Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Taking flight

More than 100 students in Mark Anderson's MAE 2 class, most of them freshmen, were out on Warren Field Monday December 8 to take part in a airplane launch competition. The students got together in teams of three and armed with glue guns and some ingenuity, built small motorized model airplanes out of balsa wood and foam board. The plane that would fly the longest would win. The catch was that the planes' motor only worked for 20 seconds.
"They learn about the dominant forces," Anderson said.
"Many said they realized how important weight is," he added.
After the winner was announced, all students got to launch their crafts at the same time, in a flurry of wings--and a few crashes.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Awesome pictures taken from more than 80,000 feet above the earth

We are in awe of these beautiful pictures taken by the Triton Rocket Club's space balloon at more than 80,000 feet above the earth.
The balloon is the club's testing platform for the electronics they plan to mount on a rocket hey will be launching in spring 2015. Their goal? To make UC San Diego the first university to launch a rocket in space.
In case you're wondering, you can see the Salton Sea in some of the pictures, as well as the Pacific Ocean.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

J.S. Chen elected as the President of Engineering Mechanics Institute (EMI) of ASCE

J. S. Chen, William Prager Professor of Structural Engineering Department and Director of Center for Extreme Events Research at the UC San Diego Jacob School of Engineering, has been elected as the President of Engineering Mechanics Institute (EMI) of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) effective October 1, 2015. 

The missions of EMI are to serve the engineering community through the development and application of engineering mechanics by anticipating and adapting to new challenges that will face tomorrow's engineers; to create an environment that facilitates professional growth to ensure that these future challenges will be met; to establish a presence at the forefront of new thrusts of mechanics by promoting the most innovative developments in the field, regardless of the discipline of the ultimate user; to provide a home not only for those involved in the traditional disciplines, but also for those involved with emerging areas of mechanics; and to promote the interdependence of engineering mechanics and other disciplines by providing an interdisciplinary forum for researchers, practicing engineers, industry representatives, citizen groups, public officials and others. Click here for more information about EMI.

JS Chen Research Interests

JS Chen's research interests are in computational solid mechanics and multiscale materials modeling. More specifically, he investigates
  • Finite Element and Meshfree Methods for nonlinear mechanics
  • Stabilized Galerkin and collocation meshfree methods
  • Multiscale modeling of materials defect
  • Computational methods development for simulation of fragment-impact processes and shock dynamics in homeland security applications
  • Simulation-based disaster prediction and mitigation
  • Computational geomechanics and earth moving simulation
  • Multiscale and reduced order modeling of molecular systems with applications to DNA modeling
  • Image based multiscale computational mechanics for skeletal muscles
  • Accelerated Reproducing Kernel Particle Method for continuum, plates, shells, composites, large deformation, and contact problems
  • Mathematical analysis of Galerkin and collocation meshfree methods
  • Computational methods development for modeling of material manufacturing processes such as metal forming, stamping, and extrusion
  • Wavelet Galerkin method in multiscale homogenization of heterogeneous materials
  • Mesoscopic modeling of grain growth and grain boundary migration
  • Adaptive multiscale meshfree method for solving Schrödinger equation in quantum mechanics
  • Modeling of microstructural evolution and local instability (such as wrinkling formation) in polycrystalline materials
  • Computational damage mechanics and strain localization
  • Computational methods for rubber-like incompressible materials
  • Arbitrary Lagrangian Eulerian method for large deformation and contact problems
  • Mixed finite element method based on multiple-field variational principle
  • Probabilistic finite element method for acoustic-structure interaction

 Center for Extreme Events Research

The Center for Extreme Events Research at UC San Diego has been established to offer solutions to a wide range of challenges associated with extreme events based on the most advanced computational and experimental technologies. Challenges we address are:


Our advanced research programs support predictive as well as retrofit strategies to make critical infrastructures blast resistant and capable of withstanding man-made and natural disasters. Expertise includes simulation-based assessment of residual strength and structural failure estimation after disastrous events.


We provide rapid assessment of damage after disastrous events using simplified and reduced-order computational and experimental techniques with the aid of available sensor data and visualization information. We also provide solutions for mitigation and retrofitting damaged infrastructure.


We work to prevent or mitigate brain and body injury due to bomb blasts, car crashes and collisions on the football field. This is of great importance to the military as well as civilian sectors. The state of the art computational capabilities at the Center for Extreme Events Research allow a thorough understanding of the mechanisms behind injury and provide guidance for design optimization for injury prevention.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Ghenkis Khan's tomb in Mongolia,bats in Guatemala: Professor, alum discuss engineering in exploration

Ryan Kastner, a professor of computer science here at the Jacobs School, and Albert Lin, a Jacobs School alum and Qualcomm Institute research scientist, have some interesting items on their resumes, including exploring Mayan ruins in Guatemala while dodging bats, and horseback riding in the Mongolian plains to find the tomb of Ghenkis Khan. The two engineers were there to bring the latest technologies to archeological exploration sites.
In this episode of Computing Primetime, they recall some of their adventures, and the technologies behind them.
"We're at the beginning of an era of data driven exploration," Lin says.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

News coverage of the UC San Diego shake table

Project: Seismically isolated unibody residential buildings:

NBC Southern California: Quake shake test handles portion of demo of red-tagged El Centro building  Stanford Engineers Build, Test Earthquake-Resistant House

Laboratory Equipment:  Engineers Successfully Build Earthquake-resistant House

 2013: Best of What's New award to the shake table from Popular Science: "The 2013 Best of What's New"


Project: Team Investigates Earthquake Retrofits for 'Soft' First-floor Buildings on Jacobs School Shake Table

PBS: "NOVA Making Stuff Safer"

UT San Diego: "Video: Quake engineers topple building"

10 News:  "Engineers test building retrofits, work to improve how structures survive shaking"

CBS 8:  "Shake table experiment brings down the house"

Gizmodo: Monster Machines: Giant shake table helps design quake-proof homes

Project: First of a Kind Tests to Assess How Elevators, Fire Systems Perform in Earthquakes

BBC News: "Engineers Launch Artificial Quakes at 'Hospital' BBC News"

NBC News: "Preparing for the big one"

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
CBS News:  "With Man-made Quakes, Engineers Test Lifesaving Technologies"

The New York Times:  "In California Quake Researchers, Boring is the Hoped-for Result"

Huffington Post: "California Earthquake Test Looks for Ways to Shore Up Hospitals"

USA Today: "Quake tests looks for ways to shore up hospitalsCalif. engineers to rock 5-story building in huge quake test"

Popular Mechanics: Shake Table Simulates 8.8 Quake

KPBS: UCSD Shake Table Tests 5-Story Building


Popular Mechanics: What happens when a mega-earthquake strikes the U.S.?

Project: Engineers Try to Bring Down the House During Simulated Earthquake Tests

LA Times: "Scientists shake out clues to earthquake damage"

Project: Three-Story Structure Slammed in Magnitude 8 Earthquake on Shake Table

Science Daily:  "Rigorous Earthquake Simulations Aim To Make Buildings Safer"

 LA Times: "UCSD quake simulation tests strength of precast concrete"

Project: Seven-Story Building at UCSD Rattled on Largest Earthquake Shake Table in U.S.

Discovery News: Earthquake Shake Table Rocks Buildlings

ABC 10 News: "UCSD Enginners Put Seven-Story Building To Test"

Symmetry Magazine: "Sciences on the Grid"

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:
“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)