Category Archives: Creativity

Library’s New MakerSpace Lets Patrons Create

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Sandra Stokley and published in the Press Enterprise on June 8, 2016.)

Photo Credit: Stan Lim, The Pree Enterprise
Photo Credit: Stan Lim, The Press Enterprise

The quiet main library in downtown Riverside has catapulted into the 21st Century with the official launch of its MakerSpace room.

The “do-it-yourself” area lets library patrons use computers, software, 3-D printers and other cutting-edge technology to create everything from jewelry to clothes to art.

“This is a whole new field for libraries,” Riverside City Councilman Andy Melendrez said Tuesday, June 7, minutes after emerging from the recording booth, where he laid down some rap tracks.

“It was cool,” he said.

Just a few feet away, people crowded around the 3-D printer – a Maker-Bot Replicator – oohing and aahing as it created a miniature replica of the Eiffel Tower. The printer creates actual objects using code.

In addition to the printer and recording booth, the Riverside Library MakerSpace features a collaborative media table, iMac and MacBook Pro computers, Lego Minecraft kits and littleBits, electronic building blocks that teach youngsters how to create circuit boards.

“The MakerSpace is the next evolution of libraries as a center for information and knowledge,” library Director Tonya Kennon said. “Participatory learning is king in the MakerSpace environment and our library has many of the top tools for learning, inventing and creating.”

Other Inland area libraries are in various stages of creating their own creation spaces.

In Rancho Cucamonga, an unused second-floor space at the Paul Biane Library is being readied as a STEM Lab that will open in fall, said Brian Sternberg, assistant library director for the Rancho Cucamonga Libraries. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Meanwhile, Rancho Cucamonga’s two libraries have been offering programs that utilize MakerSpace-style activities, Sternberg said. The library system has four 3-D printers, programmable Legos, deejay equipment and turntables.

The MakerSpace and STEM Labs are ushering in a new era in which libraries are seen as exciting centers of learning, Sternberg said. The MakerSpace is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar. Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.

“People want to come to the library to create things,” Sternberg said. “It’s a transition from libraries as a place where you get a book and read. Libraries are becoming the places where you do things, create things, make things.”

The San Bernardino County Library system has no MakerSpace but offers programs that focus on creating things, experimenting with aerodynamics, motion and engineering principles, county Librarian Leonard Hernandez said.

“There’s a lot of interest on the part of students and families,” Hernandez said. “Many of these programs have wait lists.”

Kennon said she was inspired to lobby for a MakerSpace in Riverside after reading about two UC Davis students who designed a tool called a hex flex to tighten gears on a bicycle. They used a 3-D printer at a local library to create a prototype and it’s now in full production.

The Riverside Library Foundation began fundraising for the project in 2014, Kennon said. It raised $80,000, which covered the cost of furnishing the space and paid for the recording studio, the iMac and MacBook pro computers and the interactive media table. Five Riverside-area Rotary Clubs raised $6,500 to buy the 3-D printer.

Kennon told the crowd at Tuesday’s dedication that the collaboration that led to the MakerSpace “shows that Riverside can do anything we set our minds to.”

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UCR Researchers Awarded $1.3 Million From USDA For Green Energy Research

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Sarah Nightingale and published in UCR Today on May 11, 2016.)

Photo Credit: UCR Today
Photo Credit: UCR Today

Charles Wyman, Distinguished Professor in Chemical and Environmental Engineering and holder of the Ford Motor Company Chair in Environmental Engineering at the Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT), and Charles Cai, Research Engineer at CE-CERT and Adjunct Assistant Professor, both at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering, have received a $1,297,725 award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that will fund research on developing commercially-viable processes to create biofuels and chemicals from waste plant materials.

