Wednesday, June 28, 2017

UC Health Hack Expands Opportunities for Students, Builds Partnerships for the Future

By Jacquelyn Lim  

A few months after UC Health Hack 2017, organizers are still buzzing from the success of the hackaton's first partnerships with Southern California health institutions- UC San Diego Health, UC Irvine Heath and Rady's Children's Hospital- prompting event coordinators to start planning early for the annual event next year.

Health Hack was hosted in 2015 and 2016 solely by Engineering World Health (EWH)- the UCSD chapter of a nationally-backed organization dedicated to improving medical health and living standards in underdeveloped communities around the world.

This year was the biggest yet.

New partnerships with the three health systems doubled the amount of participants of what the event had previously.  It provided the opportunity for engineering and medical students to collaborate for the first time, to address the mission of EWH and current problems within partnered institutions.

The results were creative and innovative solutions to this year's most pressing topics: refugee healthcare, healthy aging, home care, and patient experience.

"We already had participation from UC Berkeley and are looking to partner with UCSF, UCLA and all of the other UCs next year," said Tracy Magee, Integrative Health Coordinator and Systems Information Project Manager.

Student prototypes thrilled event organizers, health experts and industry professionals.

"It's been a week and we are surprised, so impressed, we are deciding on where to go from here," Magee said.

Participants were divided into two tracks over two days to keep teams organized.  

One was the Integrative Health Systems Track, where teams developed solutions for domestic problems in clinical settings. The other was the Global Health Track, where teams developed solutions for international public health issues.

First, second and third place prizes were awarded to teams in both tracks after a panel of judges- experts in health and industry leaders- decided which prototypes stood out. Team members are awarded mentorship from the Von Liebig Entrepreneurism Center and are given lab space from the Pepper House, two incubators involved in the event.

Winning teams from the Integrative Health Systems Track will be able to apply their prototypes to in UC San Diego’s and UC Irvine’s health systems immediately, which is the next step in enhancing their projects.

“They will be able to incorporate items that are built into the UCSD and UCI health systems and will try real-world solutions to these problems already, that we see in our institutions; in Thornton and Jacobs Medical Centers,” said Magee.

Off the Wall, the team placing first in the Integrative Health Systems Track, created a project called "Incentivizing Patient Mobility Through Augmented Reality Art Therapy," which helps reduce delayed discharge and lack of mobility of inpatients using mobile technology to connect them to art. The pilot study was done at Jacobs Medical Center.

Global Health Track winning teams will also have the opportunity to further work on their prototypes.

“ Our goal is to ensure that the projects that are developed during UC Health Hack are pursued beyond the weekend,” said Niranjanaa Jeeva, EWH Health Hack Co-Director.

Awesome, the team placing first in the Global Health Track created a project called "Blueprints for Life: Design Solutions for Refugee Health," where international refugee communities lacking basic needs are connected to engineers through a website, to create blueprints for local infrastructure.  

In addition to having more participants, the hackathon drew larger sponsorships from leading companies.

“Amazon Web Service and Epic, were two proprietary software companies that got involved this year and we are wanting to expand the numbers of companies and incubators that get involved [next year],” said Magee.

EWH coordinators are identifying  goals they want to reach next year and plans have already taken shape. Jeeva says the event gained significant exposure this year and organizers are working on leveraging what was gained into the coming year.

" We want participants from all over California to come and attend. We will be aiming for over 500 participants!"

UC San Diego’s Virtual Reality Club Sees Success in 2016-2017

The Virtual Reality (VR) Club at UC San Diego is a student organization that connects students with the VR industry through networking, workshops, and projects. Their mission is to foster a multi-disciplinary community dedicated to exploring and creating VR experiences. Two years since it’s founding, the club and it’s members are making themselves known around UC San Diego and the region.

Check out some of the highlights from 2016-2017 below:

  • Early Fall quarter, the VR Club started the year by hosting one of the biggest VR spaces ever to exist at a hackathon at SD Hacks. Complete with 10 HTC Vives, 12 VR-ready computers, two Oculus Rifts, and many more Google Cardboards, the VR Club achieved the most HTC Vive projects ever submitted to a hackathon, the most-attended workshop at SD Hacks, and tied for the highest rated workshop at the event. Read about the hackathon here.

  • On April 5th, the VR Club offered students the chance to try out new augmented reality innovations in partnership with Red Bull. Check out the video here.

