Thursday, November 16, 2017

Engineering Art Contest Winner: Let It Snow Crystalline Dendrites

Image of snowflake-like crystalline dendrite wins first annual Jacobs School of Engineering Art Contest

Crystalline dendrite imaged by transmission-mode Scanning Electron Microscopy. Image credit: Kevin Kaufmann
It’s extremely rare to spot a snowflake in sunny San Diego. But nanoengineering Ph.D. student Kevin Kaufmann routinely sees snowflakes through the lens of a microscope at UC San Diego—well, crystalline dendrites that resemble picturesque snowflakes.

The image of a crystalline dendrite seen here is the winning entry of the first annual Jacobs School of Engineering Art Contest. The contest provided engineers at UC San Diego an opportunity to share their research through original artwork. Submissions included photography, microscopy images, computer graphics illustrations, journal cover art, and other media. Kaufmann received a $100 Visa gift card for his winning entry, which is featured on the Jacobs School website and social media. 

Kaufmann works in the lab of nanoengineering professor Kenneth Vecchio, where he makes and studies metal alloys made of crystalline dendrites. Kaufmann captured the image of one of these crystalline dendrites using a method called transmission-mode Scanning Electron Microscopy (tSEM). This method produces images of a sample by bombarding the surface of the sample with a beam of electrons. The interactions between the electron beam and the sample then produce signals that relay information about the composition and surface features of the sample.  

For more on Kaufmann's research, read the story here.

Stay tuned to see entries that received an honorable mention. These images will also be shared on the Jacobs School FacebookInstagram and Twitter accounts in the coming weeks.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Matthew Wnuk: electrical engineer, Navy veteran

Matthew Wnuk at UC San Diego, where's he's working towards
 a master's degree in electrical engineering.
Matthew Wnuk joined the Navy in 2004 and was trained as a sonar technician at the Anti-Submarine Warfare base in Point Loma. Nine years of active duty service, an undergraduate degree, several internships and a job later, and he’s still using the skills he learned in that position, this time as an electrical engineering master’s student at UC San Diego.

Being a sonar tech has two components—electronics and intelligence—and Wnuk had the chance to serve in both capacities during his time in the Navy, which took him to Japan, the Pacific Islands and just about everywhere in between.

“For the electronics part, you trouble shoot and fix and maintain electronic suites,” Wnuk said. “If a capacitor goes bad you have to do an electronic survey of the board to figure out what went wrong. And the other side of it is intelligence—either collecting or analyzing intelligence—which is what I did my last three years, doing the analysis on all the intelligence sent in from the fleet.”

Being a sonar technician piqued his interest in electronics, so when he transitioned out of active duty, he decided to pursue a degree in electrical engineering at San Diego State University. He worked hard and excelled in the program, even serving as president of SDSU’s chapter of the IEEE honor society his senior year.

While earning his undergraduate degree, Wnuk put his military and academic experience to use through an internship with Northrop Grumman, conducting electromagnetic research with applications for UAVs. He also interned for NASA, testing circuitry for an optical receiver used on a LiDAR system for the Lunar Lander. After graduation he decided to pursue a career with the Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific.

“At SSC Pacific, I’m doing electronic design of hardware for unmanned aerial vehicles and aerostats, which are giant blimps,” he said. “I’m also doing a little bit of software for controlling communications for UAVs.”

After just one year at SSC Pacific, Wnuk was ready to take on another challenge, and began his master’s degree in electrical engineering at UC San Diego while he continues to work. He’s focusing on machine learning, which is an area he thinks will have many applications in the defense sector.

“It’s been an incredible challenge,” he said. “Because the machine learning portion is more of a computer science background, which is something I didn’t have, it took about a quarter for me to get my feet on the ground. But I think I’m making good progress.”

