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07.11.11 - MDP: The Work Continues

Biological sciences major Janelle Celso (left) and history major Nate
Directo represent their team, which is using multimedia and visualization
to help English language learners understand environmental systems.

Phase one of Calit2’s newest undergraduate research program came to a close with the end of the academic year, but many of the 17 multidisciplinary teams are hard at work this summer on projects in the areas of energy, environment, healthcare and culture.

The innovative Multidisciplinary Design Program, sponsored by Calit2 and UC Irvine’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, kicked off in March with 83 students representing a wide range of disciplines. The students work in small teams co-mentored by at least two professors from different departments.

Faculty mentors are guiding the students as they work together in state-of-the-art facilities – including a specially designed MDP project lab on the second floor of the Calit2 Building.

All 17 groups presented the results of their research to peers and advisors during three spring quarter project-and-program-update meetings.

At left, business administration major Virginia Mac and urban studies major Keelie Rocker discuss design, culture
and sustainability; at right, Nancy Huynh and Amie Le, both urban studies students, present their work on design
thinking and creativity.

The goal of the MDP is to acquaint undergraduates with the type of multidisciplinary collaborations they are likely to face after graduation. The comprehensive list of projects includes – to name a few – those in microfabrication, physical rehabilitation, environmental systems, fuel cells, stem cells, earthquakes, recycling, healthcare and outreach to under-represented groups.  

From left: Robert Wu, civil engineering; Judy Pham, business
administration; Huy Nghiem, public health science; and Mindy Bui,
biological sciences; present their project: Investigating Obstacles to
Water Recycling and Re-use.

Phase 2 of the program, beginning in the fall quarter, will be opened to additional faculty, who will be invited to participate, said UROP director Said Shokair. A new call for student applications will be issued as well. “We hope to build on the momentum we have established, and open the program to more undergraduates and faculty mentors,” he said.

Calit2 Irvine division director G.P. Li is pleased with the program’s progress and the work being done by student teams. “These cross-disciplinary collaborations could one day result in important new innovations,” he said. “I expect to see a lot of future success.”

--Anna Lynn Spitzer