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March 18, 2002

Regents hear about two Centers for Science and Innovation

By Charles McFadden, UC Office of the President

University of California Regents heard about "smart dust" and California's robust scientific future March 13 during a presentation on two of the university's Centers for Science and Innovation.

"Smart dust" is the nickname for tiny devices that can sense temperature an
Regents scrutinize SAT I test
d motion and let a computer know about it. They are being developed at the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society, (CITRIS) made up of scientists from UC Santa Cruz, UC Berkeley, UC Davis and, eventually, UC Merced.

Ruzena Bajcsy, director of CITRIS, told the Regents the information gathering-and-relaying little devices were recently dropped from a helicopter near a road in the Southern California desert. After they landed, they hooked up with a computer network and reported movement on the road to an airplane that had been monitoring them.

Eventually, the devices will be made small enough to fit inside the "D" below the date on a Denver-minted penny.

Research at CITRIS has expanded to include homeland defense since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Bajcsy told the Regents.

CITRIS is one of four UC Centers for Science and Innovation created two years ago by Gov. Gray Davis. They are financed by a combination of state, federal and private funds. They will concentrate on science and innovation that are of special importance to California's high-tech economy.

Economists have attributed 50 percent of U.S. economic growth since World War II to investments in research and development.

Also speaking to the Regents was Larry Smarr, director of the Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology. That Institute is headquartered at UC San Diego, with UC Irvine as a participating partner.

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