Friday, November 10, 2017

Alan Adame: computer scientist, Army captain

Alan Adame points to a picture of himself jumping
out of a plane during his time as a paratrooper.
Alan Adame is a master’s student in the computer science and engineering department at UC San Diego, studying computer science. He’s also a captain in the U.S. Army, preparing for a tour as a research scientist at the Army Cyber Institute at West Point University.

A West Point graduate himself, Adame was commissioned to the Army as a signal officer, and deployed to Iraq as a platoon leader in 2010, not long after earning his degree.

“My job there was basically to start getting everything ready so we could hand it over to the Iraqi Army,” Adame said. “The fiber optic cable, anything we dealt with as far as communications— if the Iraqi Army wasn’t familiar with it, we would train them.”

After he returned from Iraq, Adame was stationed in Ft. Bragg, N.C. with the 82nd Airborne Division of paratroopers. There, he was tasked with ensuring everyone in the division had the platforms and systems they needed to be able to communicate on the same network. All while jumping out of planes, of course.

“No matter what you do—cook, HR personnel, whatever your job is—you jump out of an airplane,” he said. “The 82nd Airborne is a Global Response Force—the country’s 911. When a disaster happens, we deploy there to help. It’s the best job in the world.”

He performed well enough in that role that he was selected to attend graduate school, and is in his fourth quarter of the computer science master’s degree program at UC San Diego. There is no jumping out of planes, but Adame said the curriculum is challenging.

“It’s hard. I didn’t think it was going to be this hard. From the military perspective, whenever you get to do this type of opportunity it’s seen like you get to take a break, but this is not like that,” he said. “It’s been really tough. What we’re learning is cool, but it’s challenging.”

He said the atmosphere reminds him of his paratrooper days in some ways, since he’s surrounded by people at the top of their field.

“Here, academically, everybody is really, really smart. You’re trying to hang with everybody so it’s challenging mentally. Where there, everyone is really good physically. Everybody is at the top of their game, is driven, is always trying to do the right thing and work hard.”

Adame has always been interested in computers and started programming at the age of 12, so the opportunity to work as a research scientist and instructor at the recently established Army Cyber Institute is an exciting one.

“The interesting part about it is that the Center was just stood up a few years ago, and the cyber branch within the Army is a recent addition as well," Adame said. "If you’re going to be an infantryman or artillery, you can find all these field manuals that say ‘This is how you do this, this is how you plan this operation.’ Basically, what the Army Cyber Institute is doing is putting together research so we can formalize that branch to establish these kind of standards.”

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Video: Jacobs School computer scientist talks about the future of health care robotics

 UC San Diego computer scientist Laurel Riek wants to put a robot in someone's home for six months.
"We want to build robots that can adapt to learn from and change with a person, not only throughout the week, but throughout the day," she says in this video for the journal Communications of the ACM.
Riek is the author of a review article titled Healthcare Robotics in the journal's November 2017 issue.
The full text of the article is available here:
She is a professor of computer science at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego and a faculty member of the campus' Contextual Robotics Institute.
Her research goal is to enable robots to robustly solve problems in dynamically- changing human environments. Riek is particularly focused on problems in real-world, safety-critical healthcare environments, such as hospitals, homes and clinics. Her work tackles the fundamental and applied problems that make complex, real-world perception and interaction in these spaces so challenging for robots. Riek’s work draws on techniques from the fields of computer vision, machine learning, non-linear dynamics, and human factors to enable robots to autonomously perceive, respond, and adapt to people in the real world.  

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Need a last-minute Halloween costume idea? This neural network has got you covered!