  • April 7th-9th, UC San Diego engineering and archaeology students that teamed up for the world’s first cyber-archaeology hackathon. The hackathon was hosted by the VR Club in partnership with the Center for Cyber-Archaeology and Sustainability, which is housed in UC San Diego’s Qualcomm Institute. The marriage of archaeology, computer science, engineering, and the natural sciences, cyber-archaeology enlists the help of technology to safeguard the past for future generations. During the event, undergraduate students were given access to “virtual remains” from at-risk archaeological sites excavated by UC San Diego archaeology teams. The students faced the challenge of weaving this digital data, over the course of a weekend, into an engaging virtual reality experience that would help draw more people to the stories and lessons that history has to tell. Read more here.

  • VR Club President Connor Smith spoke at the Link2 event on May 22nd a showcase started by the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation to inspire local young people to innovate and pursue careers in technology.

  • On May 25th, the VR Club won the Outstanding Student Organization of the Year, which displays outstanding effort in many areas. Organizations that win this award make contributions to both the University and the local community, have great leadership, support member development, and show commitment to diversity.

  • Smith was interviewed by ABC San Diego also on May 25th. He showed reporter Jessica Chen his “Sensory” project, that the VR Club created in TreeHacks, a 36-hour Hackathon at Stanford. The technology helps people understand disorders, cultivating empathy. Sensory won two awards at TreeHacks, for “Most Creative,” and “Best Education.”

  • HackXX, UC San Diego’s all-female hackathon, took place for 24 straight hours from June 3rd-4th in the Qualcomm Room at the Jacobs Engineering School. This event empowers female women in tech to make their technological goals come to life. The VR Club was there as a sponsor, providing 24-hour mentorship. Three of the teams competing were also affiliated with the club. Their “Escape from Wonderland” team won first place for their 3D video game in the style of Alice in Wonderland. Another team, “Zenga,” won the Northrop Grumman’s Excellent UX Design Challenge.

  • To cap off the 2016-2017 school year, the club held their Spring Project Showcase on June 9th. 10 teams demonstrated projects, including six HTC Vive demos, two Google Cardboard demos, and one Google Daydream demo.

In addition to these highlights, the club also offered workshops in partnership with companies like Microsoft, and sponsored events like Sun God and the Triton 5K, and participated in outreach to local junior high and high schools. Interested in joining? Check them out on Facebook!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering is meeting employer needs in STEM

At the U.S. News STEM Solutions 2017 conference, UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering Dean Albert P. Pisano participated in the closing keynote session. Pisano shared the stage with Rep. Scott Peters; Debra Reed, Chairman, President and CEO of Sempra Energy; Francis deSouza, President and CEO of Illumina; and Mark Dankberg, Chairman of the Board and CEO of ViaSat.

The high-powered group discussed the importance of meeting the STEM challenges in San Diego and beyond, as well as the key roles that community colleges play in filling the STEM pipeline.

“I spend a lot of time listening to corporate executives to learn from them exactly what their workforce needs are, so that we at the Jacobs School can be preparing students to the best of our ability,” said Pisano.

Increasing and supporting STEM-related degree programs at institutions of higher education is crucial, but it’s the not whole picture, Pisano noted. If students don't know what types of STEM jobs are available to them, how will they know to choose a STEM field of study?

Pisano highlighted the need to introduce to students at a young age the various types of STEM careers that are available to them.

The Jacobs School of Engineering helps in this important task through a variety of outreach programs, some of which are run by the Jacobs School’s IDEA Engineering Student Center. In addition, the Jacobs School administers UC San Diego’s instantiation of the California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science, or COSMOS.

COSMOS is a four-week residential program for high school students with demonstrated achievements in math and science that gives this kind of introduction to a career in engineering. COSMOS is offered at four University of California campuses and aims to encourage high school students interested in science, technology, engineering and math to continue pursuing these fields in college.

At UC San Diego, COSMOS has been in place for 12 years. Students who are admitted to the program select from nine clusters depending on their interests, which range from computers in everyday life and the amazing red blood cell, to tissue engineering and robot inventors.

Learn how to apply to COSMOS here.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Faculty and students from the Center for Visual Computing will present 17 papers at CVPR 2017

Faculty and students from the Center for Visual Computing will present 12 papers at CVPR 2017, the premier international forum for computer vision research this year, held in Honolulu, Hawaii.

