Qualcomm Institute (QI) Academy

AIP 97/197. Complex Systems Research Methods for a Changing Planet: QI Academy

Winter – Spring 2022 | 2 Quarters | 4 Units per Quarter
In-Person Instruction & Research Project Internship
Tuesday/Thursday | 9:30 – 10:50 AM | WAVElab

In-person instruction will take place in the Wide Angle Virtual Environment Lab (WAVElab) in the Structural and Materials Engineering (SME) Building on the UC San Diego Campus

Complex Systems Research Methods for a Changing Planet is also known as QI Academy. The course is taught by Dominique Rissolo. Research project mentors are affiliated with the UC San Diego Qualcomm Institute (QI).

Many of the problems facing the world today are embedded in complex systems.  The multiple interacting components of complex systems make studying these problems challenging.  Students participating in this blend coursework and research internship program will engage in coursework to learn the theory and skills needed to apply a research question under the supervision of mentors affiliated with the Qualcomm Institute.  Students will work on different research questions in interdisciplinary teams throughout this two quarter internship experience. The research projects will be thematically related to the “Changing Planet” theme. At the end of the internship, we expect students to have improved their understanding of how to approach a complex problem, how to conduct a literature search and write a critical review, and how to analyze data related to their particular research problem, as well as organizing and analyzing data more generally.  This is the program for you if you are someone who is academically curious, deeply inquisitive, and independently motivated to succeed. Taught by Dominique Rissolo.

Prerequisites for AIP 97: thirty units completed; 3.0 minimum GPA.
Prerequisites for AIP 197: ninety units completed; 2.5 minimum GPA.

Research Projects for Winter – Spring 2022:

  • Exploring the Hidden World of the Maritime Maya: Remote Sensing Image Analysis of a Changing Yucatan Coast (Mentor: Dominique Rissolo)
  • ALERTWildfire: Preventing, Preparing For, and Responding to Wildfires (Mentor: Falko Kuester)
  • Community Networking: Wireless Technology for Technological Inequality (Mentor: Ramesh Rao)
  • XOXR: Extended Reality Applications for Critical Issues (Mentor: Trish Stone)

AIP 97/197. Complex Systems Research Methods for a Changing Planet: QI Academy has two components: (1) In-Person Instruction and (2) Mentor-Led Research Project Internship:

(1) In-Person Instruction

Students are required to attend in-person sessions every Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30 to 10:50 AM.

Schedule of Topics

  • Unit 1: Critical Thinking and Writing
    • Session 1.1: Creative and Critical Thinking
    • Session 1.2: Critical Reading
    • Session 2.2: Developing a Thesis
    • Session 2.2: Finding and Presenting Evidence
    • Session 3.1: Using Evidence
    • Session 3.2: Organizing Evidence
    • Session 4.1: Synthesis: Critical Writing for Your Audience
  • Unit 2: Problem Solving
    • Session 4.2: Characterizing Problems
    • Session 5.1: Identifying Gaps and Constraints
    • Session 5.2: Synthesis: Analyzing Problems
    • Session 6.1: Creative Thinking I: Analogies
    • Session 6.2: Creative Thinking II: Heuristics
    • Session 7.1: Problem Solving Synthesis
  • Unit 3: Complex Systems
    • Session 7.2: Systems Analysis I: Multiple Agents
    • Session 8.1: Systems Analysis II: Levels of Analysis
    • Session 8.2: Emergent Properties
    • Session 9.1: Emergence and Complexity
    • Session 9.2: Complex Systems Analyses
    • Session 10.1: Agent-Based Modeling
    • Session 10.2: Course Synthesis

Expectations for in-person instructors and learners


The University of California approved a policy that requires all students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before they will be allowed on campus or in a facility or office. Individuals must show proof of vaccination two weeks before they are expected to be on campus for the fall term. Unvaccinated individuals with approved exceptions and/or accommodations should follow all campus safety protocols, including masking and regular asymptomatic testing.

Symptom and Exposure Screening

All faculty, students and staff are required to complete the daily symptom and exposure screening. In addition, all faculty, staff and student employees are required to complete the UC Learning COVID-19 Training. The Office of Students with Disabilities will offer support and provide accommodations as required. Face coverings will be provided to faculty, staff and students who lack one.

