News Release

2013: The Year in Review

San Diego, Calif., Dec. 17, 2013 -- From the largest alumni gift in the campus’ history, which went to the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, to the arrival of Dean Al Pisano, it’s been a busy year here at the Jacobs School of Engineering. The school produced many research milestones, from a Google map of the human metabolism to the world’s first zoomable contact lens. Students got into the action too and UC San Diego became the first university to design, build and test a 3D-printed rocket engine. Here are some of the most memorable stories of the year—but not all: the list would be too long.

Largest alumni gift in UCSD history
An $18.5 million gift from a UC San Diego alumnus will set the computer science and engineering department on a new course into the future, funding new faculty endowed chairs, top-of-the-line teaching labs, support for graduate students, and expanded mentoring and tutoring programs for the next generation of undergraduates. The gift marks a milestone in UC San Diego’s history as it is the largest gift ever made to the university by one of its alumni. More



Our new dean: Al Pisano
The University of California, San Diego has named professor Albert ("Al") P. Pisano, a highly accomplished mechanical engineer from UC Berkeley, as the next dean of the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. Pisano’s appointment begins Sept. 1, 2013. The appointment follows an international search for a prominent research engineer to lead the Jacobs School of Engineering, which ranks 12th in the world according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities. More



First university to design and test a 3D printed rocket engine
On a hot Saturday afternoon in the Mojave Desert, a team of UC San Diego engineering students huddled in a small underground bunker and watched quietly as the rocket engine they had designed over the past eight months flared to life on a test platform. As a jet of rocket fuel sprang out of the engine at supersonic speed, the students cheered loudly. The test by the UC San Diego chapter of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) marked the first time that a university-led group had successfully designed, built and tested a 3-D-printed rocket engine, according to More



World’s first zoomable contact lens
A team of engineers has designed a telescopic contact lens that can switch between normal and magnified vision by using slightly modified off-the-shelf 3D television glasses. The researchers, led by Joseph Ford, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of California, San Diego, built a prototype of the lens and tested it on a mechanical eye. Researchers report their findings in the June 27 online issue of Optics Express, an open-access journal of the Optical Society. More



Researchers create a Google map of the human metabolism
Building on earlier pioneering work by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, an international consortium of university researchers has produced the most comprehensive virtual reconstruction of human metabolism to date. Scientists could use the model, known as Recon 2, to identify causes of and new treatments for diseases like cancer, diabetes and even psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. Each person’s metabolism, which represents the conversion of food sources into energy and the assembly of molecules, is determined by genetics, environment and nutrition. The researchers presented Recon 2 in a paper published online March 3 in the journal Nature Biotechnology. More


Nanoengineering Prof Liangfang Zhang makes MIT Tech Review annual innovators under 35 list
MIT Technology Review has named Liangfang Zhang, a professor of nanoengineering at the University of California, San Diego, among the top 35 young innovators of 2013. For over a decade, the global media company has recognized a list of exceptionally talented technologists whose work has great potential to transform the world. Zhang, who joined the faculty of the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering in 2008, has been honored as a pioneer on the list for his work in nanotechnology and materials. More


Shake table and SkySweeper robot receive Best of What’s New awards from Popular Science
The biggest outdoor shake table in the world and a robot designed to move along utility lines have received Best of What’s New awards from Popular Science, the world’s largest science and technology magazine. The two projects are featured in the magazine’s December issue, now on newsstands. More

Popular Science citations:
Shake table

Nanosponges absorb toxins in blood stream, turn into MRSA toxin vaccine
Nanosponges that soak up a dangerous pore-forming toxin produced by MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) could serve as a safe and effective vaccine against this toxin. This “nanosponge vaccine” enabled the immune systems of mice to block the adverse effects of the alpha-haemolysin toxin from MRSA—both within the bloodstream and on the skin. Nanoengineers from the University of California, San Diego described the safety and efficacy of this nanosponge vaccine in the Dec. 1 issue of Nature Nanotechnology. More



Computer scientists develop new approach to sort cells up to 38 times faster
A team of engineers led by computer scientists at the University of California, San Diego, has developed a new approach that marries computer vision and hardware optimization to sort cells up to 38 times faster than is currently possible. The approach could be used for clinical diagnostics, stem cell characterization and other applications. More

Media Contacts

Ioana Patringenaru
Jacobs School of Engineering