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Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies Program

Freedom to Choose / Freedom to Create / Freedom to Travel

Senior Projects

The LAES curriculum allows students to mix computer technology and media, providing them with the opportunity to work on a wide variety of interdisciplinary projects. In addition, field trips to media businesses help establish relationships and provide insight into potential career paths. For more information on senior project, please visit the Senior Project Guidelines Page.

Seeds in STEM 

Providing STEM education to 5th-12th grade Santa Maria students

Seeds in STEM team working with kids.Project Goals: Seeds In STEM is a program that provides STEAM education for K-12 students in the Santa Maria community in an inclusive, sustainable and impactful way.






Project Description: Generation STEM was started as a LAES senior project and remains handed off for continuation. The program teaches Elementary School students in Santa Maria lessons from block coding to engineering design. Full STEAM Ahead is a day where TRIO students can come to Cal Poly to learn about different engineering disciplines and organizations on campus, in order to inspire students to pursue engineering and see the different disciplines that fall in STEM. 

Seeds in STEM team   Seeds in STEM Activity

The SOS Project 

Installation art piece on the effects of gun violence in the U.S.

The Final Art Piece on DisplayProject Goals: The Sense of Safety (SOS) Project was designed to start a dialogue about gun violence in the U.S. by asking visitors: "How safe do you feel at Cal Poly?" Participants responded by leaving a thumbprint on the appropriate panel. 




Project Description: The SOS Project was developed in response to the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. The installation formed an arc of linked plexiglass panels, each comprising a 2-year period between 2004 and 2016. The individual panels were pierced by a number of holes, each hole representing a school shooting that had occurred in the U.S. during the given period. Visitors were encouraged to contemplate and discuss the impact of gun violence on their own lives. Written across the inner panels was the question: “How many school shootings have there been in America during the last 12 years?"

People looking at the piece.     Installing the piece.
For more information:    

San Luis Obispo Mini-Maker Faire 

Community event encouraging people to learn, make, invent, build, think, and play

Decorations from the faire. Project Goals: Part of an international movement of DIY- and STEM-related design fairs celebrating hands-on learning and sustainable technology development. 






Project Description: This highly successful community event, supported by MAKE magazine and the MAKE Community Development Group, attracted more than 2,000 visitors to downtown San Luis Obispo.

Working in collaboration with:

  • The San Luis Obispo Museum of Art
  • A consortium of K-12 STEM educators
  • Faculty from the Cal Poly College of Engineering (especially Dr. Kathy Chen from Materials Engineering)
  • SLO city planners
  • Local commercial partners and sponsors (including iFixit)
  • Dr. Thomas Fowler and his architecture studio students
  • LAES program and the Center for Expressive Technologies (provided technical, planning, and site management support for SLO's inaugural Mini-Maker Faire)

A booth at the faire.    Interactions from the faire.

Orchesis Dance Company

Creation of an immersive dance space using interactive screen-based design to represent embodied media

SOS project 2016-2017Project Goals: For the Orchesis Dance Company's twenty-two dancers to serve as a form of embodied media: screens become dancers and dancers become screens.





Project Description: With the dancing images moving from the screens directly onto the dancers themselves, the final performance was a thirteen-minute modern interpretation of tango, with screens suspended above and behind the dancers. A video triptych of the dancers dancing in a wide range of venues was projected onto the screens, all of which were pre-recorded and mixed live to interact with the dancers on the stage. We used performance tracking systems, heart-beat monitors, and extremely flexible projection screens that the dancers could wear during the performance.

A dance number on stage.     Visuals from the show.

Learn more about the Orchesis Dance Company's Shift (links open in new windows):

Music Rehearsal VR 

Student senior projects allow individuals to explore their own musical skills as well as those of others

VR in action. Project Goals: Individuals can use virtual reality to practice their instruments or attend a concert.






Project Description: LAES student senior projects used VR to create a way for individuals to explore the musical world.

In one project, users can play their instrument simultaneously with others and rehearse at the same time while in different spaces. To demonstrate this, the student made three versions of themself playing three different music pieces that they composed.

In another senior project, a user can take a tour with a 360-degree view of the campus. In the video, the Cal Poly Acapella Choir sings. With each line of the song, the user and choir are transported to a different area of campus. The VR user can also lean closer to individual singers of the choir and that person will sing louder.

    The view from the VR> Alternative view.

The HO:ME Project                                      

Development of sustainable housing for low-income residents of San Luis Obispo County

construction of the homeProject Goals: The Housing Opportunities through Modular Environments (HO:ME) Project's purpose was the design of 18 single resident occupancy (SRO) living spaces as well as a new office building for the Housing Authority of the City of San Luis Obispo using recycled industrial shipping containers.




Project Description: The ultimate goal of the documentation work was to create a model for how this type of successful building collaborative could be replicated in other communities around the US and abroad, with an emphasis on the efficient reuse of materials built upon the benefits of having a university system working directly with local government to improve the local community.

More than 100 students worked on this project, including students in Architectural Studio, Media Arts, and Interdisciplinary Studies courses. LAES students carried forward the documentation of the project, focusing on the construction materials involved, the political and social management issues associated with developing the project in a public context, and continued to help organize and fine-tune the collaboration between the city, the university, and the builders.

example pictures     model of inside the home

Film School Africa 

Harnessing the power of film to forever change lives

film school team together

Project Goals: Equipping students to work in the booming South African film industry and in the process of using film as a form of art therapy. 






Project Description: Cal Poly students spent two weeks in Cape Town, Africa working with a group called Film School Africa to learn about how film can help get people out of poverty. Students used donated appliances to build a replicated township house that could be used as a sound studio. The sets were built inside a repurposed chicken coop and used transparent ceiling panels so that videos could be filmed using daylight instead of electricity. Another section of the chicken coop was renovated to be a sound studio. This set could be continuously used by the students at Film School Africa even after the two weeks.     

Students at the school     Students making sure everything is right

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