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Stereo Vision for Underwater Archaeology

As co-director of Engineers for Exploration, Prof. Ryan Kastner led expeditions to test an underwater stereo camera system for producing 3D reconstructions of underwater objects. Here Kastner is shown with the camera system in a UCSD pool. Read more…  

Kastner Underwater

Pacific Interlude

Four of the 10 UCSD undergraduates in the 2014 Pacific Rim Experiences for Undergraduates (PRIME) program are CSE majors. (L-r) Allen Nguyen and Lok Yi (Nicole) Wong did research in Japan, while Matthew Schwegler and Katerina Zorko spent the summer in Australia. Read more…


Girls Day Out

The UCSD chapter of Women in Computing (WiC) held its second annual Girls Day Out in May, bringing roughly 100 girls from San Diego high schools to tour the campus and do hands-on experiments in electronics. Here, girls visit the Qualcomm Institute’s StarCAVE virtual reality room. Read more…  

Girls Day Out

Coding for a Cause

Then-sophomore Sneha Jayaprakash's mobile app, Bystanders to Upstanders (B2U), matches students with opportunities to volunteer for social causes. Together with fellow CSE undergrads, she won a series of grants and awards, and is now doing a startup. Read more...

Sneha Jayaprakash

Photo Finish

CSE alumna Brina Lee (M.S. ’13) was the first full-time female engineer hired at Instagram. Then Instagram was purchased by Facebook, and now Lee is spending much of her time talking to female students about opportunities in computer science. Read more… 

Brina Lee

Internet of Things

Computer scientists at UCSD developed a tool that allows hardware designers and system builders to test security. The tool tags then tracks critical pieces in a hardware’s security system. Pictured (l-r): Ph.D. student Jason Oberg, Prof. Ryan Kastner, postdoc Jonathan Valamehr. Read more…

Internet of Things

Research Expo 2014

At the Jacobs School of Engineering’s Research Expo 2014, CSE Chair Rajesh Gupta (pictured) briefed industry and visitors, and Ph.D. student Matthew Jacobsen won best CSE poster for “Hardware-Accelerated Online Boosting for Tracking.” Read more…

Research Expo 2014


Ph.D. student Laura Pina won best paper with Microsoft colleagues at PervasiveHealth 2014 for developing ParentGuardian, a mobile app/sensor detecting stress in parents of children with ADHD. The system helps parents cope with stress in real time. Read more…  


New Faculty

Former UC Berkeley professor Ravi Ramamoorthi joined CSE’s visual computing faculty, and he is one of six new CSE faculty hires in 2014. Others include assistant teaching professors Mia Minnes and Leo Porter, and assistant professors George Porter, Daniel M. Kane and Julian McAuley. Read more…

Ravi Ramamoorthi

Fun and Functional

CSE 145 teaches students about embedded systems design, and they do capstone projects. For one team, that meant building Ruku, a robot and mobile app that solves a Rubik’s Cube in 30 seconds. (L-r): William Mutterspaugh, Daryl Stimm and Jonas Kabigting. Read more…

Ruku to solve Rubik's Cube

Overclocked Enthusiasts

CSE alumni, students, staff and faculty turned out in force to run, walk or just cheer on the Overclocked CSE Enthusiasts, the department's main team entered in the Chancellor’s 5K run in June. Prof. Christine Alvarado ranked #1 in her division. Read more…  

5K Race

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

CSE capped the 2012-'13 academic year with the announcement of an anonymous $18.5 million gift from an alumnus – making it the largest-ever alumni gift to UC San Diego. Read more...

  • CSE Student Elected Chief of Staff in Graduate Student Association

    As if she needed more work to keep her busy, hard-working CSE Ph.D. student Natalie Larson has taken on new duties, after being elected Chief of Staff of UC San Diego's Graduate Student Association (GSA). "I will help facilitate communication between the GSA, department staff contacts, and the graduate student body," says Larson. "Many students don't know the ability the GSA has to influence campus-wide policies regarding, for example, health insurance, transportation, housing, and funding for student groups. I hope that I can help increase awareness of the work the GSA does, so that everyone who wants to can have a voice in these decisions and take advantage of GSA's resources."  Larson will also oversee the GSA's undergraduate student workers during her tenure as Chief of Staff through the end of the 2014-'15 school year. While she is the sole CSE person on the GSA executive board, Larson is one of four CSE student representatives in GSA (the others are Gautam Akiwate, Gina Tuazon and Kashyap Tumkur, with alternate Dorothy Yen).

