News Release

Collaboration, Interdisciplinary Work Take Center Stage at Dedication of Structural and Materials Building

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About 500 hundred people turned out for the dedication of the Structural and Materials Engineering building. Frieder Seible, dean of the Jacobs School of Engineering, acted as host during the event.
View a photo gallery of the event. 

San Diego, Calif., Sept. 21, 2012 -- The University of California, San Diego dedicated its new Structural and Materials Engineering building Sept. 14 during a standing-room only ceremony. The event brought together the engineers, medical device researchers and visual artists who will work in the building, as well as top campus administrators, supporters and industry representatives.

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A researcher demonstrates the use of an instrument in one of the building's nanoengineering laboratories.

The state-funded, 183,000 square foot building provides the first permanent home for the Departments of Structural Engineering and NanoEngineering at the Jacobs School. These engineers share space with Visual Arts, and with medical device researchers from the Institute of Engineering in Medicine.

“These are the areas that define our future and the people who are working within these centers, within these departments, are future leaders,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “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.”

Frieder Seible, dean of the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego, echoed Khosla’s comments. “The hope and aspiration for this building is that it is not a physical location for four seemingly disparate academic units but that it will be transformational for our campus and how we collaborate in our research and education mission,” he said.

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Guests visit an undergraduate teaching laboratory for structural engineering students.

The building also will be home to the Cymer Conference Center, which will help foster these collaborations, while supporting San Diego’s technology community.

During the dedication, best-selling science fiction author and UC San Diego alumnus David Brin, attempted to imagine some of the future discoveries engineers and artists would make by working hand in hand. Brin is particularly well suited for this exercise. He has won both the prestigious Nebula and Hugo awards for science fiction writing and earned a Ph.D. in physics from UC San Diego in 1981.

“This building will thrive because its cells are leaky, its structures malleable and adaptable to changing needs—deliberately almost biological,” Brin said.

 “Problem solvers within these walls will send robots into the bloodstream and mysterious nonlinear realms within the cell,” he also said. “New work in fluidics, materials and battery storage will help us tackle vexing energy problems.” Researchers will create a world where truly smart materials will allow your shoes, your shirt, your dinner plate to actively respond to your will, Brin predicted.

The building also will heal the divide between the hard sciences and arts and humanities, he said. “Fiercely pragmatic researchers and dissectors of objective reality will share floors with the Department of Visual Arts in spaces that are deliberately intermingled so that engineers will constantly find themselves engaged in conversations with right-brain creators.”

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Guests interact with artwork in the building's art gallery on the first floor. 

The dedication’s other speakers also praised the structure as forward-looking. The building will offer educators a 21st-century space to teach 21st-century students, said Seth Lerer, dean of Arts and Humanities at UC San Diego. “I can think of no better bridge between the arts and sciences, between the imagination and technology than this structural and materials building and the remarkable collaboration that it offers all of us,” he said.

The building will be a place where students and faculty will be able to contribute to a better future and make a long-lasting impact, said Karl Beucke, president of the Bauhaus-University, Weimar, on which the building has been modeled to a degree.

State Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher also predicted that the building would have a significant impact in San Diego and for the economy as a whole. He represents the 75th district, which includes UC San Diego. “The real treasure will be the students that come out this,” he said. “They’re going to build the jobs of the future. They’re going to solve a lot of amazing problems.”

Watch David Brin's talk

Watch the other dedication speeches

Media Contacts

Ioana Patringenaru
Jacobs School of Engineering