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Shu Chien Named San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering Chief Engineer

The San Diego Super Computer Center booth displays 3D videos from engineering work at UC San Diego. Photos by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications

At the 2011 National Medal of Science ceremony in which Shu Chien accepted his award, President Obama stressed the importance of encouraging young students to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. Chien, a UC San Diego professor of bioengineering and medicine and director of the Institute of Engineering in Medicine, echoed the sentiment: “The strength of our country depends on science and engineering,” he said. Now, Chien is serving as the chief engineer of the 2013 San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering, taking place March 16-23.

Festival attendees could watch live science experiments at the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering.

The largest celebration of technology and innovation in Southern California, the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering includes more than 40 events throughout the county, culminating in EXPO DAY at PETCO Park on Saturday, March 23. Hands-on activities and exciting demonstrations are designed to show the real world impact of STEM knowledge and inspire students to pursue careers in these rewarding industries.

“In order to continue improving the way of life for everyone, we must foster interest in the science and engineering fields among young children,” noted Chien.

From its inception in 2008 through 2012, the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering was organized by UC San Diego with the support of community collaborators. This year, UC San Diego has passed on the organizational torch to the BIOCOM Institute which, as a nonprofit that serves as a bridge between academia and the life science industry, is well suited to grow the festival and its year-round focus on STEM education.

Shu Chien

One of the key ways in which the festival aims to inspire students is by facilitating interactions with scientists and engineers in the community—professionals who can talk about the excitement of making a discovery that transforms society, the variety of careers in STEM and the accessibility of these fields.

“We as parents, teachers and business leaders have to play a more active role in showing young people the indisputable fact that scientists and engineers lead great lives,” said Steve Briggs, UC San Diego professor of cell and developmental biology, who is returning this year as chief scientist for the festival. “The opportunity to forge a science and engineering career is within the grasp of every San Diego student.”

In addition to providing the chief engineer and chief scientist, UC San Diego is participating in six festival events, hosting 19 EXPO DAY booths and providing 13 Nifty50 speakers—science and engineering professionals who present in local K-12 classrooms throughout the year. UC San Diego affiliated events include:

Sunday, March 17, 10 a.m., La Jolla Shores

SCUBA Science and Engineering

Seaducers, a UC San Diego SCUBA diving student organization, demonstrates the technology that allows divers to breathe underwater and explore the ocean’s depths. Participants will meet expert divers and get an up-close look at SCUBA equipment. 

Sunday, March 17, 2 p.m., Wild Willow Farm and Education Center

Bee Charmed!

UC San Diego researcher James Nieh discusses foraging, communications and social behavior in bees and honey bee health. Afterward, participants may take a tour of Wild Willow Farm and Education Center’s honey bee hives and enjoy a honey tasting.

Monday, March 18, 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., UC San Diego

Skateboard! Humans vs. Robotics

UC San Diego engineering students present a live demonstration to find out who skateboards better, humans or robots, as well as explore the physics that powers skateboarding technique.

Wednesday, March 20, 6 p.m., Calit2 Atkinson Hall Auditorium, UC San Diego

Science Speed Round

Eight of San Diego’s finest scientific minds present eight different exciting concepts—in just five minutes each. Speakers include Tara Hutchinson, UC San Diego mechanical engineer and Todd Coleman, UC San Diego bioengineer.

UC San Diego BioMedical Engineering Society booth explores though demos the smart design of the human body.

The 2013 San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering is produced by the BIOCOM Institute in partnership with UC San Diego and the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. For the full event schedule, volunteer opportunities and additional information, visit sdsciencefestival.com.