Friday, April 29, 2011

Junkyard Derby Prep

Below is an email that gives an inside look at Junkyard Derby, one of the great Jacobs School of Engineering annual events.

If you've never participated in the Junkyard Derby before, I can assure you that 15 seconds is a VERY long time, especially when other teams get all the best junk you wanted.

Dear Derby Junkies,

If you have done so already, thank you for registering for the 2011 Junkyard Derby. If you haven't done so yet, go do it now! Don't miss the biggest and funnest engineering event of the year. 
As a friendly reminder, all payments and registrations are due May 6th.

Junk Collections:
Do you want a head start at grabbing junk? 2 easy steps:
  1. Attend 3 out of the 4 Saturday Junk Collections. The dates for the Junk Collections coming up are April 30th, May 7th, and May 14th, 2PM-5PM in Regents Parking Lot P705. You must help out at the Junk Collection for at least an hour each in order to be counted toward the head start. Make sure you sign in and out for your team.
  2. 15-second head start in grabbing junk, and DECaF points if you sign in for your org.
If you've never participated in the Junkyard Derby before, I can assure you that 15 seconds is a VERY long time, especially when other teams get all the best junk you wanted

Also, it is very important for as many teams as possible to attend these junk collections. The junk we collect in the upcoming weekends is all the junk YOU guys will get to use at the Derby. So the more people that go collect junk, the more and "better quality" junk you will get for your cars. 

How to build a Derby car:
Never participated in Junkyard Derby before? Worried about the seemingly insurmountable task of using power tools for some hands-on engineering? TESC has got you covered.
Come to the TESC GBM on May 4th at 7:30 PM in EBU2-584 (room subject to change).

Hope to see you at the Junk Collection tomorrow!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

GreenDroid Research in MIT Technology Review

Research led by computer science professors Michael Taylor and Steven Swanson is covered in Technology Review today by Tom Simonite.

The first paragraph from the Technology Review GreenDroid project is below:

A processor etched with circuits tailored to the most widely used apps on Android phones could help extend the devices' battery life. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have created software that scans the operating system and a collection of the most popular apps and then generates a processor design tailored to their demands. The result can be 11 times more efficient than today's typical general-purpose smart-phone chip, says Michael Taylor, who leads the GreenDroid project with colleague Steven Swanson.
The Jacobs School covered this work back in August when the UC San Diego computer scientists presented at HotChips 2010.

The first two paragraphs of the Jacobs School of Engineering GreenDroid story are below:

A new smartphone chip prototype under development at the University of California, San Diego will improve smartphone efficiency by making use of “dark silicon” – the underused transistors in modern microprocessors. On August 23, UC San Diego computer scientists presented GreenDroid, the new smartphone chip prototype at the HotChips symposium in Palo Alto, CA.

Dark silicon refers to the huge swaths of silicon transistors on today’s chips that are underused because there is not enough power to utilize all the transistors at the same time. The new GreenDroid chip prototype from computer scientists at UC San Diego will deliver improved performance through specialized processors fashioned from dark silicon. These processors are designed to run heavily used chunks of code, called “hot code,” in Google’s Android smartphone platform.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Microrockets Take Off / NanoEngineering Research from UC San Diego

The paper on nanomotors that selectively pick up cancer cells is highlight this week in C&EN (Chemical & Engineering News).

Nanoengineers Joseph Wang and Liangfang Zhang of the University of California, San Diego, and coworkers show that tube-shaped microrockets functionalized with antibodies can cruise through human blood serum.

Video Caption (see below): In the first section of the video,  you can see the microrocket (black) selectively collect a pancreatic cancer cell. (The cell has a specific outside surface marker that the microrocket attaches to.) In the following three sections of the video, the microrocket is unable to collect the cancer cell, either because the rocket has not been modified, or because the cells do not express the right outside surface marker. 

Video Caption (see below): In this 8-second video, a microrocket transports a pancreatic cancer cell in buffer solution and in human serum.

