Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Pokebots Go!

It's no surprise that the theme of this quarter's Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering 3 (MAE3) robot competition was Pokemon Go - students were charged with building robots that could loft balls into a laser-cut Pokestop for points. Team W.H.O. beat out more than 40 other teams to get to the semi-finals with their unique design.

The team, consisting of second year physics major John-Paul Pascual, second year political science major Alex Velazquez, second year aerospace major Goutham Marimuthu and third year mechanical engineering major Kevin Tsao, used sheet metal to create a wall that traveled along a rail and prevented the other team's robot from accessing the balls.

When one team went around the wall, team W.H.O. simply moved their robot forward and dropped the sheet metal which opened like a pair of wings to prevent the other team's robot from depositing the balls at the Pokestop. Check out their website for more on the design!

Team W.H.O. lost in the semifinals to another team with that used a blocking mechanism - one that prevented their own from working.

"We had a lot of diversity in the robots this year," said MAE3 instructor Nate Delson. "I'm proud of all of our students and mentors."

Mentors and winning teams were provided with custom, 3D-printed trophies.

Also unique to the competition this year were the controllers, designed and fabricated by summer interns in the EnVision Arts and Engineering Maker Studio, with the help of the MAE Department.

Engineering World Health Hosts Gingerbread House Building Competition

Engineering World Health hosted its second annual Gingerbread House Building Competition on Sun. Dec. 4. Three teams were challenged to create the best house in under 25 minutes given the following point categories: Tallest Gingerbread House; Holidays Feels; Overall Aesthetic and Creativity; and Santa Sleigh Ride Test, a shake table test.

This team had the tallest gingerbread house, though it fell apart during the Santa Sleigh Ride Test. From left to right, the group included junior Christopher Yin, senior Pranav Singh, junior Alan Loi and sophomore Harleen Singh. 

This team tied for first place, scoring best in overall aesthetic and creativity. From left to right, the team included freshman Hannah Peterson, junior YiDing Fang, freshman Justin Burger, junior Bryce Killingsworth, freshman Sheela Thoreson and sophomore Ella Stimson. 

This team tied for first place and had the highest score for Holiday Feels with their evergreen tree, fit with presents and broken candy canes around the perimeter. From left to right, the group consisted of sophomore Elijah Garcia, sophomore Sienna Schmolesky, senior Yajur Maker and second-year transfer Geovanni Alarcon. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Alumni faculty profile: Olivia Graeve

It’s no secret that UC San Diego’s reputation as a top-ranked university is a major draw for prospective students—but it’s also pulling many graduates back to campus to serve as members of the faculty. In classrooms and labs across the university, our alumni are leading new directions in research and helping to train the next generation of innovators.
“We’re proud to have so many talented graduates who return to campus as faculty members, bringing with them fresh thinking that enriches our academic community,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “UC San Diego is ranked the 15th best university in the world, a testament to our faculty and students.”
 Olivia Graeve is a professor of mechanical engineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering and a proud native of the San Diego-Tijuana region. She grew up in Tijuana and attended Southwestern Community College before transferring to UC San Diego to study structural engineering. As an undergraduate, she worked in the lab of Professor Joanna McKittrick and saw first-hand what it takes to run a research laboratory.
“The experience put me on an excellent path toward the professoriate,” she said.
Graeve is working on developing materials that can withstand extreme impacts and are faster and more cost-effective to manufacture. Earlier this year, her lab developed a record-breaking steel alloy—a material that could be used for everything from drill bits, to body armor for soldiers, to meteor-resistant casing for satellites.
Graeve held faculty positions at the University of Nevada, Reno and Alfred University in New York before joining the UC San Diego faculty. Reflecting on how the campus has changed since she was a student, Graeve says that UC San Diego is bigger and better, with more opportunities for students, staff and faculty.
Today, she’s doing her part to ensure the university continues on its upward trajectory. Graeve leads a number of outreach programs for underrepresented students on both sides of the border. She also serves as director of the CaliBaja Center for Resilient Materials and Systems, which brings together researchers across the San Diego-Tijuana region.
“The opportunity to serve my alma mater and the region in which I grew up is something that is very important to me,” said Graeve. “Coming back to UC San Diego was coming home. Who would not want to be home?”

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

UC San Diego Student Motorizes Bike

Do you ever find yourself hitting the snooze button over and over, and then wishing you could fly or had roller skates for feet so you could make it to class on time? James Yao, a first year Visual Arts major, solved this problem by building an electric bike.

Yao came to UC San Diego to build his bike.

“I’ve been wanting to do this for awhile, ever since I first saw electric bikes in my junior year of high school,” said Yao. “I designed the bike over the summer but I didn’t have the time or money to hire someone to machine the parts. My top two choices for schools were the University of Washington or UC San Diego, but my design wasn’t good for the rainy weather.”

