On April 10, Matthew Tirrell, dean of the UCSB College of Engineering, and Mohammad Noori, dean of the Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo College of Engineering, announced a new Center for Collaborative Engineering Research and Education. The center establishes a new alliance to take advantage of the different strengths of the two institutions. By combining Cal Poly’s undergraduate program and strong connections to industry with UCSB’s doctoral research, the center hopes to create a more comprehensive education and “unprecedented opportunity” for research.
The center will complement Cal Poly’s capabilities for design, production, testing, and implementation of devices with UCSB’s abilities with theory, simulation, and device design. Projects will have principle investigators from each institution, allowing researchers to utilize both facilities. The collaboration intends to encourage greater undergraduate participation in research and merge senior projects at both schools. Initiatives at Cal Poly will be embedded into National Science Foundation-funded programs at UCSB. Highly qualified graduate students from Cal Poly will transition into UCSB’s doctoral program.
Export control laws regulate the distribution of technology and services to foreign nationals and countries. Although UC policy is to not accept funding with these restrictions, Cal Poly already has a method for accepting and conducting research under these laws. By sub-contracting its research through Cal Poly, the center will open new funding to UCSB’s engineering department.
The initial focus will be on the technological needs of the aerospace industry, such as electronics, morphing structures (objects capable of changing function or shape depending on circumstance), and high heat temperature control. This is to take advantage of both school’s proximity to NASA Ames, Edwards Air Force Base, Vandenberg, and other California aerospace hotspots.
The annual budget will be up to about $4 million, largely supported through grants and external contracts. The center will operate in the existing engineering departments of each school, but a formal base of operations is expected to be established in the future as the relationship between the schools solidifies.