Jul 16, 2014
Squid Skin Protein Could Improve Biomedical Technologies, UCI Study Shows
Conductivity could charge up futuristic disease treatments
The common pencil squid (Loliginidae) may hold the key to a new generation of medical technologies that could communicate more directly with the human body. UC Irvine materials science researchers have discovered that reflectin, a protein in the tentacled creature’s skin, can conduct positive electrical charges, or protons, making it a promising material for building biologically inspired devices.
Currently, products such as retinal implants, nerve stimulators and pacemakers rely on electrons – particles with negative charges – to transmit diagnosis data or to treat medical conditions. Living organisms use protons, with positive charges, or ions, which are atoms that contain both electrons and protons, to send such signals. The UCI discovery could lead to better ion- or proton-conducting materials: for instance, next-generation implants that could relay electrical messages to the nervous system to monitor or interfere with the progression of disease.
Jul 15, 2014
Mentorship Program Makes a Strong Impression in its First Year
At a spirited June event in the Student Center’s Pacific Ballroom, a group of students from both the Samueli School of Engineering and the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences gathered with their mentors to celebrate a successful end to the two schools’ inaugural Undergraduate Mentorship Program.
In its first year, the Undergraduate Mentorship Program focused primarily, though not exclusively, on pairing up female engineering and ICS students with mentors in a variety of high-tech businesses. The proportion of women in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), both in academia and industry, continues to lag behind that of men. This is why the program began with a focus on women.
Linda Smart — senior director of research and development informatics services at Allergan, a UCI alumna and a member of ICS/Engineering Diversity Committee — was instrumental in the launch of the mentoring program.
“I had a real personal interest,” Smart says. “It’s a way for me to sort of reach back in time, think about who I was as student, and say, ‘How can I give young students the benefit of my experience?’”
Jul 8, 2014
UCI engineering dean attends White House Makers Faire
Gregory Washington, dean of UCI’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and a strong advocate for American manufacturing, recently attended the first White House Makers Faire, which spotlighted production innovation at campuses nationwide. UC Irvine showcased its 3-D design and printing capabilities, including the National Center for Rapid Technologies, or Rapid Tech. The nonprofit trains students in 3-D techniques and provides faculty and private businesses with efficiently produced, critically needed product prototypes.
Washington mingled with the host of the “Bill Nye the Science Guy” educational TV show, musical super star will.i.am and other creative minds. What most impressed him were products he saw from schools.
“Students had designed and built items ranging from shoes that can charge your cell phone to a device that make 3-D printed pancakes to a full blown home,” Washington said. “I was amazed at the level of sophistication of the students nationally.”
Jul 3, 2014
Research Leads to Novel Inhaler
Asthma sufferers and others with pulmonary disorders are well acquainted with nebulizers. They’re those sometimes bulky gadgets, also known as inhalers, which disperse an aerosol stream of medication directly into the lungs.
Jul 2, 2014
Butterworth and Beall competitions reward the best in both hardware and software
To the naked eye, this year’s Butterworth Product Development Competition at the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences looked much as it always has. All throughout the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) in late May, teams of earnest students, under the watchful eye of their industry, faculty and alumni mentors, gave impassioned presentations about their innovative projects to a panel of distinguished judges, with the results announced at a festive gathering that evening.
But if you’d been to previous installments of the contest, you might have sensed that there were perhaps more snappily dressed students around. Well, there were – roughly twice as many. The 11th annual Butterworth development competition was also the inaugural year for the Beall Student Design Competition.
Jun 25, 2014
Three Engineering Faculty -- Satya Atluri, Syed Jafar and Matt Law -- Among Most Highly Cited Researchers
Three Samueli School engineering professors – Satya Atluri, Syed A. Jafar and Matt Law – have been recognized as among the world’s leading scientific minds, according to the 2014 Highly Cited Researchers list published by Thomson Reuters.
Jun 20, 2014
The Henry Samueli School of Engineering at UCI receives $9.5 million gift
Donation from Stacey Nicholas’ Opus Foundation will support STEM efforts
Jun 17, 2014
Donation Expands Simulation Opportunity
Design. Test. Adapt. Repeat. For many years, trial and error guided product development. Engineers designed on paper, built a prototype, tested it in the lab, and made changes based on test results.
Jun 17, 2014
UCI student is finalist in global Broadcom competition
UC Irvine graduate student Hua Sun presented innovative engineering research June 4 at the Broadcom Foundation University Research Competition. He was awarded $1,000 for his work on how to provide efficient, reliable wireless networks in the future. Sun, who’s seeking a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, was among 12 student finalists from 11 universities competing in a poster session at Broadcom’s annual Technical Conference. They shared insights into their projects and discussed how eventual applications of their research could improve lives and contribute to society.
