Archive for April, 2010

IME 556 Technological Project Management, Poly House, is a required course for the Integrated Technology Management program.  A requirement I couldn’t be more thankful for!  If I were asked to spend a majority of my final quarter at Cal Poly working on a single class I would have laughed at the idea; actually I’m pretty sure I did just that.  I’m all for helping a good cause, but the course description for this class reads like a part time job – without pay.  It didn’t take long to realize that IME 556 was more of an experience than it was a class or job.

The entire Poly House program has been an inspiration.  The work done in previous years by faculty and volunteers to build such a respected organization, the dedicated team members (especially the ones who aren’t required to be there), and little Caleb’s big heart have all driven the desire in myself and others to achieve something special with this “requirement.”

My lack of construction experience had me concerned about my ability to make a significant contribution to this project.  Luckily the outpouring of support from my friends and the community quickly dissolved that notion as well.  I can’t talk about this project without everyone listening wanting to get involved.  All the while I find myself daily combining my project management skills with new construction knowledge.  The positive impact this project has had on my final months at Cal Poly has been the most pleasant surprise of my college experience.  Like our go-to contractor, Steve Chauvet, says “its Poly House magic!”


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I am teaching this class for a faculty member that is on sabbatical, Dr. Roya Javadpour. She has taught the class for six years. I underestimated the courage required to execute a class like this. Some days, like Tuesday, it looked like we may fail. A draftsman we thought could help us with the plans could not do it. The required donations for the addition were nowhere in sight. Some students were working so hard on this project that their midterm exams were suffering. We all felt very discouraged. Then, Wednesday rolled around with renewed hope. We found an architect to do the drawings–not just any architect, but one who used to work for SLO County who knows exactly what is needed for the permits. We received fantastic news about a substantial donation.  We began changing the property with the removal of a tree. Who knows what today will bring, but we are all on an exhilarating ride thanks to Dr. Javadpour’s initial vision for a class that would change the world, one student, one family at a time.

-Dr. Liz Schlemer

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As the construction date falls closer and closer, I find myself filled with equal parts excitement and anxiousness. The more pieces begin to fall into place, the more daunting the big picture appears to be. But that is part of the beauty of Poly House; the task at hand seems difficult, if not impossible at times, yet rather than throwing your hands up in the air and calling it quits, it forces you to find ways to do the impossible.

Our team has received a lot of help from our sponsors (big shout out to those who have helped us so far), but there remains a lot of resources that we have to obtain. One of my greatest motivators throughout the entire planning process remains my desire to provide a final product that I can look back on with pride. I want the family to be as excited about changes we’ve made a year after we’ve made them as they are when they first see their new house. Never before in my academic career have I had a course where there is such a tangible result of my efforts, and while that’s pretty amazing, it also forces me out of my comfort zone.

The next few weeks are what will determine the success of the project, and I for one am going to do everything in my power to make sure that we have our bases covered. With good, adaptive planning, communication between the teams, and a unified vision of the final goal, I think that we will make this project one of the most successful ones yet.


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Press Release

Check out the press release from Cal Poly’s College on Engineering.

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‘Tis better to give than receive.  Does this phrase ring a bell? It’s the all too popular phrase that you hear throughout the Christmas season.   What does this really mean?

There is something about the look in one’s eyes when they receive a gift that is grateful appreciation.  That look is worth far more than the numbers that rang up on the cash register.  That look is the receipt.  A receipt that says it all.  It can be summed up in two words:  “thank you”.

My classmates and I have been pushing full steam ahead on this project, and in our visits to their home, we have had the privilege of working right alongside the Todd family.  I have had great conversations with Simon, Ruby, Tarahann, Rachael, and even Caleb himself.  Coming into this project, one might have looked back to the all too popular Christmas phrase, placing our roles into that of the giver.  But during one of my many conversations with the family members, I was taken aback.  The words spoken to me by the family still ring in my mind.  “During our worship this morning, we prayed for you specifically, Ryan.”  That “thank you” look was not on the face of the family this time.  It was on mine.

Giving IS receiving.  Sometimes in ways you least expect.  I know that this project is going to have a huge positive impact on not only myself but on everyone else who gives.  I strongly believe that by the completion of this project, every giver will realize that they were in fact the one who received.


