UC Merced Connect: Southern California Edison earns engineering award from campus

Southern California Edison has been selected as this year’s recipient of the UC Merced School of Engineering Vanguard Margin of Excellence Award.

“Southern California Energy’s partnership with UC Merced has created countless opportunities for engineering students to positively impact their communities,” School of Engineering dean, Dan Hirleman, wrote to the company, calling it a model partner for the university.

The Vanguard award was created to honor corporate partners that have had a transformational effect on the educational experience of School of Engineering students.

Students at this year's Innovate to Grow competition and expo, with Southern California Edison as the lead sponsor, developed new and exciting technology, including a grapevine grafting machine.

Since 2006, SCE has given the campus nearly $700,000 to support nearly 75 undergraduate scholarships and four graduate fellowships, supported campus organizations such as the National Society of Black Engineers and has had its leaders serve on UC Merced’s Board of Trustees.

The undergraduate scholarships support students in science, technology, engineering and math majors, and the graduate fellowships continue to fund research into improving the prediction of water supply in the Southern Sierra Nevada watersheds. Projects include making more accurate snow/moisture measurements, understanding the effects of forest thinning on water supply, and understanding the changes in available water with a shift in precipitation at different elevations in the Sierra.

The second year of Innovate to Grow funding supports teams seeking solutions to engineering problems in the San Joaquin Valley for health, industry and utilities.

Award recipients are chosen by an advisory committee comprising students, faculty and staff members led by Hirleman, and the award is based on support and service.

Leslie Starck, senior vice president for SCE regulatory policy and affairs, accepted the award, presented by Hirleman on behalf of The Vanguard, a group of student presidents from nine campus engineering organizations.

“SCE is proud to be named the Vanguard award recipient for 2014 from the UC Merced School of Engineering,” Starck said. “This university is preparing the future workforce of California in STEM majors with leadership skills in innovation and design, and we are proud to be partnering with the campus to help power California into the future.”

Acker new staff adviser-designate

UC President Janet Napolitano has appointed Deidre “De” Acker as staff adviser-designate to the Board of Regents for 2014-16.

Acker joins Donna Coyne of UC Santa Barbara, the 2013-15 staff adviser. Coyne will be the staff adviser, replacing Kathy Barton of UC Riverside, whose two-year appointment ends June 30.

As staff adviser-designate, Acker will bring the voice and perspective of staff and non-Senate academic employees to regents’ deliberations. She will participate as a nonvoting adviser on seven regents’ committees.

“De’s depth of understanding of staff issues and her broad experience as a UC staff member make her an ideal candidate for the staff adviser role,” Napolitano said. “I look forward to working with her during the next two years.”

Napolitano, in consultation with Bruce Varner, Board of Regents chairman, selected Acker from finalists recommended by a selection committee that included current and former staff advisers and other staff from campuses and the Office of the President.