West Coast Fellows Retreat Fall 2011

October 21, 2011 - October 23, 2011

The 2011 Hertz West Coast Retreat was held October 21-23, 2011 at the Lodge at Tiburon in Tiburon, CA, and was attended by 25 in-school Hertz Fellows, staff and friends of the Hertz Foundation, and several senior Hertz Fellows.

On Friday, the Hertz Fellows kicked off the weekend with the traditional icebreaker engineering challenge. This year's challenge was to build a Rube Goldberg machine that would light the "Hertz Candle" at the end, and was triggered by dropping an apple. In a spectacular display of ingenuity and impromptu engineering, the Fellows succeeded in completing the challenge within two hours. The apple drop powered on a blender, which cut a rope, which released a golf ball, which triggered a gopher trap, which activated an egg beater, which swung a golf club, which released a bowling ball, which catapulted another golf ball, which pulled a string, which released a basketball, which raised the "Hertz flag" and knocked over a mini-cooler, releasing an egg carton with the candle toward a safety lighter.

The icebreaker was followed by a talk by Jim Trebes, Physics Division Leader at Lawrence Livermore National Labs, on an ongoing collaboration to diagnose the cracking condition of Michaelangelo's David using X-ray tomography.

On Saturday, the in-school Fellows showcased their work in a series of short talks and easel sessions. Daniel Slichter shared about research in quantum qubits, and Alex Hegyi shared about novel methods for optical imaging in animal tissue. Lisa Poyneer of LLNL delivered the keynote talk on her ongoing work with the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) for taking images of distant planets. The Fellows spent the afternoon exploring Angel Island, and returned for a classy dinner at Piazza D'Angelo's in nearby Mill Valley.

On Sunday, the Fellows continued presenting their research and discussed "Lerman Challenge" problems—ways to channel their creativity into potential innovations with a wider impact on society. Floris van Breugel presented his research on the landing patterns of fruit flies, and Matt Fisher spoke on methods for generating content in 3D computer graphics. Then the Fellows disbanded for their respective universities.

Many thanks to Louis Lerman and the Hertz Foundation for supporting another fantastic retreat, and to the retreat coordinators, Brandon DeKosky, Amit Lakhanpal, and Po-Ling Loh, for their role in organizing the events for the weekend.

Hertz Foundation Rube Goldberg Engineering Challenge