Spartans at Work: NASA Ames

Where will an SJSU degree take you? We hit the road to find out, visiting summer interns and recent grads on the job in the Bay Area and beyond. Our video series continues with Ali Guarneros Luna, ’10 ’12 Aerospace Engineering. She is a systems engineer at NASA Ames Research Center. Read more about her experience!

Cube Satellite Launches to International Space Station

By Sarah Kyo, Web Communications Specialist

TechEdSat, a NASA-sponsored cube satellite that SJSU aerospace engineering students have worked on, launched from Japan to the International Space Station.

NASA TV began its live-stream coverage on Friday, July 20, 6:15 p.m. PDT. Then 7:06 p.m. was the official launch of the Japanese transfer vehicle, which contains TechEdSat and four other cube satellites from international universities and organizations.

“Cubesats have been around, but this is the first ever deployed from the space station, thus it has to meet all the ISS requirements,” said Professor Periklis Papadopoulos, who also works at NASA Ames Research Center and served as a technical advisor on the project. “This has not been done before. Some of those requirements we had to help them define since there was no precedence.”

Normally, projects that are sent to the International Space Station take four and a half years to complete, said graduate student and system engineer Ali Guarneros Luna, but TechEdSat was completed in about nine months. The student team was responsible for designing and integrating the cube satellite’s system, as well as performing various tests and making sure it passed the standards of both the International Space Station and NASA.

In a NASA news release, Andres Martinez, program manager for Small Spacecraft Payloads and Technologies at Ames, said TechEdSat “will allow a group of very talented aerospace engineering students from San Jose State University to experience a spaceflight project from formulation through decommission of a small spacecraft.”

If this mission is successful, then it may lead to future cube satellites with a similar communication system.

Spartans at Work: At NASA Ames, "I'm Pursuing My Childhood Dream"

Spartans at Work: At NASA Ames, “I’m Pursuing My Childhood Dream”

By Sarah Kyo, Web Communications Specialist

(This summer, SJSU Today hits the road, visiting students and recent grads on the job across the country and around the world. Our Spartans at Work series continues with aerospace engineering graduate Ali Guarneros Luna.)

Where will an SJSU degree take you? How about beyond the Earth’s atmosphere? While Ali Guarneros Luna, ’10, ’12 Aerospace Engineering, has her feet on the ground as a systems engineer for NASA Ames Research Center, she has been involved in projects that have made it to outer space.

Guarneros Luna lead an SJSU student team that worked on the cube satellite, TechEdSat, one of five cube satellites, or cubesats, being transported to the International Space Station. A transfer vehicle containing the cubesats, additional experiments and supplies launched from Japan at 7:06 p.m. PDT July 20. TechEdSat is the first NASA cube satellite that will orbit the earth after being launched from the International Space Station.

Becoming an aerospace engineer was a childhood dream for Guarneros Luna, who grew up in Mexico.

“I read something, I saw something on TV when I was probably five or seven years old, and it just impacted me,” she said.

She earned her current job after interning at NASA Ames during her last year of undergraduate studies, where she made connections with SJSU faculty members who also worked at that research center.

“I was just lucky enough that … San Jose State University gave me the opportunity to pursue the dream that I had when I was growing up,” she said.

The image contains scenes of China at night with the words, "Global Technology Initiative Goes to China 2011." Image courtesy of SJSU's Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering.

Global Technology Initiative Takes Students and Faculty to China and Taiwan

The image contains scenes of China at night with the words, "Global Technology Initiative Goes to China 2011." Image courtesy of SJSU's Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering.

This summer, 23 students and 3 faculty members will travel to China and Taiwan as part of the Global Technology Initiative. Image courtesy of SJSU's Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering.

By Sarah Kyo, Public Affairs Assistant

A group of 23 students and three faculty members depart for China and Taiwan this week, as part of the College of Engineering’s Global Technology Initiative.

The group will first travel to the Chinese cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou May 26 to June 9, and then they will visit the Taiwanese cities of Taipei, Keelung, Hsinchu and Taoyuan June 7 to 9. Students and faculty will visit American and local companies, universities and landmarks. You can follow along during their journey at their blog.

“This trip will provide SJSU students first-hand experience with globalization and prepare them to be the leaders tomorrow,” said Richard Chung, professor of chemical and materials engineering.