Monday, April 25, 2011

ECE Day is Friday (where ECE = Electrical and Computer Engineering)

ECE Day is Friday April 29 and it is free.

What is ECE Day?

On Friday, Apr 29, 2011, Eta Kappa Nu (HKN), the ECE & CSE National Honor Society Chapter at UCSD, will be hosting an Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Day for the UCSD Jacobs School community this year.

The main goal of ECE Day is to educate students about ECE in industry and academia. Representatives from the industry are invited to present real world applications that motivate and empower students pursuing a degree in ECE, while encouraging non-majors to broaden their understanding of the field. Graduate students and professors will also be invited to share their research. Students will then have the opportunity to converse with both professional engineers and academic researchers to gain valuable insight into the field.

Prizes and swags will be raffled off throughout the day. Undergraduates will have a shot at competing for the grand prize at the Design Competition.

Big thanks to our corporate sponsors, graduate student volunteers, faculty, and our Jacobs School partners. We appreciate your help in making this inaugural event a success.

Bernhard Palsson Elected to American Academy of Microbiology

UC San Diego bioengineering professor Bernhard Palsson has been elected to fellowship in the American Academy of Microbiology. Palsson, along with 77 other new fellows, was elected in recognition of his scientific achievement and original contributions to the advancement of microbiology. (See the full list of Fellows here.)

Palsson’s current research at UC San Diego focuses on the reconstruction of genome-scale biochemical reaction networks; the development of mathematical analysis procedures for genome-scale models; and the experimental verification of genome-scale models with current emphasis on cellular metabolism and transcriptional regulation in E. coli and Yeast. You can read more about Palsson and his team on the Systems Biology Reseach Group site

Read a recent press release on research coming out of the Palsson lab: “Metabolism Models may Explain Why Alzheimer's Disease Kills Some Neuron Types First”.

There are more than 2,000 fellows representing all subspecialties of microbiology, including basic and applied research, teaching, public health, industry, and government service. For more information on the American Academy of Microbiology click here.  

Palsson was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2006.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Science360 Radio stream

NSF has launched the Science360 Radio stream, which you can access via, the Science360 News Service

Jacobs School of Rock / Call for Bands

Jacobs School of Rock is coming. The call for bands closes on April 30. Learn more on the Jacobs School of Rock Facebook page:

Check out the Jacobs School of Rock video from 2009.

Team Internship Program (TIP)

Learn more about the Team Internship Program (TIP) at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Yahoo! Hack Week at UC San Diego

Congratulations to the Hack Winners and Best of luck to our #1 team “What’s in My Fridge?” that will be headed to the ultimate Hack-A-Thon championships hosted by Yahoo! in New York next Fall.

Thanks to Cody Noghera, Deputy Dir/Corp Affiliates Program (CAP), for this write up on Yahoo! Hack Week at UC San Diego.

Congratulations to the Hack Winners and Best of luck to our #1 team “What’s in My Fridge?” that will be headed to the ultimate Hack-A-Thon championships hosted by Yahoo! in New York next Fall.

About the winning hack:
Have you ever been at the grocery store shopping for dinner and asked yourself, "What's in my fridge?" Do you constantly run out of sugar and nag your next door neighbors for the half cup you need to finish your cookie recipe? Or do you ever wonder which of your friends has the most suitable ingredients for a party? Our application, which can run on a web browser, or mobile smartphone, bridges the physical gap between the grocery store, your refrigerator, and your cooking location.

Winning team members: Leilani Gilpin, Andrew Huynh, David Vanoni, Lynn Nguyen

At Yahoo! Hack Week at UC San Diego, over 400 students from across a dozen majors participated in weeks worth of focused Web Technology talks on APIs, JavaScript, and open source software by Yahoo! guest speakers. The Yahoo Hack U competition came to an exciting end that showcased 30 teams of talented ‘hackers’ presenting in shotgun fashion after 24 hours of sleepless coding, caffeine, and snacks (all ingredients for the proverbial All-Star engineering student) at UC San Diego Jacobs School Engineering Friday, April 8th, 2011.

