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BE History

Jack Baskin Engineering building

Reflecting on our history, building for our future

Jack Baskin Engineering building

The History of Baskin Engineering

Founded in 1997 at the onset of the age of the internet, Baskin Engineers have been committed to solving the world’s greatest challenges since the inception of the school. We are problem solvers by nature, driven by curiosity and a desire to improve the modern world. An ethos of open source collaboration is manifested  through work spanning our history, from the development of the UCSC Genome Browser in 2000, the founding of the Center for Research in Open Source Software (CROSS) in 2015, and our ongoing creation of novel transparent software in areas such as bioinformatics and AI. Faculty and students pursue novel, visionary research guided by a mission to create positive societal impact.


Researchers in the Computer Information Center

Computer language theory and development

The Information and Computer Science department launches with three faculty members.


Kevin Karplus (second from right), professor of biomolecular engineering, and unidentified researchers in the Baskin Center computer lab

Pioneering AI research

Pioneering work in heuristic search algorithms for AI, both theory and implementation, by early CIS faculty member Ira Pohl gains international recognition and helps transform research and programming at UCSC.


1,000 degrees

Engineering undergraduate degrees awarded in a single year since the 1997 school founding surpasses 1,000 for the first time.

minION device

Pioneering Technology

UCSC researchers revolutionized DNA sequencing more than a quarter century ago when they pioneered nanopore sequencing. The ideas led to the development of the revolutionary MinION, a portable device that uses a nanopore to read DNA and RNA at a fraction of the cost of competitors, making sequencing accessible for scientists around the world.

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Alisal High School students during a Westside Research Park lab tour

Open Minds

As the Baskin School of Engineering celebrated its 25th anniversary during the 2022–23 academic year, its successes reflect the uncommon value of open science that forms the foundation of the school’s ethos.

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Areas of Innovation

Notable Voices of Baskin Engineering

Remembering Jack Baskin

B&W photo of Jack Baskin

Founder of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering at UC Santa Cruz

Jack Baskin (1919-2020) was an engineer, philanthropist, and businessman. His cornerstone gift helped launch UCSC’s Baskin School of Engineering in 1997. In 2006, Baskin was inducted into the Silicon Valley Engineering Hall of Fame in recognition of his role in establishing the school. 

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An engineering school that looks ahead

The vision of Baskin Engineering
Founding dean Patrick Mantey and emeritus professor of chemistry Gene Switkes, chair of the engineering school formation committee, discuss designing a school of engineering for the 21st century, meeting the needs of an expanding tech industry steeped in the core interdisciplinary research and teaching values of UC Santa Cruz.

The Future of Baskin Engineering

Our current work is foundational for what the future holds

Health Engineering

With research focused on aspects of the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and management of illness, as well as the preservation and improvement of health and well-being, Baskin Engineers will change how humans live in the future world. As leaders in genomics, biotechnology, stem cell research, cancer research and virology we bring together biology and technology while creating a momentum of change in the healthcare industry. 

Environmental Engineering

Baskin Engineers will create solutions that will protect and better the health of the living world and improve the quality of the environment. Given UCSC’s long history of thoughtful leadership in agroecology and sustainable food systems, we are poised to pioneer new technology with maximum societal benefit. With a focus on AgTech, sustainable power sources, and climate resilience and mitigation measures, we are building a better future.

Cyber-Physical Systems

Humans interact with CPSs on a daily basis through applications such as software-enabled appliances and assistive technology. Advances in CPS will enable capability, adaptability, scalability, resiliency, safety, security, and usability that will expand the horizons of these critical systems. New concepts emerging from artificial intelligence and machine learning are changing the way we think about CPS. Improvements in smart power grids, implantable medical devices, and transportation such as self-driving cars are just some of the ways Baskin Engineers might reimagine how humans interact with the world around us.