Masking Policy

Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a mask at all indoor locations at UC San Diego, except while eating and drinking. This includes both instructors when teaching a class, as well as students attending class. The exception to this rule would be for a single individual in an office with a closed door. To be effective, masks must cover both the nose and the mouth.

All students, faculty and staff are encouraged, but not required, to wear masks outdoors while on campus. Attendees at outdoor campus events must wear a face mask if required by the event organizer. Read the full masking policy online.

COVID-19 testing requirements

For fully vaccinated on-site students and employees: testing is not required, but weekly testing is available and encouraged.

On-site students and employees who have been granted an exemption or deferral to the mandatory vaccination policy must complete asymptomatic testing twice weekly, with tests not being taken more than five days apart. In addition, these individuals should also comply with the non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI) that can be found in the graphics on the Exceptions and Deferrals page.

On-site students and instructors who have not been fully vaccinated may fulfill required COVID-19 testing through no-cost, self-administered test kits retrieved from campus vending machines (no appointment needed); provider-observed, self-administered testing at Price Center (appointment needed); or provider-administered testing via drive thru (appointment needed). Learn more on the Testing and Screening page

(2) Mentor-Led Research Project Internship

The offering is part collaborative field work under the supervision of mentors affiliated with Qualcomm Institute. Students will rank projects by preference and will be assigned to a team in the first few weeks of the first quarter.

Research Projects for Fall 2021 – Winter 2022:

  • Exploring the Hidden World of the Maritime Maya: Remote Sensing Image Analysis of a Changing Yucatan Coast
  • ALERTWildfire: Preventing, Preparing For, and Responding to Wildfires
  • Community Networking: Wireless Technology for Technological Inequality
  • XOXR: Extended Reality Applications for Critical Issues

List of Past and Ongoing Research Projects:

Winter – Spring 2021

  • Augmented Life
  • Candidate Assessment
  • College ROI
  • Community Wireless Networks
  • Discover Hoyo Negro
  • MyMenoPlan
  • Gaming Fast and Slow
  • Global Science of Learning
  • Curriculum Graph Network
  • San Diego Urban Tree Canopy
  • Smart City San Diego
  • San Diego STEM Ecosystem Mapping

Fall 2020 – Winter 2021

  • Engagement in Online Learning in Higher Education
  • STEM Ecosystem activity mapping in San Diego
  • Global Science of Learning– Community Square
  • Equitable Digital Resilience Hubs and a response network for greater preparedness and resilience to digital inequities
  • Decision Tree
  • Scripps Pier Micronaut project
  • Carbon Emissions in the Packaging Industry
  • Vagus nerve sensing wearable device
  • San Diego’s Urban Tree Canopy (Machine Learning)
  • Improving time to graduation by utilizing AI-powered Curriculum Requirements Network
  • Applying machine learning approaches to predict COVID-19 hotspots
  • Digital Twin and Contact Tracing Privacy Preserving Application
  • Analyzing the connection between climate change and human health
  • Using AI to improve and optimize traffic flow in Highway Transportation system
  • Sport Analytics – Moneyball for volleyball: creating competitive advantage by leveraging Data Analytics and Visualization
  • Candidate Assessment
  • Financial Model for Apprenticeships

Winter – Spring 2020

  • Visual Arts and Technology Internship
  • Nutrition and Sustainability
  • Data Science and Machine Learning
  • UCSD Community Stations e-waste Program
  • Enabling Body Impedance Measurement towards a Holistic Health Monitor Paradigm for a Rapidly Changing Society

Fall 2019 – Winter 2020

  • Analytics to Understand How We Change the World
  • Social Media Platforms as Complex Systems in the Context of a Changing Planet
  • Smart City Projects
  • Fiscal Democracy Project
  • Contextual Presence Project
  • Video Games for learning about a Changing Planet

On AIP InternLink, search “Complex Systems Research Methods for a Changing Planet” to find the listing.

For additional questions contact enrich@eng.ucsd.edu

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