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MAE junior Nick Statom
San Diego, CA, December 23, 2003 -- Two technology-savvy students will represent the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) at the University of California's fifth annual undergraduate research showcase. Ben Maggos and Nick Statom were selected to present their research as part of UC Day next March 9 in Sacramento. "This competition highlights the importance of undergraduate research to California," said Cathie Magowan, Director of Science & Technology Research in the UC Office of the President (UCOP). "Research opportunities as undergraduates prepare students for careers in science and technology, and inspire them to go on to graduate work that ensures continued innovation in California's leading industries."

Ben Maggos, Class of '04, is majoring in Interdisciplinary Computing and the Arts within the Visual Arts department, as well as Philosophy. Last summer, he was one of 17 undergraduates on the UCSD campus who received scholarships to do hands-on research for the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology [Cal-(IT)²], a joint venture between UCSD and UC Irvine. Maggos worked with two graduate researchers and faculty advisor Sheldon Brown, director of the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA), on visualizations of the Cal-(IT)² Building, now under construction on the La Jolla campus. "The software we are developing and using also has great potential for other work," said Maggos. "We are providing a testbed for development of visualization software that can accommodate large heterogeneous data sets in a variety of environments."

For Maggos, the primary research challenge was the conversion of two-dimensional line drawings and floor plans into interactive 3D models and multimedia animations. "Initially, I was responsible for lighting and texturing the 3D models and for discovering or inventing ways of optimizing the geometry to run in a real-time interactive environment," he said. "My involvement has since evolved to a leadership position in the project." Maggos won the Cal-(IT)² Undergraduate Research Prize for 2003 (shared with electrical engineer Edward Shyu), and his research will now be showcased in Sacramento.

Nick Statom is a junior majoring in Mechanical Engineering at UCSD's Jacobs School of Engineering. He was nominated by his faculty advisor, Sarah Gille, a professor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department as well as Scripps Institution of Oceanography, for his research on the "Analysis of Sea Breeze Effects Using QuikSCAT and SeaWinds Scatterometry." Statom also works with Stefan Llewellyn Smith, a professor of Environmental Engineering in the Jacobs School. "The sea breeze effects are very pertinent to the state of California, because its coastline is valuable to its subsistence," said Statom, who also enjoys the coastline as a championship bodyboarder on the UCSD surf team. "Environmental effects, weather forecasting, and the fishing industry are all greatly affected by this phenomenon."

Senior and former Cal-(IT)² Scholar Ben Maggos

Statom's research is part of a NASA program called Ocean Vector Winds, which is deploying SeaWinds scatterometers on satellites. Scatterometers are specialized microwave radars that measure near-surface wind velocity (both speed and direction) under all weather and cloud conditions over Earth's oceans. Previous analyses based only on QuikSCAT satellite data allowed scientists to observe ocean winds twice per day, but did not permit them to estimate the detailed structure of the daily sea breeze wind cycle. More recently, SeaWinds was also deployed on Japan's ADEOS-II satellite, allowing Statom and Gille to analyze and compare the measurements from both space-bound scatterometers of wind, taken four times a day off southern Baja California. Then they examined the daily wind cycle, averaged over 155 days, and extended their analysis to the entire planet. In coastal regions, diurnal variability corresponds to the land/sea breeze, forced by differential heating of the land and ocean. Statom worked on analyzing the data with a goal of evaluating the tandem scatterometer mission's skill at detecting land/sea breeze effects. He works out of Scripps' Physical Oceanography Research Division.

UC Day is sponsored by the Alumni Associations of the statewide university. In connection with the event, the system-wide UC Office of Research holds an annual competition to select and showcase two outstanding abstracts describing research projects from each of the eight UC undergraduate campuses. Faculty deans nominate a handful of researchers, and the UC Office of Research makes the final selections. "The quality of all the research abstracts was excellent," noted UCOP's Magowan. "We made selections based on merit, the appeal of the topic to an audience of alumni and legislators, and to achieve a broad representation of disciplines and research experiences".

Statom and Maggos will receive plaques at a UC Day luncheon honoring their participation, and their posters will subsequently be displayed outside the Governor's Office in the Capitol Building for one week.

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Note to Editors: News services are welcome to link to or download Quicktime visualizations of the Cal-(IT)² Building here.

Media Contact: Doug Ramsey (858) 822-5825

Related Links:
UC Day 2004
NASA Ocean Vector Winds
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Jacobs School of Engineering
Ben Maggos' Research
Nick Statom's Research

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