Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Wood high-rise tops off at UC San Diego shake table — tests planned for early next year


The tallest building ever to be tested on an earthquake simulator topped off at 10 stories high at UC San Diego's shake table when construction crews and a giant crane flew the last wood panel to the top of the structure on Dec. 6, 2022.

The building is made from cross-laminated timber, or CLT, a material that allows for faster construction and is also sustainable. The goal of the Tallwood project, funded by the National Science Foundation, is to determine how well CLT mid- to high-rise buildings would fare during an earthquake. It is led by the Colorado School of Mines with a team of researchers from universities around the world. You can learn more about the project at the Tallwood website, in this story by the San Diego Union-Tribune and in this podcast episode. 

The building is set to be tested some time early next year, and will undergo several simulated earthquakes, including the equivalent of the 6.7 Northridge earthquake that shook Southern California in 1994.

The Tallwood project is the first large-scale building to be tested on UC San Diego's shake table, one of the two largest in the world, since the table underwent a major $16.9 million upgrade funded by the NSF.  It went from being able to move in one direction – east-west – to three directions – east-west, north-south, up and down, as well as roll, pitch and yaw, three motions in the x, y and z axes performed by airplanes in flight and commonly seen in earthquake motions. The upgrade to one vertical and two horizontal motions and three rotations–known technically as six degrees of freedom–will allow the facility to test structures with an unprecedented degree of accuracy when compared to real earthquake ground motions.

The shake table, opened in 2004, has tested more than 30 structures in that time, and has already made a significant impact. Tests here have resulted in changes to building codes for everything from hospitals, to tall buildings, to roads and bridges.

Find out more about the shake table's impact in this KPBSstory.



Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Jacobs School faculty, alumni featured in Forbes 30 Under 30

Five UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering affiliates were recognized in the 2023 Forbes 30 Under 30 list for their contributions to the fields of science, energy and healthcare. The faculty and alumni were recognized as up-and-coming stars in their respective fields for their efforts to develop more sustainable iron and steel manufacturing, study the origins of COVID-19, use wearable ultrasound tech to monitor changes in our bodies, and harness data from the microbiome to detect cancer. 


Niema Moshiri, an assistant teaching professor of computer science and engineering, was selected in the Healthcare category for a set of bioinformatics tools he helped develop to allow researchers to process SARS-CoV-2 sequencing data in rapid time. These tools enabled scientists to study the origins and spread of COVID-19.



Andy Zhao and Olivia Dippo, recent materials science and engineering PhD alumni, were recognized in the Energy category for their company Limelight Steel, which uses a laser furnace technology they developed to rapidly heat iron ore using zero-emissions energy sources, enabling more sustainable iron and steel manufacturing.


Gregory Sephic-Poore, a recent bioengineering PhD alumnus, was selected for the Healthcare category as a cofounder of Micronoma. The company developed Oncobiota, a patent pending microbiome-based test that detects cancer early. Contrary to prevailing theories at the time, Sepich-Poore's research found that no type of human cancer is sterile and their microbes can reveal the type and presence of cancer, making it easily detectable in early stages.

And Chonghe Wang, who earned a master’s degree in nanoengineering at UC San Diego, was recognized in the Science category for his work to develop a wearable ultrasound technology that could monitor deep tissue vital signs in the human body. The wearable ultrasound device provides 48 hours of continuous imaging to enable diagnostic and monitoring tools for various diseases.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

UC San Diego students lead autonomous race car team to 2nd place at IAC

Team AI Racing Tech posing with their autonomous
car and second place winnings at Texas Motor Speedway.

Little more than a year after the inaugural Indy Autonomous Challenge full-scale autonomous car race, Team AI Racing Tech, which includes engineering, computer science and data science students from UC San Diego, took second place at a follow-on race held at the Texas Motor Speedway.

Of the nine teams from around the world competing in the challenge, only six qualified for the head-to-head race in Texas on Nov. 11. AI Racing Tech clenched second place on race day. The team is comprised of students from the University of Hawaii, UC San Diego, UC Berkeley, and Carnegie Mellon. The two student technical leads this season were Haoru Xue, a recent UC San Diego electrical and computer engineering graduate, and Siddharth Saha, a computer science and engineering master’s student at UC San Diego who earned his bachelor’s degree here in data science. Computer engineering student Jose Jimenez-Olivas and recent electrical engineering undergraduate alumnus Frank Garcia were also part of the team this season. UC San Diego Contextual Robotics Institute lecturer Jack Silberman is one of the team's advisors. 