The award will support a project that aims to convert poplar wood into ethanol and polyurethanes based on novel platforms for pretreatment and lignin polymer synthesis. The patented method used by the Wyman/Cai team, called Co-solvent Enhanced Lignocellulosic Fractionation (CELF), was developed as a versatile and efficient way to convert raw agricultural and forestry residues and other plant matter into both biofuels and chemicals.

Partnering with the University of Tennessee Knoxville and MG Fuels LLC, this UCR project aims to bring industry closer to producing fuels and chemicals from biomass at high enough yields and low enough costs to become a viable alternative or replacement for petroleum-based fuels and chemicals. The current research project is expected to increase revenue for bio-refineries and offset pretreatment costs to improve overall process economics.

“This project takes advantage of the unique ability of our novel CELF technology to effectively fractionate lignin from low-cost non-food sources of cellulosic biomass such as agricultural and forestry residues for conversion into polyurethanes that increase revenues for biorefineries while also enhancing ethanol yields,” Wyman said. Wyman leads a team of researchers at UCR’s CE-CERT who are advancing technologies for conversion of cellulosic biomass into sustainable transportation fuels.

This research is an extraordinary example of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar, and UC Riverside is at the forefront.  The people and educational institutions of Riverside cultivate and support research and exploration in the scientific community.  Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, nation, and world to follow.

UCR was one of seven institutions selected Monday (May 9) to receive a share of the $10 million joint investment by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) towards research that will drive more efficient biofuels production and agricultural feedstock improvements.

These awards were made through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI), a joint program run by NIFA and DOE to develop economically and environmentally sustainable sources of biomass and increase the availability of renewable fuels and bio-based products, helping to replace the need for gasoline and diesel in vehicles, and diversify our nation’s energy choices.

“Advancements in bioenergy research will help protect our national energy security, reduce pollution, and bolster our energy supply,” said Cathie Woteki, Under Secretary for USDA’s Research, Education & Economics mission area, in a statement. “Producing more renewable and bio-based energy can also revitalize rural communities with a new economic market and provide farmers a profitable and sustainable investment through on-farm energy resources.”

The USDA funded projects at UCR, the University of Montana; Dartmouth College; State University of New York; and North Carolina Biotechnology Center. The DOE funded projects by Ohio State University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Engineering Club Places Third At Its First-Ever Regional Competition

(This article contains excerpts from the article published in cbu News & Events on April 22, 2016.)

Photo Credit: CBU News & Events
Photo Credit: CBU News & Events

Chemical engineering students from California Baptist University participated in the regional Chem-E-Car competition for the first time and came away with an impressive third place finish.

The annual competition pitted universities’ American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) clubs against each other to construct a fuel-powered miniature car that could travel a given distance. Fourteen cars competed in the final contest which was held at University of California, Riverside, on April 15-16.

“This was the exposure we needed as a smaller, relatively new club. We showed up with a very simple, large car that many people were surprised it even worked,” said Evan Schneider, a chemical engineering junior. “I’m really excited because I could never have expected our first try, knowing so little to turn out so well. It’s a confidence booster.”

The AIChE team at CBU consisted of seven chemical engineering students that garnered help from CBU faculty and mechanical engineering students, to design and build their shoebox-size car. With a short time frame and no prototype to work from, the team’s aim was to get into the competition with a functioning car, said Stephen Dueck, a chemical engineering junior.

To keep on schedule and costs low, students often designed parts themselves by recycling materials from the engineering shop. The students also found an efficient way to produce fuel by using a combination of sodium bicarbonate and hydrochloric acid for fuel.

“We turned what was essentially baking soda into fuel,” said Schneider, of the team’s fuel choice. “We didn’t over complicate things at all. It was probably the simplest car we could have built.”

Simplicity worked to the team’s favor, as they were able to build a car on time and for approximately $100.

The third place finish qualifies the team to participate in the national competition in November.

“A good performance shows… that we have students who are hard-working, enthusiastic and technically competent,” said Dr. Mark Anklam, professor of chemical engineering and chair of the program.

