1975 – 1984


Apollo-Soyuz Test Project

In January of 1975, a UCLA space experiment to investigate the formation of optical fibers is being prepared for launch to orbit as part of the joint Apollo-Soyuz Test Project mission. Aboard the spacecraft, a small electrical furnace will use elements to fuse together optical fibers into a matrix, providing qualities that cannot be obtained using earth-bound laboratories. Professors Alfred S. Yue and Cavour W. Yeh predict that these light-transmitting fibers could vastly improve telephone and television communications.

Nationwide Networks

In June of 1975, wide ranging research into computer networks is led by professor Leonard Kleinrock and funded primarily through grants from the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). On-going ARPA-funded research has expanded to include performance evaluation of computer networks and the study of advanced packet switching in satellite and ground radio environment.

Engineers Join Doctors

In June of 1975, doctors and engineers are joining together to work on projects such as development of artificial joints and organs, electronic instrumentation for medial diagnosis and treatment, life support systems, and injury prevention in automobile accidents.


Analyzer Goes To Washington

In December of 1977, the world’s last working model of a mechanical differential analyzer is donated by UCLA to the Smithsonian Institution for their pioneering computing displays. The differential analyzer, first used at UCLA in 1947, introduced much of Southern California industry to automatic computing.



In May of 1978, professor T.H. Lin is developing improved stress-strain relations for metals subject to multiaxial stress. Lin is devoted to developing a physical theory of creep of metals, which has particular importance when designing structures that are subjected to mechanical loading at elevated temperatures.

Engine And Fuel Lab

In June of 1978, the Engine and Fuels Laboratory under the direction of professor William D. Van Vorst has been upgraded and now permits on-line sampling of unburned hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide and monoxide, oxygen, and nitric oxides in auto exhaust. Efforts are directed at investigation of fuel additives and their effect on performance and emissions, with the results applied to the development of engines and fuels that will maximize fuel economy and produce minimum air pollution.

Aerosols And Pollution

In July of 1978, professor Sheldon K. Friedlander has developed a laboratory for the study of aerosol behavior, including use of optical particle counters capable of measurements in the .1 to 5 micron range. Friedlander is examining new theories on nucleation in a reacting gas, and suggests classic nucleation theory may have to be modified as applied to smoggy atmospheres and process gases.


O’Neill Tours China

In January of 1979, Dean Russell R. O’Neill journeys to the People’s Republic of China with a UCLA delegation to explore future academic relations and possible exchanges between the two nations. UCLA was selected as one of six U.S. universities to be linked with a major Chinese institution.

Solid State

In May of 1979, students are working on projects in the field of solid state electronics with faculty direction: professor Fred G. Allen is studying the energy loss of hot electrons on thin semiconducting films; Oscar M. Stafsudd is studying low temperature deposition techniques to make low-cost silicon material for solar cell applications.


In September of 1979, under the direction of professor Gary Hart, the Full Scale Earthquake and Wind Laboratory is gathering data on the response of existing structures to earthquakes. At Century City, Santa Barbara, and other locations in the state, instruments have been placed in buildings to measure motion. Should the ground move, the building moves the instruments and the information is transmitted over telephone lines to a central recorder on campus.

Space Arrays

In October of 1979, professor D. Lewis Mingori and students are involved in studies related to controlling the orientation of and the shape of large flexible spacecraft. The research is directed at understanding how best to locate actuators and sensors for controlling the orientation of large space arrays.


Rubber Band Auto Engergy

In August of 1980, professor Andrew F. Charwat is expanding on a reversible energy storage technique for automobiles that involves the use of rubber bands as “collectors.” By connecting the wheels to the movement of the pistons using a series of rubber bands, energy could be stored during braking and then released during acceleration, saving on fuel consumption, Charwat says.

Crump Institute

On October 9, 1980, the Crump Institute for Medical Engineering is established and F. Eugene Yates is named director. The institute is an expansion of the research involvement between engineers and medical professionals that began with formation of the Institute for Medical Engineering in 1976. Much of the impetus and most of the funding comes from Ralph and Marjorie Crump. Ralph E. Crump is a 1950 graduate of the UCLA College of Engineering and president of Frigitronics of Bridgeport, Conn. The company specializes in the development and manufacture of medical instruments, many invented by Crump himself, particularly for use in cryogenic (low temperature) surgery.

Methane From Waste

In November of 1980, professor Michael K. Stenstrom is using roof-top digesting machines to research ways to boost methane production during a sewage sludge process. By feeding the process with the right type of micro-organic nutrients, Stenstrom has been able to produce an end product that is 65 percent methane. The project is sponsored by Southern California Edison, which sees methane as a clean, low sulphur fuel for power plants.