    Larson (at right) is so busy that she recently had to turn down an invitation to speak at a European Union conference in Brussels  on Internet measurement and net neutrality. She just participated in the December 10-11 5th Workshop on Internet Economics, organized by UC San Diego's Center for Applied Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA) and MIT, which took place in the Institute of the Americas. Participants included researchers, commercial Internet facilities and service providers, technologists, economists, theorists, policy-makers and others with a stake in emerging regulatory and policy debates, and how they can be informed by the hard empirical facts that Larson and others are studying to measure Internet activity.  For her part, Larson is working on an ongoing CAIDA-MIT project to map Internet connectivity and congestion (the primary focus of her Ph.D. work) with CAIDA director and CSE faculty-affiliate K.C. Claffy, and she is co-authoring a white paper on Internet policy for the European Parliament (jointly with a graduate student from the Oxford Internet Institute).

    Larson doesn't have to worry about how to pay for her education. Last year she received a prized Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Fellowship from the Department of Defense. To repay that support, she committed to work two summers and then three years in a DOD research facility. The Ph.D. student may take time out next spring for an extended stay at Grinnell College, her alma mater. "Grinnell has invited me back as an Alumni Scholar this spring," notes Larson. Indeed, she is currently featured on the home page of Grinnell's computer-science department -- even though her 2006 degree from Grinnell was in art, not computer science. Larson earned a second undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt, majoring in both mathematics and computer science, graduating in 2012, just before coming to CSE for grad school.

  • Real (Computer) Science. Now in Real Time.

    Julian McAuley, one of CSE's newest faculty hires, believes in open science. So much so, that he decided to turn his staid faculty portrait into a real-time streaming video feed that allows interested viewers to watch McAuley at his desk in the CSE Building.

    "I believe that science should be open and reproducible," says McAuley. "Releasing code and data is great, of course, but why not make the entire scientific process transparent? Every experiment I run, and every line of code I write should be accountable. Even though I hope nobody is watching my every move, it does create a personal sense of accountability just knowing that somebody could be doing so."

    McAuley says he was also trying to inform those viewers who might be curious about what the scientific process looks like. "Most people have no idea what computer scientists actually do all day," he adds. "Admittedly, the answer may not actually be all that exciting, or I'd probably have more viewers."

    The CSE assistant professor even allows viewers to track what he is working on by providing a video insert showing what's on the PC screen he is looking at. He says the video feed makes him more, rather than less, productive in the workplace.

    "I've always found that I procrastinate less when somebody is watching me, so why not have people watching me all the time?" asks McAuley, who goes on to say that he is "much more reluctant to waste 20 minutes watching YouTube videos if I think somebody might be judging me for it."

    McAuley recognizes that there may be security or privacy concerns when colleagues or students show up in his office and may be caught on camera without having specifically signed off on a "guest appearance" on The Julian McAuley Show. For now, he posts an "On-Air" sign on his door to give visitors advance warning. "I'll have to give more thought to it if this ever becomes popular," he says, adding that he may at times come off as less than professorial. "When Rajesh Gupta emailed the department to announce that I'd accepted a position at UCSD, I was busy shoving pizza into my face while my future colleagues were visiting my website."

    For all the pros and cons, McAuley says he will continue to replace his faculty photo with a live video feed from his desk. He jokes that someday the National Science Foundation will require broadcasting of every minute of scientific activity on the projects it funds. If so, the CSE professor will have a leg up on the competition.

    View Julian McAuley's home page.