“The level of enthusiasm, creativity, and sophistication across each the hacks this year is what keeps us coming back to UC San Diego”
-Jamie Lockwood, Academic Relations Manager-Research and Engineering, Yahoo!

Second Place: Best Overall Category

BODY MOTIONAre you blind? Do you know how to dance? Then you'll love our product! Browse the internet only using your body language. No need to type a single word, and we can find restaurants, places to go, and YouTube videos you love to listen to.
·         Members: Tyler O’Neil, David Lluncor, Jennifer Chandler
·         Motion Sensors, Weather, Opener
·         Browsing the web with your body

Third Place: Best Overall Category
TAB HOME AUTOMATION - By turning your home's wiring system into a network of communication, we can manipulate appliances and other electrically-driven machines to help improve efficiency and save money (and even help the environment!). We give users the ability to control their house remotely through our website, and have a specialized section to cater towards those who want to water their indoor/outdoor garden and help dynamically drive the system with interaction with Yahoo's Weather API to determine how much water to use, and whether to water at all (in cases of rain or other circumstances).
·         Members:  Thomas Gray, Alvin Lee, Brandon Breitenstein
·         Remote House Control
·         Alert on house item
·         Lot of work, device control, X10-Protocol
·         Impressive; interesting

Best Mobile Category

MUM - Getting up in the morning -- or anytime, for that matter -- is never easy. We've witnessed countless classmates miss vital midterms and interviews, either because they forgot to set their alarms or because they snoozed through their alarms. Frustrated by the opportunities missed as a result of peoples' inability to wake up and tendency to accidentally fall asleep, our team decided to create a motherly alarm system.

Introducing MUM:
A geo-location movement based non-intrusive alarm. Based on your location, movements, and calendar, MUM determines whether or not you need to be woken up. If it finds you sleeping before an event, it will initiate a series of wake-up techniques, starting from beeping and flashing lights to, if set up, texting a friend to come wake you up. Using movement data, MUM determines whether you're lying in bed hitting the snooze button, or actually awake.

It knows when you've been sleeping, it knows when you're awake, it knows when you've been good or bad so be good for goodness sake.
·         Members: Dimitri Bouniol, Akshay Maheshwari, Igor Terzic
·         Geoaware and smart
·         Sensory and location aware alarm clock

Hack for Good Category
CREOLE - #!/bin/web - A command line to seamlessly interact with web services.
·         Members: Avinash, Daniel Park, Matt Kim, Andrew Chen
·         Merge 3 languages, command line
·         Potential
·         Surfing web, Facebook integration
·         YOL
·         Nicely presented, images

The week of events attracts staff, faculty, students, primarily from the Jacobs School of Engineering but not exclusively. 16 disciplines, 8 outside of the Jacobs School of Engineering made way to hear speakers and interact with visiting Yahoo!s. Jacobs School majors included Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Bioengineering, Aerospace Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Structural Engineering, Engineering Physics. Those majors outside Jacobs include Mathematics, Statistics, Cognitive-Sci, Management Science, Visual Arts, Psychology, Economics, and Business majors.

A HUGE ‘Thank You’ goes to Yahoo!: Johnathan LeBlanc, Subramanyan Murali, Jamie Lockwood; The UC San Diego Jacobs School Corporate Affiliates Program Team: Anne O’Donnell, Cody Noghera, Paula Kreger, Erica Kosa, Jaminna Arnau; The CSE Department: Rajesh Gupta, Jocelyn Bernardo, Samira Khazai, Viera Kair; Faculty Judges: Rick Ord, Gert Lanckriet; Student Organizations: TESC, CSES, and SAGE Tutors (special thanks to Sarah Esper)and to all that contributed to making the 2011 Yahoo! Hack U competitions a runaway success.

