Thursday, January 27, 2011

Friday Event: Entrepreneurship to Engineering Leadership

A Gordon Leadership Center Event on Friday Jan 28: 5PM: "Entrepreneurship to Engineering Leadership"

Location: Jacobs Hall - Qualcomm Conference Center, UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. Map here.

Creativity, innovation and leadership are among the essential attributes of future engineers as identified in the Engineer 2020 report by the National Academy of Engineering. It is critical for students to have the ability to identify new needs and opportunities for technological innovation in highly complex and interdisciplinary domains. The goal of this talk is to discuss a “technological innovation start-up” model and its stages such as seed stage to start-up stage, early stage to expansion & lead stage.

Speaker Bio:

Speaker Bio

Cahit Akin, PhD – Principal, ITU Ventures/President & CEO, Mushroom Networks, Inc. received his PhD and MSE degree in Electrical Engineering and MS in Mathematics from University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He holds a BS degree in Electrical Engineering from Bilkent University, Turkey. Currently, he is a Principal at ITU Ventures, LLC, a seed stage Venture Capital firm with $200 million under management, where he has been working since 2001. Dr. Akin managed the Adaptive Systems Laboratory out of Cal-IT2 at University of California San Diego, and continues to be a volunteer scholar at Cal-IT2. Dr. Akin is a cofounder and investor in Mushroom Networks, Inc. where he is also the President and Chief Executive Officer. Previously, Dr. Akin has worked as a senior analyst at a boutique marketing consultancy firm on Wall Street ­ New York, formulating marketing strategies for multi-billion dollar companies. Dr. Akin has worked on technical and research aspects of communications for over 7 years including several patents. Dr. Akin is a recipient of the NATO Graduate Study Scholarship award and was a national team member for International Mathematics Olympiad in 1993.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

UC San Diego Weather Balloon Journeys South of the Border

It’s a bird… it’s a plane… no wait a minute... it’s a weather balloon. A weather balloon recently launched from the UC San Diego campus traveled 300 miles until landing on a mountain slope between Puerto Penasco and Caborca, Mexico on the north-eastern edge of the Gulf of California.
The weather balloon, equipped with data transmitters and GPS locators, was launched by a group of UC San Diego mechanical and aerospace engineering students. The students, led by Prof. John Kosmatka, initiated the launch to flight test and develop experience with zero-pressure balloons. The students’ previous weather balloons traveled to a much higher altitude (90,000 feet or 17 miles) and burst, but traveled a short distance (5-10 miles). Zero- pressure balloons, such as the one used in the recent launch, rise to a predetermined altitude (such as 45,000 feet or 9 miles up - the lower edge of the stratosphere), then are pushed by the winds until they gently come down in the evening as the air and helium cool.

For Kosmatka and his students, the recent launch was a huge success.

“We learned that these balloons are very easy to load, launch, and track,” Kosmatka said. “Experimental data can be recorded and transmitted via ham radios to the internet, so that anyone in the world can monitor the flight progress. For this flight we monitored GPS location (latitude, longitude), altitude, speed, temperature, and air pressure. For most of the six-hour flight, the balloon cruised at 45,000 feet (lower edge of the stratosphere) where the air temperature is close to minus 60 Fahrenheit and the air pressure is only 2 pounds per second.

“These balloons have the research advantage in that data can be collected across a greater area at a specific altitude assuming that the winds are blowing in the right direction and are strong enough,” he added.

Kosmatka and his students plan to develop a variety of environmental and structural engineering experiments that will be flown on a future flight along with science payloads provided by local high school students.

The engineers have launched a total of six weather balloons since 2008. The launches are sponsored by the California Space Grant Consortium. Last fall, the students sent a weather balloon up 80,000 feet to near space to study the effects of solar power, climate change and the survival rate of anti-freeze beetles. Read more about that launch here.

Track the progress of previous and future balloon launches on the UCSD Near Space Balloon site.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Have you check out the latest issue of Pulse?