  • CSE Alumni, Students Take Advantage of Growing Startup Ecosystem

    This Wednesday, December 10, students will have the rare opportunity to hear about the entrepreneurship-related programs available through CSE and UC San Diego, all in one place, at one time.  From noon to 1pm in Jacobs Hall's Qualcomm Conference Center, three groups will stage a combined Info Session. The NSF I-Corps program run by The von Liebig Center, the Jacobs School-based Moxie Center, and the student-run UC San Diego Entrepreneur Challenge will spell out how students can get involved in the process of taking a concept from the lab to the marketplace.

    Representatives of these groups will talk about their respective programs. Moxie Center director Jay Kunin will talk about the Moxie Entrepreneur's Academy, scheduled for Wednesday evenings during the winter quarter from 6-8pm.  The von Liebig Center's Jay Gilberg will spell out plans for the I-Corps programs on Tuesday and Thursday evenings 6-8pm. Nine startups developed in the Fall quarter will move to the second stage, and another 15 or so new student teams begin stage one..

    The UC San Diego Entrepreneur Challenge's Michael Hayden will talk about several different competitions designed to help students develop and convey their best ideas for commercialization, with most activities scheduled for Monday evenings. The contests include the Best Elevator Pitch (pitches less than 60 seconds in length), the Best Business Plan competition, and hackathons, in addition to the E-Challenge itself, which singles out the best startups in life sciences and other technologies.

    CSE students and alumni have taken advantage of such programs, in part due to the decision to locate the Moxie Center in the CSE Building. "We are very proud of current and former students who have taken an idea and turned it into a viable startup or licensing deal," says CSE chair Rajesh Gupta.

    Gupta points to alumna Natalie Castellana (M.S. '09, Ph.D. '12), who is Chief Technology Officer at Digital Proteomics LLC (since May 2012, when she finished her doctorate under CSE Prof. Vineet Bafna, who co-founded the company with CSE professors Pavel Pevzner and Nuno Bandeira). Castellana (at left) developed algorithms and software for interrogating the proteome through mass spectrometry. She also developed a pipeline for automated gene finding. Digital Proteomics offers more than half a dozen toolkits to scientists who want to undertake monoclonal antibody sequencing, universal peptide identification, de novo  peptide sequencing as well as spectral clustering and quality filtering. Among other deals with biotech companies, Digital Proteomics has worked closely with Genentech to develop Castellana's antibody sequencing tool called Valens.

    CSE students can take advantage of new sources of funding, as well. These include crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Currently one of the big success stories on Kickstarter is Hush Technology, whose campaign has already raised nearly $400,000 more than the original goal of $100,000. CSE senior Daniel (Chesong) Lee and his fellow co-founders have benefited from engagement with multiple entrepreneurship activities, including the Elevator Pitch contest, and later Hush began to develop what the company now calls "the world's first smart earplugs," with coaching from advisors at both the Moxie Center and the NSF I-Corps program. Hush was one of the seven winners at this week’s Plug and Play San Diego competition,  each of which won $25,000 investments and admission to Plug and Play’s  Sunnyvale-based accelerator program.

    "CSE has been a source of talent, amplified by the Moxie Center with its ability to reach out to talent beyond computer science," said CSE's Gupta. "A good example is Hush Technology, which has been a great success in part because the computer science student co-founded the company with students from the structural engineering as well as mechanical and aerospace engineering departments."

    Hush remains in the Moxie Center Incubator and it needs to do further development to fulfill its "stretch" goals as the Kickstarter funds outpaced even the team's wildest dreams. But Hush is a rarity in the Moxie Incubator; virtually all of the 16 other student startups remain cash-poor. Of all 17 startups in the incubator, seven have at least one CSE student on the management team. Two of the startups are in both the Moxie Incubator and the Fall I-Corps Program: Cocoon Cam (led by student Pavan Kumar Pavagada Nagaraja, who also took home the Most Practical Solution award at MedHack San Francisco in September); and Meego Tech (formerly USKey) which has designed and built a second-generation prototype of the device that CSE senior Jorge Landaverde and his colleagues call "the smartest motion-activated laptop theft prevention system."  Other companies in the Moxie Incubator: Datalockr (Jake Pham and Kelly Lim), which is promoting the use of QR codes to help sell properties in the real estate market; and Aqua Design Innovations (Victor Wu), whose aquaponics filter EcoQube for home aquariums is now shipping  (manufactured in China, air-shipped to the U.S.), and their second-generation product is on the drawing board.

