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News Release

ViaSat Co-Founder Steve Hart Receives Outstanding Executive Award at Jacobs School Recognition Banquet

Steve Hart (Co-founder and CTO of ViaSat)Ourstanding Executive Award recognition video. Length: 3:00
Shonte Wright (Thermal Systems Engineering, NASA/JPL) Outstanding Alumna Award recognition video. Length: 2:48
Stefan Llewellyn Smith (asst professor, MAE) Tau Beta Pi Outstanding Professor Award recognition video.  Length: 2:09
Benjamin Graham (senior, MAE) Undergraduate Leadership Award recognition video. Length: 2:04
Valerie Liu Tsang (Ph.d. candidate, Bioengineering) Graduate Student Research Award recognition video. Length: 1:57

San Diego, Wednesday, May 26, 2004--The UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering awarded its 2004 Outstanding Executive Award to Steve Hart, UCSD alumnus and co-founder and chief technology officer of ViaSat, Inc., during the School’s Eighth Annual Recognition Banquet on May 21.   The Recognition Banquet celebrates the School’s partnerships with industry and is primarily supported by members of its Corporate Affiliates Program.  Nearly 550 people attended the event titled “The Thrill of Engineering” which was co-hosted by AT&T and Raytheon with reception sponsor Office Pavilion San Diego. 

Steve Hart was honored for his exceptional leadership in the communications industry and proactive support for collaboration between technology companies and UCSD.   In 1986, he co-founded ViaSat with Mark Dankberg and fellow UCSD alumnus Mark Miller.  ViaSat produces satellite and other wireless communication products that enable fast, secure, and efficient communications to any location. The company’s contracts range from tactical data links for the military and high-speed Internet access to thousands of schools in Mexico, to SurfBeam, a new satellite broadband access system.  Hart is a 1980 graduate of UCSD and an active member of the UCSD Alumni Association.   He serves on the Jacobs School Corporate Affiliates Program executive board, and is a corporate champion of many of the School’s programs with industry including the Center for Wireless Communications and a new educational initiative in systems engineering.   

The Jacobs School presented its 2004 Outstanding Alumna Award to NASA/JPL thermal engineer Shonte Wright for her technical accomplishments and her service to the community. As one of the chief designers of the thermal systems on the 2004 Mars Exploration Rover mission, Wright helped create and test the heating systems that protect the hundreds of solar powered motors on the rovers.  Wright was also part of the “M-Team” in Marsapalooza, a national outreach program which toured five cities and reached 10,000 people in December 2003.   The team of young scientists and engineers met with students in underserved communities, and presented themselves as role models to inspire the next generation of explorers and engineers.    Wright received her bachelor’s degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering from the Jacobs School in 1997. 

Among the other awards presented at the Jacobs School Recognition Banquet, students with the Tau Beta Pi Honor Society recognized Stefan Llewellyn Smith with the 2004 Outstanding Professor Award.  Smith, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, teaches undergraduate courses in fluid mechanics and applied mechanics and was nominated by his students for his excellent teaching and mentoring of undergraduates.  Llewellyn Smith is an expert in fluid dynamics and is especially interested in how the ocean's tides are involved in mixing. His findings enable him to build models that he uses to study how pollutants and chemicals mix and are transported, and make important parallels to industrial settings.

 Benjamin Graham received the 2004 Undergraduate Student Leadership Award for his exemplary leadership in UCSD student organizations.  The 22-year-old Regents Scholar has held every elected position within the Jacobs School’s Triton Engineering Student Council. Graham also chaired the Society of Automotive Engineers chapter on the UCSD campus, which fielded a UCSD-designed-and-built race car in the Formula SAE competition in May.  Graham’s leadership role extends well beyond the Jacobs School and he has done volunteer work and outreach through Upward Bound, Tau Beta Pi, and the Preuss School at UCSD.    He was elected the youngest-ever vice president of finance for UCSD’s Associated Students organization where he was responsible for a $1.2 million budget. Graham is also a member of the Warren College advising committee, sat on the university budget committee, and was elected a freshman class senator in 2001.    Graham will receive his bachelors of science in mechanical engineering this June.  He plans to join Raytheon Systems in El Segundo where he has worked in computer-aided design in Raytheon’s opto-mechanical center for the past three summers, including last summer, when he designed three individual parts to be put into production for Black Hawk helicopters. 

The Graduate Student Research Award was presented to Valerie Liu Tsang for her innovative research in tissue engineering.  Tsang is a Ph.D. candidate in bioengineering where she has developed with her advisor professor Sangeeta Bhatia three-dimensional photopatterning of hydrogels containing living cells. She has applied for a patent on the technique, which uses ultraviolet light, polymer hydrogel and a liver cell mixture to create intricate cell structures on glass wafers. The innovative process allows her to create more complex cell structures like those found within the human liver, with implications ranging from drug toxicity studies, to the ultimate goal of a fully-functional, implantable artificial liver.  Tsang won the Best Poster award at the Jacobs School’s 2004 Research Review. The Whitaker Foundation Fellow has also recently won a fellowship from the American Association of University Women. 

The Jacobs School Recognition Banquet was made possible through the generous support of the table sponsors including Alliance Pharmaceutical Corporation, AT&T, ATA Engineering, Inc., BAE SYSTEMS, Booz Allen Hamilton, Burkett & Wong Engineers, Cal-(IT)2, Callaway Golf Company, UCSD Center for Wireless Communications, Cohu Companies, Conexant Systems, Inc., Cubic Corporation, Cymer, Inc., Enterprise Partners Venture Capital, Ericsson Wireless Communications, Inc., Eris Tech, Inc., Fair Isaac Corporation, General Atomics, Gordon Forward, Hughes Network Systems, IBM Corporation, Information System Laboratories, Inc., Joseph Richardson, Kyocera America, Inc., Lockheed Martin ORINCON Corporation, Marco Thompson, NCR Corporation, Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems Sector, Northrop Grumman Space Technology, Radio Systems, Office Pavilion, San Diego, QUALCOMM, Incorporated, Quantum Magnetics, Raytheon, SAIC, Simon Wong Engineering, Skyworks Solutions, Inc., Smith-Emery Company, Solar Turbines Incorporated, The Boeing Company, The Titan Corporation, UC San Diego Alumni Relations, Unisys Corporation, ViaSat, Inc., and the von Liebig Center for Entrepreneurism and Technology Advancement at the Jacobs School.

Media Contacts

Denine Hagen
Jacobs School of Engineering