If you watch the Rose Parade on Monday, among the blooms and mechanics will be the handiwork of one Cesar Chavez High School graduate.

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo mechanical engineering student Sergio Gutierrez, who graduated from the Delano school in 2013, is part of Cal Poly's float construction team. Together with about 60 students from both the SLO and Pomona campuses, Gutierrez has been working on the "Dreams Take Flight" float since early 2017.

On the float, three land animals (a koala bear, sea otter and red panda) are seen "pursuing their dreams of flying through the sky," Gutierrez said, each in its own plane and each with an animated component. The concept was one of many ideas submitted to and chosen by the float team.

"Once the float design has been settled, then we'll start the hands-on construction over the summer," Gutierrez, 22, wrote of the process in an email.

Gutierrez, who is on track to get his bachelor's degree in March, has been involved with the Cal Poly Rose Parade Float program since fall of 2015, he said. Every Saturday during the fall, the Rose Float group has open lab days where students can go to learn about the program and learn skills like machinery and welding, Gutierrez said.

"The float has mechanisms that carry out specific motions that make objects on the float come to life," he wrote. "Part of the responsibilities for the construction team is creating these mechanisms. This year, I mainly worked on a mechanism that makes the back plane have a rolling motion. Aside from that, I worked on miscellaneous tasks for other projects as well as some of the hydraulic plumbing."

Gutierrez has spent roughly 450 hours on the float so far, he estimated, and there have been a few challenges.

"It's a year-long process and things do not always go according to plan, but we adapt," Gutierrez wrote. "It's also a huge time commitment, so there's the challenge of balancing our time with school."

As it's the Rose Parade (whose theme this year is "Making a Difference"), the float will include more than 42,000 blooms, almost all California-grown, with roses, Gerbera daisies, irises and mums among them. This float entry is Cal Poly's 70th year of participation in the parade. 

With all his hard work finished and on display for millions to see — in person or on TV — Gutierrez and the rest of the team will be watching the parade live, "cheering as the float goes by," he said. 

Kelly Ardis can be reached at 661-395-7660. Follow her on Twitter at @TBCKellyArdis.

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