News Releases from 2013


2013: The Year in Review

From the largest alumni gift in the campus’ history, which went to the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, to the arrival of Dean Al Pisano, it’s been a busy year here at the Jacobs School of Engineering. The school produced many research milestones, from a Google map of the human metabolism to the world’s first zoomable contact lens. Students got into the action too and UC San Diego became the first university to design, build and test a 3D-printed rocket engine. Here are some of the most memorable stories of the year—but not all: the list would be too long.  Full Story


Understanding Information: How We Get It, How We Use It, How to Benefit from It

For most computer users, information is only valuable when it serves a context-specific purpose, such as providing the GPS coordinates for a new restaurant or a list of search results for a query on airline flights to Fiji. But for University of California, San Diego electrical and computer engineering professor Tara Javidi, understanding how people acquire and use information in various engineering applications is just as valuable. Her most recent grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) — a $1 million collaborative research award to Javidi, Andrea Goldsmith of Stanford University and Bruno Sinopoli at Carnegie Mellon University — will fund the development of a new theoretical framework for understanding how to best control information flow in large cyber-physical systems such as datacenters or smart energy grids. Full Story


Are Racks-on-Chip the Future of Data Centers?

Increasing the scale and decreasing the cost and power of data centers requires greatly boosting the density of computing, storage and networking within those centers. That is the hard truth spelled out in the journal Science by faculty from the Jacobs School of Engineering at the University of California, San Diego. Writing in the Oct. 11 edition of Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Chair Shaya Fainman and Center for Networked Systems (CNS) Research Scientist George Porter – who is also a member of the Computer Science and Engineering systems and networking group – argue that one promising avenue to deliver increased density involves “racks on a chip.” These devices would contain many individual computer processing cores integrated with sufficient network capability to fully utilize those cores by supporting massive amounts of data transfer into and out of them. Full Story


NSF Awards $1.2 Million to UCSD/UCLA to Pinpoint Unused Space in Wireless Spectrum

A research collaboration between the University of California campuses in San Diego and Los Angeles has been awarded $1.2 million from the National Science Foundation to enable smartphones, sensors and other software-defined radio devices to rapidly and precisely pinpoint bands of unused radio spectrum and eliminate any existing signal interference. The team’s hardware-based approach will “open up the radio spectrum and make high-speed communication more accessible to more people in our society,” explained Prof. James Buckwalter of the UC San Diego Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department. Full Story


Improving Lithium-Ion Batteries with Nanoscale Research Between UC San Diego and The National Labs

New research led by an electrical engineer at the University of California, San Diego is aimed at improving lithium (Li) ion batteries through possible new electrode architectures with precise nano-scale designs. Full Story


New miniaturized wide-angle lens one-tenth
of the size of a regular lens, captures pictures in high-resolution

A new type of miniature camera system developed by engineers at the University of California, San Diego, promises to give users a big picture view without sacrificing high-resolution. The new imager achieves the optical performance of a full-size wide-angle lens in a device less than one-10th of the volume of a regular lens.  Full Story


After Touch Screens, Researchers Demonstrate Electronic Recording and Replay of Human Touch

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego report a breakthrough in technology that could pave the way for digital systems to record, store, edit and replay information in a dimension that goes beyond what we can see or hear: touch. “Touch was largely bypassed by the digital revolution, except for touch-screen displays, because it seemed too difficult to replicate what analog haptic devices – or human touch – can produce,” said Deli Wang, a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) in UC San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering. “But think about it: being able to reproduce the sense of touch in connection with audio and visual information could create a new communications revolution.” Full Story


Albert P. Pisano Awarded Top UC Berkeley Honor

Albert P. Pisano, dean of the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, was awarded the Berkeley Citation on August 29, 2013. This prestigious honor is given to individuals and organizations “whose attainments significantly exceed the standards of excellence in their fields and whose contributions to UC Berkeley are manifestly above and beyond the call of duty.” Full Story


Three UC San Diego Professors Win $21M from DOD to Lead Innovative Collaborations

Shaya Fainman, professor and chair, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and two other University of California, San Diego faculty have garnered three of 15 Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative awards granted by the Department of Defense this year. The MURI program supports research by teams of investigators that encompass several traditional science and engineering disciplines to accelerate research progress. Full Story


New electron beam writer enables next-gen biomedical and information technologies

The new electron beam writer housed in the Nano3 cleanroom facility at the Qualcomm Institute is important for electrical engineering professor Shadi Dayeh’s two major areas of research. He is developing next-generation, nanoscale transistors for integrated electronics; and he is developing neural probes that have the capacity to extract electrical signals from individual brain cells and transmit the information to a prosthetic device or computer. Achieving this level of signal extraction or manipulation requires tiny sensors spaced very closely together for the highest resolution and signal acquisition. Enter the new electron beam writer. Full Story


Crowdsourcing the World

Every day, satellites take high-resolution pictures of the Earth. But it is almost impossible for humans to review these billions of pixels of information.  Enter Tomnod, a start-up co-founded by four alumni of the Jacobs School of Engineering who have harnessed crowdsourcing to sort through all these pixels. Their company was recently acquired by Colorado-based Digital Globe, a leading supplier of commercial satellite imagery.   Full Story


