The University

UCSD Aerial


The University of California, San Diego was established in 1960 by the Regents of the University of California as an outgrowth of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. During the last three decades, UCSD has steadily grown in size and excellence and risen to national prominence in education and research. It has about 17,000 undergraduate students and over 2,000 graduate students. Starting with a strong nucleus of outstanding faculty in biology, chemistry and physics, UCSD established its School of Medicine in 1964 and its Division of Engineering in 1982 (changed to the Irwin and Joan Jacobs School of Engineering in 1998). UCSD was established with the principle that faculty work easily across departmental boundaries. The academic and intellectual environments are most conducive to interdisciplinary interactions in fields such as bioengineering.

The School of Medicine accepted its first students in 1968, and has continued to grow with the recruitment of outstanding faculty and the construction of new facilities. In addition to excellent departments in basic and clinical medicine, there are many interdisciplinary academic units relevant to bioengineering. Clinical facilities include the UCSD Medical Center in downtown San Diego, the San Diego Veterans Affairs Hospital at the main campus, and the newly completed Thornton Hospital and Shiley Eye Center in areas extending from the campus. Collectively, there exist a superb environment for training, research and clinical application related to bioengineering.

The excellence and flexibility of the engineering program in the Irwin & Joan Jacobs School of Engineering has made UCSD one of the leaders in education and research. The Irwin & Joan Jacobs School of Engineering is composed of the Department of Applied Mechanics and Engineering Sciences (AMES), the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the Department of Structural Engineering, and the new Department of Bioengineering established in August 1994. In addition to the core programs in engineering, the School has established Organized Research Units that cross departmental and institutional boundaries, e.g. the Institute for Biomedical Engineering (IBME). To meet the growing needs for education and research, the Engineering Building Unit 1 (with more than 178,000 square feet) was completed in August 1988, and the Engineering Building Unit 2 (with more than 80,000 square feet) opened in August 1994.

UCSD has excellent facilities and resources in its libraries, Office of Animal Research, Office of Learning Resources, Office of Environmental Health and Safety, and Office of Development. UCSD is the site of the NSF-funded San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) which provides superb computational support for bioengineering research.


The University of California, San Diego, is located in the town of La Jolla. The twelve-hundred-acre picturesque campus extends along the Pacific seashore of San Diego. The diverse ethnic background of San Diego (population slightly over one million) provides a dynamic cultural environment with many museums and theaters. San Diego and its vicinity has world-famous tourist attractions such as Sea World, the San Diego Zoo, the Wild Animal Park, the Stephen Birch Aquarium of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at UCSD, and beautiful beaches. The San Diego Convention Center was completed in 1990. While being a part of a big city with all of its available facilities, La Jolla is tranquil and serene as a university town. The climate is almost ideal, with a daytime temperature usually in the range of 60° to 80°F throughout the year, which lends itself well to numerous outdoor activities.

The marvelous weather in La Jolla is matched by the superb academic climate of UCSD and its neighboring institutions. There is an outstanding collection of talent in bioengineering, molecular and cell biology, and clinical investigations. The strong research programs at the La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation, the Salk Institute, and the Scripps Research Institute provide excellent resources and strengths for bioengineering. Scientists at these institutions collaborate effectively with their colleagues at UCSD, and many of them are members of the Institute for Biomedical Engineering. La Jolla also features vibrant biotechnological and pharmaceutical industries that have close interactions with the scientists in local academic institutions.

Student Life

The diverse ethnic background in San Diego provides a dynamic cultural environment with many museums and theaters. In addition to the tourist attractions mentioned earlier, San Diego has many other cultural and recreational activities throughout the year. The Old Globe Theater in Balboa Park is the site of the annual National Shakespeare Festival, and the Cassius Carter Center Stage offers year-round plays of classical and contemporary nature. The UCSD campus has its own La Jolla Playhouse, Mandell Weiss Theatre, and Price Center Movie Theater. While being a part of a big city with all of its available facilities, La Jolla is a tranquil and serene University town.

Many of the students’ social and recreational activities involve those on the waterfront, such as surfing, scuba diving, and beach parties. Fishing, sailing and diving opportunities are plentiful offshore surrounding the Coronado Islands in Mexican waters, and the Channel Islands off the coast of California. Local lakes provide fishing and other water sports. The Laguna Mountains, located an hour to the east, provide opportunities for hiking, camping, and mountain biking. Beyond the Lagunas lies the vast Anza-Borrego Desert with its breathtaking display of wild flowers every spring. Snow skiing is available in both the local mountains and the San Bernardino Mountains located about two hours by car from UCSD. The peninsula of Baja California, one of the world’s last great wilderness areas, stretches for 900 miles southward from the international gateway at Tijuana. Visitors to the Mexico coastline will enjoy miles of undeveloped beaches, mountains and deserts.

The best sources of information regarding life at UCSD and in La Jolla are fellow students. In order to bring new students and continuing students together, an orientation meeting is held early in Fall quarter. In addition, at the beginning of Fall quarter, the Bioengineering graduate students organize a one-day seminar, the Annual Bioengineering Graduate Student Symposium, to present their research, mainly to the new students. This event, which includes luncheon and dinner gatherings, provides an excellent opportunity for new students to meet most of the other graduate students personally. It is a good chance for new students to become more acquainted with the Bioengineering Program and life at UCSD.