"Hua Sun's enthusiasm for research is truly infectious," says Syed Jafar, an associate professor and Sun's Ph.D. adviser. "He is not intimidated by hard problems. He has the ability to quickly recognize the most meaningful aspect of a challenge and works tirelessly with great ingenuity to solve it. Collaborating with him is always a great pleasure."
More than 400 distinguished engineers judged the entries. “This competition, spearheaded by Broadcom co-founder Henry Samueli, celebrates academic excellence and social awareness among students who perform extraordinary research at the doctoral level,” said Paula Golden, executive director of the foundation. “The intellectual power of the finalists, who come from universities across the world, is profound, and we are honored to have them compete.”
Jun 16, 2014
UC Irvine Hosts 15th Annual UC Bioengineering Symposium
More than 300 bioengineering students and faculty from 10 University of California campuses will congregate at UC Irvine this week, June 18-20, for the 15th annual UC Bioengineering Symposium. The event brings these engineers together to share knowledge and best practices and to forge stronger relationships and collaborations.
Hosted by the Samueli School’s Biomedical Engineering Department, this year’s event features four keynote speakers, including Masimo Corporation Founder and CEO Joe Kiani, Edwards Lifesciences Corporation Vice President Stanton Rowe and biomedical engineering professors Nimmi Ramanujam (Duke University) and Bruce Tromberg (UCI and Beckman Laser Institute).
A special highlight will be the student and junior faculty “Shark Tank,” modeled after the popular television show in which budding entrepreneurs pitch their new business ideas to a panel of potential investors. Six student teams and six faculty members will pitch to a panel of judges for a chance to win cash prizes. Broadcom co-founder Henry Samueli will be amongst the “sharks” questioning the faculty. See here for a schedule.
“The focus of this symposium is unique and timely,” says conference organizer and UCI Associate Professor Michelle Khine. “It is focused on medical technology innovations: how to translate our ‘ah-ha’ moments into real world solutions to the most difficult medical challenges. Bioengineering is the No. 1 growth profession in Southern California. By bringing industry together with all 10 UC campuses, we hope to synergize our efforts to create effective medical technologies and a pipeline of new innovators.”
Jun 16, 2014
Congratulations Class of 2014!
The Henry Samueli School of Engineering sent 695 Anteater Engineers with bachelors degrees, 240 with Masters degrees and 92 with Doctorate degrees out into the world this past weekend, after a full slate of graduation activities, that included a UCI-wide commencement with President Barack Obama at Angel Stadium on Saturday and a school celebration with the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the Bren Events Center on Sunday. Students and their family and friends attended a graduation celebration Friday that included a display of senior design projects and a ceremony in which students pledged the Order of the Engineer.
President Barack Obama greeted more than 6,000 members of UC Irvine’s class of 2014 and 30,000 family members and friends at a special commencement ceremony Saturday at Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
Obama encouraged graduates to take on the challenges of climate change in the same way the nation answered the call to reach the moon in the 1960s.
Obama gave kudos to UCI for being “ahead of the curve” on the issue.
Jun 10, 2014
Engineering Doctoral Student’s Dissertation Selected for Special Publication
Nasrin Nasrollahi’s dissertation has been selected by scientific publisher Springer for its Springer Theses series. Nasrollahi has finished her doctorate in civil and environmental engineering working with Distinguished Professor Soroosh Sorooshian and Associate Professor Kuo-lin Hsu in the Center for Hydrometeorology and Remote Sensing (CHRS). Theses in this annual publication are selected for their scientific excellence and impact on research. They must be nominated and endorsed by two recognized specialists.
The CHRS provides global, near real-time rainfall information using remote sensing technology. With a mathematical modeling approach, the center processes different electromagnetic signals picked up by satellites from clouds and storm systems and converts them into rain estimates. Used primarily by government officials and climate researchers for flood forecasting around the world, the information is also accessible to the public via the Internet.
Nasrollahi’s dissertation research involved improving the quality of precipitation estimation information that is provided by the center. She applied a multi-satellite, multi-spectral approach, incorporating data on clouds and rainfall from two recent NASA satellites and using machine learning techniques to develop a better estimate of rainfall. She also added a filter to reduce false rain signals in the data, which significantly improved the results.
Jun 6, 2014
Air Force Selects Two UCI Engineers as Young Investigators
Alon Gorodetsky and Allon Hochbaum have been awarded Young Investigator Research Program grants from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. Both are assistant professors in the Samueli School’s Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Department.
The Air Force gives young investigator awards to scientists and engineers at research institutions across the U.S. who show exceptional ability and promise for conducting basic research. The program’s objective is to foster creative basic research in science and engineering, enhance early career development of outstanding young investigators, and increase opportunities for the young investigators to recognize the Air Force mission and the related challenges in science and engineering.