written by Cody Noghera, Deputy Director, Corporate Affiliates Program, UC San Diego – Jacobs School of Engineering

Monday, April 18, 2011

RF MEMS Switch Wins Research Expo 2011 / Watch Chirag Patel

University of California, San Diego electrical engineering Ph.D. student Chirag Patel won the top prize – the Rudee Outstanding Poster Award – at Research Expo 2011 for his work on RF MEMS metal-contact switches. The switches could make their way into MRIs and other medical equipment, satellites, and electronic instrumentation such as spectrum analyzers and signal sources. Search all Research Expo poster abstracts.

Read the full story on the Jacobs School news site.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Rudee Outstanding Poster / Grand Prize / Research Expo

ECE graduate student Chirag Dipak Patel winner of the Rudee Outstanding Poster at Research Expo 2011
Congratulations to ECE graduate student Chirag Dipak Patel, who won top prize at Research Expo 2011.

Poster title and abstract are below. Check back tomorrow for more info on his research.

Student(s): Chirag Dipak Patel
Professor(s): Gabriel Rebeiz

This poster presents a novel electrostatic RF MEMS metal contact switch based on a tethered cantilever topology. The use of tethers results in a design that has low sensitivity to stress gradients, biaxial stresses, and temperature. A switch with a footprint of 160x190 um^2 and based on a 8-u m thick gold cantilever with an Au/Ru contact is implemented on a high-resistivity silicon substrate and results in a total contact force of 0.8-1.2 mN at 80-90 V, a restoring force of 0.5 mN, a pull-in voltage of 61 V, an up-state capacitance of 24 fF, and an actuation time of 6.4 u s. The device achieves a switch resistance of 2.4 +/-1.4 to 1.8+/- 0.6 ohms at 90-100 V in open laboratory environments (unpackaged). This design has the potential serve as a low-cost and high-reliability replacement for conventional electromagnetic relays in application areas such as automated testing equipment, high performance switching networks, medical devices, satellite systems, and defense.

The top posters by department are here.

Research Expo 2011 Best Poster Winners (by Department)

Below are the winners of the top poster, by department at Research Expo 2011. Congrats! and stay tuned for the grand prize...the Rudee Outstanding Poster Award...

#3 A Custom Integrated High Input Impedance Biopotential Amplifier for Non-Contact and Mobile Health (ECG/EEG) Monitoring
Yu Mike Chi (Professor Gert Cauwenberghs)

Computer Science and Engineering
# 79 Kremlin: Like Gprof, but for Parallelization
Donghwan Jeon, Saturnino Garcia (Professor Michael Taylor)

Electrical and Computer Engineering
#130 High-Power, Large-Force, and Temperature-Stable Metal Contact Switches
Chirag Dipak Patel (Professor Gabriel Rebeiz)

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
# 157 Investigating the Use of Wing Sweep for Pitch Control of a Small Unmanned Air Vehicle
Kim Wright, Saam Ostovari, Anand Vaidya (Professor Thomas Bewley)

#223 Biological Applications of Catalytic Nanomotors
Daniel R Kagan (Professor Joseph Wang)

Structural Engineering
#242 Thermal Stress and Buckling Detection in Rail by Non-Destructive Ultrasonic Testing
Claudio Nucera (Professor Francesco Lanza de Scalea)

Treaded Robot at Research Expo

Nicholas Morozovsky and his robot at research expo.

YouTube Video

- Mobile Post

Prepping for mobile blogging today from Research Expo

...I'm going to be testing out mobile blogging today at Research Expo

- Mobile Post

Research Expo is Today

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"Micro-Rockets" Aim at Cancer Diagnostics / Video

In a new study in the journal Angewandte Chemie, NanoEngineers from the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering describe an immuno-micromachine-based approach for in vitro isolation of cancer cells that holds promise for direct circulating tumor cell (CTC) detection without sample preprocessing.

