The Variability Expedition has launched two major outreach efforts based on member campuses. They include the Los Angeles Computing Circle (LACC), based at UCLA, and MyLab at UC San Diego. These efforts involve undergraduates in community projects, notably via mentoring of K-12 students from underserved communities in the San Diego and Los Angeles areas.


The Los Angeles Computing Circle (LACC) is an outreach program that provides students in grades 9-12 an opportunity to learn advanced concepts in computing via lectures, hands-on design and programming laboratories, and challenging independent research projects in the labs of LACC faculty. The goal: to engage and mentor younger students for careers in computing and engineering. The program is organized, supervised, and mentored by faculty members and graduate and undergraduate student volunteers from UCLA's Electrical Engineering Department, under the umbrella of the Variability Expedition, a large, five-year multi-university research project funded by the National Science Foundation and co-led by UCLA. The UCLA faculty members behind LACC are professors Lara Dolecek, Puneet Gupta, and Variability deputy director Mani Srivastava. As part of the Expedition, UCLA researchers are developing new types of computing machines architected to cope with challenges of high cost, energy inefficiency, and low reliability that occur as the semiconductor devices using which computers are made shrink into the nanoscale regime. Critical to LACC are also the many graduate and undergraduate student volunteers who have helped develop and deliver the lecture material and design exercises for various modules, and supervised the research projects.

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The myLab@Variability program at UC San Diego engages undergraduates with practical, hands-on experiences with engineering through internships, outreach and workshops. The undergraduates, in turn, engage directly with K-12 youth working on classroom or extracurricular activities that expose the young students to the excitement in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) – and potential careers in the STEM field. Groups of undergraduates typically work with K-12 students on the design, building and implementation of an engineering project, or they build a product to be used in K-12 classrooms. UCSD engineering graduate Saura Naderi runs the myLab program, with support from the Variability Expedition, the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), and private donors including ViaSat, Inc. Current projects include “Treasure Hunt in the Sky,” in which undergrads from mechanical, electrical and computer engineering design and implement software and hardware for a game to engage 8th graders in astronomy. In collaboration with Calit2 and UCSD’s Center for Community Well-being, myLab@Variability undergrads in fall 2011 are also redesigning a room in the Town and Country Learning Center, a community center in southeast San Diego, to focus on technologies to visualize the dreams of the youth who use the space – and show them steps to fulfill them..

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