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UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering Team Internship Program Summer 2013

Team Internship Program (TIP)

Today’s employers are looking for engineers who have both technical skills and the ability to collaborate and function as a team. Summer Team Internships are part of the Jacobs School’s effort to enhance their students’ education through real-world engineering experiences in a team setting. Students work on-site with industry partners as a multi-disciplinary team focused on a clearly defined and significant project.

Jacobs School Student Teams

  • 2-5 members, each with distinct technical experience and training
  • Undergraduate, Masters, and Ph.D. Levels
  • All engineering majors

Internship Details

  • Paid Internships
  • 10-12 weeks over the summer
  • Full-time, i.e., 40 hour/week commitment

In summer 2012, the Team Internship Program (TIP) sent 289 students out to 45 different companies on 86 teams.  Please call or email Erica Kosa, Manager, Team Internship Program, at 858-822-6772 and  to discuss your summer intern hiring needs and possible project ideas.


Clean Tech Survival Strategies: Unlocking the secrets to local, state and federal incentives, loan guarantees, cash grants and more

CONNECT, in partnership with K&L Gates, has assembled a top level panel of industry and advocacy experts to shed the spotlight on how clean tech companies can navigate today’s changed world of government financing structures including: local, state and federal incentives, loan guarantees, tax credits and cash grants and current trends in strategic partnering and investment.

Arnold Klann of BlueFire Renewables will share his secrets to landing government funding and how to build a successful company that can survive changing government policies and administrations. Juancho Eekhout of SDG&E will outline the opportunities for clean tech companies presented by California’s Renewables Portfolio Standard which is one of the most ambitious renewable energy standards in the country. The RPS program requires investor-owned utilities, electric service providers, and community choice aggregators to increase procurement from eligible renewable energy resources to 33% of total procurement by 2020. Nick Leibham and Dirk Michels, Partners with K&L Gates, LLP will shed light on the current environment in D.C. post ARRA and where the funding opportunities lie across various government departments and agencies.

Following the presentation, Holly Smithson, President & COO CleanTECH San Diego will moderate a lively question and answer session between the audience and panelists.

Holly Smithson, President & COO, CleanTECH San Diego

Juancho Eekhout, San Diego Gas & Electric
Arnold Klann, CEO/President, BlueFire Renewables
Nick Leibham, Partner, K&L Gates, LLP
Dirk Michels, Partner, K&L Gates, LLP

Executives, CEOs, CFOs, industry members, in-house counsel, and senior management in the clean technology, venture capital and convergence sectors.

Sanford Consortium
2880 Torrey Pines Scenic Dr.
La Jolla, CA 92037

September 25, 2012    9:00am – 11:00am
(Registration begins at 8:30am)
Note: Breakfast will be provided for participants.



Shared Solar One Step Closer to Reality

By Guest Author Lee Barken, CPA, LEED-AP

The California Assembly’s Utility & Commerce Committee just advanced a bill called the Community-Based Renewable Energy Self-Generation Program, or SB843, with a 10-to-2 vote on Monday. This 2,000-megawatt program would create a new $7 billion market for renewable energy. The bill’s passage was a critical win for the Golden State, signaling momentum and strong interest in expanding ‘shared solar,’ also known as ‘solar hosting,’ ‘solar gardens’ or ‘offsite solar.’

How Does Shared Solar Work?

The concept of shared solar is remarkably similar to what one might experience in a community vegetable garden. In this system, which is called (more…)


Brookings Institute releases Beyond Boom and Bust: Putting Clean Tech On a Path To Subsidy Independence.

Last Wednesday the Brookings Institute released Beyond Boom and Bust: Putting Clean Tech On a Path To Subsidy Independence. The 65 page report exams the current state of the highly politicized clean energy technology sector.  Their premise is, “In the absence of significant and timely energy policy reform, the recent boom in US clean tech sectors could falter.” 

Part 1 of the report analyzes the past and future of Federal clean tech funding followed by a section which breaks out the market impacts (solar, wind, nuclear, biofuels, EVs and storage).  In Part 3 the authors present their recommended focus on “policy reform to both sustain market opportunities for advanced energy technologies and implement smart new policies that more effectively shepherd public resources and support innovative entrepreneurs and firms.”  They clearly state the wisdom of supporting innovation over massaging the market.  “Simple deployment subsidies or policies to create demand, for example, still allow foreign competitors to undercut domestic manufacturers and seize larger and larger market shares, as Chinese solar PV companies have proven in the last three years.  Only steady innovation can keep US firms at the leading edge of clean tech sectors, and a supportive policy regime will be essential.”

