Tech Park: Cal Poly’s Silicon Valley
Tucked between rows of corn, tractors tilling up test-irrigation fields and the Cal Poly dairy, sits a modern, steel building that houses technology-based companies: the Tech Park. The building is essentially an incubator — tech companies vie for space in a building that promotes innovation and collaboration with faculty and students…. READ MORE
(Dec 2) – Trust Automation: Local company contributes to international missile defense program
(Nov 27) – EcoPlanners: Work productivity hurt by too much noise
(Nov 19) – Cal Poly forum showcases young innovators
(Nov 14) – A Collection of Beautiful SLO County Photos
(Nov 13) – Hague Quality Water: Municipal water companies change water chemistry to bypass health regulations
(Nov 8) – Kitchen of the Month: Frustrated Baker Finds Freedom
Editor in Chief, Columnist: Rylan Stewart (firstname.lastname@example.org)
We deal in housing, but it takes more than a building to call a place home… it is the people, events, and businesses. So we started the SLO County Locals Blog to explore the spirit of the Central Coast.
The Tech Park is currently at full capacity with 11 companies housed within its walls. If the California Central Coast Research Program (C3RP) continues to see high demand, a second building could be thrown into the works.
See our feature article on Tech Park for more. Here, we have listed some of the most interesting businesses that make Tech Park their home:
Tucked between rows of corn, tractors tilling up test-irrigation fields and the Cal Poly dairy, sits a modern, steel building that houses technology-based companies: the Tech Park. The building is essentially an incubator — tech companies vie for space in a building that promotes innovation and collaboration with faculty and students.
Now that the building has been open for almost three years, it’s at full capacity with mature tech companies that bring in “head of the household” job positions, and a selection of promising start-ups — 11 companies in total. The building is the result of a collaboration between Cal Poly and the California Central Coast Research Partnership (C3RP).
All companies in the park work on cutting-edge research and projects. Cal Poly faculty contribute intellectual property to some of the companies; many of the companies were even founded by faculty.
Jim Dunning, who works for the university as a liaison between the private sector and the academic world, said the private companies benefit from the university and vice versa.
“The main intent of the building is to increase collaboration between the university and private sector,” Dunning said.
Dunning helps coordinate the transfer of intellectual patents from faculty to companies so the patents can be utilized commercially, and works with organizations like the San Luis Obispo Economic Vitality Corporation (EVC) to connect the tech companies to the community.
I spent some time walking around the Tech Park with Dunning on a Friday morning. In one corner an ecological consulting company, H.T. Harvey & Associates, was just moving into their space. Bird feathers and other field specimens lay out on a counter.
Fume hoods were visible through glass doors that look into the space Applied Biotechnology Institute occupies. Fingers tapped keyboards and computer screens filled with code in Couto Solutions. Every now and then doors from the various office spaces would open and students would leave for class.
Maria Fischer, a recent Cal Poly alumna, studied molecular and cellular biology and got a job in the Tech Park right after graduation in June. She works at the Applied Biotechnology Institute, helping the company with various projects, such as developing a sweetener as a sugar alternative and making vaccines into a wafer, instead of a shot.
“There are other grad students and one undergrad working here, too,” she said. “After graduation I was looking for a job and contacted a professor to do research for them, and they ended up connecting me with the job opening here.”
Although Cal Poly students have only been working at the Tech Park for the few years it has been open, plans for this incubator-type space have been in the works since the early ‘90s. Fundraising mostly took place between 2006 and 2008, and the building opened in January 2011.
A $1.8 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, bond financing from the State of California, and additional funds from the private sector contributed to the $7.5 million project.
The Tech Park is just phase one of a potentially-two-phase project, Dunning said. If there continues to be demand for space in the Tech Park a second building is a possibility.
The building is designed to promote collaboration. The common areas between each company’s offices are large and include ample seating and break rooms — a deliberate move to make it easier for casual sharing of ideas.
“Our students are good, and in all disciplines, and so that’s a big draw,” he said.
Approximately 30 Cal Poly students are employed at the Tech Park through full-time or part-time jobs or internships, Dunning said.
Dunning said part of Cal Poly’s goal with the Tech Park is to increase retention of students in the local workforce after graduation by providing high-income career opportunities.
“The problem is that students don’t know there are these pretty exciting companies in the area so they don’t even look,” he said.
Carole Moore, a career counselor at Cal Poly Career Services, said the idea was EVC’s “brainchild,” but the organizations worked together to make the fair happen.
“We rely on EVC to market it to their employers and invite their employers to participate,” Moore said.
In addition to employers contacted by EVC, all companies at the Tech Park were invited to participate.
Moore said it has helped students to realize there are opportunities in SLO beyond Higuera Street.
“As far as careers go, there are definitely some companies that have big operations here that we don’t even think about,” she said.
Attendees will include some of the tenants of the Tech Park as well as other companies from the SLO-area, including Zurn Industries and Trust Automation — both companies involved in the technology and manufacturing industry and headquartered in San Luis Obispo.
Where would you take your car to get it tricked out?
