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UCSD, Mexican University Launch Engineering Exchange Program

Photo by Kris Arciaga

Officials cut a ceremonial ribbon at UC San Diego to celebrate a cross-border research collaboration, May 24, 2016.

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Leaders from universities in San Diego and Mexico cut the ribbon Tuesday on a new research collaboration for the development of durable materials.

Leaders from universities in San Diego and Mexico cut a ribbon Tuesday for a new research collaboration on the development of durable materials.

The CaliBaja Center for Resilient Materials and Systems will bring together researchers from UC San Diego and the National Autonomous University of Mexico, or UNAM. Faculty and students from both institutes will develop materials that can withstand severe temperatures and pressures, such as the inside of a jet turbine or a nuclear reactor.

CaliBaja Center director Olivia Graeve said the lack of development in this area is stunting growth in key technologies, such as clean energy.

"So new materials for the fourth, fifth, sixth generation nuclear reactors, fusion type-energy materials — those types of technologies. Those materials don't exist right now," Graeve said.

Photo by Kris Arciaga

Mexico's undersecretary of external affairs, Paulo Carreno, speaks with CaliBaja Center for Resilient Materials' system director, Olivia Graeve, May 24, 2016.

Graeve's team at UCSD is currently conducting research for the CaliBaja Center, but faculty and students from Mexico will eventually join the group at laboratory space within the university's Jacobs School of Engineering. In exchange, participants from UCSD will join researchers at UNAM's campus in Ensenada.

The goal is to train a new wave of engineers to work on both sides of the border, but also to develop materials applicable for industries including the defense, aerospace and biomedical fields.

Representatives from industries in Mexico also attended the inauguration to sign an agreement formalizing their support of the collaboration's work.

Graeve said the CaliBaja Center's efforts will also benefit San Diegans.

"I think that we all depend on a strong economy, and if we can promote a better economy for the region by because of the development of new technologies, I think we're all going to be better off," she said.

Mexico's undersecretary of external affairs, Paulo Carreno, also attended Tuesday's ceremony. He thinks the impact will be even greater.

"I think we have a clear opportunity to grow and to develop new technologies, to develop new forms to really build — and I don't want to sound too corny, really — build a better future," Carreno said.

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