Computer Research

In November of 1980, the computer science department receives more than $5 million in grants from the National Science Foundation and the Advanced Research Projects Agency to conduct a program of research on advanced distributed computing systems and their applications using a local area network containing a few powerful computers and a large number of flexible mini-computers. The title of the funded proposal is “An Advanced Network Environment for Distributed Systems Research.”


Dip-Slip Faults

In June of 1981, professor Poul Lade is focused on the mechanisms that determine ground-surface offsets above a dip slip earthquake fault. By using mathematical formulas based on laboratory results in which faults were identically simulated, researchers arrive at an accurate prediction as to how the soil above the fault will react when it begins to move.

Plastic Finger Joints

In August of 1981, professor Bruce Dunn is involved in a variety of research areas in materials science, including researching possibilities for synthesis of solid state batteries and sensors, and, in the biomedical area, examining use of polymers for the replacement of finger joints to aid patients suffering from severe arthritis.


Molecular Beam Epitaxy

In May of 1982, pioneering research is carried out in the field of molecular beam epitaxy (MBE), one of the major advances expected to have a large impact on the electronic devices of the 1980s. MBE is a process by which layers of one single crystal material are grown on top of another single crystal material. The minute layering process enables construction of smaller and faster semiconductor circuits.

Modeling Aqueducts

In June of 1982, faculty at the School’s Water Resources Center have completed modeling work on the Central Arizona Project, which represents the first application of mathematical programming to the optimal operation of an aqueduct system. The CAP is a modern aqueduct system scheduled to deliver Colorado River water entitlements to urban, agricultural and industrial users in Central Arizona. The UCLA model determines the best flow necessary to meet water demand by analysis of water management using the capabilities of the system’s open channel aqueducts, tunnels, check gate structures, inverted siphons, pipes, and relift pumping stations.

Better Teeth

In July of 1982, faculty in the materials department are investigating a class of composites based on a new principle called “transformation toughening.” The process reduces the propagation of cracks in such materials, increasing “flexural strength” by 60 percent. Such toughened ceramics will have applications as cutting tools, hip-joint replacements, and improved artificial teeth.

Breathing Teddy Bear

On November 15, 1982, doctors and engineers at the Crump Institute hold a press conference to feature new research into infant sleep patterns and a solution to the abnormal patterns that may cause sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). By putting sensors beneath an infant’s crib, researchers determine the movements of an infant. A teddy bear that “breathes” by having its chest expand is placed in the crib. Researchers determined that when the teddy bear is made to breathe, the infant goes to it and sometimes cuddles it. By helping regulate infant breathing patterns, the incidence of premature disease or death can be avoided. Research has shown that infants who sleep fitfully in the first six weeks of infancy are prone to early health problems, whereas infants with stable breathing patterns typically lead normal lives.


Minority Engineering

In February of 1983, the Minority Engineering Education Center is opened and dedicated to serve as a focal point for the School’s efforts to enroll and retain an increasing number of students from underrepresented minority groups. The center is an outgrowth of a long-standing program for introducing select high school students from minority groups to the study of engineering.

Self-Testing Computer

In December of 1983, professor Algirdas Avizienis is refining techniques for fault tolerant computers, a technique he developed at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1967 when he designed the STAR (Self Testing and Repairing) computer. In addition to refining the error-catching mechanisms in the computer hardware, he has extended his efforts so that the system will also diagnose and neutralize human mistakes in both software programming and circuit design.


Invention Into Smithsonian

In February of 1984, a photo-electric mixing tube, the heart of an eight-year-long experiment at UCLA that gave birth to the field of quantum optics, was given to the Smithsonian Institution. The device, invented by professor A. Theodore Forrester, is the second of Forrester’s inventions to be included in the Smithsonian collection, the other being his ion propulsion engine put on display in 1964.

Hydrogen Car Sold To Museum

In May of 1984, UCLA’s first hydrogen-powered car, a 1972 Gremlin, is sold for one dollar to Harrah’s Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada, where it went on display.

Reactor To Be Decommissioned

In June of 1984, it is announced that UCLA will decommission its training and research reactor and that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been notified that UCLA will withdraw its application to renew the operating license for the reactor. The reactor operated safely from startup in 1960 through shutdown on Feb. 3, 1984.

Bridge-Tester Helps Retrofit

In December of 1984, in order to test the feasibility of a CalTrans program to retrofit freeway bridges to reinforce them against earthquakes, professor Larry G. Selna and students construct a massive bridge-tester capable of exerting 1.5 million pounds of pull. Using the device, the UCLA team constructs bridge joints utilizing the “pinning” method” suggested by CalTrans, and then evaluates the design using the bridge-tester. The UCLA team determines during the first nine tests that the method of tying bridge spans together with cables is insufficient.

UCLA Engineering Milestones:

1941 – 1954
1955 – 1964
1965 – 1974
1975 – 1984
1985 – 1994
1995 – 2004
2005 – 2014
2015 – Present