March 2008

Singh Elected to National Academy of Engineering
aul Singh’s research career has been devoted to something we often take for granted—until it’s gone, of course. Food. “Really a very complex material,” Singh says. The National Academy of Engineering recognized the impact of Singh’s research about this fundamental part of life by honoring him with one of the highest distinctions for engineers in the United States. Singh is the first food engineer to be elected to the National Academy. A member of the UC Davis faculty since 1975 in the department of biological and agricultural engineering, the distinguished professor has made discoveries in energy conservation, post-harvest technology, freezing preservation and mass transfer in food processing. Singh’s laboratory is currently


working on the design and development of food processing equipment for NASA’s manned mission to Mars, which could allow crew members to safely and efficiently grow and process their own food. Research findings will have application to life on Earth, as well, Singh says. Singh’s textbook, Introduction to Food Engineering, is in its 4th edition, has been translated into four languages and is used around the world. He considers teaching to be his greatest career contribution. “This is the compounded contribution that universities make to society,” Singh says. “We educate students through our research and teaching and they go on to make their own contributions for 50 or 60 years. This is why we are here.”

R. Paul Singh is recognized for his work in food engineering, with applications ranging from food processing to space exploration.

DEAN’S MESSAGE ngineers, by their very nature, believe in the future. But the challenges ahead are difficult. Among them complex health issues; a worldwide information network that is both promising and vulnerable; and a global community that urgently needs renewable, clean energy and efficient transportation. The UC Davis College of Engineering is striving to meet these and other challenges with technical solutions that will serve California, the nation and the world.


Through international educational collaboration, through partnership with industry to bring technology more quickly to the marketplace, through cutting-edge research and excellent teaching, and with the engagement and generosity of alumni and friends, we are addressing these socially significant needs. Together we are making a difference— today and for the future.
– Enrique J. Lavernia, Dean, UC Davis College of Engineering




Alumni Honored



Technology Transfer to Marketplace


Distinguished Alumni Medal Nomination Packets due April 11

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Building Bridges with Middle East
learning with educational institutions in the Middle East. The appointment, at the request of Bob Kerr, Assistant Vice Provost of International Alumni and Development, will support the revitalization of historic academic ties between UC Davis and Egypt. UC Davis Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef launched the new collaboration model with a visit to Egypt in 2007. Walters has more than 40 years of experience in computer science, medicine, and distance learning with four academic units of the university – the School of Medicine, the College of Engineering and the College of Letters & Science, as well as the School of Education. He also has a rich international history, both personally and professionally. “My commitment to promoting international cooperation and to promoting ties between UC Davis and the Middle East is very strong,” Walters says.

Professor Daniel Sperling

A Piece of the Nobel
“I never dreamed I would ever be able to claim a tiny piece of the Nobel,” says Daniel Sperling, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Institute of Transportation Studies, who contributed to the recent lauded report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the IPCC and former Vice President Al Gore on Dec. 10, 2007. “The Peace Prize is a great honor for all of us who have worked for years to study the link between transportation and climate change,” Sperling says.

Professor Emeritus Dick Walters


ick Walters, professor emeritus in computer science, has been appointed by College of Engineering dean Enrique Lavernia to help UC Davis develop collaborative agreements in computer science, medicine and distance

NSF CAREER Awards Support Promising Young Teacher/Scholars


ael El-Farra and Yayoi Takamura, both assistant professors in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, have received National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Awards. The prestigious five-year NSF award supports the early career


Asst. Professor Yayoi Takamura

development activities of storage capacity, speed, and energy teacher/scholars who effecefficiency of information storage tively integrate research and devices, sensors and fuel cells. education, and serves as an El-Farra’s group will focus on important indicator of the wireless sensors and actuators quality and future promise to control industrial chemical of young faculty. processes. Control systems Takamura and in chemical plants curher students will rently rely on hard-wired study the growth networks. Augmenting and characterization these systems with wireof nanometer scale less networks promises to Asst. Professor Nael El-Farra oxide films grown by expand the capabilities of a laser-assisted deposiprocess control technoltion technique. In particular, they will ogy through high-density sensing and acinvestigate the unusual magnetic and tuation in plant environments. El-Farra’s electronic properties that occur at the research aims to overcome the existing interfaces between two dissimilar laytechnical obstacles of designing fully ers. Takamura’s research could lead to effective and affordable wireless process improvements in the miniaturization, control systems.

Picnic Day 2008


ou’re invited to visit the College of Engineering on Picnic Day, Saturday, April 19th! Picnic Day is packed with fun activities and exhibits, including crowd-pleasing engineering student demonstrations ranging from the laser maze to liquid nitrogen ice cream. Watch for the engineering float in the parade, and stop by the front steps of Bainer Hall where the Steel Bridge team will demonstrate their latest competition entry. From 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., engineering students at the welcome station in the Kemper Hall lobby will offer free refreshments, information about the day’s activities and the College, special gifts for alumni, and the chance to enter a drawing. Prospective students and their families are also encouraged to visit the College of Engineering Dean’s Tent near Freeborn Hall along the parade route, where Dean Enrique Lavernia, associate deans, staff advisors and student peer advisors will be present to answer questions. For more information about Picnic Day activities, go to http://picnicday.