1. Robust Energy Minimization for BRDF-Invariant Shape From Light Fields
Zhengqin Li, Zexiang Xu, Ravi Ramamoorthi, Manmohan Chandraker

2. Light Field Blind Motion Deblurring
Pratul P. Srinivasan, Ren Ng, Ravi Ramamoorthi

3. Deeply Supervised Salient Object Detection With Short Connections
Qibin Hou, Ming-Ming Cheng, Xiaowei Hu, Ali Borji, Zhuowen Tu, Philip H. S. Torr

4. Aggregated Residual Transformations for Deep Neural Networks
Saining Xie, Ross Girshick, Piotr Dollár, Zhuowen Tu, Kaiming He

5. Semantically Consistent Regularization for Zero-Shot Recognition
Pedro Morgado, Nuno Vasconcelos

6. AGA: Attribute-Guided Augmentation
Mandar Dixit, Roland Kwitt, Marc Niethammer, Nuno Vasconcelos

7. Deep Learning With Low Precision by Half-Wave Gaussian Quantization
Zhaowei Cai, Xiaodong He, Jian Sun, Nuno Vasconcelos

8. Deep Supervision With Shape Concepts for Occlusion-Aware 3D Object Parsing
Chi Li, M. Zeeshan Zia, Quoc-Huy Tran, Xiang Yu, Gregory D. Hager, Manmohan Chandraker

9. DESIRE: Distant Future Prediction in Dynamic Scenes With Interacting Agents
Namhoon Lee, Wongun Choi, Paul Vernaza, Christopher B. Choy, Philip H. S. Torr, Manmohan Chandraker

10. Deep Network Flow for Multi-Object Tracking
Samuel Schulter, Paul Vernaza, Wongun Choi, Manmohan Chandraker

11. Learning Random-Walk Label Propagation for Weakly-Supervised Semantic Segmentation
Paul Vernaza, Manmohan Chandraker

12. Person Re-Identification in the Wild
Liang Zheng, Hengheng Zhang, Shaoyan Sun, Manmohan Chandraker, Yi Yang, Qi Tian

13. A Point Set Generation Network for 3D Object Reconstruction from a Single Image
Hao Su, Haoqiang Fan and Leonidas Guibas.

14. PointNet: Deep Learning on Point Sets for 3D Classification and Segmentation

Hao Su, Charles Qi, Kaichun Mo and Leonidas Guibas.

15. SyncSpecCNN: Synchronized Spectral CNN for 3D Shape Segmentation 

Li Yi, Hao Su, Xingwen Guo and Leonidas Guibas.

16. Learning Shape Abstractions by Assembling Volumetric Primitives

Shubham Tulsiani, Hao Su, Leonidas Guibas, Alexei A. Efros and
Jitendra Malik.

17. Learning Non-Lambertian Object Intrinsics across ShapeNet Categories

Jian Shi, Yue Dong, Hao Su and Stella X. Yu.

Monday, June 5, 2017

South 8 Technologies wins Clean Tech prize at UC San Diego Entrepreneur Challenge

A new battery technology that will allow electric vehicles to travel farther on a single charge — with significant improvement in safety and cold weather performance — received the Clean Tech top prize of $60,000 in the 10th annual UC San Diego Entrepreneur Challenge pitch competition on May 30, 2017.

The winning technology was developed by a team of engineers and business students at UC San Diego who have founded a new company, called South 8 Technologies, in order to push this technology to market. "We're very grateful for this award and visibility. It's a confidence booster to know that we're developing the right tech at the right time," said UC San Diego materials science and engineering Ph.D. alumnus and South 8 Technologies founder Cyrus Rustomji.

South 8 Technologies was one of six finalist teams that competed in this year's Entrepreneur Challenge. The competition consisted of three tracks: High Tech, Life Tech and Clean Tech. Teams from each track pitched their business plans to local entrepreneurs and professionals with the aim of getting funds to help turn their startups into successful businesses.

The South 8 team developed a technology that enables lithium batteries to run at record low temperatures, down to -60 degrees Celsius (-76 degrees Fahrenheit). In comparison, today's lithium batteries have a low temperature limit of -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit). "One of the big issues with electric vehicles is proper thermal management of the battery pack in cold winter months because batteries do not perform well at low temperature, which can decrease mileage. Our batteries can circumvent this issue," said Jungwoo Lee, a nanoengineering Ph.D. student at UC San Diego and member of South 8 Technologies.

