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UCLA Magazine Winter 2003
The Rising
Honorable Intentions
The Cardinal of Westwood
The Littlest Bruin
Sensing the Future
Dershowitz, For the Defense
Bruin Walk

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Winter 2003
Sensing the Future
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Estrin hopes the clear connection between development of the emerging technology and the ability to address global concerns will similarly engage
a wider range of talented students,
helping to attract more diversity to the engineering field.
With that as a goal, CENS has focused on including undergraduates in its experimental research.

The Internet, Estrin points out, was able to emerge only through government investment in university research to create the enabling technology, overcome fundamental problems and ensure sufficient commonality to facilitate a worldwide phenomenon. The case for the university being the only feasible site to plant the seeds for a digital hook-up of the physical world is equally strong. "We're not burdened with needing to have a commercially viable business model the way that industry is," says Estrin. "By having science drive the technology, we're able to make leaps that aren't commercially viable to invest in."

Cozzens of the NSF agrees. "It probably involves the highest risk of all the Science and Technology Centers ... but universities are where this type of high-risk basic research can be done," he says.

Moreover, in UCLA and its partner institutions, CENS can draw on the breadth of expertise needed to meet the challenge of embedded networked sensing, which requires a diverse set of researchers within engineering to collaborate with scientists in a variety of fields on problems that are themselves multidisciplinary.

"We speak different languages," says Philip Rundel, a UCLA biology professor and CENS member working on the James Reserve study. "Despite the tremendous advances in engineering and IT, there's been little cross-linkage between those fields and environmental science. But I'm learning more about what they can do, and they're learning more about the scientific questions we have. I'm realizing this isn't just about using this technology to do the same things better; it's using it to conduct studies that were never before possible."

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