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.
The Butterworth competition is named for, and generously supported by, Bren School alumnus Paul Butterworth (B.S. ’74, M.S. ’81), chief technical officer of AccessG2 Inc. The Beall competition is made possible by the generosity of the Beall Family Foundation.
Where Butterworth emphasizes software, and requires that at least one team member be from ICS, Beall focuses on hardware, and requires that least one team member be from the Samueli School of Engineering. The two competitions were not only concurrent and complementary, they also overlapped: Several teams entered their projects in both competitions.
There was also more prize money at stake – a total of $30,000 between the Butterworth and Beall contests.
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. The list of highly cited scholars includes preeminent researchers in 21 fields of the sciences and social sciences who have demonstrated great influence in their field as measured by citations to their work. This list is based on papers published during the 11-year period 2002-2012. Researchers are selected not only for total citations but also for the number of highly cited papers contributed. When one researcher cites another’s work, he/she is acknowledging the relevance of that work to the current study. Fewer than one-half of one percent of all published researchers are included in the listing.
Satya Atluri, a Distinguished Professor in mechanical and aerospace engineering and director of the Center for Aerospace Research and Education, conducts groundbreaking mathematical work, including inventing the so-called “meshless method” that has aided the design of safer materials for aircraft. Throughout his career, his work has encompassed theoretical, applied and computational mechanics of solids and fluids; and structural longevity, failure prevention and health management. Atluri most recently received India’s Padma Bhushan award “for distinguished service of high order in the field of engineering and science.”
Syed Jafar, an associate professor in electrical engineering and computer science, analyzes the capacity of wireless communication networks. In addition to his earlier work on multiple antenna (MIMO) technology and cognitive radio, Jafar is best known for his seminal work on the idea known as interference alignment, in which he shows how a resource such as bandwidth in a network can be shared among competing users in such a manner that each user gets half of the total bandwidth free from interference from others. Jafar and his first year Ph.D. student Viveck Cadambe were among the youngest researchers ever to win the prestigious IEEE Information Theory Society Paper Award, and interference alignment has since been recognized as one of the "Top Topics" and as a "Fast Moving Research Front" by Sciencewatch in 2011.
Matt Law, an assistant professor of chemistry who holds a joint appointment in chemical engineering and materials science, develops new nanoscale and Earth-abundant materials for producing electricity and chemical fuels from sunlight. Law’s current research interests include quantum dot solar cells, the physics of metal sulfide semiconductors, and devices that split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
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
Stacey Nicholas’ Opus Foundation has made a $9.5 million gift to The Henry Samueli School of Engineering at UC Irvine. The donation will establish a $2 million endowed deanship; fund student scholarships and graduate fellowships; and support school programs that focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics outreach. It will also facilitate an ongoing partnership with St. Margaret’s Episcopal School in San Juan Capistrano.
“I am so happy and so honored to be a part of the engineering school at UCI,” said Nicholas, who established the Opus Foundation to support her interest in the arts and STEM education outreach. “I greatly admire and support Dean [Gregory] Washington’s commitment to outreach, diversity and innovation in STEM education. I am thrilled to be able to make a difference.”
Nicholas is a member of the Samueli School’s Engineering Leadership Council and Diversity Advisory Board, a trustee at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School, and a former member of the South Coast Repertory and Pacific Symphony boards. She spearheaded the creation of a summer internship program for high school students at the Samueli School. Nearing its 10-year anniversary this summer, the competitive program places talented high school seniors in engineering labs under the guidance of professors and graduate students for six weeks of intensive, college-level experience.
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. They repeated the process an untold number of times, until the product met specifications. It was costly and time-consuming.
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 7, 2014
Jafarkhani’s Seminal Paper on Wireless Communications Technology Recognized
UCI Chancellor’s Professor Hamid Jafarkhani has been recognized by the IEEE for a paper he published 15 years ago. The IEEE Communications Society Award for Advances in Communication is given to an outstanding paper that opens new lines of work, envisions bold approaches to communications, formulates new problems to solve and essentially enlarges the field of communications engineering.
