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Highlights

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…

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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

ParentGuardian

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…  

ParentGuardian

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...

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  • Recent Alumni Launch Crowdfunding Campaign for Rubik's Cube-Solving Robot

    Their robot won’t break the world record speed for solving Rubik’s Cube, but William Mutterspaugh and Daryl Stimm (at right) have an even more ambitious goal: using it to get thousands of girls and boys interested in science and technology.

    The two recent graduates from the University of California, San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering are already building Ruku Robot, a kit that students in middle school or high school can assemble to get hands-on experience with the fundamentals of robotics, computer science and engineering. [Click here to watch Ruku in action.]

    “We built it to be the perfect robotics kit for any STEM classroom,” says Stimm, referring to school programs focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). “It’s a fun, interactive teaching tool for every school’s STEM workshop or after-school STEM program. Our robot is a great way for kids to involved.”

    Most school robotics clubs tend to focus on so-called battle bots or race cars, both of which tend to attract primarily boys. “When we did a demo in a middle school, more girls came up afterwards to ask questions,” recalls Mutterspaugh. “That’s when we realized that Ruku could fill a gap because it is equally attractive to female and male students – give both girls and boys a fulfilling STEM experience.”

    Hoping to get the Ruku Robot kits into homes and schools as soon as possible, the two alumni launched a crowdfunding campaign on the Kickstarter platform last week, and on Dec. 19, their campaign got a seal of approval in the form of a Kickstarter Staff Pick. So far, backers have contributed nearly $4,000 to the $50,000 goal, with 26 days to go in the campaign. 

    The team hopes to use any crowdfunding proceeds to convert from building the kits piecemeal using 3D printing to converting to injection mold-based manufacturing to reduce the cost per kit so after-school programs can more easily afford to buy them.

    “We started the Kickstarter to hopefully get a bulk order and drive costs down,” added Stimm. “We’re not looking at making money; we’re looking at increasing the number of schools that can have access to our kit, because we want to get these into as many schools as possible.”

    Stimm, whose day job is at GoPro, came up with the original concept. In senior year he enrolled in a project-based course on embedded systems, Computer Science and Engineering 145, taught by CSE professor Ryan Kastner. He teamed with electrical engineering major Mutterspaugh and computer engineering senior Jonas Kabingting, and they built the first Ruku in just eight weeks using the Prototyping Lab in the Qualcomm Institute.

    “We wanted a project that would use computer vision and robotics, which was my interest, and needed William’s knowledge in electrical engineering,” said Stimm, who finished his computer-science degree in June (B.S. ’14). “We also wanted to use a Raspberry Pi platform to serve as the brain of Ruku.” The Raspberry Pi is a credit card-sized, single-board computer.

  • Combined Grad, Undergrad Courses Yield Solutions for Locked-In Syndrome

    Imagine only being able to communicate with your eyes. That's a fact of life for people with Locked-In Syndrome, and eight teams of CSE students spent the fall coming up with ubiquitous computing solutions that could enable better communication for patients with the neurological disease that allows patients to use only their eyes to communicate. 

    On Dec. 16, the "experiment in running a hybrid graduate and undergraduate class" bore fruit. According to CSE Research Scientist and Lecturer Nadir Weibel, the combined classes of CSE 118 (Ubiquitous Computing) and CSE 218 (Software Engineering) involved separate curricula, but the students teamed up for their final course projects. The resulting eight teams were typically made up of six or seven undergrads working with two or three M.S. or Ph.D. students. The graduate students were urged to take a leadership and management role in their team projects, and the projects involved design and implementation of a ubiquitous computing application based on one or more of the three devices selected for the course: Google Glass; Microsoft Kinect; and/or the EyeTribe eyetracking device (pictured at left). Each team was allocated one of each device, courtesy of the Moxie Foundation. 

