Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Team Development Training Expands Leadership Outreach

In its eighth year of operation, the Gordon Center at the Jacobs School of Engineering has extended its reach and impact on students and working professionals through a series of interactive trainings on values and team formation.

The Gordon Center, which educates and trains effective engineering students and professionals, has expanded its team development trainings to BMES (Biomedical Engineering Society), Envision Maker Studio interns, Global Ties, NSF I-Corps and the Osaka University International group (Von Liebig Center) at the Jacobs School of Engineering. The active outreach and trainings with other organizations this fall quarter has resulted in a higher demand from students and professionals to take more leadership development workshops.

The values and team development training was truly great and inspiring. Through this workshop I learned about myself in a better and deeper way. It was kind of discovering myself. I realized what kind of person I am and want to be, what really matters to me.” Said Yuki Nagano, associate professor at Osaka University. “When we work closely in a team, we have to know and understand team members. Understanding team members is very useful and helpful to know what really matters to them. I hope we can do it again when I come back to San Diego in January.”
Through our continued outreach at the Jacobs School of Engineering more organizations have become aware of the importance and impact team leadership and formation training provides for students working on technical or innovative projects. After the trainings leaders are better able to acclimate to changes and work with more diverse teams, build better relationships and create a community among their teams. Mentors and professionals in industry that join the trainings are also aware of the valuable skills these trainings offer. According to Dr. Ebonee Williams, executive director of the Gordon Center, the number one feedback the Gordon Center receives is “Wish I had this training before starting my first company.”
Indeed, this quarter has proven to be very productive for students, professionals and the center promoting the advocacy for more leadership training. These outreach efforts have succeeded because of the responsive student participation and the positive feedback from other engineering organizations. Through the continual leadership team development trainings and outreach to organizations, we have been able to see the growth of individuals and watch them realize their potential. The Gordon Center hopes to continue its outreach to other organizations in 2017 and expand its student outreach.
If you would like more information, please email us at GordonCenter@ucsd.edu.

VOICE Seminar on Value of Provisional Patents to Inventors

The VOICE seminar, led by Dr. Victoria Cajipe and guest Greg Einhorn.
On November 5, the von Liebig Entrepreneurism Center and the Office of Innovation and Commercialization collaborated to present a VOICE seminar on Provisional Patents.
The room was filled with undergrads, grads, and Postdocs alike, all looking for information on how to make their ideas a reality. Victoria Cajipe, PhD, Senior Licensing Officer of the OIC, led the presentation, explaining the patent processes for UC San Diego inventors and entrepreneurs.
Greg Einhorn, from Greer Burns & Crain, a firm that works with people looking to develop patents and license their products, was there to present alongside OIC, and helped to outline the long process from idea-making to patenting.
Another important topic of the seminar was the Innovation and Commercialization Loop, a feedback loop that helps streamline the idea inventing process all the way up until commercialization, through both licensing and patenting. The loop serves as an ideal outline for inventors looking to not only make their product, but also to commercialize their product to the rest of the world.   
Cajipe also listed out the varying types of patents. Utility patents and provisional apps are all slightly different and have individualized processes, and Einhorn advised that attorneys and agencies should be utilized during the formal patenting process, despite it being quite a steep investment.
Through UC San Diego’s commercialization program, all students are eligible to consult with the OIC to try and get their ideas patented. Cajipe explained that the OIC will help finish the technical commercialization processes for the student as well as taking care of all fees for patenting; the student, in exchange, will receive 35% of potential profits from the licensed product.
“It’s important for students to recognize the resources they have on campus,” said Cajipe during the presentation. “Besides taking care of fees, we work to be a great resource to help students along the way.” 
UC San Diego prides itself on being a technologically advanced university, with numerous new patents each year being attributed to the university. Of course, none of this could be achieved without the students' brilliant minds and trailblazing creativity.

