Aquatic Aspirations wins Director Award


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The joint creation of the Aquatic Aspirations rose float by Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo was presented with the Director Award as the float made its way down Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena for all to see on Jan. 1. 

The Director Award is defined as “most outstanding artistic design and use of floral and non-floral materials,” according to the Pasadena Tournament of Roses’ website. Awards were given by three judges including Hitomi Gilliam, a flower artist; Phil Hettema, president and creative executive of the Hettema Group, a design firm; and Lilit Khatchaturian, founder and CEO of Pavé Fleur, a countrywide floral delivery service.

The awards were presented by Florists’ Transworld Delivery, a floral network industry, before the parade began.

“I know all of the planning and the stress and everything and today everything just came together, and my team is very proud of it,” said Joshua Lim, senior electrical systems engineering technology student and Pomona president of the CPP rose float. “We’re all very relieved that everything went well and it’s beautiful and the fruits of our labor (are) out here for the world to see. Go Cal Poly!”

The Aquatic Aspirations float was a joint project created by both CPP and Cal Poly SLO students, volunteers and alumni. (Grace Mikuriya | The Poly Post)

Portraying a submarine searching the ocean floor for lost treasure, the Aquatic Aspirations rose float depicted the submarine instead coming upon an abundance of sea life surrounding a shipwreck, which included sea turtles, octopuses, fish and ocean plant life. 

Some materials used to create the vibrant colors and designs on the float included eggplants, oranges, grapefruits and many more.

“Generally, we split the design 50-50 — the front half and the back half,” said Heather Hanson, interim director of the rose float. “We have a leadership with parallel positions on both campuses. There’s a design chair for Pomona and there’s a design chair for (Cal Poly) SLO so they have to work together to come to (a) consensus and each campus has someone in charge of designing all the elements and someone in charge of doing all the modeling, so everything that happens, happens in tandem on both campuses.”

CPP and Cal Poly SLO split the rose float work, with one team working on the front half and the other on the back half.
(Christina Manuel | The Poly Post)

Both CPP and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo have collaborated on rose floats together since 1949.

The funding for the rose float comes from donations from alumni and instructionally related  funds (IRA), according to Hanson. The team also receives donations of materials and supplies like flowers from the California Cut Flower Commission in exchange for showcasing the flowers on the float for all to see. 

“It’s just been tremendous and again I could not be more proud of the faculty, the staff and the students who have just done an enormous amount of work and they were awarded the Director Award, which is really a testament to the creativity, ingenuity and innovation,” CPP President Soraya M. Coley said. 

Some flowers used to create the float were donated by the California Cut Flower Commission.
(Grace Mikuriya | The Poly Post)

“And the thing that makes this so special is that the students organized, they design, they build and we also have significant engagement of alumni. And so it’s just a continuous experience, so it’s recognition of what it means to be a polytechnic university.”

The theme of the Rose Parade this year was “The Power of Hope.” “Through hope we can aspire to be our best and, in turn, inspire those around us to reach higher,” said Rose Float Parade President Laura Farber in a statement on 

Construction on next year’s 2021 rose float will begin between March and April, according to the ASI website. A concept contest will be held in February for new ideas regarding the 2021 float, surrounding the theme, “Dream. Believe. Achieve,” which was announced Jan. 17. 

“The process starts very soon with a design contest that we run on both campuses to submit a concept based on whatever the new parade theme is,” Hanson said. “Once we have the theme we can publicize and then the leadership teams narrow down the top submissions and turn in their top three designs to the Tournament of Roses. Whichever one they approve, that’s our concept.”

Currently, the student team and volunteers work on building rose floats in Building 64, which only provides some protection from outside elements. As The Poly Post previously reported in Issue 4 (Sept. 17, 2019), construction on the new Rose Float Lab and Design Complex began in September 2019 and is expected to be completed in October. The estimated cost of the lab is $4.3 million. 

UPDATE: In the printed version of this story, IRA was incorrectly defined as retirement investments. We have corrected it online. 

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