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5 Ventures That You Didn’t Know Were Cal Poly Senior Projects

The Senior Project – a final capstone project that every Cal Poly senior must complete to receive their bachelor’s degree. This Cal Poly tradition perfectly aligns with the “Learn by Doing” philosophy as seniors bring together all of their knowledge and skills to create a final product. With hard work, self-determination and help from some great professors, what started as a senior project has turned into some successful ventures. You may not know it, but some of your favorite things started right here in a Cal Poly classroom as a senior project. Here’s a quick list.

  • Giuseppe’s – The well-known restaurant near the corner of Monterey and Chorro streets is a San Luis Obispo classic, but did you know it was a senior project? In 1988 Joe DiFronzo had the idea to open an authentic Italian restaurant and sure enough it was approved to be a senior project. More than three decades later Giuseppe’s lives on as a local favorite to satisfy your pasta craving.

  • Guayakí Yerba Mate - If you’ve ever been on a college campus during finals week, these bright yellow cans are just about everywhere. What now fills grocery store fridges was once just an idea by two Cal Poly students named Alex Pryor and David Karr. Back in 1996 Guayakí was born as a way to preserve the rainforest by providing work for the indigenous population. Needless to say, this senior project is still a fan favorite on the campus whence it originated.

  • Jamba – One of the largest success stories when it comes to senior projects is the beloved Jamba. In fact, the first Jamba opened in San Luis Obispo as Juice Club before changing its name. We can thank Cal Poly alum, Kirk Perron for this smoothie joint that he created as his senior project back in 1990.

  • Punchd – In 2010 computer science seniors Reed Morse and Grantland Chew invented “Punchd”, a smart phone app where users can store their loyalty punch cards. While this app became increasingly popular on campus, in 2011 it was bought out by Google. Since 2013 this app has been retired and both founders have moved on with very successful careers.

  • Jada from Alydia Health – Although this project might not be as widely known, it is certainly one that has made a huge difference in people’s lives, especially mothers. In 2011 Davis Carlin and Alex Norred created the Jada, a thin silicone tube that is placed in the uterus to treat and prevent postpartum hemorrhaging. As postpartum hemorrhaging is a leading cause of maternal death in the world, the FDA cleared this device in 2020 and the Jada went on to be highly successful in clinical testing.

Whether it’s an idea to open a restaurant to foster community, or a medical device that saves lives, it is clear that Cal Poly senior projects have gone on to make real impacts in the world. Though Cal Poly is proud of the projects that have been created in the past, the university is more than excited to see the Senior Projects that lie in the future. Seniors, this is your sign, get brainstorming!