It was another Silicon Valley first–a ribbon cutting by a robot for the grand opening celebration of the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) Silicon Valley Campus in Santa Clara on September 28. The remote-controlled, Husky A200 robot quickly upstaged UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal and other academics and dignitaries on hand for the 6 p.m. ceremony, bringing laughs and applause from the surprised onlookers seated outdoors.
The robot ribbon-cutting hinted at an innovative future for the new UCSC satellite campus (siliconvalley.ucsc.edu) at 3175 Bowers Ave. at Scott Blvd., across the street from the new Santa Clara Square Marketplace.
“This building represents a significant step in growing UC Santa Cruz’s presence in this global hub of innovation,” said Blumenthal. “It will be a home for our existing ventures and give us room to offer courses and degrees that will help Silicon Valley address some of society’s greatest challenges.”
The two-story, 90,000-square-foot facility, which opened April 18, is larger and more centrally located than the previous, rented building at 2505 Augustine Dr., Santa Clara. Built in 1978, the new building was renovated and certified LEED gold in 2013. It has 23 classrooms, 10 computer labs, 6 conference rooms and 7 studios.
At the ribbon cutting ceremony, certificates of recognition were presented to UCSC by California State Senator Robert Wieckowski and State Assemblymember Kansen Chu.
“We’re so delighted they are no longer renters. They’re owners here in Santa Clara. This is always going to be home to the graduate program and extension courses in Silicon Valley,” said Wieckowski.
UCSC Extension is the professional training arm of the university, offering certificate programs in more than 40 disciplines. An English language training center for non-native speakers is a new addition to UCSC programs.
“Sixty percent of the people in Silicon Valley change careers during their career life. Having UCSC here for those people is a great thing,” said Chu. “I’m happy to see this happening. This is a bigger footprint that is very needed here. Both industry and UCSC will benefit.”
“Our relationship with the City of Santa Clara has been important to our success. Santa Clara was most welcoming,” said Lynda Rogers, Dean of UCSC Silicon Valley Extension. “The city was a partner in getting this facility finished. They are very supportive of education, and we’re very grateful. We have already increased our enrollment and our presence.”
At the end of the celebratory evening of open house tours, the robot ribbon-cutting ceremony, and a small bites reception, attendees at the free event were treated to five short TED-style talks by UCSC professors and researchers.
The big questions addressed gave glimpses into research taking place at UCSC: How do stars turn into gold? Can we teach computers to say what we feel? Will sea level rise sink Silicon Valley? Can games be socially relevant? Can we decode cancer?
“This program gave you a small taste of what UCSC is all about. We hope you’ll want more,” said Vice Chancellor for Research Scott Brandt. “We want this building to be a portal to the UC campus.”
“UC Santa Cruz and the Silicon Valley share DNA. We ask big questions. We don’t accept conventional wisdom. We seek to make the world a better place through innovation,” said Chancellor Blumenthal.