Although San Diego is not mentioned by name, on page 11 the report gives a strong shout out for innovation clusters.  “Likewise, the nation needs to develop more potent, catalytic ways to leverage and enhance regional clean tech industry clusters. Such industry clustering has been shown to accelerate growth by promoting innovation, entrepreneurship, and job creation.  Policy makers should increase investment in competitive grants to support smart regional cluster initiatives, designed not in Washington but on the ground close to the “bottom up” innovation that has broken out in numerous states and metropolitan areas.”

Long considered an innovation cluster Mecca, San Diego’s response is the San Diego iHub, which will build upon the region’s existing innovation infrastructure and strong culture of collaboration to create four convergence clusters: mobile health, biofuels, biomimicry, solar energy and energy storage.  Click here for the regional cleantech cluster database tracked by CleanTECH San Diego.

On April 25th one of the authors of the report, Mark Muro, will participate in a live web chat with moderator Vivyan Tran of POLITICO.  Click here to join in.

My only fault with the report is their narrow use of clean tech to mean clean energy technology.  In most common usage clean tech is more broadly defined to also include several non-energy technologies.  For example a non-energy technology which reduces the emission of Green House Gases (GHG) is clean tech for most of us as is the lengthy tech menu associated with clean air and water, recycling and a whole host of sustainable processes.

Click here to access Beyond Boom and Bust: Putting Clean Tech On a Path To Subsidy Independence.


GUEST AUTHOR: The Energy Trap

Tom Murphy is an associate professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego.  His blog, Do the Math, takes an astrophysicist’s-eye view of societal issues relating to energy production, climate change, and economic growth.

Many Do the Math posts have touched on the inevitable cessation of growth and on the challenge we will face in developing a replacement energy infrastructure once our fossil fuel inheritance is spent. The focus has been on long-term physical constraints, and not on the messy details of our response in the short-term. But our reaction to a diminishing flow of fossil fuel energy in the short-term will determine whetherwe transition to a sustainable but technological existence or allow ourselves to collapse. One stumbling block in particular has me worried. I call it The Energy Trap.

In brief, the idea is that once we enter a decline phase in fossil fuel availability—first in petroleum—our growth-based economic system will struggle to cope with a contraction of its very lifeblood. Fuel prices will skyrocket, some individuals and exporting nations will react by hoarding, and energy scarcity will quickly become the new norm. The invisible hand of the market will slap us silly demanding a new energy infrastructure based on non-fossil solutions. But here’s the rub. The construction of that shiny new infrastructure requires not just money, but…energy. And that’s the very commodity in short supply. Will we really be willing to sacrifice additional energy in the short term—effectively steepening the decline—for a long-term energy plan? It’s a trap!

When I first encountered the concept of peak oil, I was most distressed about the economic implications. In part, this was prompted by David Goodstein’s book Out of Gas, which highlighted the potential for global panic in reaction to peak oil—making the gas lines associated with the temporary oil shocks of 1973 and 1979 look like warm-up acts. Because I knew Professor Goodstein personally, and held him in high regard as a solid physicist, I took his message seriously. Extrapolating his vision of a global reaction to peak oil, I imagined that the prospect of a decades-long decline in available energy—while we strained to institute a replacement infrastructure—would destroy confidence in short-term economic growth, thus destroying investment and crashing markets. The market relies on investor confidence—which, in some sense, makes it a con job, since “con” is short for confidence. If that confidence is shattered on a global scale, what happens next?

I still consider economic panic to be a distinctly possible eventuality, but psychology can be hard to predict. Market optimists would see the tremendous investment potential of a new energy infrastructure as an antidote against such an outbreak. Given this uncertainty, let’s shy away from economic prognostication and look at a purely physical dimension to the problem—namely, the Energy Trap.

Energy Return on Energy Invested

Our goal will be to quantitatively assess the Energy Trap, and see if there is any substance to the idea. We will rely on a concept that has acquired a central role in evaluating our energy future. This is energy return on energy invested, or EROEI.

In order to utilize energy, we must exert some energy to secure the source and prepare it for use. In order to burn wood in our fireplace, we (or someone) must chop down a tree, cut it into logs, and split the large logs. To drive our gasoline-powered car, we must expend energy finding the oil, drilling and possibly pumping the oil, then refining and distributing the gasoline. To collect solar energy, we must invest energy to fabricate the solar panels and associated electronics. The result is expressed as a ratio of energy-out:energy-in. Anything less than the break-even ratio of 1:1 means that the source provides no net energy (a drain, in fact), and is not worth pursuing for energy purposes—unless the form/convenience of that specific energy is otherwise unavailable.

In its early days, oil frequently yielded an EROEI in excess of 100:1, meaning that 1% or less of the energy contained in a barrel of oil had to be expended to deliver that barrel of oil. Not a bad bargain. Oil production today more typically has an EROEI around 20:1, while tar sands and oil shale tend to be about 5:1 and 3:1, respectively. By contrast, it is debatable whether corn ethanol exceeds break-even: it may optimistically be as high as 1.4:1. Switching from conventional oil to corn ethanol would be like switching from a diet of bacon, eggs, and butter to a desperate survival diet of shoe leather and tree bark. Other approaches to biofuels, like sugar cane ethanol, can have EROEI as high as 8:1.