Of the students attending, 17 are from the College of Engineering and the remaining six each represent a different college within SJSU. Chung, College of Engineering Dean Belle Wei and Professor Andrew Wood of the Communications Studies Department will travel with the students.

Established in 2004 with a $1 million endowment, the Global Technology Initiative is a study-tour of global technology and business companies. Previous destinations include India, China and Taiwan.

For more information about the Global Technology Initiative, visit

Professor and five students inside ZEM House.

Multidisciplinary Team Builds Zero Emissions House

Professor and five students inside ZEM House.

Professor Jinny Rhee with students inside their ZEM house (Rhee, Michael Signorelli, Kendrick Lau, Eden Specht and daughter, Michael Murray and Jesus Contreras). Photo by Elena Polanco.

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

What’s the best thing about SJSU’s very first ZEM (that’s zero-emissions) house?

We built it,” said mechanical engineering major Eden Specht.

“We” means 25 students from five departments, making this one of San Jose State’s most ambitious interdisciplinary senior projects ever.

Specht placed the emphasis on the “we” because students built the whole thing from the ground up: drawing up plans, picking out materials, and hammering the whole thing together.

You can check out their pride and joy — and perhaps learn something new about sustainability — at the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering Open House 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 16. Featuring department presentations, lab demonstrations and the like, the engineering event is timed to coincide with Admitted Spartan Day.

Bright Blue Walls

“This far exceeds anything I’ve ever supervised before,” said Jinny Rhee, associate professor of mechanical engineering.

The house is definitely a site to behold, its bright blue angled walls rising from the engineering courtyard (which, by the way, is chock full of all sorts of inventions). With just one room, the house was built more for learning than living, though all the techniques are very much applicable to real homes.

For instance, that power blue material peeking out from unfinished interior? That’s insulation made from recycled denim jeans. And the angled, south-facing front wall? That’s a passive solar element that keeps the house cool during the summer and warm during the winter given seasonal changes in the sun’s path.

The house is also equipped with a heat pump, solar panels and LED lighting with motion detectors, though there’s not much need for daytime lighting. Sunlight fills the interior without heating it up thanks to a bank of small, north-facing windows along the peak of the A-frame roof.

The project is being funded by a $150,000 National Science Foundation grant. Other sponsors include Westinghouse Solar, Sun Xtender, Heartwood Communities, Schneider Electric, and Prestige Glass and Storefront Company. Rhee is the principal investigator. Co-principal investigators are David Parent (electrical engineering), Anuradha Basu (business), Leslie Speer (industrial design), and Larry Gerston (political science).

Working together, students from all these departments drafted plans, built a model, sought support from corporations and foundations, and then began construction March 1. Even a couple civil engineering students pitched in, adding trusses to ensure the 100-square-foot structure is earthquake-safe.

Real World Experience

Though the house is considered coursework, it’s clear that for students like Specht, it’s about far more than getting a good grade. A new father who comes to campus carrying his baby girl, he pours time into the effort, motivated by the opportunity to do hands-on work on a well funded endeavor supported by many faculty members.

“This is my favorite part of being an engineering student,” he said.

For mechanical engineering major Kendrick Lau, working with students with all kinds of expertise, from finance to fire safety, is invaluable.

“We get to see what it’s like in the real world before we hit the real world,” he said.

To Professor Rhee, the house sends a very clear message about the contributions technology can make to sustainability.

“I plan on researching green buildings for years to come,” she said.#

photo of donor Don Beall

Beall Family Accelerates $4 Million Gift Commitment to SJSU

photo of donor Don Beall

Don Beall

Media Contact: Pat Lopes Harris, 408-656-6999

Distinguished alumnus Don Beall and his wife Joan Beall have completed a $4 million gift commitment to the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering at San Jose State University. This lead gift in SJSU’s comprehensive fundraising campaign created the university’s first endowed deanship, the Don Beall Dean of Engineering.

“We are ever so grateful to Don and Joan Beall for their generosity and foresight,” said SJSU President Don W. Kassing. “With his support, San Jose State will continue offering our students leading edge engineering and science programs that are crucial to the innovation and entrepreneurial process in Silicon Valley and beyond.”

