Instructor Spotlight: Amanda Quintenz-Fiedler on helping students achieve their [photographic] vision

By Kelly Davis


Name: Amanda Quintenz-Fiedler
Title: President
Company: dBF Associates, Inc.
Courses taught: Introduction to Black & White Photography; Understanding Photographic Light: Studio & Location

For photographer Amanda Quintenz-Fiedler, teaching others her craft is as important as practicing it. “My entire life is photography,” she writes on her website. “Learning it. Teaching it. Writing about it.” She’s the author of three books on photographic techniques and frequently contributes articles to professional photography magazines. Her best advice for aspiring photographers: Find your voice and niche. “Try to be inch-wide, mile-deep, instead of mile-wide, inch-deep,” she says.

Why did you choose this career field?
I’ve always loved photography and teaching. I’ve been a photographer since I was 12 and started teaching first as a tutor when I was in high school, tutoring younger students in math.

I chose photography because I love the creation of images, the concept of the frozen moment and the idea of changing the story of reality with my own perspective. I just gravitated towards it in high school and could never get rid of the bug. I finally realized it’s what I should do for a living after working in corporate America for six years. Best choice I ever made.

How’d you get started?
I majored in Interdisciplinary Film Studies at Purdue University and then got my Master of Fine Arts in photography from Brooks Institute. My first professional gig was for a small greeting card company, shooting still-life images of their products. I knew the owner and we both started our businesses about the same time. After that, I got larger corporate jobs, weddings and family portraits.

What do most enjoy about your job?
I love helping students achieve their vision.

What advice would you give to someone looking to enter the field?
Photography is a saturated field. That doesn’t mean you can’t be successful; it just means that you are more likely to be successful if you excel at a specific [kind of] photography and make it your own. A unique voice with technical skill and consistency will get you a lot further than trying to be a jack-of-all-trades. Try to be inch-wide, mile-deep, instead of mile-wide, inch-deep.

How is your field changing? What new skills do people need to stay current?
Photography changes daily. There are new tools, new software, new cameras. Trying to stay on top of everything will drive you crazy. But you can stay relevant to the things that matter to you — and be sure to always look at new photography to be sure you understand where the trends are headed and if they apply to you.

Why do you teach for Extension?
I teach for UC San Diego Extension because it’s a good program with concise classes. Not everyone wants a semester system or a twice-weekly class structure. This program allows people to engage with photography at their own rate with specific insights and classes to help direct that unique voice I mentioned earlier. It’s important to figure out what you want to do and build skills towards that goal. Extension provides a great structure to do that.

For information on Amanda Quintenz-Fiedler’s courses and the Photography programs at Extension, check out the Digital Arts and Arts & Humanities areas of interest of our website.

50 Voices of the Future: Blair Thornley on finding artistic inspiration

blairthornley50-2In honor of UC San Diego Extension’s first 50 years, 50 Voices of the Future asks thought leaders about the trends, breakthroughs and social advances they foresee over the next 50 years.

The best artists tend to share this in common: they follow their own instincts, their own voices, rather than succumbing to a singular obsession with how to please an audience. Blair Thornley is a big believer in creating things that “come from the heart.” She is an award-winning illustrator, painter and animator whose work has garnered a national following and appeared in publications such as The New York Times and Vanity Fair as well as prominent ad campaigns. She lives in North Park and has taught classes at UC San Diego Extension, among other places. She looks for inspiration wherever she can find it – and one source happens to be her students. “I love being able to interact with young people and see how they’re thinking and how they problem-solve with their art,” she says. “And it keeps me on my toes.”

Why is the work you do important?

I feel that art reaches people on maybe a spiritual level or a deeper level to communicate one person to another and I feel that is important for our culture – for people to feel encouraged and hopeful by feeling connected to others. I think writing and music and acting and all of those things do very much the same thing. And visual art, when it’s from the heart, reaches other people, and that’s why I think it’s important.

See a sampling of Blair’s work at


What are the influential/exciting developments happening in your field now and why?

The web and social media are changing everything. It has changed the field of illustration – it’s gutted the market and made illustrations very cheap and made it very hard to make a living as an illustrator. I think visual art has become fast and cheap. On the Internet, it’s too easy to lift something and use it. Many people who have not studied art can sample other people’s work and shove it together and call it art, too. Most illustrators that I know don’t do it full-time anymore because of those changes. Young artists need to start fighting for their rights when it comes to copyright issues.