Alumni Honored for Service and Innovation
ngineering alumni Mahmoud AbuZeid, minister of public works and water resources for Egypt, and software executive Timothy Bucher were among six UC Davis alumni honored with Cal Aggie Alumni Association (CAAA) awards at a ceremony on January 26, 2008. Mahmoud Abu-Zeid, M.S.’60, Ph.D. ’62, received the CAAA’s Emil M. Mrak International Award for his distinguished career and service outside the United States. In addition to his ministry post in the Egyptian government, Abu-Zeid is a founding member and president of the World Water Council and has consulted for the World Bank, the World Health Organization, the United States Agency for International Development, and numerous other organizations.


Tim Bucher ’86 Software executive Tim Bucher ’86 was awarded the Cal Aggie Outstanding Alumnus Award for displaying outstanding achievement, promoting innovative change, and making professional contributions to the community and UC Davis. Bucher has helped develop such innovative consumer products as the iMac, Mac mini, the iPod, WebTV and more. Bucher’s Mountain View, California startup company, Zing Systems, recently purchased by Dell, developed wireless technology that connects consumers to their favorite music and entertainment systems.

Mahmoud Abu-Zied, M.S. ’60, Ph.D. ’62

Undergrad Researchers Claim Statewide Merit
The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) student chapter demonstrates the creation of liquid nitrogen ice cream to local middle school students as a part of the Engineering Joint Council’s National Engineering Week events on Feb. 20–23, 2008.


hree UC Davis undergraduate researchers received “Special Merit in Research” awards at the 2008 Statewide Symposium for CAMP (California Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation in Mathematics, Science and Engineering) on February 22-23, 2008 at UC Irvine. The Symposium annually recognizes minority student

research for originality, depth of understanding, and likelihood of sparking further research. Graciela Cruz was honored for her oral presentation (Physical Sciences/Engineering/ Computer Science), while Debi Thomas and Alexandra Arreola received awards for their poster presentations (Biological Sciences/Life Sciences).

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Support for the College of Engineering Mission
he College of Engineering’s mission is to teach, perform research and serve society. The human and financial investment required to accomplish that mission is considerable. While the base of the College’s budget comes from state allocation, an important mainstay is the generosity of corporations, alumni and friends for whom a thriving College of Engineering is a philanthropic priority. Here are some of their stories: Child Family Tradition of Giving Two new endowed professorships have been added to the roster of significant gifts from brothers Mike Child ’76 and Jeff Child ’82 and their wives. The inaugural holders of each professorship will be announced later this year. Mike and Reneé Child endowed the Child Family Professorship in Engineering and Entrepreneurship to honor professors who emphasize developing technology with value to society. This is Mike and Reneé’s second endowed professorship. They started the tradition of extraordinary family philanthropy in 1995 when they first created the Child Family Professorship to reward outstanding engineering faculty interested in “the interrelationship of engineering and entrepreneurship.” Professor Biswanath Mukherjee of the Department of Computer Science currently holds this professorship. Jeff and Dianne Child’s first endowed professorship, the Child-Whitaker Professorship in Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, will honor the exceptional qualities of Jeff’s favorite teacher, Professor Emeritus Steve Whitaker, and continue Jeff and Dianne’s practice of giving. Initially inspired by Mike’s example, Jeff and Dianne created the Child-Whitaker Fund for Distinguished Teaching and Scholarship in 1999 to provide financial resources to To learn more about how your gift, of any amount, can benefit the UC Davis College of Engineering, contact: Amy McGuire Assoc. Director of Development 530-752-3960 4


outstanding faculty members within the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. It is currently held by Professor Tonya Kuhl. Jeff and Dianne also endowed the Child-Whitaker Scholarship to encourage undergraduate excellence. Endowed professorships are supported by gifts that are invested in perpetuity. Each year income from the fund is expended to support the holder’s academic activities. The minimum gift to establish an endowed professorship at UC Davis is currently $500,000. $4.25 Million Gift for Machine Tool Research The Mori Seiki Company, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of machine tools, will donate $4.25 million during the next five years to support Professor Kazuo Yamazaki’s research in the Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering. The gift will support Yamazaki’s work on machine tools controlled by computers. But while Yamazaki’s laboratory is developing sophisticated, applied technology, his real goal is to develop human resources, he says. “The aim of our lab is to develop topnotch engineers, not just academics, and we must work closely with industry to do that,” Yamazaki said. Industry needs students who have experience in all areas of machine tool technology, from mechanics to software design, and who understand how these machines are used in practice, he says. Adam Hansel ’00, president of Mori Seiki’s subsidiary DTL Corp. in West Sacramento, says supporting such fundamental research enables the company to secure a supply of enthusiastic and well-trained engineers, benefiting not

Professor Kazuo Yamazaki just Mori Seiki but the manufacturing industry as a whole. Blacutt-Underwood Professorship Alumnus Brian Underwood, M.S. ’91, and his wife, Carol Blacutt-Underwood, have established the Blacutt-Underwood Professorship to support research and teaching in materials science. Underwood has helped found and grow a number of successful ventures. Most recently he advised Jigsaw Technologies, a productivity-optimization software company for the mining industry, acquired by Leica out of Switzerland. Blacutt-Underwood holds law degrees from the Universidad Mayor de San Andres in Bolivia and Santa Clara University, and she has worked as a corporate attorney for Informix.