When Yao arrived at UC San Diego, he asked his orientation leader about resources for makers on campus and heard about EnVision. When he saw the photos of the space on the website, he knew he could finish the project.

Yao used the 3D printers to prototype brackets for mounting his electric motor and the soldering stations to build the electronics.

According to Yao, the 3D printers provided the biggest benefit. “At first, my design didn’t work – the bracket wasn’t strong enough,” said Yao. “I was able to iterate on the design by printing versions.”

Yao’s bike goes up to 25 mph, which helps him get from Warren to his 8:00 a.m. class on the other side of Peterson Hill! Jealous? Who knows, maybe he’ll help you build one!

Monday, November 7, 2016

CNS Grant Recipient Returns from Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing

UC San Diego master's student Mansi Malik received a grant from the Center for Networked Systems to attend the premier conference for women in computing.
Thanks to the Center for Networked Systems (CNS) at the University of California San Diego, Mansi Malik was able to attend what has become the premier conference for women in computer science (and for many men too). The second-year graduate student in Computer Science at UC San Diego was among the 35 UC San Diego students (including nine grad students) and 15,000 people overall attending the 2016 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing October 19-21 in Houston, TX.

It was really cool and exciting to see and meet so many women in computer science from all over,” says Malik, who expects to complete her M.S. degree in 2017. “A lot of great energy and excitement was going around, and there were inspiring talks by awesome speakers.” Malik says she was particularly inspired by the keynote speakers, including Latanya Sweeney, founder of Harvard’s Data Privacy Lab, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, and Megan Smith, who was appointed Chief Technology Officer of the United States in 2014 by President Obama, from her previous position as a vice president of Google[x], Google’s advanced products unit. Malik was also impressed with the keynote by Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.

Since 2011, CNS has sent one, two or three graduate students each year to the conference in the form of travel grants. “CNS took care of everything from travel to meals, ensuring that I had a smooth trip,” observes Malik. “It was an honor to represent both CNS and Graduate Women in Computing [GradWIC], and I hope to continue the relationship between GradWIC and CNS going forward.”

Members and officers of Graduate Women in Computing (GradWIC) chapter at UC San Diego were among 15,000 people attending the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing 2016.
Overall, she says, the conference was a valuable experience. “There were great networking opportunities through the career fair and company-sponsored events and lunches,” explains Malik, who is the Undergrad WIC Coordinator and publicity manager for GradWIC this year. “I also talked to a lot of recruiters and engineers from tech companies about GradWIC and built some industry connections for us so that we can host more events.” She also appreciated a session on negotiating salaries, in which she learned that for every four men who dare to negotiate for a better starting salary, only one woman will attempt to negotiate – and the problem spills over into other areas because many women are unaware that they can negotiate for more than just salary.

“My specialization is in Computer Systems, and I got a chance to meet a lot of systems pioneers through the conference, including inspiring leaders from Qualcomm, Microsoft, Google, and other companies,” notes Malik, who was inspired to pursue computer systems after taking courses by professors Alex Snoeren, Sorin Lerner and George Polyzos. “Talks on networking and the Internet of Things were particularly interesting from a CNS perspective.”

In an after-conference report to CNS, Malik also noted that because of its rapid growth, “a lot of the interesting-sounding sessions were in small rooms and filled up well before they started, leaving hundreds of people looking for somewhere else to go.”

The sessions were also heavily focused on industry. “Most talks were presented by industry leaders, and even the talks about academia or research were geared toward faculty,” says Malik. “There could have been more research-related sessions oriented toward graduate students.”

“Thanks to everyone at CNS,” says Malik, “for giving me the opportunity to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration this year.”

Many of the previous recipients of CNS travel grants to Grace Hopper Celebrations, like Mansi, were also officers in GradWIC, including former VP Neha Chachra (who attended the event in 2011), Publicity Manager Karyn Benson (2013), and GradWIC Secretary Malveeka Tewari (2014). Mansi recently attended her first GradWIC general business meeting as an officer on Oct. 25, and says the group will host a faculty lunch event the week of Nov. 14 (see Facebook page for details).

The previous winner, Vicky Papavasileiou, in 2015 was the first ECE graduate student to win the CNS award, and she was only the second M.S. student to receive the travel grant (the first was Shikha Jain in 2012). For a full list of past recipients, visit the travel grant page on the CNS website.

Malik enrolled in CSE’s M.S. program in 2015 and also became a teaching assistant. This past summer, she did a software development internship at Mitchell International in San Diego, where she worked on a system for commenting into Visual Studio (eliminating the need to switch between Visual Studio and Microsoft Outlook during daily code reviews). Prior to arriving in San Diego, Malik completed her undergraduate degree in computer science with honors at Kurukshetra University in the North Indian state of Haryana.

The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is presented by the Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

Related Links

Grace Hopper Celebration 2016