The good side of social media and the digital world is that now I can look online and find other artists that I wouldn’t have found otherwise. I do that all the time on Instagram – I find wonderful artists around the world who are inspiring, and I wouldn’t have found them otherwise. Also, computer advances have helped. With Photoshop, you can do brilliant things. I use it to scan and clean up and send work, but what’s really great is I can make a gigantic poster of my artwork pretty cheaply, I can self-publish books, I can send my work to a gallery with very high-resolution and very quickly. It’s easier to get my art out into the world. And when I put it on Instagram, I’m connecting with the outside world right away and getting feedback right away. If you don’t find a way through social media to get your work out, then you absolutely disappear.

What’s the next big thing?

Artists really need to do work that’s personal and comes from their heart, not to repeat themselves to make money, not to be derivative of other people’s work to make money, but to really develop themselves and keep exploring and experimenting and do their very best in whatever visual medium they’re working in to be really true to themselves. I don’t think that’s new. That would have been my advice 100 years ago, too. I don’t know what the next big things is other than that each person as an artist has to go out and figure that out every day. Artists have the responsibility to reinvigorate themselves on a very regular basis.


How big an impact will your field play in shaping the future of the San Diego region and beyond?

San Diego is a little bit like an open canvas. If somebody wanted to do something dramatic, they could go ahead and do it. There are artists and architects in town doing interesting things. I’m in North Park, where there’s a lot of young people, and that’s very exciting. Many of the new places are very creative. They’re kind of hand-made places. It’s not The Gap and it’s not corporate, which is exciting. It’s quite amazing. I never expected it. Want you really want is young people coming in and trying new things.

Hop into your time machine…what does the future look like for this field in 50 years?

Whether it’s today, in 10 years, in 50 years, the best artists will always be true to themselves. Whether you’re drawing or painting, make it sincere, and always try new things and do it from your heart. Don’t do what you think other people want to see – because that’s just death.

Learn more about Blair Thornley and the courses she teaches on our website, and explore other Art areas such as Art History, Children’s Book Writing & Illustration, Fine Art, Illustration, and Studio & Decorative Arts.

50 Voices of the Future: Tam O’Shaughnessy on STEM education


In honor of UC San Diego Extension’s first 50 years, 50 Voices of the Future asks thought leaders about the trends, breakthroughs and social advances they foresee over the next 50 years.

As Carl Sagan once said, “We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology in which no one knows anything about science and technology.” Tam O’Shaughnessy, co-founder of Sally Ride Science and executive director of Sally Ride Science at UC San Diego, has worked for years to remedy that situation. As a career scientist and educator, she emphasizes the need to empower all students—especially girls and young women—to become scientifically literate and to master skills in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

(1) Why is the work you do important?

The work of Sally Ride Science at UC San Diego is important because our society depends on STEM. We need to make sure all students are literate in STEM so they can make informed decisions about their lives—their health, their communities and our planet.

Eighty percent of the fastest growing jobs in America require knowledge and skills in math and science. Our future engineers, software developers and data scientists need STEM skills, yet the workforce in these crucial jobs does not reflect who we are in America. Even though women make up 50 percent of the U.S. workforce, only 28 percent are employed in STEM fields. Historically underrepresented groups—Hispanics, African Americans, American Indians and Alaskan Natives—make up 26 percent of the U.S. adult population, but they account for only 10 percent of the workers in STEM jobs.

Science advances and grows when people from all parts of our society contribute. We face huge challenges—where will we get enough sustainable energy? How will we curb emissions of greenhouse gases? How can we contain disease epidemics? The solutions will come from science. We need to make sure we are tapping into the talents and creativity of women and men from all backgrounds to overcome those obstacles.

(2) What are the influential/exciting developments happening in your field now and why?

STEM is at the forefront of the education policy discussion these days. Educators, parents, lawmakers and corporate America understand the need for a STEM-literate citizenry, and they are taking steps toward that goal. There is a critical mass of people building on what research and classroom experience show works best in STEM education. This includes improving teacher preparation and establishing consistent standards and curricula across states.