The ability to operate at low temperature is also useful for extreme environment applications such as heavy-duty automotive engine cold-start, high atmosphere WiFi drones or weather balloons, satellites and aerospace applications. The technology can even be extended to ultra-low temperature applications, such as batteries to power spacecraft for interplanetary exploration.

Researchers achieved this exceptional low temperature performance by replacing the conventional liquid electrolyte in lithium batteries with what's called a liquefied gas electrolyte — gas that's stored under mild pressures in the liquid state. "Our liquefied gas electrolytes are conceptually similar to a propane tank for your barbecue grill. Propane is a gas at room temperature and pressure but may be liquefied when stored in a tank under its own vapor pressure," Rustomji said.

"Most work is currently being done in exploring liquid electrolytes and many battery researchers are exploring solid state electrolytes as another alternative. But we're going in the completely opposite direction by exploring gas-based electrolytes."

The technology offers other advantages as well. Liquefied gas electrolytes can potentially increase the energy density of lithium batteries by 50 to 100 percent, meaning that electric vehicles travel much farther on a single charge. These electrolytes also alleviate a problem called thermal runaway, which is when a battery's internal temperature gets hot enough to set off a dangerous chain of chemical reactions that in turn heat up the battery even more. "Our liquefied gas electrolyte offers a unique method of mitigating this thermal runaway which makes the battery safer," Rustomji said.

Rustomji came up with the idea to use liquefied gas electrolytes as a graduate student in the Sustainable Power and Energy Center (SPEC) at UC San Diego under professor Shirley Meng. After graduating with his Ph.D. in 2015, Rustomji continued on as a postdoc to further improve the novel battery chemistry and later joined with Lee and two other engineers in Meng’s lab who soon after became part of the core South 8 Technologies team.

"I couldn't be more grateful for this team," Rustomji said. "They often credit me with inventing this technology, but it's always been a team effort from the start. I owe the early success of South 8 Technologies to our talented engineers and advisor Professor Meng, who have been incredibly supportive, and to the MBA students and business advisor on our team who have been helpful in shaping our business focus."

Lee also noted that part of the team's success stems from a pilot program launched by the UC San Diego Institute for the Global Entrepreneur. Lee and several other members of South 8 Technologies are part of the first class of this pilot program, which teams Jacobs School of Engineering graduate students with MBA students in the Rady School of Management and teaches these students how to develop a business plan. 

"The classes taught us how to better pitch our tech to business people," Lee said. "As engineers, we often describe a technological advance as something that's X percentage better than Y. But to succeed in the business world, we need to describe our tech as something that results in greater value to the customer — something that is worth replacing the existing product."

One of the big selling points made by the South 8 team is that their new electrolyte can be seamlessly integrated into existing battery manufacturing processes. "I think what caught the judges' attention at the Entrepreneur Challenge is that we've developed an inexpensive, drop-in replacement electrolyte which is compatible with conventional batteries being made today. There's no need to redesign an entire manufacturing supply line. I think this is where so many other battery startups have failed," Rustomji said.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Center for Visual Computing papers at SIGGRAPH 2017

Faculty and students from the Center for Visual Computing will present five papers at SIGGRAPH 2017, the premier international forum for computer graphics research this year, held in Los Angeles.

Center for Visual Computing papers at SIGGRAPH 2017:

1. "Antialiasing Complex Global Illumination Effects in Path-space” by Laurent Belcour, Lingqi Yan, Ravi Ramamoorthi and Derek Nowrouzezahrai

2. “An Efficient and Practical Near and Far Field Fur Reflectance Model” by Lingqi Yan, Henrik Wann Jensen and Ravi Ramamoorthi

3. "Light Field Video Capture Using a Learning-Based Hybrid Imaging System” by Ting-Chun Wang, Junyan Zhu, Nima Khademi Kalantari, Alexei A. Efros and Ravi Ramamoorthi

4. “Deep High Dynamic Range Imaging of Dynamic Scenes” by Nima Khademi Kalantari and Ravi Ramamoorthi

5. "Patch-Based Optimization for Image-Based Texture Mapping” by Sai Bi, Nima Khademi Kalantari and Ravi Ramamoorthi

6. "Learning Hierarchical Shape Segmentation and Labeling from Online Repositories" by Li Yi, Leonidas J. Guibas, Aaron Hertzmann, Vladimir G. Kim, Hao Su, Ersin Yumer

For more about the Center for Visual Computing visit