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In my extensive scholastic experience, I have never taken a class that even comes close to the PolyHouse class.  What we are learning is amazing. I never imagined that we’d be talking about everything from fences and rose bushes to septic tanks and foundations. In my other classes we talked about teamwork and how it is important, but in PolyHouse, we have to work as a team to really help the family.  I feel very blessed to be with a group of individuals who aren’t only incredibly smart, but all have hearts of gold.  A couple of my group members and I ventured out this last Wednesday to visit several local landscape supply/material shops, and the people we talked to were very nice.  This is my first year in SLO, and as a city girl for most of my life, the warmth my team members and I received from the local shops was overwhelming.  The people we talked to really wanted to help; it is almost as if we’re feeding off each other’s positive energies.  I think that this will be the best experience of my time at Cal Poly. I’ve been involved with Habitat for Humanity, soup kitchens, and tutoring elementary school students but all these pale in comparison to the sense of accomplishment I feel with PolyHouse.  In PolyHouse, unlike the other charitable work I have done, I feel I am really able to affect the outcome of this project in a positive way. I have learned about how planning and execution, combined with a determined group of like-minded people can accomplish amazing work.

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I guess I’ve always been the kind of person to worry about the little things in life. I usually get so bogged down in my own little world that I am blinded by everything else surrounding me. I’ve been so cynical lately and felt the Earth would crumble in the arms of war, terror, and natural disaster. I thought there was no hope for mankind. I took Poly House under the impression that it would be a great little community service project that would make me feel good about myself. After the first couple of weeks I thought, “what have I got myself into?!” As one of the logistics team members, I felt overwhelmed with the amount of work we had to do and how many strangers I would have to ask for money. When it comes to cold calling, I am pretty shy and tend to stumble over my words, thus gaining no form of donations. In my worry, I felt that the work weekends were drawing closer and closer and I was running out of time!

Looking through the class website I stumbled upon photos of the Nipomo home and the Todd family. Their hopeful smiles sparked something inside of me. This project wasn’t just another class for me, but it was something bigger than me. The feeling of worry and stress was lifted and I felt a new sense of urgency to help this family. As it turned out calling people for donations wasn’t so bad despite some of my stuttered words. Even in these economic times, small mom and pop business owners are still willing to help out their neighbors. Some people even cut me short to insist that they wanted to help. It is because of this community’s generosity that I am way ahead of schedule and I am finding myself more eager and excited than ever to see the project to the end.

These donations have given me a renewed sense of hope in people. I will never again underestimate the kindness of others. Poly House could not exist without the generosity of the community.

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Our 2nd annual fundraiser will be an all you can eat PANCAKE breakfast!

When: May 2nd 2010
Where: Applebee’s in SLO, 305 Madonna Road. San Luis Obispo, California 93405
Time: 8am-10am
What: All you can eat PANCAKES!!!!
Price: Presale = $6 At the door = $8

We are hoping to make this year another HUGE success! If you have any more questions or would like to purchase a few tickets please let us know.

Phone: 858. 401.9513 or tstahovi@calpoly.edu

All the support for this event is appreciated!!

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Thus far, the Polyhouse project has been quite an invigorating experience. From day one when we met the family, our team has done a magnificent job at creating ideas and solutions to meet the needs of Caleb and the rest of the family. I have to say that I am truly impressed with the level of commitment each student has exhibited, day in day out, to produce the best possible product for the family. I also strongly feel, especially as of late, that there has been very healthy conflict amongst the individual teams to establish the priorities in terms of what is best for the family, and not our own ambitions.

At this point, our team has taken the combined preliminary plans for each sub-project and reorganized them into a more viable and effectual scope. By the end of this week, we will have solid plans and resource estimates for each addition and renovation that we can move forward with and begin to secure more targeted donations.

We are very grateful to the organizations that have committed to supply Polyhouse with donations and discounts so that we can make this project happen. Our groups are continually searching for any support we can acquire. I’d like to emphasize that anyone who would like to support this community project should not hesitate, no matter how big or small the donation may be. A great way to help and have some fun would be to join us for our Pancake Breakfast on Sunday May 2nd– tickets can be purchased for $6 from any student involved with Polyhouse. Other simple ways to help that would greatly assist us include materials donations, monetary donations, volunteer work, and references to anyone connected to the construction industry. Thank you for visiting us on our blog. I encourage you to stay connected to us through our website and continue to look for ways you can help. Also, check us out on Facebook and share your ideas for other avenues for resources and fundraising.


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I have always had a heart for my community. I come from an under represented background, so I try and give back to the community. This project is so special to me because I know that we all making a  difference.

I am part of logistics which is a huge position of the project. We don’t really get to build anything physically, but we do have to build trust and lasting relationships with the rest of the community. Jamie, our Project Manager, has secured  vital components for PolyHouse, which really brings the project into perspective, and makes me think “This is really gonna happen!”. We have had a lot of victories, but I expect some defeats as well. I have started calling and visiting different restaurants in SLO to get food donations for our volunteers. Currently, we do not have any confirmations yet but I know they are coming.

I have been a part of many organizations that work on community projects, but the vibe of this class surpasses any other organization. It may be that we are in a class setting, it may not, but I can honestly say that our class has a genuine devotion and passion to this project.

I am blessed to work with such passionate students and with such a strong family.

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