When we achieve excellence in science classrooms, teaching and learning are dynamic. Students work cooperatively to share ideas and participate in discussions. They make predictions and talk through explanations, evidence and relationships between hypotheses and data. Students review and evaluate their own knowledge and revise their ideas based on new information. In an excellent science classroom, students are immersed in doing science as it is done by real scientists.

(3) What’s the next big thing?

The next big things are equity and excellence—in STEM education and, in turn, in STEM fields. Our society will reap countless benefits if we enable all students to be their authentic selves. We need to provide excellent educational opportunities for everyone regardless of gender, race, cultural or ethnic background, disabilities, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

(4) How big an impact will your field play in shaping the future of the San Diego region and beyond?

Making sure that all students receive an excellent STEM education will play an enormous role in shaping the future of San Diego and the nation. Equity and excellence in STEM education will impact everything from productivity and prosperity to innovation and quality of life. STEM literacy empowers people to make informed decisions in their personal lives—selecting nutritious foods, evaluating options for medical treatment or adopting environmentally responsible habits. STEM literacy also enables people to weigh competing arguments and reach valid conclusions on issues facing our society. An understanding of basic STEM concepts prepares young people for the future by developing critical thinking skills that are invaluable in any field of study and in any career.

Not all students want to pursue advanced degrees. There are opportunities in STEM for everyone. For example, half of all STEM jobs don’t require a four-year degree. These jobs pay an average of $53,000, which is 10 percent higher than non-STEM jobs with similar education requirements.

(5) Hop into your time machine…what does the future look like for this field in 50 years? How can individuals/companies get prepared for what’s next?

Fifty years from now, equity and excellence in STEM education will be realized. This is a lofty view of the future, but based on the progress we are making, we can achieve this goal. When we create a STEM-literate citizenry—and all that it entails—our country will be stronger socially and economically. Individuals, nonprofit organizations and companies can help realize this future by supporting their communities’ efforts to improve STEM education based on our current knowledge of how children and adults learn.

We invite you to more about Sally Ride Science at UC San Diego and other Pre-College programs that we offer at UC San Diego Extension.

50 Voices of the Future: Scott Robinson on human-centered design


In honor of UC San Diego Extension’s first 50 years, 50 Voices of the Future asks thought leaders about the trends, breakthroughs and social advances they foresee over the next 50 years.

When it comes to design, Scott Robinson thinks Frank Lloyd Wright said it best: “Form follows function—that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union.”  As the founder, president and CEO of FreshForm, an experiential branding agency, Robinson takes that advice to heart, leveraging human-centered design principles to grow and differentiate brands in today’s ever-changing digital landscape, including Acura, Honda, Ballast Point, Facebook, Intel, ExxonMobil, Qualcomm and University of San Diego. Robinson has been in the field of design and marketing for nearly 20 years and at the helm of FreshForm since 2001 and remains intensely passionate about the intersection of marketing, design, technology, innovation and consumer behavior in the digital age.

(1) Why is the work you do important?
Human-centered design is a creative approach to solving both large- and small-scale problems and is at the heart of what we do at FreshForm. I’m an advocate for design and what it provides as a competitive advantage for growth-oriented companies, organizations and institutions. At FreshForm, we combine design and technology to create what we call “experiential branding.” Good design matters because it helps alleviate frustrations, allows for efficiency, creates an emotional connection and can positively influence behavioral change.

At the community level, I’m involved with two important initiatives. One is called the Design Forward Alliance, which is an advocacy group promoting the value of design. Don Norman, the director of the Design Lab at UC San Diego, was the catalyst for the organization and an active advisor. The other initiative is the San Diego Brand Alliance, spearheaded by the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, which is helping craft a global brand for the region.

(2) What are the influential/exciting development happening in your field now and why?
I’m excited about the recent push to advance design education. Design thinking, which is a subset of human-centered design, is finding its way into K-12 and universities across the country. The newly opened Ideate High Academy in Downtown San Diego has a mission is to provide a rich, design thinking–based curriculum for creative high school pupils that incorporates student-centered learning, interdisciplinary challenges, college preparation, internships, empathic social responsibility and innovative thinking for the 21st Century. The Design Lab at UC San Diego is creating an exciting, vibrant design community that pervades the campus, cutting across disciplines, developing cross-campus projects, combining practice with theory. And the University of Texas hired Doreen Lorenzo to oversee a campus-wide initiative to integrate design thinking into the curriculum across the university. All of these institutions are developing a new breed of designers and innovators.

