Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Jacobs School alum wins San Diego startup competition with smart alarm clock prototype

A team led by Jacobs School alum Nick Morozovsky won the MEGA Startup Weekend event this past weekend at the downtown San Diego Library with Daybreaker, a smart alarm clock that connects to your smartphone and the lamp on your nightstand.
Morozovsky recently earned a Ph.D. from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. He is the creator of SkySweeper and worked on MiP, the first self-balancing consumer robot. Both won a Best of What's New Award from Popular Science in 2014 and 2013. He also worked on Switchblade, a search and rescue robot capable of climbing stairs.
During the MEGA Startup Weekend, inventors had to pitch and idea, form a team and build a prototype, all in three days. 
Morozovsky pitched the idea of Daybreaker. The device has several features:
It wakes you with sound and light at the right time to let you get the most sleep without missing what's important to you. Connect it to your calendar to make sure you never sleep through an important meeting. Connect it to your favorite surf break and it will wake you on the weekend only when the surf is up. Daybreaker monitors traffic and will wake you if you need extra time to get to work. Customize the rules for you to maximize your sleep while never missing a thing. More info at: http://www.getdaybreaker.co
“Startup Weekend was a great (and intense!) event where I was able to get the full experience of launching a startup in only 54 hours," Morozovsky said. "Working with my team and networking with other entrepreneurs was empowering, winning first place was icing on the cake."
The Daybreaker team is now entering the Global Startup Battle and further investigating commercialization options.

Monday, November 17, 2014

New DARPA Grant for fabricating metal and semiconductor nanoparticles with the ability to focus light into a nanoscale volume within or at a cell

NanoEngineering professor Andrea Tao
Andrea Tao, assistant professor of NanoEngineering at UC San Diego, was recently awarded a 2014 Young Faculty Award  (YFA) from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for her research project, "Plasmonic Nanoprobes for Neuronal Monitoring." 

Dr. Tao’s work proposes to advance bioimaging techniques by fabricating metal and semiconductor 
nanoparticles that have the ability to focus light into a nanoscale volume within or at a cell. These 
nanoparticles have the potential to overcome imaging limitations of standard fluorescent molecules and  dyes that used to label cells.

According to DARPA, “The objective of the DARPA Young Faculty Award (YFA) program is to identify and engage rising research stars in junior faculty  positions at U.S. academic institutions.”

Prof. Tao was presented with the award at the DARPA Young Faculty Award kickoff meeting, October 3, 2014, at DARPA headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. The long-term goal of the YFA program is to develop the next generation of academic scientists, engineers and mathematicians in key disciplines who will focus a significant portion of their career on DoD and national security issues.

Related: check out this Q&A with Andrea Tau in the Jacobs School of Engineering alumni magazine, Pulse, from summer 2013. (PDF is here. See pg. 11)

Wearable Sensors Center poster session at Trillion Sensors Summit

UC San Diego graduate students working in faculty labs that belong to the Center for Wearable Sensors presented posters last Thursday and Friday at the Trillion Sensors Summit in San Diego

Below are a few photos. More photos are on the Jacobs School of Engineering Flickr photo feed.

Read a Q&A about the Trillion Sensors Summit with Albert P. Pisano, Dean of the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering: Using Sweat to Monitor your Health

Dean Pisano's thoughts on the future manufacturing base for a trillion-sensors world.

More press coverage:

Tiny Tattoos Sense Health (EE Times story covering the summit)

Trillion-Sensor Vision, Results Shared (EE Times story covering the summit)

Also, Electrozyme...a startup from Joseph Wang's lab was recently profiled in Wired
(And Electrozyme co-founder Joshua Windmiller attended the TSensors summit.) 

Jacobs School engineers helping to find downed WWII aircraft in the Pacific

Aerospace engineering professor Mark Anderson and his students are working hand in hand with oceanographer Eric Terrill at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography to find a missing B-24 in the Pacific. The project is part of a partnership with the Office of Naval Research to find downed WWII aircraft and the remains of troops listed as missing in action for nearly 70 years.

According to a Scripps press release:

Other UC San Diego researchers joined the search in different ways. Terrill collaborates with Mark Anderson of UC San Diego’s Department of Aeronautical Engineering. Anderson has a background in aeronautics, flight trajectories, and statistics and was asked by Terrill to help with developing a predictive model for a missing B-24 that remains to be found. A group of engineering students was enlisted to run what are known as Bayesian models, using the best-known historic information collected by BentProp over the last decade.  During the most recent expedition, the probability maps for areas where the plane might be located were routinely updated by the students (during their Spring break) based upon data collected by Terrill’s group that was relayed to them in San Diego.  The plane remains missing, and teams remain focused on planning for a 2015 mission to complete their search. 
Terrill's efforts were featured recently on CBS news magazine "60 Minutes" and in a documentary by camera manufacturer GoPro.

