Structural and Materials Engineering Building
Creating a 21st Century Bauhaus
At NanoMacroMega, the first official event in the new Structural and Materials Engineering building, researchers presented on nanosensors, sustainable sculptures, cutting edge simulation techniques, experimental video projects and more. Speakers and attendees (see below) brainstormed about ways that collaborations between researchers in vastly different fields might occur. The workshop offered a glimpse into the possibilities for interdisciplinary and multi-scale interactions in the new building – the possibilities of a 21st Century Bauhaus.
This state-funded, 183,000 square foot facility provides the first permanent home for the Departments of Structural Engineering and NanoEngineering at the Jacobs School. These engineers share space with visual artists, and with medical device researchers from the Institute of Engineering in Medicine.
Research laboratories, visual arts studios, and visualization facilities in the new building are shared resources – by design – that encourage people working at different scales and in different fields to interact.
"As I look at where UCSD is headed, I think this building signifies the beginning of what we should be doing more and more of, which is combining sciences, engineering, technology, arts and humanities, all in a single hall to solve problems of societal significance," said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla at the formal building dedication.
As the engineers, medical device researchers and visual artists make the new building their home, these interactions and collaborations now have the opportunity to take root and grow.
"Behind any brilliant idea always has to be an implementer and nothing would have been possible without Frieder Seible. He is truly the heart, the soul and the inspiration of this new building. We all have witnessed how hard he has worked for this project, internally with the university, and with the state of California despite difficulties with the budget. The successful completion of this building is truly a testament to his values, his personality, and his strength," said Juan C. Lasheras, Interim Dean of the Jacobs School.
When Artists and Engineers Work Together
Nanoengineers have developed wearable explosive detection devices that can be easily disguised by temporary transfer tattoos.
Joshua Windmiller (BS '07, MS '09, Ph.D. '12, Electrical Engineering) has developed inexpensive, non-invasive and easily disguisable sensors that can accurately detect the vapors generated by the common chemical constituents found in improvised explosive devices. The sensors can also be used for healthcare, fitness and environmental monitoring. The device integrates temporary transfer tattoos with electrochemical sensors that can be applied directly to the skin or sewn into clothing.
Windmiller, who worked with visual artists on designs for the sensors, discussed the potential of this kind of ubiquitous sensing at the recent NanoMacroMega workshop in the new Structural and Materials Engineering building. The workshop brought together artists, engineers, architects and medical device researchers from UC San Diego and Bauhaus University Weimar – home of the Bauhaus movement, which integrated art, technology and craftsmanship and created modern architecture.
The nanoengineered tattoos, combined with high-fidelity electrochemical detection, have resulted in fast, rugged, highly sensitive devices that can detect targeted chemical compounds while tuning out noise. In the healthcare domain, the chemical information collected by the temporary-transfer tattoo biosensors offers the possibility of a more complete assessment of metabolic health than is possible with just physical parameters such as vital signs.
During NanoMacroMega, Teddy Cruz, a professor of visual arts at UC San Diego, said it's important to examine new technology in the context of society as a whole. "Let's not forget that modernity is about more than the onward march of technology," said Cruz, director of the Center for Urban Ecologies in the Visual Arts Department. "I think modernity also represents the possibility to rethink and to reform our institutions today based on these possibilities of interface between the large and the small, the formal and the informal, the micro and the macro."