    For the final projects, which were presented in CSE 1202 and recorded for on-demand viewing via YouTube, students were given a common challenge. "They were tasked with using a variety of technologies to design and implement solutions to improve the quality of life and enable better communication for people with Locked-In Syndrome," said Weibel. The teams opted for team names such as EyeTalk, Eyelluminati (pictured above), OcuHub, Mye Play and more. 

    A select group of students (grads and undergrads) will continue their research in the winter and spring quarters, combining ideas from the eight teams and interfacing with a Locked-In Syndrome patient (who was the inspiration of the project idea). "We will fly out to Connecticut where he lives and study his everyday life, collect data on his particular eye movements, and discuss with him and family members any possible applications of the prototype solutions," noted Weibel. "Then we will hopefully implement and test a system."

  • CSE Celebrates 2014 with Party, Festive Skits by Staff, Students and Faculty

    The 2014 end-of-year department potluck holiday party (right) and CSE Holiday Skits took place Friday, December 12, and the mood was predictably festive. After the party in CSE, faculty, students and staff crowded into the Calit2 Auditorium to watch their colleagues poke fun of the department, Chez Bob (redubbed CHE Bob in honor of the late great Che Cafe), and above all, two recurring themes: the variation in temperatures throughout the CSE Building (primarily freezing), which necessitated establishment of a faculty Committee on Really Cold Conference Rooms; and the impoliteness of groups who continually interrupt previous groups because their conference room reservation time has expired.

    The staff portion of the event was the CSE Staff Pop Medley 2014. The nicely produced video featured staffers smiling, dancing (sort of) and singing off-key to hip-hop lyrics highlighting the difficulties everyone faces in getting their work done in the hurly-burly atmosphere of a dynamic academic department. Special kudos to Jennifer Folkestad who opened the video singing and playing her ukulele -- but her lips and strumming were out of sync, so it looked like a badly dubbed Bollywood film (without the dancing), but it set an irreverent tone that the rest of her staff colleagues echoed.

    The second set of skits were put on by CSE students -- some of them wearing faculty masks. "Alex Snoeren" and "Lawrence Saul" sat on a Ph.D. dissertation committee where the goal was to get five signatures on a piece of paper so the student could get his degree. It took a while, but after admitting that none of the panel members had listened to the candidate, they were finally impressed that he had a slide deck prepared. This, even though the Accomplishments slide included three bullet points, for which only the third bullet was filled in: "Think of three accomplishments".

    Finally, real faculty members took the floor for a CSE News Network evening news program with anchor Hovav Shacham, introduced by Stefan Savage. It started with a "Gupta Mea Culpa" by CSE Chair Rajesh Gupta, in which he confessed to excesses highlighted by the Graduate Student Association Report on Enhanced Education Techniques. The apologia was followed by a series of guests interacting with Shacham, including recent hire Julian McAuley, who showed up in a UCSD basketball jersey, literally flexing his (not quite convincing) muscles to demonstrate why the CSE department must forget about Big Data, and focus its research effort instead on... Humongous Data. Hovav Shacham also reported on a decision to create new television programming that can make computer science sexy for mainstream America, featuring shows with titles such as "Non-Volatile Storage Wars", "CSE Pawn Stars" and a primetime drama, "Class of Thrones".

    As usual, it was the flubs that got the biggest laughs, except for when they announced that the Jacobs School had decided to switch from three different versions of Single Sign-On, to implementing Match.com for CSE and other departments. Savage also got a big laugh when he announced that the department will implement an alternative to tele-presence videoconferencing. The new Tele-Absence technology will allow faculty to miss meetings with students -- and to do so remotely. Pictured on-screen: a video feed of an empty chair in the professor's office.

    At the end of the skits, professor Ranjit Jhala was scheduled to do a video spoof, but at the last minute the video was still being edited. The video will be posted here before the campus holiday closure. 

    Download photos by Keita Funakawa from Flickr.
    Watch a video of the live event.
    Or, click here to watch  the final version of the Holiday Gift video.

  • 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.



by Dr. Radut