Network Calculus Pioneer, UC San Diego Professor Rene Cruz, Dies at 54

Rene Leonardo Cruz, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of California, San Diego, and a distinguished scholar in the field of communication networks, died at his home from complications of pancreatic cancer on Saturday, June 29. He was 54. Full Story


Telescopic Contact Lens Could Improve Eyesight for the Visually Impaired

A team of engineers has designed a telescopic contact lens that can switch between normal and magnified vision by using slightly modified off-the-shelf 3D television glasses. The researchers, led by Joseph Ford, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of California, San Diego, built a prototype of the lens and tested it on a mechanical eye. Researchers report their findings in the June 27 online issue of Optics Express, an open-access journal of the Optical Society. Full Story


Faculty Invited to Exclusive Symposium for 'Creative Young Engineers'

Jacobs School of Engineering professors Karen Christman and Gert Lanckriet are among 81 of the nation’s most “creative young engineers” selected to attend this year’s U.S. Frontiers of Engineering Symposium by the National Academy of Engineering. Participation in the event is by invitation-only to engineers between the ages of 30-45 who have “demonstrated accomplishment in engineering research and technical work with recognizable contributions to advancing the frontiers of engineering,” according to an NAE announcement. Full Story


Technology-Enhanced Learning: From Campus to the World

The academic landscape is changing rapidly, due in no small part to recent advances in technologies to enable, enhance and deliver teaching and learning to a worldwide audience. At the University of California, San Diego, administrators and faculty are particularly focused on using technology to transform the undergraduate learning experience (saving money in the process). They’re doing this in the context of the UC San Diego Education Initiative, as well as the Technology-Enhanced Learning (TEL) Initiative jump-started by Calit2’s Qualcomm Institute. Both programs are helping to formulate a way forward for the campus, with the Education Initiative focused on policy, and the TEL Initiative experimenting with various models of online learning. Full Story


Jacobs School Associate Dean Charles Tu Awarded Honorary Doctorate

Electrical Engineering Professor Charles W. Tu has been awarded an honorary doctorate of engineering at Linköping University. At the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, Tu serves as Associate Dean and as a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Full Story


Alexander Vardy Named First Jack Keil Wolf Chair in Electrical Engineering

Electrical engineering Professor Alexander Vardy, a renowned researcher in information and coding theory, has been appointed as the first Jack Keil Wolf Endowed Chair in Electrical Engineering at the University of California, San Diego. The endowed chair was established in memory of Jack Keil Wolf, a longtime professor at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering and a pioneer in information theory and its applications. Full Story


UC San Diego Computer Engineering Students
Take Lead in Circuit Design Contest

A team composed of students from the University of California, San Diego and the University of Michigan won more prize money than any other entry in the 2013 Discrete Gate Sizing Contest at the ACM International Symposium on Physical Design (ISPD). The gate-sizing contest judged the teams in two categories. The “primary” category looked at circuit-power quality only; the “secondary” category looked at how well each entry did with the tradeoff between circuit-power quality and runtime optimization. (Runtime is the wall clock time from the beginning to the end of the execution of the submitted binary code program.) Full Story


Sujit Dey Named Faculty Director of the von Liebig Entrepreneurism Center

Sujit Dey has been named faculty director of the von Liebig Center for Entrepreneurism and Technology Advancement at the University of California, San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, which offers pre-seed funding and business advisory services to researchers and students developing innovative technology at universities throughout Southern California. Full Story


Alumnus Mike Chi is Developing Better EEG Recording Equipment at Cognionics

When Mike Chi finished his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at UC San Diego in 2011, he co-founded Cognionics. One of his big goals is to put better sensor technologies into the labs of researchers and physicians who study the electrical signals produced by the brain (EEG) and heart (ECG) for a variety of basic research and medical applications such as diagnosing cardiac disorders or conducting high-resolution brain imaging on freely moving subjects. Full Story


UC San Diego's Massimo Franceschetti
Wins Antonio Ruberti Young Researcher Prize

Massimo Franceschetti, an associate professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of California, San Diego, has been awarded the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Antonio Ruberti Young Researcher Prize. The IEEE Control Systems Society awards the prize annually to recognize a young researcher's cutting-edge, multidisciplinary contributions in both the theory and real-world applications of systems and control. Full Story


Future of New Memory Technologies Explored
at UC San Diego Workshop

Scientists and engineers from around the world will gather to discuss innovations in non-volatile computer memories that help power today’s electronic mobile devices during a three-day workshop held March 3 to 5 at the University of California, San Diego. The Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego is hosting the fourth Annual Non-Volatile Memories Workshop, which will examine how the technology will be used in tomorrow’s mobile electronic devices and how it’s shaping the future of high-performance and cloud computing. Full Story


Alumnus' Passion for Design Leads to
Award at International Consumer Electronics Show

Last month, one of the products developed by Jacobs School alum Andre Berracasa for MaxLinear was recognized at the 2013 International CES show with a Design and Engineering Award in the embedded technologies category. He attributes his success to his education at UC San Diego.   Full Story