Monday, November 29, 2010

Valley of the Khans Project in San Diego Business Journal

Luke Barrington, a UC San Diego electrical engineering PhD candidate and Albert Yu-Min Lin, who earned his undergrad and graduate degrees from the Jacobs School, are in a recent San Diego Business Journal article that describes the “Field Expedition: Mongolia — Valley of the Khans Project” that Lin is leading. The article also discusses the San Diego firm -- Digitaria Interactive Inc. -- that helped build the online experience that is so crucial to this National Geographic project that enables people from around the world to help in their exploration from their computers. Learn how you can participate here.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dispersive Grating

Given that cooking is on so many minds this afternoon (including mine), I have to agree to "dispersive grating" does sound like a messy and/or distributed method for grating carrots, cheese or turnips. But that's not the "dispersive grating" that UC San Diego electrical engineering PhD student Dawn Tan developed.
Scanning electron micrograph of dispersive grating before deposition of SiO2 overcladding. (Decorative blue filter added to image.)  Image credit: UC San Diego / Dawn Tan

Her dispersive grating is for manipulating light on the nanoscale in order to compress pulses of light on computer chips. This kind of on-chip pulse compression is crucial for making the optical interconnects that will replace the copper wires that connect chips in computers of the future.

Read more about this silicon photonics advance published in the journal Nature Communications.

On-Chip Light Pulses / Nature Communications

The idea of using light to carry information around within computers has been around for a long time, but making it happen has been difficult. Electrical engineers from UC San Diego took an important step forward when they created a light pulse compressor that works on silicon chips. Compressing light pulses on chips will be necessary to realize optical time division multiplexing or OTDM.

“In communications, there is this technique called optical time division multiplexing or OTDM, where different signals are interleaved in time to produce a single data stream with higher data rates, on the order of terabytes per second. We’ve created a compression component that is essential for OTDM,” said electrical engineering PhD student Dawn Tan, the first author on a new Nature Communications paper that describes the work.

The UC San Diego electrical engineers say they are the first to report a pulse compressor on a CMOS-compatible integrated platform that is strong enough for OTDM.

“In the future, this work will enable integrating multiple ‘slow’ bandwidth channels with pulse compression into a single ultra-high-bandwidth OTDM channel on a chip. Such aggregation devices will be critical for future inter- and intra-high speed digital electronic processors interconnections for numerous applications such as data centers, field-programmable gate arrays, high performance computing and more,” said Yeshaiahu Fainman, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering and the last author on the new paper.

Scanning electron micrograph of dispersive grating before deposition of SiO2 overcladding. It is this dispersive grating that is responsible for the record breaking pulse compression. (Decorative blue filter added to image.)  Image credit: UC San Diego / Dawn Tan

Scanning electron micrograph of dispersive grating before deposition of SiO2 overcladding. It is this dispersive grating that is responsible for the record breaking pulse compression. (Decorative blue filter added to image.)  Image credit: UC San Diego / Dawn Tan

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Flying School Bus: Visions of the Future

See Zach Salin holding his flying school bus here.
A flying school bus isn't on the current list of Global TIES projects, but according to Zach Salin's whimsical drawing from the Jacobs School booth at UC San Diego Founders' Day, 50 years from now, that's what Jacobs School undergrads might be working on.

I can only assume the bus is running on hydrogen extracted from water via a process that requires very little or no energy to generate and store the hydrogen. 

Considering humanitarian engineering project of the future is a fun, mind-bending exercise. Anyone else have ideas of what Global TIES students will be working on in 50 years? Leave a comment or email ideas to me at: dbkane AT ucsd DOT edu

Monday, November 22, 2010

UCSD@50 Special Section in the San Diego Union Tribune

On Sunday Nov 14, the Union Tribune ran a special section outlining some of the history and highlights of UC San Diego's first 50 years.

Check out the coverage online:

Below is a screen shot of one of the pages. It includes future looking quotes from UC San Diego Bioengineering professor Gert Cauwenberghs and NanoEngineering professor Joseph Wang.

The special section includes information on how structural engineers from the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering played an important role in retrofitting bridges to prepare them for earthquakes.

(That same page also has a great image of Jacobs School undergrads floating in near-zero gravity in order to made better space toilets.)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Founders' Day Photo Booth: Your Vision of the Next 50 Years

More than 150 people drew their visions of the next 50 years at a photo booth at a celebration of the University of California, San Diego’s first 50 years.