Need a last-minute costume idea for Halloween? How about a cyborg bat? Or a vampire shark? Or a magic sexy hamburger?
These are all costumes generated by a neural network trained by Jacobs School alumna Janelle Shane. Shane, who earned a Ph.D. in electrical engineering at UC San Diego in the lab of Professor Shaya Fainman, works with lasers by day. But her hobby is working with neural networks to create funny data sets.
For this project, she crowdsourced 4500 costume ideas from her blog readers and fed them to a neural network.
The network did not disappoint, generating costume suggestions such as vampire Big Bird, celery blue Frankenstein and strawberry shark.
Soon, Shane's readers were getting into the game and drawing the costumes the neural network suggested.
First up, strawberry shark:

And then: Bearley Quinn (courtesy of Twitter user @vonbees):

But Shane's readers weren't done. Soon they started making some of the costume suggestions a reality.
Twitter user Liz Walsh dressed up as the Dragon of Liberty:

Twitter user @HerbLovesTech and his wife dressed up as Professor Panda and Shark Princess:

And Shane? She took her inspiration from an entry in the costume data base. She will be Ruth Vader Ginsburg (that's a mash up of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Star Wars villain Darth Vader):

For more neural-network generated Halloween costumes, read Shane's blog post here. And read this news story by writer Rae Paoletta here and this Popular Mechanics story by writer Sophie Weiner.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

UC San Diego Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Professor Miroslav Krstic Receives ASME Rufus Oldenburger Medal

Photo: Krstic (r) with Peter Meckl,
Chair of ASME Dynamic Systems & Control Division. 
UC San Diego mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Miroslav Krstic received the ASME Rufus Oldenburger Medal for lifetime achievements in automatic control at 10th ASME Dynamic Systems& Control Conference in Washington, DC in October 2017. 
Krstic’s acceptance lecture was on control of congested traffic (abstract at end of blog post).
Krstic serves as Sr. Assoc. Vice Chancellor for Research at UC San Diego. He is Director of the Cymer Center for Control Systems and Dynamics and holds the Daniel L. Alspach Endowed Chair in Dynamic Systems and Control.
Krstic is the mechanical and aerospace engineering department’s second recipient of the Oldenburger Medal, following Professor Bob Bitmead in 2014.

The Rufus Oldenburger Medal is a prestigious Society award for lifetime achievements in automatic control. Inaugurated in 1968, the medal recognizes significant contributions and outstanding achievements in the field of automatic control. Such achievements may be, for example, in the areas of education, research, development, innovation, and service to the field and profession. The award was established to honor Rufus Oldenburger for his distinctive achievements in the field and for his service to the Society and the Division. The list of recipients is a true honor role of major contributors to the science and profession of control. 
Abstract: Control of freeway traffic using ramp metering is a “boundary control” problem when modeling is approached using widely adopted coupled hyperbolic PDE models of the Aw-Rascle-Zhang type, which include the velocity and density states, and which incorporate a model of driver reaction time. Unlike the “free traffic” regime, in which ramp metering can affect only the dynamics downstream of the ramp, in the “congested traffic” regime ramp metering can be used to suppress stop-and-go oscillations both downstream and upstream of the ramp - though not both simultaneously. Controlling the traffic upstream of a ramp is harder - and more interesting - because, unlike in free traffic, the control input doesn’t propagate at the speed of the vehicles but at a slower speed, which depends on a weighted difference between the vehicle speed and the traffic density. I will show how PDE backstepping controllers, which have been effective recently in oil drilling and production applications (similarly modeled by coupled hyperbolic PDEs), can help stabilize traffic, even in the absence of distributed measurements of vehicle speed and density, and when driver reaction times are unknown.

Blue LINC hosts Medical Innovators Hall of Fame Series

The Blue LINC Healthcare Incubator, UC San Diego's first biomedical incubator, will kick off its new Medical Innovators Hall of Fame Series with a presentation by Michael Ackermann, former CEO of med-tech startup Oculeve. Oculeve, which developed a tear-simulation device for those with dry-eye disease, was co-founded by Garrett Smith, a Ph.D. candidate in bioengineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering, and eventually acquired by Allergan.

During his talk titled "From University Collaboration to $100M Acquisition: A Tearful Tale of BioDesign," Ackermann will explain how acquisition by a global pharmaceutical giant is helping him achieve his goal of reaching as many patients as possible and will highlight his journey as a BioDesign Fellow at the Stanford Byers Center for BioDesign. Ackermann will discuss why big tech companies have yet to disrupt healthcare and how that translates into big opportunities for entrepreneurs, students, and faculty interested in startups.