If the Central Coast wasn’t the first place that popped into your mind as a great location to get a custom-lift on your car, think again.
Accuair Suspension, located in San Luis Obispo, manufactures state-of-the-art lift systems. If you don’t know what a lift system is, see below. I think this video does a good job of showing how a car can move up and down via a remote.
A lift system can be used by anybody, but in general, those with customized cars are more likely to install them.
Most factory-produced passenger cars use traditional steel springs for a suspension system. But Accuair manufactures vehicle suspension systems that use an air compressor to inflate a rubber bellows, which in turn raises the body of the vehicle up from the axle. The system allows the driver to have a handheld remote control to raise the body of the vehicle up or down on cue. In other words, users can control the height of their car off the ground with something as simple as an iPhone.
To see what I mean, take a look at this video: it shows a customized vehicle with Accuair Suspension cruising the streets of our beachside backyard.
Accuair has been around since 2001, when brothers Reno and Dustin Heon founded it in San Luis Obispo. The company continues to solely operate from SLO, and employs its own credentialed mechanical engineers, electrical engineers and software developers as part of its team.
The company can provide developing, engineering and manufacturing services to its customers, which have included prestigious names such as The Boeing Company.
A set of wheels designed and built in San Luis Obispo helped the Mars Rover “Opportunity” set a solar system record this year — the rover has driven farther on a planet other than Earth than any NASA vehicle before it.
The SLO-based company Next Intent built the wheels and part of the suspension system for the Mars Curiosity Rover.
The Rover has now traveled 22.210 miles — the world (or solar system) record for the longest-driven NASA vehicle on another planet — on wheels built by Next Intent here in San Luis Obispo.
Welcome to manufacturing and technology on the Central Coast! Local companies have built machinery on Mars, developed a system to extract water from the air, and given your semi-bland chili the kick it needs with innovative spice blends.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles areas contained 6,600 manufacturing sector jobs in August of 2013. Six percent of jobs in San Luis Obispo are within the manufacturing sector.
These Central Coast businesses aren’t as immediately visible as the shops lining Higuera Street or Morro Rock jutting out of the surf, but they are noticeable when it comes to the local economy.
The sector includes a wide variety of businesses, from engineering and design firms to aerospace and defense design companies to medical device suppliers. And many of these companies have decided to place their headquarters right here on the Central Coast.
Throughout the next few months I’ll be exploring this part of San Luis Obispo County and featuring local businesses on this blog so you can learn more about the role technology and manufacturing plays in the area.
Fall means time for pumpkin patch outing
If you’re lucky enough to live in San Luis Obispo County, then you know one of the annual joys we share is the comfortable, cool fall weather. And though it hasn’t quite hit us yet, we know it’s coming soon.
One of our favorite family activities to celebrate the fall season on the Central Coast is to take the kids “pumpkin hunting.” Last year we visited a few. A new one just north of Paso Robles is our favorite: My Granny’s Gardens at San Marcos Ranch.
Carolyn Davis, aka “Granny” is celebrating the pumpkin farm’s third successful year as San Luis Obispo County pumpkin patch. The farm is her year-round passion and she opens it up to the public for just one month. So be sure to visit her this October.
Tired of chasing gophers? Love flowers, but no time to garden? No space to plant a garden? Don’t think you have a green thumb? Has the drought forced you to eliminate outdoor watering? Container gardens may be the perfect solution, as well as your best guarantee of horticultural pleasure.
Lettuce us discuss some ideas for restrained gardens… Like high-spirited children, it’s best to define boundaries so they can flourish and express their distinctive personalities and grow healthy under a parental eye.
Some botanical children need more attention than others. Choosing the right size and type of containment is determined by aesthetic preference and specific botanical needs such as tending time, irrigation, size of plants and desired colors.
Consider foliage and flowers—some leaves are quite beautiful without any blooms (as pictured to the right).
The color of the pot, box or bag is important for color balance, as with a painting or sculpture, and the whole concoction should coordinate with your home.
Drinking water is essential to our survival, yet we understand very little about it. I have been researching water for over 12 years and I am still fascinated with all the theories.
Many people consider the question of “Should I drink tap water, filtered water, bottled water, reverse osmosis water or distilled water?” Within each type of water there are hundreds of options. There are clearly thousands of choices. How do you make the right choice?
By Sarah Day
San Luis Kitchen Co.
Alas, summer is over; but joy, autumn has come. It seemed appropriate to discuss a kitchen whose after pictures are decorated for fall and Halloween.
[Look closely at the after pictures and you will find the decorations in place.]
So to begin, we start with an existing kitchen that is outdated and just too neutral for the homeowners. They wanted unity and drama in their space, not mundane confusion! Mismatched appliances – white refrigerator, stainless range, black dishwasher – give a disjointed and unplanned vibe to the room and are crammed together in less than half of the available kitchen space.
We are wrapping up this month’s Spirit of SLO photography contest. The prompt was “favorite local weekend activity”, and our top two entries, pictured below, are “lazing around with the locals” and “enjoying the summer sand and sun”.