The work was led by two NanoEngineering professors: Joseph Wang and Liangfang Zhang.

Read the news story in Chemistry World by Kate McAlpine.

Related videos are here.

Professor Liangfang Zhang is one of the faculty speakers tomorrow at Research Expo here at the Jacobs School of Engineering.

Video Caption (see below): In the first section of the video,  you can see the microrocket (black) selectively collect a pancreatic cancer cell. (The cell has a specific outside surface marker that the microrocket attaches to.) In the following three sections of the video, the microrocket is unable to collect the cancer cell, either because the rocket has not been modified, or because the cells do not express the right outside surface marker. 

Video Caption (see below): In this 8-second video, a microrocket transports a pancreatic cancer cell in buffer solution and in human serum.

Update #1: New caption for the first video.
Update #2: Dan Kagan says this paper is going on the cover of an upcoming print issue.

Research Expo is Tomorrow / April 14

Research Expo is tomorrow, April 14. It's not too late to register, and get access to more than 250 graduate students and their research projects at the poster session. Below are snapshots of three of the projects that the graduate students will present tomorrow.

UC San Diego Engineers Test and Predict Impact Damage to Commercial Aircraft

 Future Computer Vision Tools to Aid Medical Research and Healthcare

 Improving Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment of Cancer Through Advanced Optical Imaging

Monday, April 11, 2011

The State of the Network

The Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA) is pleased to invite you to:

CRCA Exchange #7 : The State of the Network

Featuring CRCA/Calit2 researchers Hans-Werner Braun, Peter Otto and Michelle Daniels.

Thursday April 14, 5pm - 7pm
CRCA Performative Computing Lab
Room 1606
Atkinson Hall
UCSD Voigt Drive, La Jolla

Presentations are followed by refreshments and are open to the public.

High Performance Wireless Network - Hans-Werner BraunThe High Performance Wireless Research and Education Network (HPWREN) started in the year 2000 via a National Science Foundation network research grant, with additional NSF funding awards since, HPWREN functions as a collaborative cyberinfrastructure on research, education, and first responder activities. The project supports a high-performance wireless network in San Diego, Riverside, and Imperial counties. Th e network includes backbone nodes, typically on mountain tops, to connect often hard-to-reach areas in remote environments. HPWREN interconnects with the rest of the Internet at the San Diego Supercomputer Center here at UCSD. More information on HPWREN can be found at

Sonic Arts Research - Peter Otto and Michelle Daniels
Peter Otto (Director Sonic Arts Research Calit2) and Michelle Daniels (Graduate Student Music) present current projects underway in the the field of networked audio. The Sonic Arts Research Group partners in the film industry to find solutions for remote recording, mixing, editing, and composing projects.

CRCA Exchange is a series of free lecture and discussion events open to the general public. The organizers would appreciate it if you could share this announcement with any relevant distribution lists to which you have access.

The CRCA Exchange series is supported by The Center for Resea rch in Computing and the Arts, in conjunction with Calit2 and the UCSD 50th Anniversary.

For more information, please visit this link:

Green Open House on campus is this Saturday / April 16

The UC San Diego Green Open House is this Saturday.

There are a couple of related events on campus, that require registration (one is free the other is not) that look interesting.
Food Justice Forum
The forum will focus on “Cultivating University-Community Partnerships for a Healthier Society.” The event is FREE but separate registration is required at
Green Business Summit
Hosted by UC San Diego Extension, the event features networking opportunities and inspirational speakers on how social and environmental strategies are creating profitable business models. Separate registration and fee required. Learn more at

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Jan Talbot / 2010 Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award

NanoEngineering, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Professor Jan Talbot earned a 2010 Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award. Congrats!

This award recognizes a career of excellence in teaching both undergraduates and graduate students, mentoring graduate students, and contributing the development of educational curricula in her field.