Achievements like this are great examples of Seizing Our Destiny’s Catalyst for Innovation pillar. Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.

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CBU Claims Multiple Awards At National Competition

(This article contains excerpts from the article published in CBU News and Events on April 20, 2016.)

Photo Credit: CBU News and Events
Photo Credit: CBU News and Events

California Baptist University racked up several communication awards at the Wilmer C. Fields Awards Competition hosted by the Baptist Communicators Association (BCA) on April 15. CBU students and the university’s Marketing and Communication Division combined for nine, top-three finishes in various categories.

The BCA awarded first place to Pursuit magazine in the Total Package category for student entries.  Lauren Koski, a senior journalism major and the Pursuit editor-in-chief, won first place in the Feature Writing Division category for her story “The Quartet of the Vulnerable,” a story that depicts society’s most marginalized. Koski also won second place for her photographs accompanying a story of a CBU aviation student in flight.

“Through all three of CBU’s journalistic platforms — Pursuit magazine, The Banner newspaper and Angelos yearbook — I have been challenged to seek and release truth through journalistic means, no matter if that is a beautiful truth or an ugly one,” Koski said. “In writing ‘The Quartet of the Vulnerable,’ I sought to explore the deeply convicting truths of what it means to love ‘your neighbor as yourself’ as Christ has commanded of us.”

Students Conner Schuh and Makenna Sones won second place for a photo series and an opinion/editorial piece respectively that were featured in the Banner newspaper.

CBU’s Marketing and Communication Division won five awards including second place in the Communication and/or Marketing Strategy category for “Put Faith in the Journey” campaign.

The BCA awards are the latest communication recognitions for CBU. In March, students, faculty and staff won 29 awards, 17 for students, from the American Advertising Federation-Inland Empire chapter.

Winning competition like this helps CBU and Riverside become a location of choice for students seeking a great education at an affordable price.

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Getty Foundation Awards UCR ARTSblock $225,000

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Mojgan Sherkat and published in UCR Today on April 12, 2016.)

Hector Hernandez, Bulca, 2015 (detail). COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND UCR ARTSBLOCK
Hector Hernandez, Bulca, 2015 (detail).

The Getty Foundation awarded the University of California, Riverside ARTSblock a $225,000 grant for “Mundos Alternos: Art and Science Fiction in the Americas,” an exhibition that brings together contemporary artists over the last three decades from across the Americas who have tapped into science fiction’s capacity to imagine new realities and alternate worlds.

“Based on our extensive research ‘Mundos Alternos’ will include large-scale kinetic works, sculptures, photographs, drawings, paintings, costumes, and video works by more than 30 artists,” said Tyler Stallings, the interim executive director of UCR ARTSblock.

The grant follows a $125,000 award given to UCR ARTSblock in 2014 for research toward the conception of the exhibition, which allowed for curatorial travel, research, and planning. Co-curated by Stallings, Joanna Szupinska-Myers, curator of exhibitions at California Museum of Photography at UCR ARTSblock, and Robb Hernández, assistant professor of English at UCR, the trio had the opportunity to meet with artists and scholars in cities throughout the U.S., Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and South America.

The exhibition will encompass the 8,000 square feet that comprise the changing exhibition galleries at UCR ARTSblock’s three venues – California Museum of Photography, Culver Center of the Arts, and Sweeney Art Gallery. It is expected to travel to other venues, accompanied by a heavily illustrated book that includes original essays, art and science fiction by the curators and leading scholars with expertise in Mexico, Brazil, and Central America.

“Mundos Alterno” will utilize the world’s largest holding of science fiction materials, the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy in the UCR Libraries. In 2012, the Eaton Collection acquired a major collection of science fiction and fantasy pulp magazines published in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and Spain.

“Science fiction offers a unique artistic landscape in which to explore the colonial enterprise that shaped the Americas, and to present alternative perspectives speculating on the past and the future,” said Szupinska-Myers.

