Chirp Microsystems waves on touch-free future

Within just a few years, we’ve got used to controlling devices by swiping, scrolling or tapping our fingers on a touch screen. But soon you might not even have to touch anything at all to check your email or play a video – just wave your hand in the air, thanks to ultrasonic technology from Chirp Microsystems, a startup company founded in 2013 by researchers from UC Davis and UC Berkeley.

Chirp’s technology is “disruptive” in the ultrasound area, said David Horsley, professor of electrical and computer engineering at UC Davis and co-founder of the company. Chirp’s ultrasound transducers are smaller and operate with much lower power needs than any currently available.

Shale oil fracking, conventional crude drilling produce similar greenhouse gas emissions

By Kat Kerlin

It requires roughly the same level of greenhouse gas emissions to extract shale oil as it does to extract conventional crude oil, according to a pair of studies by UC Davis and Stanford University released this week by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory.

The research analyzed the Eagle Ford shale play in Texas and the Bakken play in North Dakota. These plays are shale formations with low permeability that must be hydraulically fractured to produce oil and gas.

The Eagle Ford Shale in Texas is one of the largest oil and gas producing regions in the country.

The Eagle Ford Shale in Texas is one of the largest oil and gas producing regions in the country.

Alumn judges the Big Brains on TV

UC Davis multi-alumna Christine Gulbranson is bringing her talents to a new challenge starting today, May 1: She is one of two regular judges on a new reality TV show, “Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius” which begins an eight-week run on the Discovery Channel tonight.

Gulbranson said she hopes the show can help get young people excited about in careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

“In my experience, it was when I was working in a physics lab, doing things, that a lightbulb clicked on and I realized, ‘I can do this,'” she said.

Power-saving startup Ennetix graduates from engineering technology incubator

(Contributed by Paul Dorn)

Ennetix, a startup firm based on research conducted at UC Davis, has graduated from the university’s tech incubator, the Engineering Translational Technology Center (ETTC). Ennetix is the second firm to exit the ETTC, following the May 2012 launch of Dysonics, an audio technology company that received $750,000 in private investment after less than a year of ETTC residency.

Founded by UC Davis engineering distinguished professor Biswanath Mukherjee, Ennetix commercializes university research on network topology optimization and adaptation. Ennetix, formerly named Putah Green Systems, currently offers a software application called “EnergyPlus,” which optimizes energy use in IT networks and connected systems.

UC Davis magazine: Entrepreneurs, guns, domes

The Spring issue of UC Davis Magazine is on its way out to alumni and parents, and available online at the magazine’s website and in a new online “zmag” format.

The cover story of this issue, by Clifton Parker, is on campus entrepreneurship and efforts to promote innovation — how scholars and researchers are bridging the gap between campus and the marketplace with collaborations, patents and startup companies.

Clifton also reports on a new lease of life for Baggins End, the student cooperative housing also known as “The Domes.” The funky housing had been set to close until a new agreement was signed with the Solar Community Housing Association to manage the neighborhood.

Business school, College of Engineering fare well in US News rankings

The UC Davis Graduate School of Management and the graduate programs of the College of Engineering are both included in this year’s US News and World Report rankings.

The Graduate School of Management’s part-time MBA program placed No. 19 among U.S. business schools, up 13 positions from No. 32 last year. US News made some changes to their methodology for assessing part-time MBA programs this year, reducing the weighting from peer assessment and adding other factors.

UC Davis’s full-time MBA program ranked at number 36, among the top eight percent of the 441 Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International-accredited full-time master of business administration programs.

iMobot modular robot technology licensed

UC Davis has signed an exclusive license agreement with Barobo, Inc. of West Sacramento, Calif., to commercialize the modular robot technology called “iMobot” – an Intelligent Modular Robot for applications in research, education, industry, search and rescue, military operation, and law enforcement. The license agreement covers the design of iMobot, giving it unique mobility developed by the Integration Engineering Laboratory at UC Davis.

Commercial robots are usually built for specific applications. Modular robots are different kinds of robots. Similar to Lego, iMobot is designed as a building block. However, unlike Lego, a single iMobot module is a fully functional robot with four controllable degrees of freedom. iMobot can roll, crawl, and creep.iMobot in camera platform mode

Higher ed cuts will hurt farming, too

Following a visit to the editorial board of the Bakersfield Californian by UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi and Neal Van Alfen, dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the Californian’s editorial page editor Robert Price points out that cuts to higher education do not just higher tuition for students. They also threaten the competitiveness of one of the state’s key industries, agriculture.

Though many jobs in agriculture are low-paying, many others pay quite well, and that earned wealth is a significant economic driver. That wealth, derived from global competitiveness, rides on the back of research — research carried out by institutions like UC Davis. From harvesting automation to advances in processing, research has helped the Central Valley stay ahead of the global competitive curve, albeit barely.

‘Father of the Plug-in Hybrid’ gets a Chevy Volt

UC Davis engineering professor Andy Frank has been called ‘The Father of the Plug-in Hybrid,’ and yesterday he picked up one of the first to be sold. The Chevrolet Andy Frank with his new VoltVolt made by General Motors has both an electric motor and a gasoline engine, and it’s EPA sticker says it can get up to 93 mpg in city driving. That’s because the Volt can drive for up to 30 miles — enough for most in-town commuting — on electric power alone, and can recharge its batteries either from the gasoline engine or from a 110 volt socket.

Mori Seiki to open Davis factory

Japanese machine tool manufacturer Mori Seiki is to open a factory in Davis. The plant will be next door to the company’s existing DTL subsidiary off Second Street in East Davis.  The company will invest about $50 million in the new plant that will employ 150 people, in addition to the 80 already working at DTL.

The company has long-standing ties to UC Davis, especially through the work of Professor Kazuo Yamazaki of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. For several years the company has supported Yamazaki’s research on using computers to control and run machine tools, including gifts of $3 million in 2003 and another $4.25 million in 2007. Many graduate students trained by Yamazaki have gone on to work for Mori Seiki and DTL.