If you missed it, the latest version of Pulse, the Jacobs School magazine is online and in print. If you're an alumnus of the Jacobs School and would like to get the bi-annual magazine in the mail, let me know.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Electrical Engineers Engage with Audi on Urban Car Problems

There is an interesting Calit2 story out today about a new research initiative launched by Audi, its Electronics Research Laboratory in Silicon Valley, the University of California, San Diego and three other major U.S. research universities will develop technologies aimed at easing the congestion, dangers and inconveniences that often confront drivers in the world’s biggest cities

The new three-year research initiative is called “Audi Urban Intelligent Assist.” The aim is to take connected car, driver assistance and infrastructure electronics to the next level of providing detailed information so motorists have a better sense of the driving conditions surrounding them.

“Safety on urban roads will require a very deep understanding of the driver and his or her environment,” added UC San Diego electrical and computer engineering professor Mohan Trivedi, director of the university’s Laboratory for Intelligent and Safe Automobiles (LISA), within the Jacobs School of Engineering. “With the proliferation of consumer electronics devices in and on-board vehicles, a major challenge in front of us is to ensure that assistance systems really help rather than distract or irritate the driver.”

Related links:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Entrepreneur Challenge / Elevator Pitch Finals Jan 19

Elevator pitch finals are Jan 19, 6-8 PM in the Student Services Center (multipurpose room) here at UC San Diego. RSVP for the event.

Keynote: Dr. Philip Low (CEO/Founder/Chairman) of NeuroVigil.

$1,000 is up for grabs in the 5th Annual UC San Diego Entrepreneur Challenge Winter Kickoff and Elevator Pitch Competition.  The event features the top 8 submissions to the E. Challenge Elevator Pitch Competition who will have the opportunity to pitch their ventures live to an audience of several hundred.  The best pitch will be determined by audience vote and the winner will be awarded $1,000.
The event is moderated by past E. Challenge winner and successful startup founder and CEO, Dr. Philip Low.  Dr. Low is a graduate of the Salk Institute and the winner of the 2007-2008 Entrepreneur Challenge.  Dr. Low has also won several other national business plan competitions including the prestigious Draper Fisher Jurvetson Venture Challenge, been named as one of the Top 35 Under 35 Innovators by the MIT Technology Review, won the 2010 CONNECT Most Innovative Product award in Life Sciences and operated successfully out of Neurovigil's La Jolla offices.

NOVA: Making Stuff Stronger / Jacobs School Research

January 19 is the premier of "Making Stuff: Stronger" on NOVA. I haven't seen the show, but from the preview it looks like research from Jacobs School of Engineering professor Marc Meyers made it into the final version. Meyers is a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE).

UCSD-TV: The Future of Technology

Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs and venture capitalist Bill Stensrud join journalist Scott Lewis for a lively discussion on where technology is headed and how it will be used to improve education in developing countries in this event sponsored by the Voice of San (#20478)

First Aired: 1/10/2011
57 minutes

Friday, January 14, 2011

Solar Concentrator from Jacobs School Featured in Optics & Photonics News

An electrical engineering project to develop better solar concentrators landed on the cover of Optics & Photonics News, published by OSA.

Read the Optics & Photonics News story by Valerie C. Coffey here.

This project, from electrical engineering professor Joseph Ford's Photonic Systems Integration Laboratory here in the Jacobs School of Engineering.

This research project won the best poster at the Jacobs School's Research Expo 2010.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Bioengineers ‘Pump’ Life Into Post-Heart Attack Therapies

Jennifer Young chose the field of bioengineering because of its promise, cutting-edge nature and countless interesting applications. Young, a bioengineering Ph.D. student at UC San Diego, is contributing to these novel, cutting-edge breakthroughs through her countless hours in the lab.

One of her breakthrough discoveries is outlined in a paper she recently co-authored in Biomaterials called “Hydrogels with time-dependent material properties enhance cardiomyocyte differentiation in vitro.” The paper, co-authored by Adam J. Engler, an assistant bioengineering professor at UC San Diego, describes how the researchers measured the increase in stiffness that occurs in heart muscle as it develops, and then mimicked that change in a modified version of a biological material called hyaluronic acid. Pre-cardiac cells grown on these materials were found to mature into adult heart cells better than when grown on materials that did not stiffen. This process occurred despite not having the proper chemical signals around them and shows how important stiffness can be to cells.

This is why the researchers’ finding is important: Stem cells are often injected into the scar tissue that results from a heart attack (called “myocardial infarction”) in a treatment called cellular cardiomyoplasty. This scar tissue is three-to-four-times stiffer than normal muscle. Since cells are normally responsive to stiffness, the stiff scar helps to block their ability to become muscle. Instead, they turn into immature bone.