“‘Mundos Alternos’ is a historic show placing UCR at the forefront of the first transnational effort to identify a growing tendency in contemporary Latin American and Latino art, a tendency that recasts ‘the future’ at a time when debates over immigration reform, militarized borders, and American citizenship continue to take center stage in this country,” said Hernández.

“This exhibition is particularly apt for UCR as it is a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), which is reflected not only on the campus but in the surrounding community, too,” said Milagros Peña, dean of the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (CHASS) at UCR. UCR was named an HSI in 2008, the first in the UC system to receive the honor.

“Mundos Alterno” is part of “Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA,” a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles, taking place from September 2017 through January 2018 at more than 60 cultural institutions from Santa Barbara to San Diego, and from Los Angeles to Palm Springs. “Pacific Standard Time” is an initiative of the J. Paul Getty Museum. The presenting sponsor is Bank of America.

“All of ‘Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA’s’ exhibitions are grounded in significant original research carried out by teams of curators – including scholars, artists, and critics – in the United States, Latin America, and Europe,” said Deborah Marrow, director of the Getty Foundation. “The fruits of their collaborative research will be evident in the resulting exhibitions. The exhibitions will also leave a lasting legacy of scholarship through numerous catalogues and other publications. The Getty Foundation is proud to support all of this work.”

UCR ARTSblock is located at 3824 and 3834 Main St., Riverside, Calif., and includes three venues: California Museum of Photography, Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts, and the Jack and Marilyn Sweeney Art Gallery, which are open Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m., plus 6-9 p.m. for First Thursday ArtWalks. Admission is $3, which includes entry to all three venues, and is free during First Thursday ArtWalks. For film screenings, the Culver Center opens 30 minutes prior to the start time.

This grant is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s Intelligent Growth Pillar.  Riverside embraces economic growth and directs it so it maintains and improves our already outstanding quality of life. This includes growing the economy, raising the standard of living and managing a growing population.

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National Science Foundation Selects Professor to Inspire Next Generation of Scientists and Engineers

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Sarah Nightingale and published in UCR Today on April 5, 2016.)

Photo Credit: UCR Today
Photo Credit: UCR Today

Suveen Mathaudhu has Captain America’s shield and he’s not afraid to use it—to help get kids excited about science and engineering.

Mathaudhu, an assistant professor in the Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering programs at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering has been selected by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to present at the USA Science and Engineering Festival, which will take place April 16-17 in Washington D.C.

As the only national science and engineering festival, the free event aims to inspire the next generation of inventors and innovators through more than 3,000 hands-on exhibits, experiments and live performances by science celebrities, inventors and subject-matter experts. The 4th annual festival is expected to draw more than 350,000 attendees.

In his exhibit, “The Super Science of Captain America’s Shield,” Mathaudhu and five of his graduate students will integrate the fictional science behind the creation of Captain America’s iconic super-strong shield with the real science he does to develop ultra-tough metals and alloys.

“Engineering is a very creative field that’s about solving really interesting problems, but many kids don’t get that,” Mathaudhu said. “When they think about how superheroes’ powers are augmented by advanced science and engineering, they start to get excited about it.”

Mathaudhu, who joined the Bourns College in 2014, recently received an Early Career Faculty Development Program (CAREER) grant from the NSF. The proposal, titled “CAREER: Extreme Toughening of HCP Metallic Alloys via Nanospaced Stacking Faults” will continue for five years and is expected to total $500,000 in support of research, education and outreach activities.

In the study, Mathaudhu and his team will unravel the underlying mechanisms responsible for the formation of novel toughening features within lightweight metals with hexagonal structures (titanium and magnesium), and enable processing methods to realize metallic materials with unprecedented strength and formability.  These metallic alloys are critical for the development of lightweight vehicles and transportation systems that reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and decrease pollution.