    Other startups in the Moxie Center Incubator feature systems and services specifically targeted at fellow students. They include Abdulhafiz (Omar) Itani (at left), who hopes to finish his B.S. in December, prior to launching CampusLessons as a web-based service to help students find a go-to point of contact on campus to engage with other students through activities and academics. Rajiv Pasricha, a Jacobs School Scholar who won the Audience Choice award at the Moxie Center PitchFest in April 2014, and CSE sophomore Ganesh Datta have a startup called Study Groups; it is a service to help students form... study groups. Finally, a team of three CSE students -- Dexin Qi, Yu Xia and Zijian Tao -- have a startup called CollegeTickr (formerly iPassStore), which provides a web platform for college and university students to share their secrets anonymously.

    Other recent success stories include Tortuga Logic, co-founded in 2013 by CSE Prof. Ryan Kastner and Ph.D. student (as well as CEO) Jason Oberg (M.S. '12), and postdoctoral researcher Jonathan Valamehr (CFO/COO). 

  • CSE Undergraduate Sees His Company Valued at $200 Million

    You know you’ve hit the big time when Hollywood star Ashton Kutcher plugs your company on Twitter:

    Ashton Kutcher @aplusk:
    Congrats to @Getaround for huge partnership with San Francisco. Sign this petition so other cities will follow.   10 Apr 2014

    But for Elliot Kroo, a CSE undergraduate (pictured below second from right) who interrupted his education to co-found the San Francisco car-sharing service Getaround, the company really hit the jackpot in late November, when some of the top names in venture capital pumped $24 million into Getaround – valuing the company at approximately $200 million.

    Getaround is a peer-to-peer car sharing company, which lets car owners rent their automobiles to people who want to rent by the hour, by the day, or even longer. When the company signs up a new car owner, it installs a device on the car that tracks location, driving speeds, and is able to lock or unlock the doors remotely. As a result, people looking to rent on the spur of the moment can do the transaction completely on their mobile phone – even starting the car.

    The owner pays just under $100 to have the device installed, and $20 a month to subscribe to the service. Getaround also earns 40 percent of the rental price.

    The Ashton Kutcher tweet back in April was for a petition in favor of a San Francisco carsharing plan that would get 10,000 cars off the road by approving 900 proposed parking spots in the city reserved for car-sharing vehicles.  In the end, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board did vote to approve new parking spots reserved for car-shares as part of a two-year pilot program of the city with Getaround, Zipcar, and City CarShare, but it decided on only 40 new spots rather than the 900 requested by car-share companies.

    Kroo and his two co-founders came up with the idea in 2009 at a Singularity University event, when Google co-founder Larry Page challenged attendees to come up with ways to positively impact one billion people in the next 10 years. They figured that at least one billion cars go unused for 22 hours every day, so they decided to tackle ‘car overpopulation’ as the higher purpose of Getaround.

    The service debuted in 2011 at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York City, where Kroo and his colleagues walked away with the $50,000 first prize, as well as the Audience Choice award. The judges included then-Google VP (now Yahoo! CEO) Marissa Mayer, who went on to invest in Getaround in 2012 along with Google’s then-CEO, Eric Schmidt – and Ashton Kutcher.

    In 2012, Business Insider included Kroo, Getaround’s Director of Engineering, on its list of "26 Up-And-Coming Tech Entrepreneurs You Need To Watch." Separately, on the widely-watched AngelList – widely watched especially by those in need of angel investors – Elliot Kroo has over 200 followers, including many high-profile entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and tech investors.

    Meanwhile, Getaround operates in San Francisco, San Diego, and Austin, with plans to expand to Oakland, Portland and Washington early next year.

    Even before arriving at UC San Diego to study computer science, Kroo became what he calls “the youngest engineering intern ever at Google.” At age 14, he began working summers installing cameras on vehicles to take the first wave of images that became part of the Street View feature in Google Maps.

by Dr. Radut