(3) What’s the next big thing?
I’m curious how design can (and will) impact artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). These are two areas that will change our lives drastically in the next decade. Can we design AI to be more empathetic? Can we be connected emotionally to the IoT devices in our homes and offices? The key is designing for hyper-personalization and contextual awareness.

(4) How big an impact will your field play in shaping the future of the San Diego region and beyond?
San Diego is at an interesting and exciting time. The energy and optimism today is like nothing I’ve ever felt growing up here in San Diego. Design will be at the center of how the future will be shaped. Our choice is whether we embrace good design for our region or not. In the next 50 years, our population will grow by nearly 40 percent, which will mostly be coming from local growth. Due to climate change and rising sea levels, we could be one of the most impacted regions in the country. How we adapt to these factors is up to us. Human-centered design can bring together cross-disciplinary experts to work through ideas and prototype solutions to some of these major initiatives. Design can be the common thread — regardless of the challenge we face.

(5) Hop in to your time machine…what does the future look like for this field in 50 years? How can individuals/companies get prepared for what’s next?
I see two futures – one that is well-designed and one that is not. In 50 years, a well-design future allows for technology to scale as rapidly as it needs to, but our lives are better and less frustrating because of it. A well-designed future allows health care to be more personal and thoughtful, more predictive, preventative and accessible. A well-designed future allows autonomous vehicles to alleviate many accidents, and increase the speed and comfort in our travels. A well-designed future allows for our homes, streets and neighborhoods to embrace smarter technologies, while also making them more secure. A well-designed future allows for us to preserve the natural beauty of this region and this earth, while finding new ways to support the growth and expansion of humanity and technology.

Alternatively, a future that is not well-designed will create a world that is much more visibly and functionally complex and frustrating.

UC San Diego Extension offers a variety of design-related certificate programs and courses each quarter, as well as year-long intensive program in Graphic and Web Design. Learn more in an online information session.

UC San Diego Extension announces “The Next Fifty” scholarship recipients

50thLogoCMYKUniversity of California San Diego Extension has announced the 10 recipients for “The Next Fifty” scholarships, which is part of its yearlong 50th anniversary celebration. The scholarship program is UC San Diego Extension’s way to give back to the community by helping people prepare for what’s next. Awardees can use the $5,000 scholarship toward Extension’s courses and certificates.

Extension selected the 10 recipients out of close to 500 applications and the recipients represent a wide variety of interests and backgrounds. The recipients and their areas of study are:

  1. David Beatty for Business Analysis Tools and Strategies
  2. Lala Forrest for Art and the Creative Process
  3. Rami Husseini for Datamining
  4. Norma Lopez for Teaching Adult Learners
  5. Patrick Mazza III for Occupational Health and Safety
  6. Alexandra Southard for Business Intelligence Analysis
  7. Kathleen Stadler for Fundraising and Development
  8. Abigail Wattierrez for Sustainable Business Practices
  9. Ryan Williams for Community Research and Program Evaluation
  10. Jordan Woolsey for Translation and Interpretation (Spanish/English)

The scholarships were open to those with at least a high school degree or equivalent and who saw UC San Diego Extension as a way to advance their career or pursue their passions. The applicants were required to write a 500-word essay on how Extension can help them prepare for the future, which will be shared on Extension’s blog in the coming weeks.

Ed Abeyta, assistant dean of community outreach and director of pre-college programs for UC San Diego Extension, said “The Next Fifty” scholarships deliver on Extension’s mission to offer the education and training needed to ensure the region is prepared for changes occurring in everything from the arts to technology to science.

“UC San Diego Extension wants to be a positive force for change. For more than 50 years, Extension has been evolving its programs and educational offerings to meet the needs of San Diego,” Abeyta said. “These scholarships will help individuals stay ahead of the curve and get ready for what’s next and underscore our commitment to lifelong learning.”