“This award will allow UCR to research and develop advanced lightweight structural alloys, incorporate the discoveries and findings into education and classroom, and importantly, to reach out the broader community and integrate them into the excitement and opportunities in metallurgical research and other STEM fields,” Mathaudhu said.

Mathaudhu and his students are also active in presenting his research and superhero science to diverse local and national audiences.  Within the last year he has spoken at local elementary, high schools, junior/community colleges; The UCR Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (aimed at learners 50 years and older); Riverside’s Long Night of Arts and Innovation; the 2015 U.S. News STEM Solutions Conference; and even at the U.S. Capitol to Congressional Leaders.

Mathaudhu, an expert on the science of superheroes as depicted in comic books and their associated movies, frequently speaks to the media and consults on this subject.

Mathaudhu effort to get kids interested in science and engineering is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar. The people and educational institutions of Riverside cultivate and support useful and beneficial ideas, research, products, scholars, business people, artists and entrepreneurs.

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zyBooks Secures $4 Million To Take College Textbooks Into The Interactive Age

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Sarah Nightingale and published in UCR Today on February 16, 2016.)

Members of the zyBooks team, with founders Frank Vahid and Smiti Bakshi in the center. Photo Credit: UCR Today
Members of the zyBooks team, with founders Frank Vahid and Smiti Bakshi in the center. Photo Credit: UCR Today

zyBooks, a company that provides web-native STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning materials that was co-founded by UCR Professor Frank Vahid, has received a $4 million investment round led by Bialla Venture Partners.

This latest investment follows recent grants from the National Science Foundation’s SBIR program, awarded for research and development of the zyBooks platform. The funding will support significant content expansion into additional zyBooks, new product features for both instructors and students, and new sales and marketing initiatives.

zyBooks are interactive learning tools in STEM courses, with which students “learn by doing” in a highly engaging, action-oriented way. In contrast to traditional textbooks, the content features more question sets, animations, interactive tools, and auto-graded homework, enabling professors to be more efficient and devote more time to teaching rather than administrative tasks.

zyBooks was founded by Vahid, a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of California Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering, and Smita Bakshi, CEO of the company and a former assistant professor at UC Davis.

Bourns College of Engineering is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar. The people and educational institutions of Riverside cultivate and support useful and beneficial ideas, research, and scholars.

“Particularly in the age of the Internet and interactivity, traditional textbooks – often unchanged for decades – are increasingly at odds with today’s students and professors alike. Simply migrating such textbooks to online formats provides few benefits and several drawbacks, and add-on interactive elements often are not well integrated,” Vahid said.

“zyBooks’ interactive content is created natively for the web using animations, learning questions, tools and simulations, as well as some text and figures. Measurable results demonstrate more usage, better learning outcomes and happier students. The direct relationship between students and content creators also reduces costs and enables a tight content feedback/improvement loop.”

David Uri, managing member of Bialla Venture Partners, said zyBooks is set to be become the new standard for STEM curriculum across higher education. In conjunction with the funding, Uri will join the company’s Board of Directors.

“zyBooks has already shown that its innovative approach creates dramatically better learning outcomes for students – with proven results of up to 64 percent improvement in learning with a zyBook versus a traditional textbook – while empowering instructors with easy to use tools that save time and administrative hassle. It’s a win/win for both professors and students alike,” Uri said.

As an early example of how the new funding will be used, zyBooks has announced several new STEM course products including the first-ever interactive version of the seminal computer science textbook classic – Patterson & Hennessy’s, “Computer Organization and Design,” as well as a revolutionary interactive auto-graded programming lab submission system called zyLabs, which will be launched at the SIGCSE conference in March 2016.

Starting with just a handful of universities in 2012, the company’s computer science and engineering zyBooks are now used at over 300 colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada. For more information, visit:

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New App Connects Students and Tutors

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Sarah Nightingale and published in UCR Today on February 11, 2016.)