UC San Diego team members Siddharth Saha,
Frank Garcia, Haoru Xue and Jose Jimenez-Olivas. 

UC San Diego, through its Contextual Robotics Institute, is an associate institution partner with the University of Hawaii’s AI Racing Tech Team. Each of the nine IAC teams has transformed a Dallara AV-21 race car into an autonomous vehicle, developing perception, navigation, and control systems with support from IAC sponsor companies, in order for the car to function completely autonomously.

In addition to the inaugural race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and this race at Texas Motor Speedway, the students also participated in a race during the famed Consumer Electronics Showcase (CES) at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and are now gearing up for their second CES race in Las Vegas in January 2023.

The Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC) is a collaborative effort that brings together public, private and academic institutions to challenge university students around the world to imagine, invent and prove a new generation of automated vehicle software and inspire the next generation of STEM talent.

Learn more about the Indy Autonomous Challenge: https://www.indyautonomouschallenge.com/


Wednesday, August 24, 2022

MathWorks supports expanded use of computer modeling tools with MicroGrant Program

The Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego is home to nearly 10,000 students, making it the largest engineering school in California. Every single one of these students has access to computer modeling software including MATLAB and Simulink, produced by MathWorks. 

MathWorks has donated $60,000 for small grants up to $15,000 to be awarded to student and faculty projects for use in curriculum and research development that involve MathWorks tools in some way. This could be student organizations using MATLAB to design a new race car, faculty research projects incorporating Simulink in their multidisciplinary simulation models or graduate student research projects that make use of MathWorks tools. The grant can also be used to support the development of curriculum materials for undergraduate teaching and labs, assessment tools, interactive tool development, research education and training tools. 


Along with funding, each selected project will be co-advised by a MathWorks engineer, who can provide technical support and guidance. 


In addition to establishing the MicroGrant Program, MathWorks has joined the Corporate Affiliates Program of the Jacobs School of Engineering, as well as the Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Corporate Alliance and the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute’s Industry Partner Alliance Program. 


Students and faculty of the Jacobs School of Engineering, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute had a chance to apply for the first round of grants with submissions due August 1. Awards will be announced by September 2. More information on the program, and following application rounds, is available here


Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Alex Mosser: from chemical engineering student to Naval Reactors Engineer

Meet Alex Mosser, a chemical engineering alumnus who graduated from the Jacobs School of Engineering in 2022, and is now commissioning into the Navy as an officer. Mosser plans to serve as a Naval Reactors Engineer, where he'll be involved in research, design, maintenance, operations and regulation of Navy nuclear reactors and power plants. Learn more about his time on campus, career trajectory, and role in the Navy, in this Q&A:

1) What did you study at UC San Diego, and why?

Originally, I wanted to study nuclear engineering in college. I've always considered it an underrated and highly misrepresented energy source, and want to do the most I can to change that. That being said, nuclear engineering isn't offered at many undergraduate colleges, while chemical engineering covers a lot of the same fundamental concepts while offering a much broader curriculum and application. So, I chose to major in chemical engineering.

2) Were you involved in any groups on campus that were meaningful during your time here?

I joined a number of groups at UC San Diego, but the one that had the greatest impact on my future and career was AIChE, or the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. In AIChE, I was able to participate in a team which worked on cryodesalination, or the freezing (and thereby separation) of fresh water out of a salty brine. Though a large part of our time in this group was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, we were still able to research new ideas for the automation of our (successful) prototype, which involved learning new programming languages and reading many research papers. Overall, this opportunity gave me a lot of real-world research and design experience, and helped me learn to effectively communicate ideas through presentations and papers.

3) Why did you decide to join the Navy, and do you know what your particular role will be yet?

I chose to join the Navy because it was the best job opportunity available to me. My particular role will be as a Naval Reactors Engineer. The benefit of this, aside from being a stable job, is that pay begins while still in college, allowing me to pursue my studies without needing part-time work. Moreover, there is access to military benefits and (for my position) no stress of deployment. Overall, these benefits outweighed those offered by other nuclear or chemical engineering jobs.

