SCilicon Beach


Did you know that Southern California graduates the largest number of engineering and computer science graduate students in the country? It’s true — more than Bay Area, more than Boston, more than any other city or region in the United States. This tremendous talent pool is fueling the explosion in the innovation ecosystem in our area, also known as Silicon Beach.

The University of Southern California, and particularly the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, is strategically positioned in terms of both abundant human capital and physical location to creatively shape this environment. With two of our research powerhouses — the Information Sciences Institute and the Institute for Creative Technologies — located in the heart of Silicon Beach, we stand ready to serve as the premier private research university driving technology innovation in Southern California — and to transform Silicon Beach into SCilicon Beach! Innovation and technology entrepreneurship are becoming indispensable pillars of engineering schools around the world.

At USC Viterbi, we support these through multiple initiatives and programs that inspire, educate, create, mentor and launch new ventures, including the Maseeh Entrepreneurship Prize Competition; the Viterbi Student Innovation Institute; the Viterbi Startup Garage; the Health, Technology, and Engineering (HTE@USC) initiative; the USC Coulter Translational Research program; the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Node; and the recently launched Min Family Engineering Social Entrepreneurship Challenge. You can read about all these in the pages of this digital magazine.

You can also celebrate the successes of our distinguished faculty.

Biomedical engineer Mark Humayun recently received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation; Andrew Viterbi, our school’s namesake, won the Charles Draper Prize for Engineering; Solomon Golomb received the Franklin Medal in Electrical Engineering; Alan Willner was elected to the prestigious National Academy of Engineering; P. Daniel Dapkus, Scott Fraser and Andreas Molisch were elected to the National Academy of Inventors; and Stacey Finley and Nora Ayanian received NSF Career Awards.

Technology and engineering lie at the core of all innovation. I tend to use a somewhat unconventional definition of technology: leveraging phenomena for useful purposes, including innovation. In increasing complexity, phenomena can have physical, chemical, biological or social origins. We call it Engineering+. At USC Viterbi, we have the exciting opportunity to apply Engineering+ to address not only the fundamental needs of sustainability, health and security, but also to enhance life, propelled by the creative and growing engineering talent in our region.

We see the wonderful potential for SCilicon Beach to dismantle stereotypes and change the conversation by including the entire vibrant spectrum of ethnically and culturally diverse talent in Southern California. USC Viterbi has the highest number of women graduate students among U.S. engineering schools, and more than one-third of our undergraduate students are women. We are well positioned to create an environment that differs from conventional stereotypes. We are excited that SCilicon will represent not only the diversity of disciplines fueling Engineering+ but also the tremendous talent driving it, changing the conversation about what we do and who we are.