UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering University of California San Diego
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Frieder Seible

Once again, the Jacobs School is bringing the New Year with new ideas, new projects and new education and research initiatives.

To energize us for the new year, we received invaluable input from our Council of Advisors, our senior-level industry and alumni advisory board, on issues ranging from new paradigms for engineering education to emerging technology challenges. I want to share here just one of the discussions from our November Council meeting, namely the need to teach our students the importance of continued learning. Our fast moving technology and knowledge acquisition requires that students are comfortable with and anticipate changing job and career environments. Thus, we need to educate our students to become life-long learners; a formidable task that we as teachers and mentors need to lead by example. How often have we as professors asked ourselves “What have I learned from my students today?”, and what would the students in their quarterly course evaluations answer to the question: “What has the professor learned in this course?” Another way we can show our students the importance of continued learning is by bringing our own research into the classroom, even at the undergraduate level, and have our students participate in our own continued learning and discovery process.

In December, we broke ground for the world’s first outdoor shake table, part of a new earthquake engineering Field Station at Camp Elliott for the Powell Structural Research Laboratories and the Structural Engineering Department. The National Science Foundation is funding the facility through its 15-site Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation program. I am gratified that we are receiving outstanding technical and matching fund support from our friends in the structural engineering and construction industry, even in light of the sluggish economy. It is a real sign that the work we are doing is making a difference in terms of building safer, more cost-effective, and more reliable structures. The field station at Camp Elliott is one of three large capital projects currently ongoing here at the Jacobs School. Construction is underway on the buildings for the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology [Cal-(IT)²], as well as for our Computer Science and Engineering Department. Meanwhile, our Bioengineering Department is in the final stages of moving into their wonderful new Powell-Focht Bioengineering Hall.

In regards to research, networking and systems integration are examples of areas that we will focus attention on in the new year. We have already established a world-renown program in the arena of wireless networks through our Center for Wireless Communications and our Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. And we are moving strongly into the area of optical networks with a $13.5 million National Science Foundation Information Technology Research grant led by Larry Smarr, Cal-(IT)² director. Our Computer Science and Engineering Department has built an incredible cadre of faculty working on networking issues such as traffic monitoring and routing, security, reliability, high performance grid computing, and overlay networks. Building on the strengths of the CSE and ECE Departments and in partnership with the San Diego Supercomputer Center and Cal-(IT)², we are considering the establishment of a new industry-sponsored research center focused on networking, with test bed optical and wireless communications networks right here on our UCSD campus.

As sensor networks become an increasingly important tool for data-gathering in a broad range of applications, including structural health monitoring, visualizing the data will be a high priority. Last spring, UCSD and San Diego State University unveiled the world's first visualization complex dedicated to earth and ocean sciences, linking wide-screen, “immersive” environments over a 2.5 gigabit-persecond optical network. Brought together through Cal-(IT)² and supported by industry partners, the complex includes a Visualization Center at Scripps Institution of Oceanography linked to a similar facility at San Diego State University. We are now working towards creating a third immersive visualization center here at the Jacobs School, which would become part of the existing network. We see this shared-use facility as an important research tool for our computer vision and graphics faculty, as well as other faculty who want to display and analyze large data sets.

Another priority for us has to be homeland security, particularly with the recent establishment of the federal Department for Homeland Security. We need to explore what role the Jacobs School should play in this time of changing reality. As I mentioned in the last issue of this newsletter, the Jacobs School has more than 40 ongoing research projects with direct applications to homeland security. In addition, much of the homeland security research will happen in the national laboratories with a huge demand for our engineering graduates. The Jacobs School is beginning to work with the Los Alamos National Laboratory to create a joint
engineering education and research program with emphasis in critical infrastructure protection and structural health, performance and security monitoring.

We look forward to sharing with you progress on these and other exciting initiatives in coming issues of the newsletter.

Frieder Seible
Interim Dean