Scholarly creators Sultan Khan (left) and Haasith Sanka. Photo Credit: UCR Today
Scholarly creators Sultan Khan (left) and Haasith Sanka. Photo Credit: UCR Today

Are you struggling at school, or hoping to master a new skill? Perhaps you’d like to earn some extra money as a tutor? An app created by two computer science students at the University of California, Riverside might be just what you need. Sultan Khan and Haasith Sanka’s ‘Scholarly’ app won first place at the world’s largest education Hackathon in October. It is now available as a free download on Google Play and the Apple App Store.

Described by Khan and Sanka as ‘The Uber for Tutors,’ Scholarly is an on-demand tutoring service that connects students with nearby tutors. The service is simple: tutors create profiles, which can be viewed by students looking for help in a particular subject. Users can view tutor profiles, set meeting locations, and get help with their studies at the click of a button. Most of the app’s current activity is generated by the UCR community, but the creators plan to grow their tutor network and expand the service to K-12 students and their parents in the coming months.

An image of screen shots of the Scholarly app.

Screen shots of the Scholarly app. Photo Credit: UCR Today

The team developed the android version of Scholarly at HackingEDU, which was held in San Mateo, Calif., in October and drew more than 1,000 hackers from universities around the world. The competition challenged students to turn their ideas into functional software that would improve the education system—and they had just 36 hours to do it.

For Khan and Sanka, that meant working through the night to create their app. After placing in the top 10, the Highlanders were invited to present Scholarly to a panel of judges, which landed them in first place. Khan, a senior in UCR’s Bourns College of Engineering, said courses in software engineering and technical writing prepared them to develop professional software and pitch it to a wide audience. Since winning the competition, the students have been working to improve the android app and create the iOS version.

“One of the challenges about developing apps is that even when you’ve done a good job there is always room for improvement. That’s one of the things I love about creating apps and the reason I want to work in the field of software development when I graduate,” said Khan, who has won several national hackathons with his peers at UCR.

For Sanka, a freshman, the reward will be seeing how the app helps other students.

“We both believe that one-on-one tutoring is beneficial, so we are proud to have created something that will contribute to students’ success,” he said.

Khan and Sanka developed the iOS version of the app with Amanda Berryhill, a senior in computer science.

Bourns College of Engineering is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar. The people and educational institutions of Riverside cultivate and support useful and beneficial ideas, research, and scholars.

View the app on Google Play and the App Store. View a video about Scholarly here

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GPS Tracking Down to the Centimeter

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Sarah Nightingale and published in UCR Today on February 10, 2016.)

Photo Credit: UCR Today
Photo Credit: UCR Today

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have developed a new, more computationally efficient way to process data from the Global Positioning System (GPS), to enhance location accuracy from the meter-level down to a few centimeters.

The optimization will be used in the development of autonomous vehicles, improved aviation and naval navigation systems, and precision technologies. It will also enable users to access centimeter-level accuracy location data through their mobile phones and wearable technologies, without increasing the demand for processing power.

The research, led by Jay Farrell, professor and chair of electrical and computer engineering in UCR’s Bourns College of Engineering, was published recently in IEEE’s Transactions on Control Systems Technology. The approach involves reformulating a series of equations that are used to determine a GPS receiver’s position, resulting in reduced computational effort being required to attain centimeter accuracy.

First conceptualized in the early 1960s, GPS is a space-based navigation system that allows a receiver to compute its location and velocity by measuring the time it takes to receive radio signals from four or more overhead satellites. Due to various error sources, standard GPS yields position measurements accurate to approximately 10 meters.

Differential GPS (DGPS), which enhances the system through a network of fixed, ground-based reference stations, has improved accuracy to about one meter. But meter-level accuracy isn’t sufficient to support emerging technologies like autonomous vehicles, precision farming, and related applications.

