Press Archive

UC San Diego Dedicates Technology Institute, Honors Former UC President

Published 10/28/2005

By Doug Ramsey, UCSD

A crowd of more than 1,000 people from the campus, community and local corporations were on hand this morning when the University of California, San Diego dedicated its high-tech research home for the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), and unveiled a $1.5 million gift to the institute from QUALCOMM Incorporated.

During the formal ceremony, university officials jointly disclosed the creation of a new academic chair in wireless communications funded through Calit2 by industry partner Ericsson. They also announced that the 215,000-square-foot building will be named Atkinson Hall in honor of former UC President Richard C. Atkinson, who played a vital role in the launch of Calit2 five years ago.

Calit2 is a partnership of UCSD and UC Irvine, and opened its building in Irvine last November. At peak capacity, the Calit2 building in La Jolla will house 900 researchers and staff, most of them working on projects led by faculty from more than 20 campus departments. With its focus on discovery and innovation at the intersection of science, engineering and the arts, Calit2 constitutes one of the largest multidisciplinary research centers in the nation.

"Our research mission is a public trust that we fulfill best by collaborating across disciplines and sectors," said UCSD Chancellor Marye Anne Fox. "Perhaps more than any other academic endeavor, Calit2 boldly exemplifies UCSD's three pillars of strength: innovation, interdisciplinary scholarship, and international collaboration."

Most affiliated faculty will retain their offices in their home departments, but are relocating projects and personnel into Calit2's labs and 'research neighborhoods'. More than two-thirds of the building's occupants will be graduate student researchers, with bioengineers working alongside computer scientists, visual artists next door to neuroscientists, electrical engineers down the hall from cognitive scientists, and so on.

"This new building is a physical manifestation of our multidisciplinary agenda," said Ramesh Rao, Director of Calit2's UCSD Division. "We have invested heavily in creating shared facilities, including clean rooms for nanofabrication, digital theaters for new media arts and scientific visualization, test and measurement labs for circuit design, smart spaces for experiments in augmented reality, testbeds for wireless and optical communications, and much more."

QUALCOMM Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Paul E. Jacobs, announced the company's $1.5 million gift. It comes on top of $15 million already donated by the San Diego-based wireless communications company in support of research and education activities carried out by the institute's UCSD Division. According to Calit2's Rao, the gift is earmarked for an innovation fund to help initiate and sustain new research activities through support for faculty, students and technical staff.

Funding for the Calit2 buildings at UCSD and UC Irvine came from California taxpayers as part of the state's $100 million startup investment in the institute. (The state invested similar investments in three other UC-based California Institutes for Science and Innovation.) The capital investment from the state was conditioned on Calit2 raising at least twice as much from other sources. Since its launch in December 2000, faculty affiliated with the UCSD Division of Calit2 have received more than $226 million in federal research awards, and industry donations as well as research affiliated with industry total approximately $78 million to date.

Jacobs School of Engineering Dean Frieder Seible - co-chair of Calit2's Governing Board - added that industry plays a crucial role in commercializing innovations that come out of Calit2 labs at UCSD. "As we create these new technologies," noted Seible, "we look to our industry partners to develop and execute the ideas that will add the most value to society."

In her remarks, UCSD Chancellor Fox announced that the new building at UCSD will carry the name of one of her predecessors as chancellor. Richard Atkinson was Director of the National Science Foundation before becoming UCSD Chancellor in 1980. His 15-year tenure and bold leadership at UCSD enhanced the campus's stature as one of the world's leading research universities. Before retiring in 2003, the internationally respected scholar and scientist served for eight years as President of the UC system. During that time, he was a strong proponent of the new institutes to be located on UC campuses.

"Dick had the vision to develop and create Calit2 and its sister institutes as an institutional innovation across the entire UC system, so it is fitting that the San Diego campus Calit2 building will be named in his honor," said Fox. "We are also honoring his service to UCSD and the UC system, and for his very distinguished, 47-year career in teaching, research and public service."

Calit2's Rao used his remarks to announce creation of the Ericsson Endowed Chair in Wireless Communications Access Techniques, and the naming of its first holder, Electrical and Computer Engineering professor Laurence Milstein. The chair is one of several pledged by Ericsson as part of its initial commitment to Calit2.

Milstein joined the UCSD faculty in 1976, and is a former department chair. The IEEE Fellow is an expert in digital communications theory and wireless communications. He has specialized in spread-spectrum systems, while also working in fields ranging from signal transmission to broadband and ultra wideband wireless. Prior to joining UCSD, Milstein was a professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, and a researcher in satellite communications at Hughes Aircraft Co. He earned his Ph.D. in 1968 from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn.

Filling UCSD's new Engineering Courtyard to capacity for the dedication ceremony, attendees used their cell phones to 'dial the future' and formally open the institute's doors as part of a multimedia, interactive performance. Inside the six-story structure, visitors were treated to 150 research exhibits and tours of the 21st-century facilities, including labs devoted to research on advanced integrated circuits, wireless and optical networking, and even smart spaces for experiments in augmented reality.

Other speakers at the dedication ceremony included UC President Robert C. Dynes, and Michael Drake, Chancellor of UC Irvine.

Calit2 is the first of California's four new state-funded research institutes to complete its facilities. "This was an immense feat that required unprecedented cooperation among the campuses, community and industry partners, and both divisions of Calit2," said Calit2 Director Larry Smarr. "With the structures now built, we can focus all of our energies on developing what is already a world-class research center and delivering on Calit2's promise to harness information technology and telecommunications to benefit society and improve the competitiveness of the California economy."

The festivities surrounding the dedication of the Calit2 building at UCSD were set to continue into the evening with an art-related reception at 5:00PM, a computer-music concert at 7:00 PM, and an interactive multimedia performance set 25 years in the future starting at 8:00PM. Attendees were asked to dress for Halloween in 2030.Called SPECFLIC 1.0, the 'speculative distributed cinema' piece developed by Visual Arts professor Adriene Jenik incorporates wireless devices, audience participation, and projection of video and images on surfaces of the new building. The evening activities are hosted by UCSD's Center for Research in Computing & the Arts, which is now based in Atkinson Hall and is part of Calit2's new-media arts activities.