Gorodetsky and his research group are currently exploring the electrical properties of reflectin, a protein found in the skin cells of cephalopods, or squid. The goal of this project is to use protein engineering principles to understand and enhance the conductive properties of this material.
Through funding of this award, Hochbaum is investigating electrically conductive materials inspired by bacterial fibers. In addition to studying their function in organisms, the Hochbaum lab is characterizing their physical properties and integrating them into devices for applications in medical sensors and renewable energy technology.
May 28, 2014
UCI Engineering Postdoc Receives Prestigious Fulbright
Dustin McLarty, a postdoctoral researcher at the Advanced Power and Energy Program, will take what he’s learned working on UCI’s micro-grid power supply to Italy, on a Fulbright scholarship.
Sponsored by the U.S. government, the Fulbright Program offers highly competitive, merit-based grants for students and young professionals to study, conduct research or exercise their talents abroad. Founded by United States Senator J. William Fulbright in 1946, the Fulbright today is the largest U.S. international exchange program. It currently awards approximately 1,900 grants annually in all fields of study and operates in more than 140 countries. It is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and people of other countries.
“UCI has one of the most cutting edge micro-grids in the world,” says McLarty. “It provides the campus electricity, cooling and heating with close to 99 percent self-generated power, almost none of the energy is coming from Southern California Edison.”
A micro-grid is a similar but smaller version of the traditional power grid and consists of power generation, distribution and controls such as voltage regulation and switch gears. Micro-grids integrate renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind power, hydrology, geothermal, waste-to-energy, and combined heat and power systems. They can operate on their own or be connected to the traditional grid, and they have a closer proximity between the power generation and the power user. UCI’s micro-grid integrates solar, fuel cell, thermal and natural gas to serve the campus’s needs.
McLarty’s research has to do with leveling out the intermittencies involved with a grid that relies on renewable sources of energy. “We put all these new energy sources on the grid and they don’t behave like our old ones, so we have to come up with a mix of new technologies that can interface, store and deploy the renewables in a way that levels out the power supply.”
May 20, 2014
Student Transportation Engineers Examine Joshua Tree Congestion
UPDATE 5-22-14: UCI transportation engineers win ITE Student Chapter of the year for Southern California section, besting Cal Poly Pomona and UCLA for the top spot.
UCI’s student chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) heads to the ITE Southern California Section Student Competition this week where the students will present results from their Joshua Tree National Park Transit Feasibility Study.
The National Parks Conservation Association commissioned the UCI students, primarily civil and environmental engineering seniors, to study the feasibility of establishing a shuttle transit system to alleviate traffic and parking congestion for visitors to Joshua Tree. The students were mentored by ITE faculty adviser Professor Stephen Ritchie and doctoral student Sarah Hernandez.
“This is the most ambitious project yet undertaken by our student chapter, and it provided an outstanding opportunity for students to work on complex real-world problems and gain skills that will be invaluable for their future careers,” says Ritchie. “ Our chapter has placed first and second in the annual ITE Competition in the last three years, and while we’re naturally hoping for a place on the podium this year, most of all I’m extremely proud of the dedication, professionalism and team effort of our chapter.”
May 16, 2014
UCI Engineers Make Music with Class Project
Who knew that making music would become essential to the mechanical engineering curriculum?
For six years now, all UCI mechanical engineering seniors have taken a required course that has them designing, building and testing a music box. Not your ordinary jewelry-storing, ballerina-twirling, dresser-adorning music box, but a geometrically shaped, painted, stackable module that, with the drop of a metal ball, plays two seconds of original music. When the boxes are placed on top of one another in a tall tower, they are designed to play as a round. The first year, the assigned song was “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”
Professor Derek Dunn-Rankin came up with the idea. Students in his class often start by deconstructing a thermo-electro-mechanical device, a hair dryer for example, to see how it works. As they move on to the musical box stack project, students are grouped into teams of four or five and assigned a number. Teams receive a set of parts that are sufficient to build a minimally functioning music box – some plywood, dowels, a microprocessor, an amplifier, wires, a switch, a servomotor and a speaker – but they are free to modify or replace any of the parts to improve the box’s performance. Although each person in the group is responsible for one element of the device, the students must all work together to create a functioning music box. Typically, there is a structures person, a programmer, one who works on lighting and servos, and someone who creates the sound and mounts components. There is overlap, but everyone has a core responsibility.
Dunn-Rankin chose this challenge for three reasons. First, it’s cooperative rather than competitive. “All of the head-to-head design competitions are great for energy and enthusiasm, but they can mistakenly encourage secretive design rather than expansive design, and it is the latter that leads to high performance,” says Dunn Rankin, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department chair. “In this class, students are free, even encouraged, to learn best practices from their colleagues and to implement them.”