“To fulfill both the automation and safety needs of driverless cars, some applications need to know not only which lane a car is in, but also where it is in that lane—and need to know it continuously at high rates and high bandwidth for the duration of the trip,” said Farrell, whose research focuses on developing advanced navigation and control methods for autonomous vehicles.

Farrell said these requirements can be achieved by combining GPS measurements with data from an inertial measurement unit (IMU) through an internal navigation system (INS). In the combined system, the GPS provides data to achieve high accuracy, while the IMU provides data to achieve high sample rates and high bandwidth continuously.

Achieving centimeter accuracy requires “GPS carrier phase integer ambiguity resolution.” Until now, combining GPS and IMU data to solve for the integers has been computationally expensive, limiting its use in real-world applications. The UCR team has changed that, developing a new approach that results in highly accurate positioning information with several orders of magnitude fewer computations.

“Achieving this level of accuracy with computational loads that are suitable for real-time applications on low-power processors will not only advance the capabilities of highly specialized navigation systems, like those used in driverless cars and precision agriculture, but it will also improve location services accessed through mobile phones and other personal devices, without increasing their cost,” Farrell said.

The research was done by Farrell, Yiming Chen, and Sheng Zhao. Chen and Zhao received their Ph.D.s at UCR. Chen now works for Qualcomm. Zhao now works for Google.

Bourns College of Engineering is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar. The people and educational institutions of Riverside cultivate and support useful and beneficial ideas, research, and scholars.

The UCR Office of Technology Commercialization has filed patents for the inventions above.

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UCR Research Advances Oil Production in Yeast

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Sarah Nightingale and published in UCR Today on January 26, 2016.)

Photo Credit: UCR Today
Photo Credit: UCR Today

A team led by a researcher at the University of California, Riverside has adapted the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system for use in a yeast strain that can produce useful lipids and polymers. The development will lead to new precursors for biofuels, specialty polymers, adhesives and fragrances.

Published recently in the journal ACS Synthetic Biology, the research involves the oleaginous (oil-producing) yeast Yarrowia lipolytica, which is known for converting sugars to lipids and hydrocarbons that are difficult to make synthetically. Until now, Y. lipolytica has been hard to manipulate at the genetic level, but the application of CRISPR-Cas9 will change that, allowing scientists to tap into its bio-manufacturing potential.

Described in 2012, CRISPR-Cas9 is a groundbreaking technique that enables scientists to make precise targeted changes in living cells. Unlike traditional gene-editing methods, it is cheap, easy to use and effective in almost any organism.

“Traditionally, researchers have focused on model organisms that are relatively easy to manipulate at the genetic level, and those working on less tractable species have had to go through long and tedious processes to create new strains. Our work with Y. lipolytica is a good example of how the CRISPR-Cas9 system is facilitating research in organisms that are biologically interesting but historically difficult to work with,” said Ian Wheeldon, an assistant professor of chemical and environmental engineering at UCR’s Bourns College of Engineering and the study’s principal investigator.

In the paper, the team adapted CRISPR-Cas9 for Y. lipolytica, showing that the system could be used to knock genes out and introduce new genes, both useful tools in bio-manufacturing.

Wheeldon said the current work was the first step in a National Science Foundation-funded project to create long chain hydrocarbons—used to make specialty polymers, adhesives, coatings and fragrances—from yeast rather than synthetically.

“Currently, these molecules are produced from non-renewable raw materials derived from petroleum in processes that are inefficient and pose safety risks, so being able to produce them from cheap raw materials in a bio-manufacturing process is very appealing,” Wheeldon said.

Other researchers may use the system to create precursors for biofuels, reducing the current reliance on edible plant oils, Wheeldon said.

The work was done by Wheeldon, Cory Schwartz, a graduate student in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at UCR, and Murtaza Shabbir Hussain and Mark Blenner from Clemson University in South Carolina. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation.

UCR is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s Catalyst for Innovation pillar. The people and educational institutions of Riverside cultivate and support useful and beneficial ideas, research, and scholars.

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