San Diego, CA, June 1, 2007 -- At rock shows, the engineers are often backstage operating the sound equipment and running the computer systems; but at UCSD, the engineers are moving out front. Serge Belongie, a computer science and engineering (CSE) professor, has started a new concert series featuring bands affiliated with UCSD’s Jacobs School of Engineering.
The concert series kicks off on June 8th from 6 p.m.-11 p.m. at Porter’s Pub on the UCSD campus and is nicknamed the “Jacobs School of Rock” or JSOR for short (even engineers wielding electric guitars like acronyms).
The band SO3 at Porter's Pub. UCSD computer science professor Serge Belongie (right) who is on bass and vocals for SO3, is the founder of the new concert series, the Jacobs School of Rock. Mike Artamonov, UCSD computer science alumnus plays guitar for SO3 (left) and Hugh Aitchison is on drums (center).
And the music doesn’t stop there. The chair of the computer science and engineering department, Keith Marzullo, is an accomplished ukulele player and instructor. He will be half of the opening act at the June 8 event.
Looking beyond his own department, Belongie discovered bands from departments throughout the Jacobs School of Engineering. The departments of Computer Science and Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), and Bioengineering will all be represented in the first of what the organizers aim to be a series of concerts.
“For this first show, I just hope that the crowd has fun and that people from different departments and disciplines get to hang out and interact,” said Belongie. “If this leads to more collaboration – in terms of research or music – I'll count it as a success.”
Belongie, who contributes bass and vocals to the band SO3, is no stranger to cross pollination. His research on computer vision, object recognition and biometrics has long been interdisciplinary in nature.
Carolina Galleguillos, a UCSD computer science graduate student and the lead vocalist in the band Audition Lab, will be singing on June 8 at Porter's Pub as a part of the new Jacobs School of Rock concert series.
Lest the notion of engineers performing live on stage sound like a chapter of an ill-advised sequel to Revenge of the Nerds, a brief tour through the song files on the MySpace pages of the JSOR acts reveals a surprisingly diverse cross section of musical styles and lyrical content. “This is not music from the Silicon Valley NerdCore scene,” noted Mike Artamonov, CSE alumnus and guitarist for SO3, referring to the nascent geek hip-hop movement that focuses on subject matter by nerds, for nerds. “The bands in JSOR play music that would be right at home on [radio stations such as] KPRI or 91X,” continued Artamonov, who holds down a day job as a software developer at Intuit, Inc.
Belongie arrived at UCSD in 2001, after earning his Ph.D. at UC Berkeley and working for several years at a startup company located near Stanford. “I was accustomed to engineering students spending whatever precious free time they had starting high tech companies out of their garages. I thought that playing in a rock band was something for the humanities majors,” he said.
As the years in San Diego passed, Belongie was pleasantly surprised to meet students like Luke Barrington who challenged these preconceived notions of engineers. Barrington currently balances the roles of guitarist for the band Audition Lab, graduate student in ECE, and co-founder of a new startup company with his thesis advisor, Gert Lanckriet, who is the emcee for the June 8 event.
“I’ve found that playing music has been a gateway to academic contacts that would have been otherwise impossible,” said Barrington, whose band performed at the banquet for the recent Calit2 ITA’07 workshop. “We featured many of the workshop’s guest speakers on vocals, guitar and drums. I got to play with some of the smartest and most respected professors in the field – guys who are the rock stars of information theory and statistics,” Barrington said. “I was even invited to play with one professor’s band at a gig in Berkeley.”
The event moniker, the Jacobs School of Rock, is inspired by the 20 foot tall, 370,000 pound granite rock sculpture of a bear situated in the middle of the Engineering courtyard, part of UCSD’s Stuart Collection. “It’s a sign,” remarked Belongie, “that at the symbolic center of the school of engineering is a figure of unadulterated, earthquake proof, aesthetically pleasing hard rock.”
For more information about upcoming JSOR events, see http://jsor.ucsd.edu.
Jacobs School of Rock »
CSE Chair and ukulele player Keith Marzullo »
Random Play »
Audition Lab »
The Contrapositives »
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