The official photo booth “directions” challenged people to envision the future of information technology and communications, health and medicine, and solutions for sustainability. Brain-to-brain and brain-to-human communications systems caught people’s imaginations, as did a wide range of sustainability solutions, and stem cell and genome-based medicines. Lots of students took on the task of envisioning the UC San Diego of the future.

UC San Diego Founders’ Day photo booth directions. Side 1Side 2.
“I have cancer. But my body will heal itself”
“I can perform photosynthesis.”
All will communicate using American Sign Language. How cool would that be?? Bilingual!!
It will all be telepathy with an option of “out of office” message from your head.

Way less traffic since we can fly.

UC San Diego cloud campus

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

UC San Diego Bioengineering Professor Shyni Varghese: "We need to know what is happening in nature before we can successfully mimic it"

UC San Diego Professor Shyni Varghese’s bioengineering research projects span the continuum from basic research to translational work aimed at bridging the bench-to-bed divide. The lab, however, is united by one overarching goal: to treat dysfunctional tissues or organs using stem cells and healthy tissues derived from stem cells.

“I strongly believe that if we don’t fundamentally understand the science, then the translational work cannot happen. We need to know what is happening in nature before we can successfully mimic it,” said Varghese.

Read about a recent project from the Varghese lab that was led by undergraduate bioengineering students from the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.

Undergrad Bioengineers Advance Stem Cell Science at UC San Diego

Han Lim (right)and bioengineering professor Shyni Varghese (left) in 2008.  Lim is one of the bioengineering undergraduates who created an artificial environment for stem cells that simultaneously provides the chemical, mechanical and electrical cues necessary for stem cell growth and differentiation.  

Check out the stem cell research performed by undergraduate bioengineers at UC San Diego.

The translucent materials bridging the dishes in the photo are “agarose salt bridges” -- part of the electrochemical cell used to subject hydrogels to an electric field. Learn more.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Engineering Bear Gets a Scarf

The rock sculpture of the bear in the engineering courtyard got a hand-knitted scarf this morning, thanks to a dedicated and talented group of UC San Diego friends and supporters.

I don't have all the details of how this came about, but the photos speak for themselves. This is part of UC San Diego's 50th birthday party.  Check out more photos on UCSD Bear's Facebook page:

The official name of the bear is "Bear."  Read more about this Tim Hawkinson sculpture on the Stuart Collection website.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

For Students Only: Free Thanksgiving Weekend Shuttle from UC San Diego to San Airport

UC San Diego FREE holiday shuttle for students

More holiday shuttle info:

Scenes from a NanoEngineering Lab: (Part 3)

Here is the third post on chemical engineering major Maria Zimmerman, who is an undergraduate student researcher in a nanomachine-focused lab run by NanoEngineering professor Joseph Wang.

In a previous post, Maria said that she got her foot in the Wang lab door through a fellowship, and stayed because she loved it. It was a fellowship for the UC San Diego California Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (CAMP) in Science, Engineering and Mathematics program.

In the first post and second post, Maria in photographed in the lab and gives a bit of advice to undergrads thinking about trying their (gloved) hands at research:

Maria said: "Ask for responsibility. The work only gets interesting if they trust you want to do it. You are just wasting your time if you go in to clean pipette tips."

But what does Maria actually do in the lab?

"I work in the nanomotors section of Dr Wang's research lab. My recent work has been on nanomotor controlled in vitro drug delivery. We are able to manually control the nanomotors ability to pick up, transport, and drop off cancer drug carrying microparticles. We are striving towards a realistic model for in vivo applications," said Maria Zimmerman. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

von Liebig Center helps San Diego Win $1M Clean Tech Grant

A quote from the KPBS story by Padma Nagappan:

“The focus of the grant is on energy technologies. For example, next generation batteries, new materials for cheaper solar panels or new ways for generating hydrogen,” said Rosibel Ochoa, the UCSD grant coordinator. (Ochoa is the executive director of the William J. von Liebig Center at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering).

HKN: Food Fun Photos

A few photos from a food-meets-engineering event last week put on by the Jacobs School's HKN Chapter. HKN (Eta Kappa Nu) is the Electrical and Computer Engineering honor society. Students built structures out of food (check out the creme-brule-inspired touch below). HKN has a "How to Build a Computer" workshop tomorrow evening.