Engineering Dean Belle Wei is using the gift to materialize high-impact strategic initiatives and programs in the areas of student and faculty development, leading-edge engineering, innovation and globalization. Don Beall earned a B.S. in metallurgical engineering in 1960 from SJSU. He retired from Rockwell in 1998 after a 30-year career, during which he served ten as president, and the final ten as chairman and CEO.

Download Don Beall’s photo.

San Jose State — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 29,000 students and 3,190 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.

Palo Alto’s Gunn Robotics Team, seen here in red costumes at the 2008-09 Silicon Valley Regionals, has competed in the FIRST Robotics Competition since 1996. Photo courtesy Gunn Robotics.

Robotics Competition Brings the Bay’s Future Engineers to SJSU

Palo Alto’s Gunn Robotics Team, seen here in red costumes at the 2008-09 Silicon Valley Regionals, has competed in the FIRST Robotics Competition since 1996. Photo courtesy Gunn Robotics.

Palo Alto’s Gunn Robotics Team, seen here in red costumes at the 2008-09 Silicon Valley Regionals, has competed in the FIRST Robotics Competition since 1996. Photo courtesy Gunn Robotics.

By Teresa Ruiz, Web Communications Specialist

More than 50 teams of high school students, their mentors, supporters and volunteers from all over the Bay Area will fill the SJSU Event Center to take part in the For Inspiration and Recognition of and Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics Competition March 31-April 2. The event, which will also draw a handful of teams from other parts of the state, is open to the public and free of charge.

Dubbed by its creators as the “the varsity sport for the mind,” the FIRST Robotics Competition fuses the excitement of a sporting event with science and technology. It gives students the chance to compete against peers internationally while gaining real-world engineering experience. The Event Center will host the Silicon Valley regional competition, where teams from San Jose and surrounding communities such as Palo Alto, Cupertino, Mountain View and Saratoga will represent the South Bay. The competition will give the budding engineers a small taste of college life when they visit the SJSU campus.The best will move on to the state level, then compete for their shot to take center stage at the international championships in April.

“It’s not just about robots,” said FIRST founder Dean Kamen, the entrepreneur known for inventing the Segway scooter. “It’s about building self confidence, respect and important relationships with people who invent new technologies to make a better future.”

Students are challenged to form teams of 15 to 25 peers, think up a theme and work for six weeks to build and program robots that will perform competitive tasks. Students are rewarded points for teamwork, professionalism and the ability to overcome challenges, but the goals of building lasting partnerships and industry connections are emphasized over high scores.

“It’s like life. You never have enough information. You never have enough time. There are always competing things and you must have a strategy. We’ve created a microcosm of the real engineering experience,” said FIRST National Advisor Woodie Flowers.

Now in its 20th year, the FIRST Robotics Competition involves nearly 52,000 students from nine countries including the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Canada, Israel and Germany. Sponsors include Boeing, NASA, JC Penny, General Motors and Rockwell Automation. More than $14 million in scholarships from about 140 sponsors will be offered as part of the event.

Learn more about FIRST, the regional competition or follow all the action leading up to the championships in the FRC blog.

MESA students at MESA 2010 Day.

MESA Day 2011 Brings 700 Middle and High School Students to SJSU for Day of Math, Science and Fun

Students watch as judges test a bridge at MESA Day 2010.

MESA Day 2010

By Christina Ramos and Pat Lopes Harris, Director of Media Relations

The San Jose State University Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) Schools Program will host its annual MESA Day Preliminary Competitions from from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 5 at SJSU.  Students from nearby school districts will participate in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions designed to help them apply their academic skills to hands-on and real world experiences.

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U.S. News Rankings 2011

San Jose State Among Top 20 in the West, Engineering Nationally Ranked

Contact: Pat Lopes Harris, 408-656-6999

SAN JOSE, Calif., — Once again, San Jose State University has excelled in the U.S. News & World Report college rankings. The 2011 edition of “America’s Best Colleges,” available now online, shows SJSU at 14th overall among the West’s top public universities offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

“It is wonderful to see San Jose State consistently ranked among the top 20 in the West,” President Don W. Kassing said. “Our university community works hard to keep SJSU among the nation’s best comprehensive universities.”

SJSU’s Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering also received top marks, ranking seventh in the nation among public engineering programs offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees, excluding service academies.

Read more from U.S. News & World Report.

San Jose State — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 27,400 students and 3,190 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.