Jafarkhani’s paper, published in 1999, described his research on space-time block coding, a technique used today in wireless communication systems. Jafarkhani was working at AT&T Labs when he and his colleagues established the concept of space-time block coding and showed how to design codes for a wireless communications system with multiple antennas, such as Wi-Fi. Today, space-time block coding is a well-established field in communications, actively researched and widely used. This paper has been cited more than 1,000 times.
“It is an honor to receive such a prestigious award,” says Jafarkhani, a professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences and director of UCI’s Center for Pervasive Communications and Computing.
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.
Apr 28, 2014
UCI Engineer Introduces Drought Monitoring and Prediction System
Samueli School civil and environmental engineering researchers have introduced the global integrated drought monitoring and prediction system (GIDMaPS) that could help farmers, commodity investors, local governments and global relief organizations react to drought.
The system provides meteorological and agricultural drought information based on multiple satellite-and model-based precipitation and soil moisture data sets. The researchers published the work in Scientific Data.
Developed by Assistant Professor Amir AghaKouchak's team, the GIDMaPS data significantly extends current capabilities of drought assessment systems. The GIDMaPS’ seasonal forecast gives essential information for users to receive early warning of drought, enabling them to take preventive measures and plan mitigation strategies.
“Drought has been a major problem throughout history. This information would be instrumental in reducing drought impacts, especially in developing countries where there are no other drought monitoring and prediction information,” says AghaKouchak.
Apr 23, 2014
Two from UCI Earn Awards at DATE
Engineering professor Rainer Doemer won a Best Paper Award at the 2014 the Design, Automation and Test in Europe (DATE) conference held in Germany last month.
The DATE conference and exhibition brings together designers and design automation users, researchers and vendors, as well as specialists in the hardware and software design, test and manufacturing of electronic circuits and systems. Doemer’s paper, “May-Happen-in-Parallel Analysis based on Segment Graphs for Safe ESL Models,” was selected out of a record number of over 1,000 submissions.
At the same conference, engineering alumna Weiwei Chen received the Outstanding Dissertation Award. Chen earned her doctorate from UCI in 2013. Her dissertation topic was “Out-of-Order Parallel Simulation for Electronic System-Level Design.” She worked under the guidance of Doemer in the Center for Embedded Computer Systems (CECS).
“It’s rewarding to see our work so recognized in front of an international audience of experts in design automation and embedded systems,” says Doemer an associate professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department. “Receiving the Best Paper Award is extraordinary, but seeing Weiwei's dissertation winning another prize at the same event is just fantastic.”
Apr 10, 2014
New NSF Center Leverages Industry Partnerships to Improve Microfluidic Devices
Thirteen industry partners gathered today at UC Irvine’s Samueli School of Engineering for the inaugural meeting of a newly established National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC). The Center for Advanced Design and Manufacturing of Integrated Microfluidics (CADMIM) will develop design tools and manufacturing technologies for integrated microfluidics, also known as labs-on-a-chip. These tiny devices can be used for cost-effective, quick and easy diagnosis of problems in the environment, agriculture and human health.
The mission of the center is to advance research and education on the science, engineering and applications of integrated microfluidic design and expandable production through dedicated ongoing industrial partnerships.
Much of the development of labs-on-a-chip has so far been achieved at universities, without much consideration of the materials being able to intersect with other components and existing technology infrastructure. Abraham Lee, the William Link professor and chair of the biomedical engineering department who will serve as CADMIM director and principal investigator, sees the center as a way to achieve higher levels of integration with academia and industry.
“The design of microfluidic technology has been either bottom up, driven by the academic researchers motivated by curiosity and innovation, or top down, driven by industry looking to solve problems within the current technology systems,” says Lee. “I see CADMIM being able to connect the two approaches and enabling real progress.”