GrollTex Founder Puts Passion First

Dr. Alex Zaretski, UCSD alum and founder of GrollTex.
On November 3, the von Liebig Entrepreneurism Center and the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department hosted a Ph.D alternative career path seminar featuring von Liebig alum Dr. Aliksandr (Alex) Zaretski, founder of GrollTex.
Dr. Zaretski, whose company helps to develop “graphene rolling technology”, talked about his journey from starting out as a doctoral student to gathering the courage to co-found a startup. It was his fascination of graphene and its variety of uses that led to his pursuit of his PhD in Nanoengineering at UC San Diego.  
At first, he thought academia was his future, but his passion for graphene’s exciting new tech potential directed him to pursue the entrepreneurial route. Eventually, he developed an innovative process to produce high quality “sheets” of graphene at a very low cost, without any toxic residues. Rather than write papers on the process, he wanted to explore the seemingly endless possibilities of this advanced material. With this, he co-founded a spin-off company called GrollTex, which holds exclusive rights on a portfolio of patents issued by UC San Diego. 
Dr. Zaretski stressed that it takes an immense amount of work and determination to start a company -- and that there are a lot of risks in embracing the unknown. However, being able to have a say on the future of the technology and directly shaping its direction was worth the risk to him.
When asked whether he wanted to eventually get acquired by a large company, or if he would be interested in merging with another company, he said that on less productive days, he imagines selling the company for millions. However, he still has enough drive to pursue this project on his own. “On days where it’s good, I have so much energy to go on,” he said. “I’m not at all ready yet to license to other companies, but I’ve made significant progress. We’ve signed a lease for a lab space earlier this year, and have exclusive licenses secured.”

A piece of advice he had for students was not to wait until graduation. “If you have good ideas, start as soon as you can,” he said.  

Dr. Zaretski acknowledged the von Liebig Center’s programs for helping him develop the savviness to become a successful entrepreneur, and pointing him towards resources like competitions and essential team members that would help him in starting a company. He noted that while it is important to be fluent in tech skills, having business savvy is also just as important so investors may take you seriously and believe in your product.

Grolltex is one of the von Liebig Center’s up and coming startups to watch. With initial investment funding raised, and all the needed manufacturing and testing equipment in place, GrollTex is hoping to start filling orders in 2017.

Von Liebig Partners with Biomimicry Business Accelerator

Winners Camila Hernandez (left) and Camila Gratacos (right) of Team Bionurse.

The BioNurse team from the Ceres Regional Center for Fruit and Vegetable Innovation in Chile won the first ever Ray C. Anderson Foundation Ray of Hope Prize, a $100,000 award that will allow them to introduce their soil restoration project to the marketplace.  
“This was a big surprise for us,” said Camila Gratacos, one of the BioNurse team members. “After a lot of hard work, we just want to say thank you.”
Gratacos and her partner, Camila Hernandez, competed fiercely in the 2015 Biomimicry Global Design Challenge. The Biomimicry Institute is a non-profit organization that encourages the development of nature-inspired solutions for a healthy planet. All seven teams vying for the prize met at the Bioneers Conference in San Rafael, California last month on October 22 to pitch to judges. During the year-long Biomimicry Accelerator program, these seven teams developed their design concepts and market strategy.
As a Biomimicry Institute partner, the von Liebig Center provided online training and mentoring to these seven teams from Chile, Thailand, El Salvador, Italy, Germany, Slovakia and the US.
The Biomimicry Institute, the Ray C. Anderson Foundation, and the von Liebig Entrepreneurship Center congratulate all of the teams who competed for the first-ever $100,000 Ray of Hope Prize. It is now only a matter of time before prototypes make their way to market soon.
All seven teams that competed for the $100,000 Ray C. Anderson Foundation Ray of Hope Prize were originally selected as finalists in the 2015 Biomimicry Global Design Challenge. The teams that participated in the intensive year-long Business Accelerator Program were trained on how to take their social innovations to market.
The von Liebig Center within the Institute of the Global Entrepreneur provided an online course taught by Mr. Jonathan Masters on customer development, commercialization, finance, and marketing.  Four mentors from the von Liebig Center worked with the seven teams in online webinars to bring their design concepts to reality. BioNurse and Oasis Aquaponics worked with Dr. Rosibel Ochoa. Jube and BioCultivator worked with Dr. Rob Logan. Living Filtration worked with Dr. Albert Liu. Hexapro and Mangrove Still worked with Mr. Jonathan Masters.  
The BioNurse team created the BioPatch, a biomimicry solution that enhances soil’s capacity to retain water, nutrients, and microorganisms. This invention ensures that degraded land is restored for the next generation of crops. 
All seven Accelerator teams earned tremendous praise from the Ray of Hope Prize judges. They complimented the Oasis Aquaponic System’s potential for impact in the developing world, the Jube’s brilliant combination of function and beauty, the BIOcultivator’s elegant design, the Mangrove Still’s innovative business model, the Living Filtration System’s clever agricultural transition strategy, and Hexagro’s successful integration of a physical technology with a broader social network strategy.
Because of the high quality of all of the teams’ designs, trustees decided to award an added bonus to this year’s program. The trustees of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation awarded $20,000 to the Oasis Aquaponic System, $15,000 to the Jube team, and $10,000 each to the four other finalist teams, for a grand total of $175,000 in award money.

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?”