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  • Kristin Luciani

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  • Kristin Luciani

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Animal Encounters, Augmented Reality and More to be Featured at San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering

EXPO DAY on March 24 offers more than 140 hands-on activities, live stage performances and opportunities to talk with real scientists and engineers—all in the setting of a major league baseball stadium.

Where can you touch a real shark egg case, build a circuit and extract your own DNA? Or get a behind-the-scenes look at how computer chips are made and the future of augmented reality technology? It’s all part of the 2012 San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering, taking place March 17-24. The largest celebration of innovation and education in Southern California, the Festival spans eight days and includes 38 events across the county—with more than 140 booths at the free March 24 EXPO DAY alone.

Organized by UC San Diego, the festival brings together a diverse set of activities, people and ideas to celebrate the science and engineering that are thriving in San Diego. Below is a sampling of what UC San Diego students, faculty and alumni are doing to enrich the activities.

Festival Events with UC San Diego

Cymer, Inc., a local high-tech company founded by UC San Diego alumni Bob Akins and Rick Sandstrom, is inviting community students and their families to its headquarters on March 18 for an insider look at how computer chips are made. Recognized by Forbes magazine as the most innovative tech company in the U.S., Cymer light sources are used to make the computer chips in a variety of consumer electronics, from cell phones and TVs to video game consoles.

Also opening up its headquarters is Qualcomm, Inc., the world leader in next-generation mobile technology. On March 23, visitors can tour the Qualcomm Museum for a look at the successes and challenges this company has faced over the last 25 years. A question and answer session is also scheduled with two pioneers of engineering: Irwin Jacobs, co-founder of Qualcomm and a former UC San Diego professor, and Chuck Vest, president of the National Academy of Engineering. Closing the evening, UCSD Alumni and Qualcomm are hosting a reception with interactive, hands-on demonstrations.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Qualcomm and the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering for this event,” said Raymond Hardie of UCSD Alumni. “Our alumni and faculty are at the cutting edge of advancements in technology. It’s amazing to be able to share their stories with students and families—and inspire some of our future innovators.”

At Engineering is Fun. Converting Ideas into Reality on March 23, tours of the Qualcomm Museum will showcase the company’s successes and challenges over the last 25 years.


At EXPO DAY March 24, the grand finale of the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering, students and families will explore a wide range of hands-on activities and live stage performances—all in the setting of a major league baseball stadium.

Imagine sliding into the heart of a volcano to discover the layers of the Earth and how volcanoes work, and then emerging into a rainforest. You pass through the different stages of rainforest succession and see how an ecosystem recovers from major environmental disturbances. Visitors at EXPO DAY will be able to do just that at the BioEASI booth. BioEASI (Bio Education and Art for Science Innovation) is a team of UC San Diego graduate students in the Division of Biological Sciences with the mission of showing the creative side of science, and how science and art enrich each other.

EXPO DAY on March 24 offers more than 140 hands-on activities, live stage performances and opportunities to talk with real scientists and engineers—all in the setting of a major league baseball stadium.

“Science and art are both very creative and innovative subjects,” said Suzy Szumowski of BioEASI. “Many famous scientists throughout history have been both scientists and artists—like Galileo, DaVinci and Darwin—and many important scientific breakthroughs originated from creative and beautiful ideas.”

The BioEASI booth will include a 20-by-10-foot walk-in art installation modeled after Volcan Arenal in Costa Rica that was created by Jason Rogalski and his students at Julian Charter School. Visitors can interact with the installation, as well as learn about BioEASI’s creative science courses offered through UC San Diego Extension’s College Exploration program.

“Society produces what it celebrates,” said Jim Rohr, UC San Diego alumnus and engineer at SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific. “It’s important to celebrate the scientists and engineers in our community, and to show kids that our society values these professions.”

At the SPAWAR booth at EXPO DAY, Rohr hopes to impart a single teachable lesson: we live on the bottom of an ocean of air. “It’s a pretty cool realization,” said Rohr. “And there are several very visual demos we can do to show that air has weight—like making a marshmallow grow and then get crushed as the air pressure changes.”

With so many different activities, the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering has something to offer for everyone. See the side bar below for a preview of the things you can see and do during the celebration. Visit for the complete list of activities, RSVP information and other details.


Festival Events

For a complete list of Festival events taking place March 17-24, and to RSVP, visit

Sunday, March 18, 1-4 p.m.

Cymer Presents Imagination Innovation

Ever wonder how your TV or cell phone works? It all has to do with the chips inside. Learn how a computer chip is made, build a solar-powered car, visit different generations of Cymer light sources and witness simple experiments that relate to Cymer technology.

Location: Cymer, 17075 Thornmint Ct, San Diego.

Wednesday, March 21, 6-8 p.m.

Science Speed Round

A series of seven short, sharp, expertly refereed talks by some of San Diego’s finest minds. Topics range from “Red Gene, Blue Gene: The New Science of Voting” with UC San Diego professor James Fowler to “Growing the World’s Fuel” with Yan Poon, director of Sapphire Energy.

Location: The Neurosciences Institute, 10640 John Jay Hopkins Drive, San Diego.

Friday, March 23, 2-5:30 p.m.

Engineering is Fun. Converting Ideas into Reality

Take a peek behind the scenes of Qualcomm, the world leader in next generation mobile technology. Attendees will tour the Qualcomm Museum and enjoy an entertaining question and answer session with Qualcomm Co-founder Irwin Jacobs and President of the National Academy of Engineering Chuck Vest.

Location: Qualcomm Corporate Headquarters, 5775 Morehouse Drive, San Diego.


Below is a sampling of activities at EXPO DAY hosted by UC San Diego groups. For a complete listing of booths and additional information, visit


Visit a 20-by-10-foot walk-in art installation modeled after the Volcan Arenal in Costa Rica and learn how volcanoes work, as well as the various stages of rainforest succession. Hosted by the UC San Diego graduate student organization BioEASI.

Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Explore sharks through hands-on activities with ocean experts from the Birch Aquarium. Touch real shark egg cases, see shark skin and take home a shark craft.

UC San Diego Department of Bioengineering

Curious how your body repairs itself? Play the ‘Cellular Adventure Game’ and discover how the body uses unique cues to help immature cells grow up and replace damaged cells.

UC San Diego K-16 Programs

Chris Warren, the instructor of UC San Diego’s Academic Connections course “Engineering Sonic Arts: Building Musical Instruments (Real and Imaginary)” will demonstrate one.

Additional information:

Parking: $5 parking for EXPO DAY March 24 is available at Padres Parkade (6th and K), Tailgate Lot and D1/D2.

View a map of Festival event locations


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