Thanks to HKN's Craig Calkins for the photos.

Sonali Nigam (Bioengineering Alumna) Wins UC Alumni “Change the World” Scholarship from UC San Diego Extension

Genentech engineer and University of California San Diego graduate Sonali Nigam has been selected to receive a UC Alumni “Change the World” Scholarship from UC San Diego Extension to pursue biotechnology management with the goal of one day creating an organization which enables the transfer of biotechnology processes and products to the developing world.

Sonali Nigam
Nigam graduated from UC San Diego with a degree in bioengineering in 2005. She works in the San Francisco Bay area for Genentech Inc., a leading biotechonology company that develops and manufactures drugs for treating cancer, asthma, cystic fibrosis and other diseases.

All persons who have received a bachelor’s degree or a graduate degree from any UC campus are eligible to apply by completing an online “Change the World” Scholarship form from the Web site before the next deadline date of July 15, 2010.

Read the full story on the UC San Diego news Web site.

Friday, November 5, 2010

"They said it sounded like we were building dinosaurs," he [Raj Krishnan] said.

Bioengineering alumnus (Ph.D. '09) Raj Krishnan talks about naming his cancer diagnostics startup in the latest in a series of Voice of San Diego profiles by Claire Trageser.

An out of context snippet from the story:
But that wasn't enough to dissuade Krishnan, who was then a graduate student at University of California, San Diego. So he took the name to a group of business students and asked their opinion.

"They said it sounded like we were building dinosaurs," he said.

Read the full story on the Voice of San Diego site

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Undergraduate Snapshot from a NanoEngineering Lab (Part 2)

Maria Zimmerman is a senior at UC San Diego majoring in chemical engineering. Below are a few of her unfiltered thoughts about working in professor Joseph Wang's NanoEngineering lab, and about doing student research as an undergraduate. (I'm hoping Maria will also fill us in on what kind of research she is working on. Stay tuned. And be sure to check out her other lab shots here.)

"I started my research during the summer of 2009. I was supposed to leave at the end of the summer due to my fellowship, but I kept extending a few months at a time until now, a year and half later.

"At first I just wanted to publish a paper and work with the renowned Dr Wang just because it’s ambitious, and because I knew I needed to take advantage of this opportunity because it’s one of the most prestigious career training opportunities UC San Diego has to offer. Now I stay because it brought me closer to UC San Diego than anything else I've done in my four years here.

"The grad students and postdocs I answer to have become my friends as well as my professional mentors. Having this lab to drop by everyday makes this huge campus feel more personal. And of course, working so close to Dr. Wang really helps me understand what thinking and commitment it takes to be successful. I don't want to pursue a career chemical engineering because it’s ambitious anymore, but because I really can see myself doing it."

Maria Zimmerman's advice to other students:

1. Go for the gold! The labs that are the hardest to get in will be the most worth it. Those are the labs that will invest the most money in you.

2. Ask for responsibility. The work only gets interesting if they trust you want to do it. You are just wasting your time if you go in to clean pipette tips.
3. Get to know your mentor. They are filled to the brim with advice. They were undergraduates once too, and they usually have some pretty strong opinions about it.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Snapshots from a NanoEngineering Lab at UC San Diego Part 1

Last week when I was helping out with a photo shoot in one of the NanoEngineering labs run by professor Joseph Wang, I ran into chemical engineering major Maria Zimmerman who is one of the undergraduate researchers in Joseph Wang's labs. I'm going to ask Maria for a few thoughts on her experiences as an undergraduate researcher, and post the responses here. If you have any questions for Maria, leave a comment or send me an email at: dbkane AT ucsd DOT edu.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pumpkin Pi

(Pumpkin) Pi (3.14) is only a scary number is you try to remember it out to 100 digits. UC San Diego engineering students turned pumkins into pi last thursday, as the rest of the country prepared to turn pumpkin into piE. (And if you don't think people eat pumpkin pie on halloween, two different San Diego restaurants were sold out of pumpkin pie this weekend.)

See more photos from the 2010 UC San Diego IEEE LED Pumpkin Carving Contest here.

UC San Diego and NanoEngineering Featured in 7/39 TV News Story
Check out the NanoEngineering Department in action in this short news story that ran last week on Ch 7/39.