The seminar is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 26 from 6:00- 7:15 p.m. in Fung Auditorium in the Powell-Focht Bioengineering Hall. Register to attend at

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A new model for electrochemical kinetics in nanoscale systems

Understanding the speed at which electrochemical reactions occur can provide scientific insight for various processes ranging from biochemical reactions to charge storage in capacitors and batteries. However, to date, many of the theoretical and experimental analyses of electrochemical reaction speed- such as those in the widely used Butler-Volmer formulations are based on classical thermodynamics and adapt 19th century-based Arrhenius theory. In these cases, the charge transfer rate is assumed to constantly increase with applied voltage. While complementary theories consider the influence of the configurational rearrangements in the electrolyte and energy level occupancy, none have related the kinetics to the specific arrangement of the electrons in the material constituting the electrode. The latter aspect is very important for nanoscale materials where the bulk is but a small part of the whole.

Recently, a team of engineers at UC San Diego led by professor of mechanical engineering Prab Bandaru and involving Ph.D. students Hidenori Yamada and Rajaram Narayanan, probed in detail, both theoretically and experimentally, the specific characteristics of a nanostructured material with respect to its effect on charge transfer. They demonstrated that in a one-dimensional nanotube, the electrons are confined to a line, while in two-dimensional graphene, the electrons are confined to a plane. Based on these findings, the researchers expect that the restriction on electron motion hinders charge transfer and electrochemical kinetics. On the other hand, the reduced electron scattering could enhance the kinetics. The team resolved these issues by taking advantage of the specific arrangement of the electrons in the nanostructure. They applied their theories to explain the experimental variation of the electrochemical rate constant of single layer graphene.

(a) Atomic force microscopy image of a section of the single layer graphene (SLG) sample transferred onto a p-Si/SiO2 substrate. The wrinkles on the sample surface corresponding to the line scan (white line) are displayed in the lower left inset. The Raman spectrum of the transferred SLG is indicated in the top right inset. (b) Schematic of the three-electrode droplet electrochemical cell (actual experimental arrangement shown in the top right inset). The SLG working electrode (WE), Pt wire counter electrode (CE) and a reference (REF) saturated calomel electrode are indicated.

The researchers detailed their findings in a recent issue of the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters

The team discovered that the charge transfer rate may either increase, decrease or remain constant, and that such variation is sensitive to the orientation as well as the relevant dimensionality of the nanostructure. As charge transfer per unit time determines the electrical current that may be obtained from a given electrode, the UC San Diego study provides a firm rationale for the use of nanostructures in charge storage electrodes, with applications encompassing solid state battery-related systems, wearable sensors, etc., where electrical current modulations would impact energy and power delivery.

A plot of the charge transfer related electrochemical rate constant (k) normalized to the kη=0V as a function of the applied voltage (η), considered with respect to the redox potential. The experimental data is a poor fit with the theoretical fits expected from conventional Butler-Volmer (B-V) kinetics as well as three-dimensional Marcus-Hush-Chidsey (MHC) kinetics, but could be fit well through a dimensionality dependent electrochemical model proposed by a team of engineers at UC San Diego.

Paper: Dimensionality-Dependent Electrochemical Kinetics at the Single-Layer Graphene–Electrolyte Interface, R. Narayanan, H. Yamada, B.C. Marin, A. Zaretski, and P.R. Bandaru, J. Phys. Chem. Lett., 2017, 8 (17), pp 4004–4008.

Friday, October 6, 2017

3D-Printed Space Rocket Startup Funded by New VC Fund Contrary Capital

UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering students are the founders of one of the first two university startups to receive funding by a new VC fund called Contrary Capital.