Brian Underwood, M.S. ’91, and wife Carol Blacutt-Underwood

Transferring Research to the Marketplace
The University of California has a long history of working with industry to bring research to the marketplace. UC Davis InnovationAccess, as part of the University’s Office of Research, plays an active role in this mission—focusing particularly on protecting and commercializing intellectual property and fostering entrepreneurship within the campus community. Recently there has been a notable increase in the number of startup companies emerging from campus research and technologies, with nearly 20 new companies founded since 2005. Through InnovationAccess, engineering faculty have accelerated the transfer of technology to the marketplace, as the following stories illustrate. By some estimates, electricity used to cool data centers accounts for nearly half of the power such facilities consume. The facilities themselves gobbled up 1.5 percent of all electricity consumed in the nation in 2006, a percentage expected to double in the next five years. SynapSense projects that its technology could cut a data center’s cooling costs by 30 percent. Electromagnetic Goes High-Tech For more than a century, hundreds of millions of components that isolate and shape signals were made by winding wire by hand around a circular piece of magnetic material. PlanarMag Inc., a new startup company in Sacramento, is developing higher performance, flat electromagnetic components that can be produced at lower cost with more advanced manufacturing technologies. PlanarMag grew out of talent at UC Davis and local electronics companies. Anh-Vu Pham, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, is the company’s part-time chief technology officer. There is a several billion dollar market for electromagnetic components, used in products such as cable television boxes, Ethernet hardware and streaming video devices.

A New Frontier in Plug-in Hybrid Technologies Pioneering inventions in plug-in hybrid vehicle technology and transmission systems developed at UC Davis have been licensed to Efficient Drivetrains Inc. (EDI) of Palo Alto. The technology draws on more than 30 years of work by Andy Frank, professor of mechanical and aeronautical engineering, and EDI was founded in 2006 specifically to commercialize his technology. The company plans to partner with auto designers and manufacturers so they can rapidly introduce advanced plug-in hybrid technology into their vehicles. Frank’s designs for a “parallel” hybrid powertrain allow significant increases in fuel efficiency compared with hybrids currently on the market. The licensing package also includes an “intelligent,” continuously variable transmission that automatically selects the right power ratio and eliminates gear shifting. “The plug-in hybrid displaces more oil than any other technique, without a change in infrastructure,” Frank said.

Solar Technology Performance Advantage Q1 NanoSystems of West Sacramento is creating higher performing, lower-cost solar technology. Their exclusive licensing agreement with UC Davis covers developments that allow the manufacturing of extremely thin and very small wires, films and other structures with a precise chemical makeup. Inventions for the company were generated by Pieter Stroeve, professor of chemical engineering and materials science, along with postdoctoral researcher Ruxandra Vidu and Saif Islam, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. Graduate student Jie-Ren Ku also worked on the project. Vidu, Stroeve and Ku are among the co-founders of Q1 NanoSystems. SynapSense Innovates Data Center Cooling Raju Pandey, associate professor of computer science, leveraged his research to co-found SynapSense Corp., a Folsom startup company that developed a system of wireless sensors to help rein in the burgeoning power drain exerted by electricity-hungry computer data centers.

Assoc. Professor Raju Pandey (left) and Assoc. Professor Anh-Vu Pham (above)

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#1800 One Shields Avenue Davis, CA 95616

PICNIC DAY Saturday, April 19, 2008 SPRING COMMENCEMENT Friday, June 13, 2008


Recognize a Distinguished Alum


he Distinguished Engineering Alumni Medal is awarded each year to an alumnus whose professional and personal achievements bring special honor to the College of Engineering. The medal, sponsored jointly by the College of Engineering and the Cal Aggie Engineering Alumni Association, is presented as part of the June commencement ceremony for undergraduate students. Each nominee must be a UC Davis engineering graduate with 15 or more years of professional experience; have a record of outstanding professional or technical achievement; and have rendered distinguished service to the College of Engineering, the engineering profession, or to the community at large.

Any UC Davis alum or faculty member may nominate a candidate. We invite you to participate in this important recognition by submitting your nomination for the award. Please use the online form at coe/alumni/deam/ This form will be submitted directly to the College of Engineering Dean’s Office. You may submit the candidate’s curriculum vitae, letters of support, and other supporting materials electronically to; via fax at 530-752-3849; or by mail to:
Amy McGuire Engineering Dean’s Office Distinguished Engineering Alumni Medal One Shields Avenue Davis, CA 95616-5294

Nomination packets must be submitted by April 11, 2008