In addition to the scholarship program, Extension has been publishing a weekly blog feature called “Voices of the Future,” which showcases thought leaders including UC San Diego faculty, industry and civic leaders as well as Extension instructors on the technological and social advances envisioned in the next 50 years. These stories are designed to cover a wide variety of topics and highlight the life-changing advances happening on campus, in the San Diego region, and in the education sector itself.

UC San Diego Extension has also offered a variety of public lectures and programs to deliver on Extension’s anniversary celebration’s core mission and message, which is to prepare individuals and institutions for change. Upcoming events include a panel on the Election 2016 that Steve Clemons, Washington editor at large for The Atlantic, will moderate and that will feature, Thad Kousser, chair and professor of political science at UC San Diego; Scott Lewis, editor of the Voice of San Diego; and Laura Fink, professional political consultant.

To find out more about UC San Diego Extension’s anniversary scholarships, blog features and events, visit

50 Voices of the Future: Reid Carr on the destiny of digital marketing


In honor of UC San Diego Extension’s first 50 years, 50 Voices of the Future asks thought leaders about the trends, breakthroughs and social advances they foresee over the next 50 years.

Reid Carr’s life goal is happiness and work fulfillment – not just for him, but for his employees and the consumers he markets to. Carr is the president and CEO of Red Door Interactive, a San Diego-based marketing firm which also has offices in Carlsbad and Denver.

(1) Why is the work you do important?

I love understanding consumers and I love the psychology of it all and the tactics and putting plans together and that sort of thing. It’s highly engaging work. It’s creative, it’s inspiring – being at an agency and working with lots of different companies and understanding where their challenges are and what they’re trying to overcome.

I think that translates well to the people who work with me at Red Door. I think it’s what the company is built to do, just have a good day at work. I think it creates growth. I think it creates a lot of opportunity for people, which is important to the community at large because we can then serve the greater good with what we learn. A lot of us serve on community boards and non-profit boards. I think we’ve learned a lot of things that can apply to helping to make the world better.

(2) What are the influential/exciting developments happening in your field now and why?

It’s called mixed reality – which is augmented reality and virtual reality. Augmented reality is this mix of the real world and virtual world. You can hold up a phone, for example, and the phone layers on stuff with the real world and puts virtual stuff on top of it so you could see what a house might look on a piece of property that’s actually still just a landscape, and the house doesn’t yet exist.

Another example of this is teaching someone, somewhere where they don’t have access to the equipment we have here, like how to perform a surgery, or how to fix a car. You can actually see that this thing should go there and the thing may not exist, but you would see where it would go and you would see it in practical real world vision and manipulation.

(3) What’s the next big thing?

Again, it’s all about mixed reality. What that will do in retail in the physical world is theoretically you can try things on, you can see your new room – like if you stand in the middle of the room – and see what your room might look like if you bought all this furniture or rearranged it in certain ways. Or what your house might look like as it’s being constructed in a certain area, looking and seeing what it might look like completed despite not having all the things there yet.

(4) How big of an impact will your field play in shaping the future of the San Diego region and beyond?

San Diego is just in this fascinating place that I don’t know that people recognize what our potential is relative to that world. We’ve got the huge prevalence of mobile, with Qualcomm. We’re the birthplace of analytics in many ways; Google Analytics was created here by a company called Urchin. You’ve got mapping the human genome here as a form of analytics.

We’re in this really unique area of the world with some really unique talent. We’re sitting within all of that, as the conduit to put the pieces together. The talent we have access to and the things that we have access to, I think we’re in a really exciting and interesting place to do all of that.

(5) Hop into your time machine…what does the future look like for this field in 50 years? How can individuals/companies get prepared for what’s next?

Where we’re at now with our expectations is, “I can have that item delivered to me within a day, two days, with time I should have it tomorrow,” type of thing.

The future expectation will be: “As soon as I think of it, I want it now.” So you’re able to say, “Yeah, I really love that pair of shoes,” and have them printed for you right then and there.

It’s hard to wrap our head around what that’s going to be like, but we need that spirit of creativity, that hopefully I believe will still live on, and give people the right message at the right place and the right time that motivates the kind of behaviors and impulses that we want.

Learn more about the future of marketing as Reid Carr imagines it, as well as the future of data science, in a range of courses and programs offered by UC San Diego Extension including Predictive AnalyticsWeb Analytics, Front End Web Development, Marketing, and User Experience (UX) Design.