This earthquake-resistant house was tested on the Jacobs School shake table

Stanford researchers tested an earthquake-resistant house on the shake table at the Englekirk Structural Engineering Center here at the Jacobs School this fall. The house was equipped with extra-strength walls and sliding isolators that allowed it to skate along the shaking ground instead of collapsing. The modifications are fairly inexpensive, researchers said.

"We want a house that is damage free after the big earthquake," said Eduardo Miranda, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering. He co-led the project with Deierlein and Benjamin Fell, an associate professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at California State University, Sacramento.
The researchers put the house through motions from the Loma Prieta earthquake, which had measured at a 6.9 magnitude on the Richter scale. More about the tests in this story from Stanford University News.

Friday, November 14, 2014

This robot won a Popular Science Best of What's New Award

 Congratulations to MiP--a partnership between researchers in the UCSD Coordinated Robotics Lab at the Jacobs School and toymaker WowWee--which won a Best of What's New award in the Entertainment category from Popular Science magazine. In this TV segment on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," the robot gives host Joe Scarborough a run for his money.
The magazine hails MiP as the first self-balancing consumer robot. It goes on to say:

The device uses a set of multi­axis gyroscopes and accelerometers to remain upright. It can respond to gesture commands, zip around corners, and carry small items such as a soda can, all while remaining vertical. The best part? Users can network up to eight MiPs together for synchronized movement. Robot dance party!
Much of the technology behind MiP's ability to balance on two wheels was developed here at the Jacobs School, lead by mechanical engineering professor Thomas Bewley.

More about MiP here and here.

As a side note, this is the second year that Nick Morozovsky, a Ph.D. student who just graduated from Bewley's lab, has a robot he worked on featured in Popular Science's Best of What's New. Last year, his robot SkySweeper won an award. "Being recognized two years in a row for the high-tech, but low-cost robots that we’ve been developing in the Coordinated Robotics Lab is awesome validation," Morozovsky said. "We have more robots in the pipeline that have the potential for an even bigger impact." Recruiters: heads-up: he is currently looking for a job!

 UPDATE: MiP  has been nominated for a People's Play Award. You can vote here!

Sand castles, surfing and computation: what drives these two Jacobs School researchers

Our colleagues at This Week @ UC San Diego asked Geno Pawlak, a professor of mechanical engineering, and Bill Griswold, a professor of computer science, about curiosity, passion and transformation related to their field of research. The answers featured surfing, sand castles and achieving humanity's full potential. The two researchers were speaking at the Founders Symposium Nov. 13 here on campus. Read their answers below.

Eugene Pawlak, Ph.D., ’97, Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Turbulence: Chicken Soup for the Coral-Reef Soul
What initially sparked your curiosity about this area of study?
I grew up along the coast in Panama and have lived near the ocean and have surfed most of my life - so I’ve experienced first-hand the dramatic changes in the ocean that can occur due to storms, swell, pollution, etc. The Pacific coast of Panama sees tidal changes of 20 feet so you can see remarkable changes over six hours. I was also a sand-castle builder as a kid (and still am!) and so I was fascinated by the changes that came about due to waves and tides at an early age.
Day-to-day, what fuels your passion for you research?
On a very basic level, I think I’m passionate about understanding how things work. At a broader level, I’ve become more interested in applying this understanding to environmental problems, for example, making use of our knowledge of physical systems in understanding responses of biological and chemical systems in reef environments.
What potential impact—or transformation—do you see coming from this research?
My research is fundamentally about understanding physical dynamics of environmental systems, focused on connections between the coast and the open ocean. From an engineering perspective, this research has implications for predicting storm surge, tsunami inundation, water quality and coastal erosion. I believe the potential for transformative impacts arises from working across disciplines.

William Griswold, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering

Pervasive Air Quality Monitoring via the Crowd
What initially sparked your curiosity about this area of study?
I learned that there were just a handful of air quality monitoring stations in San Diego, and that we really knew so little about how air quality in the region was affecting the average person. I realized that recent developments in mobile computing technology and sensing devices would enable much more accurate and detailed sensing.
Day-to-day, what fuels your passion for your research?
Three things:
  1. I believe that with each advance in computing, we get a little closer to achieving our full potential. Computing technology holds the promise to enhance our humanity and our potential as human beings: our creativity, our intelligence, our reach and how we relate to each other.
  2. Students and their hunger for learning. I want to make their dreams come true.
  3. The opportunity to make this a better world for everyone.
What potential impact—or transformation—do you see coming from this research?
CitiSense (which leverages smartphones and the advent of cheap, compact sensors to enable real-time monitoring of air quality) is one example of how pervasive data collection and analysis can reveal the state of our world and how it affects our well-being on a daily basis. It's hard to perceive while we're in the middle of it, but a revolution is afoot.