Cal Poly secures millions in funding for academic programs

This article first appeared in the September issue of Mustang News, available at newsstands around campus.

From a new interdisciplinary computer program to nearly $40 million in agricultural programs, Cal Poly received several major grant awards over the summer.

Cal Poly will launch the Noyce School of Applied Computing after receiving a “transformational” gift from the trust of Intel founder Robert N. Noyce, known as the “Mayor of Silicon Valley.” The donors also intend to leave an eight-figure legacy to the College of Engineering for the Noyce School, which combines electrical engineering, computer science and computer engineering.

“We believe the establishment of the Noyce School of Applied Computing comes at a crucial time when there is a severe shortage of recent computer science and computer science graduate degrees and the need and demand for this skilled workforce remains very high.” Michael Groom, a trustee, said in a Cal Poly press release.

The state has awarded $39.5 million to the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) to keep the university’s infrastructure and manufacturing units resilient to accelerating climate change. This one-time grant will help address projected double-digit job growth in agricultural and environmental sciences over the next 10 years

CAFES Dean Andrew Thulin said there will be double-digit job growth in agricultural and environmental sciences over the next decade in the face of environmental challenges, and this funding is preparing students for that future.

The state budget for 2022-23 funds Cal Poly’s Swanton Pacific Ranch and Cal State University farms to improve the university’s agricultural production units. The ranch was largely destroyed in the 2020 CZU Lightning Complex Fire, and Cal Poly is in the process of restoring the ranch and building an on-site education center where students can participate in fire recovery research.

According to a university press release, more than 4,100 students are in agricultural programs at Cal Poly and work on the nearly 6,000 acres of on-campus farms.

Cal Poly’s School of Education received $21,000 to update its curriculum to align with state guidelines for teaching dyslexic students. Cal Poly received the largest portion of the statewide scholarship program of any college.

The Cal Poly programs for elementary school teachers, middle and high school teachers, and special education masters will each receive $7,000 from the grant. Overall, the CSU system produces the most teachers in the state of California, according to Tanya Flushman, a Cal Poly education professor who is director of the CSU Center for the Advancement of Reading and Writing.

“Studies have shown that quality teaching makes the biggest difference in a dyslexic child’s educational experience,” Flushman said in a press release. “Teaching is an extremely challenging endeavor, and our intention is to prepare and support new teachers by providing them with research-based guidance on how to teach.”

Cal Poly’s Center for Health Research also received $5.6 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health to conduct a seven-year study of cardiovascular health in pregnant women and infants to address health disparities in low-income communities.

Approximately five students per year or 35 students over seven years will be involved in the project. Cal Poly students and professors are working with Brown University and other centers to complete the study.

“It truly seeks to promote long-term heart health in families that have historically been underrepresented, underrepresented and underresourced in our region,” said the center’s director, public health professor Suzanne Phelan, in a press release.

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