50 Voices of the Future: Don Norman on thoughtful design


In honor of UC San Diego Extension’s first 50 years, 50 Voices of the Future asks thought leaders about the trends, breakthroughs and social advances they foresee over the next 50 years.

Don Norman is a guy who tinkers for a living. He’s spent his life thinking about how to make things work better, whether it’s a door, a computer or an entire health care system. His obsession with improving the way a device or system operates has led him to jobs at several universities as well as Apple Inc. His best-selling book The Design of Everyday Things is considered a classic.

He’s now the director of UC San Diego’s Design Lab, a perch from which he’s able to offer suggestions on how to improve our education system, our car culture, our healthcare system and a variety of other things. The successful designers of the future, he says, will “make sure technology fits the real needs and abilities of actual people.”

(1) Why is the work you do important?

We bring to technology a human-centered point of view. All too often our technologists fall in love with the things they’re building. They don’t think about how it affects people. “People will get used to it,” they say. We say, “No, let’s first figure out the things that people really need and how best to accomplish that need.” To us, design is a way of thinking. It’s a way of making sure we solve the real, fundamental problems, not the symptoms. And you always need to have the human at the center of the approach.

(2) What are the influential/exciting developments happening in your field now and why?

Automation is taking away people’s jobs and we believe it shouldn’t. Instead of automating whatever we can automate and letting people pick up the rest of the pieces, we say, “What we can build that can make people’s lives easier and more effective and more enjoyable?” How can we use machines to enhance our abilities, not to replace us? A calculator is a great example: With a calculator, I can focus on formulating the problem and let the calculator handle the messy details. A person plus a calculator is smarter than either alone. Some things need to be automated. Take, for example, automobile driving. Some 30,000 people die every year and a million people are injured, just in the United States. We think automating the automobile is going to be wonderful. We will relieve the tedium and boredom of driving. You can work; you can sleep; you can talk with your friends. The highways will become more efficient because the cars can travel at a steadier speed, closer to each other. Automation never gets tired, never gets distracted, and never falls asleep. That’s a difficult, tedious job that’s going to be replaced. But automation of driving will have a severe negative impact as well. Driving is one of the largest sources of employment in the United States – think taxis and delivery services, think trucks. What will happen to those who are displaced?

(3) What’s the next big thing?

As a friend of mine said, predicting the future is easy. The hard part is getting it right. How we handle the energy crisis and global warming are going to have a really big impact in the next decade or two. Two major components of what we do in our lives have to change radically. One is health care. The other is education. MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses) have caused people to rethink education. It’s allowed us to say, “Gee, why can’t we just learn things when we need them, throughout life?” We still rely on professors lecturing. Lecturing is the world’s worst way to learn something. I’m a fan of virtual reality, and I think virtual reality is going to change our whole educational experience, and the way we design things and entertainment.

(4) How big of an impact will your field play in shaping the future of the San Diego region and beyond?

We would like the Design Lab to be a major player in San Diego. We’ve been working with the UC San Diego Extension, with San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, with the Mayor’s Office, with the Port of San Diego and with major industry leaders, saying, look, there’s a powerful design community in San Diego, let’s take advantage of it. Design can help transform a city.

(5) Hop into your time machine…what does the future look like for this field in 50 years? How can individuals/companies get prepared for what’s next?

The best technology is the technology we don’t even notice, that just enables us to live our lives more effectively, more enjoyably without us even noticing. As we add more and more technology in our lives, let’s use it not to make our lives more frustrating and complex, let’s use it to make our lives more enjoyable. And I think that in 50 years, or less than 50 years, that will come to pass. We’ll see much more automation that takes care of the more onerous tasks in our lives, freeing us to be creative, imaginative and effective. People will enjoy life more.

Don Norman along with design, business and civic leaders will be discussing the importance of design, especially human-centered design, at Design Forward > San Diego, a day-long summit to be held on June 16.

Did you know that UC San Diego Extension offers a certificate program in UX (User Experience) Design? Find out more about the courses and programs that we have to offer in Digital Arts.