To round out the introduction, coal typically has an EROEI around 50–85:1, and natural gas tends to come in around 20–40:1, though falling below the lower end of this range as the easy fields are depleted. Meanwhile, solar photovoltaics are estimated to require 3–4 years’ worth of energy output to fabricate, including the frames and associated electronics systems. Assuming a 30–40 year lifetime, this translates into an EROEI around 10:1. Wind is estimated to have EROEI around 20:1, and new nuclear installations are expected to come in at approximately 15:1. These are all positive net-energy approaches, which is the good news.

The Inevitable Fossil Fuel Decline

Let’s explore what happens as we try to compensate for an energy decline with an alternative resource having modest EROEI. On the upslope of our fossil fuel bonanza, we saw a characteristic annual growth rate of around 3% per year. The asymmetric Seneca Effect notwithstanding, a logistic evolution of the resource would result in a symmetric rate of contraction on the downslope: 3% per year. I borrow a graphic from the post on the meaning of “sustainable” to illustrate the rationale for expecting an era of decline for a one-time finite resource.


On the long view, the fossil fuel age is a blip, with a down side mirroring the (more fun) up side.

We could use any number for the decline rate in our analysis, but I’ll actually soften the effect to a 2% annual decline to illustrate that we run into problems even at a modest rate of decline. By itself, a 2% decline year after year—while sounding mild—would send our growth-based economy into (more…)


Report from the first San Diego Wind Energy Symposium

Last week CleanTECH San Diego hosted the first San Diego Wind Energy Symposium.  The keynote speaker was Michael Picker, Senior Advisor to the Governor for Renewable Energy Facilities.  Picker’s comments included a progress report on California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS).  The target is for 33% of electricity sold in the California to come from renewable energy by 2020.  Renewable energy projects require long lead times to grind through the process of permitting, land acquisition, environmental impact studies and financing.  Many projects fall by the wayside.  Picker’s analysis of the project pipeline data from state government agencies including the CPUC suggests that the “queue currently holds more than double the generation capacity needed to achieve a 33% RPS”.  The consensus is for 33% to be likely achieved a few years prior to the 2020 deadline.  In his signing letter to the State Senate for SB2 Governor Brown stated, “I think 40%, at reasonable cost, is well within our grasp in the near future”.  Picker’s presentation supported that projection as realistic.

Government regulations like Califonia’s RPS are effective in the sense that they produced a measurable response.  However, there is a bigger challenge than attaining a 33% RPS.  Efficiently coordinating this new mix of energy production into the grid will in the long run determine the economic feasibility of reaching a RPS far beyond 33%. 

Video of the entire Symposium is available at:

Keynote and Panel 1       

Panel 2

The San Diego Wind Energy Symposium was made possible by the sponsorship of CleanTECH San Diego members Invenergy, Iberdrola Renewables and Enel Green Power.

The following resources provide some background into the challenges and opportunities of wind energy.   Click on each to connect.

California Wind Map and Resource Potential
U.S. Wind Resource Map
How Wind Power Works
Wind Power Glossary


Electric vehicle charging stations installed at Balboa Park

ECOtality, Inc. a leader in clean electric transportation and storage technologies, today celebrated the company’s Blink® Pedestal charging station installations in the San Diego metro area. Elected officials, local stakeholders, EV drivers and company representatives gathered outside the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park, one of five in a series of events that celebrate installations of commercial and publicly available charging stations in EV Project markets. Located in the heart of San Diego, Balboa Park now hosts 10 Blink Pedestal chargers, and is now an easily accessible charging location for EV drivers throughout the entire San Diego region.

“San Diego has been a terrific project market for ECOtality, and its high levels of consumer and stakeholder interest make it an excellent proving ground for electric vehicles,” said Jonathan Read, CEO of ECOtality. “The Blink charging stations installed at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and at the San Diego Air & Space Museum–as well as the commercial Blink charging stations appearing in EV Project markets nationwide–underscores our commitment to smart EV deployment and placing charging stations at locations that fit the lifestyle of EV drivers.”

“A well-planned charging network tears down a significant barrier to adopting electric vehicles,” Mayor Jerry Sanders said. “I’m proud San Diego will be one of the first cities in the nation to encourage residents to purchase EVs, and that we’ll serve as a model for other cities as they look to deploy their charging infrastructures.”

ECOtality began installations of its Blink Level 2 Residential charging stations in EV Project regions nationwide in December 2010, and since then has completed more than 1,400 installations. Over the last few months, ECOtality has been actively installing Blink Pedestal chargers at public and commercial sites. The company aims to (more…)