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A New Rose Float Lab


Cal Poly Pomona has announced plans to build a new $3.7 million Rose Float Lab and Design Complex for its award-winning Rose Float program. The new complex would provide about 14,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor work space, including a fully enclosed float construction bay, design workspace, storage facilities and a courtyard to host large numbers of volunteers.

Cal Poly Pomona students currently build their incredible floats in an open-air warehouse building erected more than 30 years ago by Rose Float students. For the first time in 70 years, this complex would afford appropriate protection from weather; better security for the equipment, electronics, and tools; and a space specifically designed to enhance student learning, collaboration and innovation both indoors and outdoors. With a goal of breaking ground in 2018, the university has launched a Rose Float Lab Fund Raising Campaign to raise the remaining $800,000. 




For seven decades, students from Cal Poly Pomona have designed, built and decorated fabulous floats for the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade, now televised in multiple languages to millions of viewers around the world.

The journey began in 1949, when student Don Miller spearheaded the construction of the first float in 90 days. Today, this unique, learn-by-doing program is one of the finest examples of our polytechnic mission, one that highlights the creativity, versatility and the skills of our students.


Partnering with students from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, the Rose Float teams create fantastic floats, beginning with a unique design concept and carried through construction and decoration with thousands of flowers. Throughout the process, hundreds of students have the opportunity to advance their team-building and problem-solving skills, learn floral design or computer-controlled animation, while others acquire skills in engineering, welding, engine maintenance, marketing, hydraulics and much, much more.


Competing against professional float designers, the university Rose Float team has won 58 awards over the years, including 10 Founder’s Trophies for the most beautiful float built and decorated by volunteers, and eight Princess Trophies.

Cal Poly’s Rose Float program has been a leader in float innovation, being the first to use hydraulics to power innovation (1968), the first to use computer-controlled animation (1978) and the first to use fiber optics (1988).