According to Prof Talbot's Web page, her research interests include:

  • Electrodeposition
  • Electrophoretic deposition
  • Information display screening technology
  • Chemical mechanical polishing
  • Solid state lighting materials
  • Electrochemical transport phenomena
  • Corrosion
  • Materials science

The Zetabytes are Back!

Just when you think you're processing way more than your share of the bits in the digital deluge, UC San Diego's Roger Bohn and co come out with another study about zetabytes.

Today's zetabyte story, excerpted from the UC San Diego press release:

The world’s roughly 27 million computer servers processed 9.57 zettabytes of information in 2008, according to a paper to be presented April 7 at Storage Networking World’s (SNW’s) annual meeting in Santa Clara, Calif. The first-of-its kind rigorous estimate was generated with server-processing performance standards, server-industry reports, interviews with information technology experts, sales figures from server manufacturers and other sources. (One zettabyte is 10 to the 21st power, or a million million gigabytes.)
How much info is this? According to the press release, it's "the digital equivalent of a 5.6-billion-mile-high stack of books from Earth to Neptune and back to Earth, repeated about 20 times a year."

I wonder what kind of books...maybe the hard-copy encyclopedias that we don't look at any more.

Check out Gary Robbins' story on the topic in the San Diego Union Tribune:  "Business data could fill books reaching to Neptune and back."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Genomatica: Taking the Petrol out of Petrochemicals

NBC San Diego recently ran a TV story on Genomatica, a company that emerged from the Bioengineering Department here at UC San Diego. Check out the long list of press reports about Genomatica, including Xconomy, the Los Angeles Times, Forbes and the San Diego Union Tribune.

The NBC San Diego TV piece is neat because there is video footage from the labs, including bubbling brews derived from waste methane. In the piece, Christophe Schilling, Genomatica CEO and UCSD Bioengineering alumnus says that Genomatica is taking the petrol out of petrochemicals.

Monday, April 4, 2011

PNAS Paper / Gene Correcting does not Substantially Increase Stem Cell Mutations

The new paper published in PNAS includes four authors from the UC San Diego Department of Bioengineering: Athurva Gore, Zhe Li, Ho-Lim Fung and bioengineering professor Kun Zhang, who leads the Laboratory of Integrative Genomics at the Jacobs School of Engineering.

The press release from the University of Wisconsin-Madison: Study shows patient's own cells may hold therapeutic promise after reprogramming, gene correction

In the study, the researchers used a technique called episomal reprogramming to generate the induced pluripotent stem cells. In contrast to techniques that use retroviruses, episomal reprogramming doesn't involve inserting DNA into the genome. This technique allowed them to produce cells that were free of potentially harmful transgene sequences.

The scientists then corrected the actual retinal disease-causing gene defect using a technique called homologous recombination. The stem cells were extensively "characterized" or studied before and after the process to assess whether they developed significant additional mutations or variations. The results showed that the culture conditions required to correct a genetic defect did not substantially increase the number of mutations.

Brad Fikes from the North County Times covered the story:  Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Pass Gene Therapy Test

Friday, April 1, 2011

Coffee Grounds to BioDiesel

Jacobs School undergrads involved in the student group Engineers for a Sustainable World showed off their experimental coffee-grounds-to-biodiesel system on NBC San Diego (TV) this week.

Watch the two minute video on the NBC San Diego site.

Below is info about Engineers for a Sustainable World from their first ESW newsletter (PDF).

Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW) is a student organization at UC San Diego devoted to promoting sustainability both at on campus and around the world through projects and community education. We are always looking for new and exciting ways to promote sustainability on the UC San Diego campus as well as in the broader community. Members of ESW are currently working on a number of projects promoting sustainability at UCSD and various locations around the globe.

As a student run organization, we appreciate investments that will help facilitate the development of future sustainable technologies. Engineers for a Sustainable World at UC San Diego welcomes new opportunities to work with professional companies to further our education and innovation. Any further questions or inquiries of investment can be sent to the ESW UC San Diego e-mail at, or go to our website at