“Our hypothesis for this latest effort was that we need to develop a material which we can inject that stiffens as the heart does naturally during development,” Engler said. “By placing pre-cardiac cells onto this material and allowing it to stiffen from a soft material to one that resembled normal muscle (and not the stiff scar), we can better ‘program’ the cells to become mature cardiac muscle. What we observed was that this is indeed the case.”

Next on the bioengineers’ list is to conduct studies with animal experiments to see if the combination of stem cells and their material helps regenerate muscle rather than have the injected cells become immature bone as which often occurs with cellular cardiomyoplasty.

Young is excited about the clinical application of her research – the potential to help improve the quality of life of patients who suffer from acute myocardial infarction (heart attack).

“It is always a very satisfying feeling to solve a challenging problem,” she said. “It is rewarding to make a contribution to the field, and to see your hard work pay off. However, in a way, the most satisfying part of a breakthrough is identifying the next obstacle that needs to be overcome.”

Related links:

Biomaterials paper

Adam Engler Lab

Supportive Materials will Help Regenerate Heart Tissue

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bioengineering Professor Bernhard Palsson Named AAAS Fellow

Jacobs School bioengineering professor Bernhard Palsson is one seven new AAAS Fellows from UC San Diego. Read the AAAS release here.

Bernhard Palsson, PhD, professor of bioengineering and adjunct professor of medicine, was cited for distinguished contributions in the area of systems biology, specifically in genetic circuits and genome-scale models of complex cellular processes.

Palsson runs the Systems Biology Research Group in the Department of Bioengineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.

Palsson is the senior author on a recent Nature Biotechnology paper looking at why Alzheimer's Disease kills some neuron types first.

UCSD Engineers Lead National Effort to Save Lives and Buildings

Several major earthquake events around the world over the last few years have led to significant damage and loss of lives. Many of these quakes caused buildings to collapse related to the construction quality of those structures. Here in the United States, engineers are working to ensure that the quality of buildings is much better than those that have collapsed due to earthquakes in recent years. For example, earthquake engineers from UC San Diego, University of Texas at Austin and Washington State University are joining efforts to make buildings such as hotels, schools, apartments and hospitals safer. To do this, the researchers are currently putting a three-story reinforced masonry structure with shear wall systems through a series of rigorous earthquakes. UC San Diego structural engineering professor Benson Shing, who is leading the project, explains the national significance of the research in the video below:

UCSD Engineers Give Solar Power a Boost

The growing popularity of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems across the United States has made it more important to maximize their power input. That’s why UC San Diego environmental engineering professor Jan Kleissl is working on technologies and methods that will better predict how much power we can actually harness from the sun.
In a paper recently published in the journal Renewable Energy, “Optimum fixed orientations and benefits of tracking for capturing solar radiation in the continental United States,” Kleissl and his Ph.D. student Matt Lave explain why it’s important to strategize on solar installation, depending upon the location of the building relative to the sun. For example, Kleissl and his students at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering have improved the solar map for the state of California, which allows homeowners, photovoltaic installers and utilities to better predict how much energy they will get out of their solar systems.  The map can be viewed via Google Earth for free. 
UCSD Environmental Engineering professor Jan Kleissl
“Probably the most important result of this work for California is that in all coastal areas (Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego) it is advantageous to install the panels facing about 10-degrees west of south,” Kleissl said. “This not only optimizes energy production, but it also improves the correlation of solar power production with the load. Panels facing southwest ‘see’ the sun longer and at a better angle than panels facing south, which means that the energy generated is larger during the peak demand hours (3-to-5p.m.), making the energy more valuable. The generally clear conditions during the annual load peaks (also known as Santa Anas to Southern Californians) mean that the solar panels produce at the optimum power. On the other hand, wholesale energy prices during the peak time may be 10 times those during other days. In a future with more variable electricity rates this margin may tip the balance of economics in favor of solar energy and there will be greater incentives for installing panels facing southwest. Our maps show that there are already benefits of doing so now as the energy generation increases.”
Kleissl further explains his intensive solar research at UC San Diego in this recent video produced by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics.

Other related Kleissl links: