Undergraduate Engineering Seminar Series at UCSD

The California Space Grant Consortium has started a new seminar series on the UC San Diego campus aimed at introducing undergraduate Engineering students to funded research opportunities. This series was designed to inspire students to look beyond their classroom experiences into hands-on student mentor research through projects in in industry, on campus, at NASA, and with the California Space Grant Consortium. The seminars are described below.

For questions about this series please contact Becky Howard at (858) 822-1597.


Speaker: Saura Naderi

Qualcomm Career Development Specialist

Saura shared important tips about how to focus on your interests and values to create the ideal career.  She discussed tools one can use to find their strengths and apply them to the workplace.

To view an article about Saura and her work at Qualcomm, please click here.

Speaker: Danee Kenyon

Topic: Success Strategies in Engineering & Beyond 1/21/15

Danee discussed the importance of finding balance between work, school and social life and the specific time management techniques that work. She shared the path she took to achieve a rewarding and successful career as an engineer with top firm Northrop Grumman.

To view a video of the seminar click here.

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Topic: Make The Most of Your College Years (11/19/14)

Spencer Ellis discussed the path that he has taken to get to the Master’s program at UCSD and focused on the connections that have helped pave the way to his career in engineering.  He  provided a healthy dose of information for students that can make their journey less stressful and more productive. Spencer touched on his work as President of the Green Engineers Club as well as his internship at the National Renewable Energy Lab in Colorado.  He  shared information about the benefits of taking up a variety of activities outside of the classroom and outlined the steps to take to gain important networking associations that will lead to internships and projects.

Spencer received his B.S. in Physics from Middlebury College in Vermont where he also studied environmental sciences.  He has extensive experience with green engineering and has worked as a student mentor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at UCSD. His current research interests are in the application of composite materials to improve marine hydro kinetic energy generators. Spencer’s diverse interests range from competitive log rolling to backpacking the John Muir trail and skiing.

To view a video of the seminar click here.

To view the presentation click here.


Topic: Engineering: Finding Your Path To Success (10/15/14)

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To view a video of the seminar click here.

Ben discussed the road he has taken on his journey to the Ph.D program at UCSD.  He shared resources available to students on campus which provide valuable experience. He discussed the connections he made which led to his work with NASA, including an internship at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center.


Topic: Engineering, Exploration and Humanity (5/21/14)

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Phuong discussed her journey as an undergraduate at UCSD and touched on the obstacles she had to overcome along the way. She relayed her experiences in research and the workplace including projects involving fresh water worms, DNA, near-space ballooning and Arduino workshops. Phuong provided a wealth of information designed to convey to students that picking the “right” major does not have to be the focus of the college experience. She addressed many of the misconceptions and pitfalls that undergraduates encounter and how to deal with them. Informational handouts were given to the audience outlining numerous involvement opportunities which can enhance the pursuit of a college degree.


Topic: The Impacts of Nanotechnology (4/23/14)

To view a video of the seminar click here.

Celine discussed the benefits of being involved in undergraduate research and the engineering community.   She examined how her participation in research has helped her to build a network of supportive mentors consisting of both peers and faculty, as well as prepare her for her future doctoral studies. She also covered how research and her involvement in the Society for Women Engineers (SWE) provided her with opportunities to travel, attend conferences and communicate the significance of her research projects to both academia and industry. Celine shared some very helpful tips about the steps to take on the way to grad school and some interesting pointers about the application process.


Topic: The Art of Networking in Engineering (2/19/14)

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Grace discussed the importance of diversity in an engineering environment and how each individual brings a unique perspective and background to a team. She related her experiences in various internships, outreach programs and engineering groups and the value of networking.


Igniting a Passion for Engineering (1/22/14)

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Sam described his journey through undergraduate engineering studies at UCSD and how he has developed a passion for engineering. This included his work with the UCSD Engineers for Exploration on projects from damping helicopter frame vibrations to designing a quadcopter capable of landing on water. Sam  also shared  his experiences as lead of the UCSD Microgravity Team which performed biofuel droplet combustion research last summer on a reduced gravity flight at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Sam discussed his diverse experiences helping organize the first TEDxUCSD event and some practical tips and suggestions to help current undergraduate engineers have a more successful journey at UCSD.


Engineering Problem Solving (11/19/13)

Terrance Yee discussed dramatic and interesting troubleshooting and problem solving experiences he has had during his 24 year career as a spacecraft engineer and, more recently, as head of a new solar energy company. He described the harrowing tale of the post launch emergency on a U.S. Air Force experimental satellite and the heroic efforts made to recover the spacecraft. Mr. Yee examined how modern engineering forensics techniques are applied to find the root causes of failures in spacecraft hardware. He  also introduced some of his current projects at his own company, Black Sun, including a novel method for addressing orbital debris that has opportunities for collaboration with UCSD.

Click below for links to:


Notes for presentation (includes links for more information for Slides 21-29).

Debris collision video (from Slide 22 in presentation).

Visualization of Chinese ASAT Test Debris Impact on Low Earth Orbit (from Slide 23 in presentation).


Tensegrity Robotics (10/30/13)

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Jeffrey Friesen  discussed his research experiences at UCSD as well as the design and control of robotic systems with a focus on a tensegrity robot named DuCTT which was designed during an internship at NASA Ames in summer 2013. The robot is designed to climb through duct systems with two linked tetrahedral frames, each containing a linear actuator, connected by a system of eight actuated cables.  Because the control of tensegrity robots is extremely challenging due to the highly coupled dynamics of tensegrity systems, Jeff also touched on many of the current approaches to controlling such robots and the main problems that must be overcome to make such robots functional.


Out Of This World (5/29/13)

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Tim Wheeler  covered rockets, drones & near-space balloons bringing to light opportunities available to engineering students at UCSD. He touched upon research with faculty, student competition teams & industry internships, specifically research under Dr. John Kosmatka, UCSD Near Space Balloon Team, UCSD Autonomous Airplane Team, and an internship at Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX). “Out of this World” was meant to encourage and empower students to apply themselves and take advantage of the opportunities which surround them.


NASA is Awesome–So Are Wind Tunnels (5/8/13)

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Deepak Atyam discussed funded research opportunities, his experiences at NASA Centers working on projects such as Curiosity and the Mars 2018 three-stage mission.  He also discussed research he has conducted at Langley Research Center in summer 2012 that concluded in a technical paper presented and awarded at the AIAA Region VI Student Conference.