4) Has your engineering degree helped you at all in your role as an officer yet? Or might it in the future?

My role as an officer has not yet begun. At the time of writing, I am still enjoying my final summer break. That being said, my engineering degree will absolutely come in handy in future assignments and responsibilities. Aside from it being necessary to even apply for the job, the Navy will also send me through a post-graduate education equivalent to a master's degree in nuclear engineering. As a chemical engineering major from UC San Diego, where I was able to take classes on nuclear energy for credit, I am uniquely equipped to excel in this post-grad education where other majors from other schools may have a more steep learning curve.

5) Any advice for students looking to follow a similar career trajectory, or considering it as an option?

For any students looking to get into nuclear engineering, the Navy is an excellent option. They offer a diverse array of opportunities, each with drastically different requirements and responsibilities. For those who want to travel around the world, you can become a nuclear engineer on an aircraft carrier or nuclear submarine. For those who want to be educators, the Navy also offers positions as an instructor in nuclear power school or at a hands-on prototype school. The Navy has many opportunities that the private sector doesn't, but the opposite is also true, and the private sector tends to have less physically strenuous training requirements. Overall, for those looking into a similar trajectory, my strongest advice would be to stay well-informed.

Friday, August 12, 2022

Jacobs School staff receive Exemplary Employee awards

Several Jacobs School of Engineering staff members were recognized for their outstanding performance and dedication with Exemplary Staff Employee of the Year awards. Carol Kling, program administration support in the Department of Bioengineering, and Andrea Willis, student services advisor in the Computer Science and Engineering Department, were honored with the award. Willis shares more about her role, and what she enjoys about working at UC San Diego, below. 

Andrea Willis, student services advisor
Q: What does your job entail?

A: Academic Advisors work directly with students to connect them with the information they need to succeed.  This includes: course and graduation requirements, experiential learning opportunities (like internships, research, study abroad, etc.), support resources that are available to them on campus, connecting with student organizations, and so much more!

Q: How does your role support the overall mission of the university?

A: UC San Diego has committed to being a student-centered organization, and I use this as a guidepost in my day-to-day work. I always aim to advocate for our students, making sure that the CSE department places our students, and their experience, at the center of any policy or curriculum changes that we make.  

Q: What is the best part of the job?

A: I love working one-on-one with the students in our department, helping them to take full advantage of all that UC San Diego has to offer during the time that they're here. I feel lucky to be a part of their growth, from their first day of orientation, to graduation!

Q: Any other ways you've been involved on campus?

A: I've been involved with a number of different Student Affairs staff groups at UC San Diego, which has been a great way to connect and collaborate with colleagues who share the same goals.


All members of the UC San Diego community are invited to help us celebrate these outstanding staff members at the virtual Exemplary Staff of the Year award program on Thursday, August 25, 2022, at 3 p.m. Registration is not required. Use this link to join the event https://ucsd.zoom.us/j/92205469196


Monday, August 1, 2022

Senior Assistant Dean honored by YWCA

Tana Troke Campana, Senior Assistant Dean and Chief of Staff at the Jacobs School of Engineering, has been honored by YWCA San Diego County with the Tribute to Women & Industry (TWIN) Award. This award recognizes the extraordinary achievements of women in managerial, executive or leadership roles. 

In her current role, Troke Campana works directly with Dean Albert P. Pisano and academic and administrative senior leaders on strategic planning, implementation of the dean's vision, and oversight of the school’s finances and administrative operations. In 2015, she developed and implemented a schoolwide Lean Six Sigma-based administrative best practices initiative, which has been expanded across the campus with 19 new tools to date.

Troke Campana is a UC San Diego LEAD Fellow, STRIVE mentor, Academic Affairs Best Practices Co-Chair, and member of many campus-wide committees. Her prior roles at UC San Diego include Administrative Vice Chair for the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health and Assistant Dean for Medical Education. She held multiple management roles at UC Irvine and UC San Francisco and served as the chief administrative officer and IT director at a K-12 public school in New York. She is also a founding Board member of the Drums Along the Waterfront organization. Troke Campana earned her MBA and BS in Information Systems from the University of Redlands.

Troke Campana and other women colleagues throughout the San Diego area were honored at a citywide ceremony in June. Please join us in applauding her dedication, service and leadership.