Contrary Capital has a novel take on tracking down university startups to invest in. The details are outlined in a story by Mike Freeman ( @TechDiego on Twitter ) in the San Diego Union Tribune:

The Jacobs School startup that received funding is Additive Rocket Corporation (ARC), which 3D prints high-impulse, low-cost, lightweight metal rocket engines for the space industry. Additive Rocket Corp. Founded in 2015 by recent graduates Andy Kieatiwong and Kyle Adriany. According to the ARC website, “space exploration hinges on innovation of propulsion technology.”

The ARC students have participated in a number of entrepreneurism programs on campus, including The Basement and the Qualcomm Institute Innovation Space.

We look forward to tracking ARC’s successes. 

Good luck, and may the [propulsive] force be with you!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Combining soft robotics and space technology

Paul Glick, a Ph.D. student at the Jacobs School, got a unique chance to do hands-on at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
Glick, who works in the lab of mechanical engineering professor and roboticist Michael Tolley, got to design and carry out most of the experiments for an electrostatic gripper for flexible objects build by JPL and UC Berkeley engineers. The team presented their work at the IROS 2017 conference in late September in Vancouver.
Glick is part of the NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship program. He works to bring soft robotics to space technology. Here is a more detailed description of his research. 
Tolley's group will present some of their research at the Oct. 27 Contextual Robotics Forum here on the UC San Diego campus. 
Watch a video of the gripper that Glick ran experiments on in action:

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Better hurricane monitoring with robotic swarms

When: 2:45 p.m. Sept. 28, 2017
Where: Santa Clara Convention Center, Expo Theater
Professor Thomas Bewley
UCSD Flow Control & Coordinated Robotics Lab
Charles Bergan
VP of Engineering
Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.
More info:
While some robots take jobs, others save lives. The technology transfer underway from the cellphone industry into robotics has enabled a new class of low-cost robotic devices capable of providing advanced warning and tracking capabilities for major storms such as hurricanes Harvey and Irma. We will discuss a new proposal that uses cellphone technologies to build autonomous swarms of sensor-laden robots that will significantly improve our ability to estimate and forecast such extreme and dangerous atmospheric events.
Full press release about the research here:
 Simulation available here:

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Undergraduate Bioengineering Program at UC San Diego Ranks #6 in the Nation and #2 among Public Engineering Schools

The U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges guidebook rankings are out today and the bioengineering undergraduate program at the University of California San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering is ranked #6 in the nation and #2 among public schools.

In the same U.S. News ranking, the University of California San Diego overall ranks as the nation’s 9th best public university, up one spot, compared to last year. For more than a decade, the publication has included UC San Diego in its list of the nation’s top 10 public universities.

For its undergraduate programs overall, the Jacobs School of Engineering is #20 in the nation and #11 among public engineering schools. (This is up from #24 in the nation and #12 among public schools last year).

This particular engineering ranking looks at undergraduate engineering programs at universities (like UC San Diego) that offer Ph.D. degrees. It’s based on peer assessments. At the Jacobs School, world-class research and education intersect every day. There are many different ways for undergraduates to experience and participate in cutting-edge research at the Jacobs School – in research labs run by professors, in hands-on educational labs, and in classrooms.

For example, bioengineers at the Jacobs School recently published a paper describing a breakthrough that grew from a collaboration initially focused on creating clinically relevant, hands-on classroom projects for bioengineering undergraduates at UC San Diego. This effort in bioengineering is part of Jacobs School Dean Albert P. Pisano’s Experience Engineering Initiative.

The research that grew out of class prep? It’s about using 3D models to cut surgery times.
The UC San Diego researchers showed that 3D printed models of hip joints help surgeons shorten surgery times for the most common hip disorder found in children ages 9 to 16. In the study, UC San Diego bioengineers collaborating with pediatric orthopedic surgeons showed that allowing surgeons to prep on a 3D-printed model of the patient’s hip joint cut the amount of time needed for surgery by about 25 percent. The 3D models could save $2,700 per surgery while reducing the amount of radiation each patient is exposed to. Learn more:

3D printed hip joints. They are from the project that is helping reduce surgery times. This research grew from a project to make bioengineering undergraduate education at UC San Diego more clinically relevant and fun. 

