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Dean's Column

Sustainability: A Jacobs School Priority

Frieder Seible, Dean

The prudent management of our environment and securing reliable energy sources are critical to our economic prosperity, national security, and indeed, our way of life. Building on UCSD's strength in climate research and renewable energy, this campus is making UCSD a "living laboratory" for sustainable operations and research. UCSD has already become a testbed for an array of creative solutions: consolidating computer servers in energy-efficient mobile facilities; reducing our own power consumption in dozens of ways, and even swapping 225 gasoline-powered vehicles in the campus fleet for 225 zero-emission electric vehicles.

The evidence of our focus on sustainability is present at almost every turn on campus. An electronic display on exterior of the Powell Labs is more than an educational tool. It is a constant reminder to students and other passersby that electricity produced by solar panels on the roof of the labs has large cumulative beneficial impacts. Our students are deploying a network of 30 weather monitoring stations that will soon help the university use ocean breezes to cool its buildings, and even make "smart" decisions on when to irrigate our playing fields.

In addition to these campus improvements, Jacobs School faculty and students continue to focus on new renewable technologies for the future. For example, researchers with our Center for Energy Research are working on improving gas turbines and fuel mixing. Another project is focused on turning cellulosic wastes into alcohol fuel. Working with General Atomics, the Jacobs School has one of the best fusion energy research groups in the country.

In photovoltaics, several faculty members are experimenting with approaches to more efficiently convert photon energy into electricity with quantum wells, nanowire vertical arrays, and other innovative possibilities. Our new Center for Control Systems and Dynamics is working on a variety of energy efficient applications, including a new homogeneous charge compression ignition engine.

Our energy-saving practices will enable this campus to be a model of sustainability, but this is only part of the picture. The clear focus of the Jacobs School on sustainability - both in applied and basic research and also in education - is why we will also fulfill our vision of transforming society.

Frieder Seible

Frieder Seible

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