Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies Program

Freedom to Choose / Freedom to Create / Freedom to Travel

Class Projects

About LAES Projects

LAES curriculum allows students to mix computer technology and media and so a variety of interdisciplinary projects are available to students. In addition, field trips to media businesses help establish relationships and provide insight into potential career paths.

Because of our interdisciplinary nature, students are involved in a broad spectrum of projects with short timelines and so we are only able to provide a sampling of student project achievements and collaborations here.

Solar Digital Libraries

LAES 411 Class with solar kits

Learn-by-doing is center stage in the Spring 2015 LAES 411 project-based course, providing real-world innovation to design, develop and deploy a solar-powered digital library kit in order to harness low-cost technology, enabling the use of digital educational materials at schools without the internet across the Pacific Islands.

A few LAES 411 students will be traveling with Laura Hosman to the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and Vanuatu over the summer to install the kits.  Read the BLOG (opens in new window) to keep up with their work in the field.

Escape Room Project

Collaborative efforts between the LAES program and Queensland  University of Technology (QUT) to develop a new International Escape Room experience, began in Fall 2014 and will continue throughout the 2015-2016 academic year.

An Escape Room experience is a small room designed like a puzzle containing clues on how to unlock itself. Audiences are invited into the room, locked in, and then must work together to decipher the clues in the room to unlock the door and let themselves out. Escape room experiences have been run in London, Paris, and Sydney and more recently in U.S. cities like New York City.

The project requires students on the LAES team to work together with those in the QUT to create a professional-quality experience that runs simultaneously on both the Cal Poly and QUT campuses utilizing a live, internet-enabled link. The goal is to run these rooms as a public theatrical experience in collaboration with Cal Poly's Theatre and Dance program and the Creative Industries division at QUT. To ensure the best, most productive experiences possible, a series of onsite usability tests, theatrical rehearsals and charrette's are being conducted prior to the planned public release in Fall 2015.

View more about escape rooms (links open in new windows):

PolyXpress Storytelling App

PolyXpress is a web application that allows you to experience location-based stories on your iOS and android devices, where you can interact with real-world environments as a multimedia story unfolds. It is the tool that can bring people to locations in order to entertain, educate, and build communities.

The app is being expanded to build a narrated tour of campus. It has been used in several exhibits, such as the Recollecting Project, Area 55: Be Scared, and the Cal Poly Arboretum. PolyXpress is developed by Michael Haungs, LAES Co-Director and Computer Science Associate Professor.

Objects of Affection Exhibition

The Kennedy Library Exhibit featured images, documents, and stories from the Re/Collecting Project, an online archive and ethnic studies memory project of California's Central Coast. The May 23, 2014 opening reception featured spoken word poetry, music and authentic Filipino cuisine.

The exhibit was a collaboration between Cal Poly Ethnic Studies department, Cal Poly Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies program, Cal Poly MultiCultural Center, Filipino American National Historical Society, California Central Coast Chapter. Continue Reading...

SLO Mini Maker Faire Collaboration

Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing approach to education was highlighted in the May 10, 2014 SLO Mini Maker Faire at Mission Plaza in downtown San Luis Obispo.

For the second year in a row, LAES students teamed with students from Thomas Fowler's third-year ARCH design studio students to produce an interactive centerpiece structure of the Mini Maker Faire.

The SLO Mini Maker Faire is a community-focused event derived from its parent, the Maker Faire and celebrates do-it-yourself (DIY) creativity and tinkering in a show-and-tell event for engineers, “makers,” and creative technology enthusiasts. Participants of all ages create, learn, invent, play and find inspiration by celebrating the arts, engineering, music, science and technology.  Continue Reading...

Thrice Told Tales Exhibit

Thrice Told Tales exhibit info

The December 4, 2013 exhibit explored the question, "How do different technologies of communication and connection afford and shape the stories we make, build, tell, share, learn about the diverse yet under-documented communities of color on the Central Coast of California?"

The exhibit was created as part of two project-based classes in Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies, in collaboration with Kennedy Library Curator, Catherine Trujillo, Dr. Grace Yeh and The Re/Collecting Project.

"Area 55: Be Scared" Event

LAES and Architecture students collaborated with Los Osos Middle School (LOMS) to create a fictional crash landing site of Genetically Engineered Organisms called “Area 55: Be Scared” fundraiser event at LOMS on October 25-26, 2013. PolyXpress, a web-based application, guided attendees on a treasure hunt to learn more about the mysteries surrounding Area 55.

PolyXpress is developed by Michael Haungs, Co-Director of the Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies program and Associate Professor in Computer Science.

LAES students at Homecoming for the Mind, sharing their Area 55 project board.

LAES students, Jack Bowen, Ethan Lockwood and Cecillia Tran showcased the project at the November 16, 2013 Homecoming for the Mind event.

Sustainable Housing Collaboration

Students working with professionals on the HOME project.

The Housing Opportunities through Modular Environments (HO:ME) project will provide sustainable housing to low-income individuals in San Luis Obispo County. To achieve the sustainable and affordable living units, HO:ME proposed the use of recycled industrial shipping containers which have double the energy efficiency of traditional homes.

LAES students in collaboration with Professor Thomas Fowler's architecture and interdisciplinary studies students, played a central role in the development of the HO:ME project, providing research, promotional, organizational and documentary work.

Both Thomas Fowler, ARCH and David Gillette, LAES were awarded the Cal Poly President’s Service Learning Award for their work on this project in 2010. For more information, view a PDF brochure and article about the project or visit the Container Alliance (opens in new window) website.

Go to Archived Class Projects

Related Content

LAES 301 Class

Engineering and Art unite in LAES 301 project-based introductory course.

The class is open to all second year and above Cal Poly majors and provides innovative hands-on work, in a team setting, for real-life projects.

Contact us for a permission number.

Class Info (pdf)


The LAES Club exists to bring together students interested in creative technologies, to collaborate on interdisciplinary projects and learn about and network with members of the industry.

Stay tuned for their Fall 2016 meeting schedule.

About the Club

About LAES

The B.A. degree program in Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies (LAES) is jointly offered by the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Engineering.

The program prepares students for a wide range of innovative careers in emerging professional fields that combine skills and interests in the arts, technology, and culture.

About LAES

Give to LAES

Please help LAES continue to provide quality interdisciplinary education for our students.

Your gifts will help foster this unique program and extend its impact by enabling more students to collaborate with each other and faculty, in innovative ways, in the area of expressive and emerging technologies.

Support LAES