Winter 2018 - BRAE Alumnus Kyle Feist ITRC

BRAE graduate Explores the Art of Engineering  


Cal Poly alumnus Kyle Feist grew up in Elk Grove, California, working at his family’s custom woodworking shop. He enrolled at Cal Poly in 2004 as an art and design major but after sitting in the stands during the 2005 Cal Poly Tractor Pull and speaking with BioResource and Agricultural Engineering Department faculty, Feist realized that agricultural engineering was the direction he wanted to go. He changed majors and never looked back. During his time as a BRAE undergrad, Feist worked part-time for the Irrigation Training and Research Center (ITRC) and a for a summer at the Cal Poly Farm Shop. These student work opportunities offered invaluable experiences covering a wide range of fundamentals in civil construction practices and heavy machinery operation.   

Photo: Kyle Feist, John Replogle (inventor of the Replogle flume), and ITRC’s Sierra Orvis at a May 2017 ASCE conference.

Although  Feist had some experiences in woodworking and residential construction prior to Cal Poly, the on-campus employment provided an opportunity to learn new things, including pouring and finishing large concrete projects, operating and repairing heavy equipment, installing and repairing pipelines, water pumps, AC and DC electrical systems, sensors and control systems.

Photo: Lateral canal head gate near Polson, Montana.

Working at ITRC while taking classes provided a variety of new hands-on experiences, including technical consulting for irrigation districts throughout the western U.S., testing and research on pumps and other on-farm irrigation system components, flow measurement calibration and metrology, supervisory control and data acquisition system specification and development, modernization plans and working with irrigation equipment manufacturers.     

Feist graduated in 2010 from Cal Poly with a degree in bioresource and agricultural engineering after taking the Engineering-in-Training exam, now referred to as the Fundamentals of Engineering exam and was hired as a full-time irrigation support engineer at ITRC.  

Photo: Linear move sprinkler system on mint fields near Salem, Oregon.


Two years later, in 2012, Feist passed the civil engineering exams for licensure in California. Since that time, Feist also earned a master’s degree in water engineering and was promoted to a senior irrigation engineer at the ITRC. In addition to a variety of new technical services projects and short courses, Feist actively authors papers and participates in committees for a variety of professional organizations, such as the American Society of Civil Engineers – Environment and Water Resources Institute, the U.S. Committee on Irrigation and Drainage, and the Irrigation Association.   


For more stories, view the rest of the Winter 2018 Newsletter

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