May 16, 2014
Broadcom MASTERS International Students Visit the Samueli School, Calit2
Twenty-three middle school students from around the world visited the Samueli School of Engineering in May as part of the 2014 Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology and Engineering for Rising Stars) International program.
The student delegates represented more than a dozen countries including Australia, Canada, China, Finland, India, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, United Kingdom and the United States. Broadcom MASTERS International provides a unique opportunity for select 6th, 7th and 8th grade students to spend a week in Southern California, participate in fun and engaging hands-on science and engineering activities and attend the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. These students were selected based on their excellence in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.
Samueli School Dean Gregory Washington welcomed the students to UCI, encouraging them to continue pursuing their interest and study in STEM fields. He also explained Anteater Engineering pride and taught them the Anteater “Zot!” hand sign and chant.
May 15, 2014
Prominent Materials Science Physicist to Join UCI Faculty
Xiaoqing Pan will oversee new $20 million research institute
Xiaoqing Pan, an internationally recognized researcher in the physics of materials, will join the UC Irvine faculty and lead a $20 million initiative to establish a world-class electron microscopy and materials science research facility.
The Irvine Materials Research Institute will help foster discovery of new properties in potentially lifesaving and technologically important materials through characterization - probing the internal structure of a material's atoms. The institute will serve as an interdisciplinary nexus for the study and development of these materials, enabling such advances as better solar cells, sustainable batteries and semiconductors, and treatments for bacterial and viral infections.
The transmission electron microscopes to be set up at the IMRI use beams of electrons instead of light waves to image a specimen with atomic resolution. This method produces a more detailed view at substantially greater magnification than with any optical microscope. UC Irvine researchers will utilize these microscopes to examine biological materials (such as microorganisms and cells), large molecules, medical biopsy samples, metals, minerals, ceramics and the characteristics of various surfaces.
"UC Irvine is making an investment of $20 million to develop cutting-edge capabilities in transmission electron microscopy," said Howard Gillman, provost and executive vice chancellor. "Bringing Professor Pan here to lead this institute is a real triumph for us in the materials science area. The research facility will establish our national prominence in this field and broadly benefit our programs in engineering, physical sciences, biological sciences and medicine."
"The electron microscopy initiative and the IMRI at UC Irvine will provide me with new tools and great opportunities for potential collaborations with the many researchers on campus," said Pan, a physicist. "I am grateful for the chance to help shape the university's future development through a combination of assisting students, developing departments, establishing the institute and moving forward in my own research."
May 2, 2014
Seven Engineering Grad Students Earn NSF Research Fellowships
The National Science Foundation has granted seven UC Irvine engineering graduate students a research fellowship. The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines.
"The School of Engineering is thrilled that such dedicated and talented students have chosen UCI for their graduate work - these awards recognize years of consistent and exceptional effort,” says Lee Swindlehurst, associate dean for research and graduate studies. “The number of awards the school received this year is a strong indicator of both the quality of our graduate student body and the hard work of our faculty in focused recruiting of top-tier domestic students."
Across campus, 37 students won fellowships this year, putting UCI ninth in the nation and tied for second within the University of California system for the prestigious awards. Here are the Samueli School’s 2014 fellowship awardees.
Apr 29, 2014
Anteater Engineers Place Second in 2014 Design/Build/Fly Contest
UC Irvine’s engineering students placed second at the 18th annual American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Foundation Design/Build/Fly (DBF) competition in Wichita, Kansas, in April. This is UCI’s third straight top-two finish.
“We were confident that we would achieve a great overall result, and the team did not disappoint. Each member of the team put an incredible amount of time and effort into this project. It was truly an amazing experience working with everyone,” says Lawrence Ng, a senior aerospace engineering student and UCI’s DBF project manager.
A partnership between the AIAA Foundation, Cessna Aircraft Company, and Raytheon Missile Systems, the annual DBF competition provides students an opportunity to design and build a radio-controlled aircraft to perform specific missions. Participants who complete a letter of intent and submit a report on time are invited to bring their plane to a central location for a fly off. Winners are determined by a combination of their report score and their flight mission score.
This year’s assignment was a simulation of a backcountry, rough field, bush plane with three missions: ground taxi over a rough field; maximum load; and a timed emergency medical mission (carrying two pretend patients and nurses). The competition was fierce, with 80 universities participating.
Most of UCI’s 31-member team drove to Wichita for the competition. UCI’s report scored high, and the Anteaters entered the flight portion ranked third. UCI was neck and neck with USC; they had similar flight performances. It ultimately came down to the weight of the plane, and USC’s was around 1 pound lighter, giving it the edge to take first place. The score of each mission is divided by the plane’s weight when empty.