The Jacobs School is also highly ranked for its graduate programs and for overall research impact. The Jacobs School, for example, ranks 8th in the nation and 28th in the world according to a US News Best Global Universities for Engineering ranking, published October 2016. The same ranking placed Computer Science at the Jacobs School 9th in the nation and 17th in the world.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

It's dark! And it's the middle of the day!

Jacobs School students, faculty and staff members were among the hundreds of thousands of Americans who traveled to be in the path of totality (when the moon completely covers the sun) for the first total solar eclipse to cross the continental United States in 40 years. And they shared their pictures and videos with us.
Antonella Wilby, a Ph.D. student in computer science and robotics, left from Rosenburg, Oregon, at 3 a.m. to drive to the Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge, south of Salem, to see the eclipse.
She wrote:
This was my first time experiencing a total eclipse, and it really is true that a photo or a description does not do the experience justice. I'd read about the darkness, a sunset on every horizon, a sudden drop in temperature, but it is something that must be seen firsthand to truly be understood. While I had read that animals and birds would often go silent at the moment of totality, as the moon slipped into place in front of the sun the onlookers dotting the hills of the refuge erupted into cheers and applause, jumping up and down and turning in circles to fully experience the 2 minutes and 20 seconds of midday twilight that nature had gifted us. How incredible to be a part of this collective celebration of the beauty of nature.
She made this time lapse image of the total eclipse:
 Computer science professor Bill Griswold saw the eclipse in Victor, Idaho, just east of the Grand Teton National Park. He gave us permission to share these pictures from the event:

Staff member Ioana Patringenaru was vacationing with her family in Portland, Oregon. They left at 5 a.m. to drive to the small town of Stayton, just east of Salem. They arrived around 7:30 a.m. to find a small number of people from all around the nation camped out on folding chairs an blankets on a field in front of Regis High School, a private, Catholic campus. The field was conveniently located near a couple of grocery stores with public restrooms and coffee shops.
Cars with license plates from California and Oregon, as well as Nevada and even New Jersey, were parked curbside by the field. Some people had eclipse glasses. Others had fashioned pinhole viewers. A few people had professional-grade equipment. There was even one drone.
As totality approached, the air got colder and windy. Many went to fetch jackets from their car. Patringenaru only had her smart phone with her, so her still photographs couldn't quite capture the beauty of the event. But she caught on video the excitement of her youngest daughter, age 7.
"It's really happening! It's so dark. And it's the middle of the day!" she says.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Gallium Nitride ‘Tangoes’ with Silicon to Overcome Nature’s Material Limitations

Gallium nitride (GaN) is a material that is used for radio and satellite communications in civil and military applications and in solid-state lighting such as LED bulbs. Researchers are also exploring GaN for use in high power applications such as power grids and electric vehicles. The market for GaN power devices is expected to reach $2.6 billion dollars by 2022. However, GaN is not an earth abundant material and only recently, small diameter GaN substrates have started to become available. Researchers have been growing GaN on foreign substrates for almost 5 decades, but the quality of the grown materials is compromised, especially on the standard microelectronics substrate, silicon (Si), which is over 1000 times cheaper than GaN substrates. The origin of the problem is a classical one: high quality material deposition is usually carried out near 1,000 degrees Celsius, but when dissimilar materials are cooled down to room temperature, their contraction can be disproportionate, resulting in the formation of cracks and material failure. This is exactly what happens when GaN is grown on Si. And because the crack severity depends on the thickness of the layers, the thickest pure and semiconductive GaN layer that can be grown on Si is 4.5 micrometers thick — too thin to provide good use of GaN for high power (kilovolt-scale) applications which require much thicker layers (10 microns or more). 

