student and teaching assistant) geo-referenced historical Sanborn maps to analyze the city’s history for his senior project, presenting his work through the city’s GIS and mapping website.
Yun’s other students have also provided GIS data and maps for the city. For example, one student mapped out and created a record of all the surveys taken in SLO. In total, there were about 2,000.
David Yun pictured above with Jeanine Scaramozzino, College of Science & Mathematics, School of Education, and Data & GIS Services Librarian. Learn more about Data Studio Presents.]]>
RFID stands for radio frequency identification. This technology uses an RFID tag to transfer data wirelessly. The RFID tag is basically a small chip with an antennae and functions like a bar-code. For example, Roberti talked about a building that installed RFID readers into tunnel walls during construction. Each reader could sense if the area around it was getting wet, and could send a out message wirelessly about the status of the structure.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a way for information to be relayed from a device over the internet to an end user. To connect the IoT concept to RFID technology and describe how these can be used in daily life, Roberti gave an example from a recent experience. After staying a hotel, he accidentally left his jacket in his room when he checked out. Roberti said that it would have been nice to have an RFID tag in his suitcase to tell him what was missing. That way, he wouldn’t have left his jacket behind.
Roberti gave a quick history of the internet and brought two themes to our attention:
These themes will continue through the future of technology and they tie directly into RFID technology. Roberti also said people are error-prone, inefficient and expensive. RFID can be used to do the work people do and be more accurate and inexpensive.
“We need computers to be able to capture information about the world without humans doing the work,” Roberti said.
Parekh asked Roberti what he is most excited about for the future of RFID. Roberti said he is most excited about the human applications of RFID. For example, RFID technology could be used to stop food-borne illness. If a food item was recalled because it was making people sick, this technology could be used to find the source of the illness quickly. It could also prevent food-borne illness from even happening if an RFID chip could identify any potential bacteria on the food before it is sent out to stores.
Roberti also explained the potential for RFID technology in households. Control the light switches in your home with your phone, attach an RFID tag to your keys so you can find them more easily, and more.
“In 30 years, there will be an RFID tag in every room,” Roberti said.]]>
Read more about the Open Science Cafe that Robert hosted: Living with an Internet of Things: RFID and Our Future.
I had little idea of what to expect at the start of planning this event, with little experience in planning events of this scale. I quickly learned a great deal about the value of detailed and organized planning. In addition, this was the largest group I’ve worked in partnership with on a project and through coordinating between all the different stakeholders I began to learn the importance of communication and how to do it effectively. The timeliness of this event happening around the same time I was on the job hunt was repeatedly a valuable talking point during interviews.
As I mentioned, I didn’t much know much about the Cal Poly Science Café or what to expect from this experience, but I became pleasantly surprised with how much freedom the group from Kennedy Library offered the RFID Technology Alliance Club as well as how much support we received in the process. The combination of those two things made it seem possible to explore all the ideas we wanted during the planning.
It was a rewarding, valuable experience and I am thankful to the staff at Kennedy Library for giving me the opportunity to be a part of it. I look forward to seeing what events will be planned by future Open Science Café leaders and I encourage any student to apply.
Robert is pictured above at right with Raj and Logan, two other members of the RFID Technology Alliance Club. Read an interview with Robert in the winter 2015 Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering newsletter, adapted from this blog.
Open Science Cafe will accept student proposals in fall 2015.]]>
“Data tells us that eBook usage is rapidly growing at Cal Poly,” said Tim Strawn, director of information resources. “While usage is strongest in engineering and physical and life sciences, we are seeing a steady uptick in eBook usage in other disciplines, such as psychology, political science, history and business.”
Content was purchased from Springer, John Wiley & Sons, Elsevier, Palgrave, ProjectMUSE, Taylor & Francis and Business Expert Press.
“Just as we provision a rich array of eJournal content, we are dedicated to enhancing access to eBook content,” Strawn said. “Digital rights management (DRM) free content purchases allow us to expand access without restrictive terms for our users.”]]>
I was introduced to Toews’ writing by a Canadian librarian who used to work at Cal Poly, and I loved her earlier novel, A Complicated Kindness. Both books are set in Canada, in a Mennonite community, which is Toews’ background as well. For me, Toews has a lock on skillfully combining tragedy and comedy, one of my favorite mixes in fiction. Puny Sorrows is no exception. I’m almost positive I could never be that patient a sister, but Toews somehow makes it believable. Still, one of the most satisfying and realistic parts of the book is the scene where Yoli, at Elfie’s bedside once again, finally runs out of sympathy:
Okay, okay, she said Don’t do that. You look so defeated.
I said well for god’s sake, Elfie, how do you think I should look?
I need you to be okay, she said. I need you to–
Are you fucking kidding me? I said. You need me to be okay? Oh my god. Oh my god. Look at you.
Okay, said Elf. Shhhh. Please. Let’s not talk. I’m sorry.
Have you ever thought about what I might need? I said. Has it occurred to you ever in your life that I’m the one that’s colossally fucked up and could use some sisterly support every once in a while? Have you ever got on an airplane every two weeks to rush to my side when I’m feeling like shit and wanting to die? Has it ever occurred to you that I’m not okay, that everything in my life is embarrassing, that I got knocked up twice by two different guys and had two divorces and and two affairs that were — are — not only a nightmare but also a cliche… Has it ever occurred to you that I have also lost my father to suicide, that I also am having a hard time getting over it … and that I also often think the whole thing is a ridiculous farce and that the only intelligent response to it is suicide but that I pull back from that conclusion…?
I made myself wait till I finished the book to look up Toews’ actual biography. It added an extra level of sadness to learn that the story very closely parallels her own.
author photo: The Globe and Mail]]>