June 12, 2019

Tesoro Viejo Gives Fresno State Students Real-World Learning

For the second time, Tesoro Viejo welcomed a group of Fresno State University students to learn first-hand about the realities of planning and implementing a new master-planned community.  During the 2019 Spring Semester, six city and urban planning students visited Tesoro Viejo as part of the Case Study in Urban Planning class.

“This case study class has been different than any other class that I have taken because we have been able to come out and see what we are learning – not just see it on the board,” says Matthew Gomes, Fresno State student.  “Being able to walk the site and talk to the professionals just adds to what we are learning.”

The case study class was first offered in spring 2018 and represents the university’s commitment to providing real-world learning opportunities for students.  What’s also new is the city and regional planning degree option that was reinstated in Fall 2017 for the first time in about 25 years.

“We commend the efforts of Fresno State to deliver a city and regional planning degree program that will go far in serving the needs of our region,” said Brent McCaffrey, president of Tesoro Viejo Development.  “We are thrilled to invest in the higher education of students in an area that is of critical importance for the future of our community.

“It was mind-boggling to learn that there is so much that goes into planning a community than just design,” Gomes says. “I appreciated the opportunity to talk to the architects, the lawyers, and of course, the McCaffreys.”

For Gomes – who is interested in pursuing a career in architecture – he enjoyed walking through the model homes and asking why certain design decisions were made.  Something, he says, you can’t get from a lecture or a PowerPoint presentation.

“This is a very unique opportunity for our students to learn right alongside industry leaders,” said Michelle Calvarese, Chair of the Geography and City & Regional Planning Department in the College of Social Sciences.  “This case study class was a success, allowing students to learn in a completely different – but real – environment.”

Students visited the Tesoro Viejo site four times over the course of the semester, learning from experts in the field.  Tesoro Viejo Development brought in industry leaders in the fields of biology, infrastructure design, construction management, as well as legal.  In addition, the students attended the California State Lands Commission meeting where McCaffrey testified about the work under way to provide public access to the San Joaquin River.

Students were given an opportunity to ask the experts questions to gain a deeper knowledge about the realities of urban planning.  And they were not the only ones who learned something.

“The learning in the case study class was a two-way street,” McCaffrey said.  “The students had interesting things to say and share, making this a collaborative learning experience for all of us.”