Scanning electron microscopy image of 
crack-free GaN on Si (19 μm thick at center).
Now researchers at the Integrated Electronics and Biointerfaces Group at UC San Diego led by electrical engineering professor Shadi Dayeh have solved this classical problem of thermal mismatches in the growth of dissimilar materials. In an article published on Aug. 21 in Advanced Materials, they combined fundamental crystal properties of GaN and geometrical effects to deflect strain from the crystal planes that usually crack under stress to the surface facets that can freely expand and contract in response to stress. By doing so, they were able to grow crack-free 19-micron-thick layers of GaN on Si — thicker than what’s needed for high-power applications. In the resulting structures, both GaN and Si had exposed surfaces to enable them to move, twist or “tango” together without cracking despite their thermal mismatch. 

Electrical engineering professor Shadi Dayeh (left) and 
Ph.D. graduate student Atsunori Tanaka (right) 
near the GaN MOCVD facility in the Qualcomm Institute 
at UC San Diego.
Thick layers also allowed the crystal defects — threading dislocations — to reduce from commonly achieved 108 – 109 per centimeter squared on Si to 107. And with the high material quality, Dayeh and his team demonstrated the first vertical GaN switches on Si. “This is the result of nearly four years of diligent efforts by graduate student Atsunori Tanaka, who learned and quickly excelled in the GaN metal organic chemical vapor deposition here at UC San Diego,” said Dayeh. “Our graduate students go through a full cycle of rigorous training in all aspects in electronic materials and devices and are prepared to tackle the greatest challenges in this area. A group of very talented students including Atsunori Tanaka, Woojin Choi, who fabricated the vertical switches, and Renjie Chen, who did the electron microscopy, have teamed up to complete the research,” Dayeh continued. Based on this work, Dayeh received funding in July from the National Science Foundation to realize a monolithically integrated GaN power converter on Si.

The growth, device fabrication and characterization were performed at UC San Diego and the electron microscopy was performed at the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies (CINT), a Department of Energy Office of Basic Science user facility that provides access to top-of-the-line equipment under a user proposal system.

Friday, August 11, 2017

UC San Diego at RoboCup 2017

Darren Chen, a Ph.D. student in computer science at UC San Diego, had just landed in Japan when he saw ads in the subway for the competition he was going to take part in. "I realized it was a big deal," he said. He might even have panicked a little, he admitted.
In fact, the competition, called the RoboCup, brought more than 10,000 spectators and competitors to Nagoya, Japan at the end of July. The event, which is broadcast on Japanese TV, was celebrating its 20th anniversary. 
Chen was part of a team of Ph.D. students from the Contextual Robotics Institute here at the Jacobs School that was taking part in the event's RoboCup @ Home challenge. It was UC San Diego's first time taking part in the competition.
In the @ Home challenge, 10 universities from around the world compete to complete a series of tasks by programming and training a Toyota Human Support Robot. The UC San Diego team had to sort groceries and help a person carry grocery items.
 In addition, they faced a task to qualify. On the fly, they had to program the Toyota robot to autonomously navigate and map out a room without bumping into people and objects. The robot also had to be able to obey verbal commands in a noisy environment.
But the team's worst foe turned out to be the venue's WiFi. When 10,000 people were using the same radio band, it became difficult for the robot to communicate with other computers quickly.
The researchers enjoyed the experience of participating in the competition, and look forward to continuing to build assistive robots in the future.
In addition to Chen, the team working on the RoboCup @ Home challenge included   Angelique Taylor, Priyam Parashar  and Ruffin White as well master's student Jaskaran Virdi from the research groups of computer science professors Laurel Riek and Henrik Christensen. Christensen is the director of the Contextual Robotics Institute.
More info:
Two of the UC San Diego Ph.D. students taking part in the competition, as seen by the Toyota robot.

Darren Chen, center, and Angelique Taylor, right, are two Ph.D. students in the research group of Professor Laurel Riek. 

Taylor has some fun with the robots on exhibit at RoboCup.