The making of a UC San Diego Extension certificate program (infographic)

There’s a point in every person’s career when they realize they want to changes jobs or move up the organizational ladder, but maybe they’re not quite sure how to make it happen. Should it involve going back to school full time? Will it require a degree? And how can it be done without having to spend (or go into debt for) tens of thousands of dollars?

Enter UC San Diego Extension’s certificate programs. Every program offers students an opportunity to examine a new field and demonstrate to others they have the discipline to work toward a specific goal while increasing their earning potential and marketability.

The completion of a certificate program provides:

  • Documentation of specific, formal study at a highly-regarded academic institution
  • Career-oriented, post-graduate training to complement a college or university degree
  • Well-developed job skills and knowledge for your current job, a promotion, or career change

Why a UC San Diego Extension Certificate?

A UC San Diego Extension certificate is a widely-respected academic credential certifying completion of a rigorous and specialized course of study that’s recognized and valued by employers. Designed by industry experts and academic faculty, our cutting-edge programs meet high academic standards and provide real-world skills.

Here’s how to we take an idea and develop it into a high-quality, high-value certificate program:

PNG-WI16-3036 Cert Creation Info Graphic.jpg

We offer two types of certificate programs: Professional and Specialized. Professional programs consist of a minimum of 20 units of approved continuing education credit (200 classroom instruction hours). Specialized programs consist of a minimum of 9 units of approved continuing education credit (90 classroom instruction hours).

Curious about what we have to offer? Take a look at our list of programs to see if there’s a one that’s right for you.

Four Steps to Earn Your Certificate

  1. Review the Certificate Course Matrix (i.e. class schedule) and apply for the certificate program of your choice (click the Apply Now button on the specific certificate page you are interested in). Make sure to fill it out completely!
  2. Receive your program approval via email and enroll in course(s) listed on the Certificate Course Matrix.
  3. Complete all required courses and your chosen electives with a grade of C- or better, within five years.
  4. Submit your Notice of Completion online, or by mail to the address specified above.

Have questions about our programs? Feel free to search our website or contact Student Services with your questions. We are happy to help you!

50 Voices of the Future: Exploring augmented reality with Jürgen Schulze


In honor of UC San Diego Extension’s first 50 years, 50 Voices of the Future asks thought leaders about the trends, breakthroughs and social advances they foresee over the next 50 years.

Dr. Jürgen Schulze foresees a future in which each person can create his or her own reality. Technology will enable us to edit our own perceptions, so that we see what we want to see. If you so desire, your Honda Civic will look to you like a Bentley. “What we see will be a combination of virtual things and real things,” predicts Schulze, a research scientist in UC San Diego’s computer science department. “And it won’t matter as much anymore what things look like in reality, because you can make them look like anything using software.”

Why is the work you do important?

I research novel methods for people to interact with computers using 3D technology. I’ve been working a lot with medical data, and you can imagine taking a CT scan or MRI scan, which normally has been looked at cross-section by cross-section, slice by slice, and what we do here is, we composite those slices back together into a 3D object, and then interact with that 3D object as if it’s a physical brain, or physical body, that would be in front of you, so you can look for tumors or other ailments that someone might be dealing with.

What are the exciting/influential developments happening in your field now?

The software for virtual reality applications has matured to a point now that they are commercially available, and in fact they’re free for students to use, applications that allow you to build virtual reality software in probably about a small fraction of the time that it used to take. This is only possible because the gaming industry essentially has now embraced virtual reality, so they’re making tools that are easy to use and inexpensive to create and we can use them in science as well.

What’s the next big thing?

Augmented reality. Augmented reality is when you can see through your goggles. There are companies like Magic Leap that come to mind. The hollow lens from Microsoft is an augmented reality device, and others. Those are essentially virtual reality without the lid on your goggles, so you can see through your screen, and you can see the real world behind it, and you can mix the two. You can mix the virtual with the real. That’s going to be augmented reality, where you can walk around and go see a world that consists of partly real object, and other objects that are just going to be displayed via the computer, but they’ll look like they’re real objects. Once it really works well, you won’t be able to distinguish between them, and that’s where it really gets interesting.

How big of an impact will your field play in shaping the future of the San Diego region and beyond?

I think there’s a lot of impact that we have here with my lab, in that we’re one of the leading virtual reality research labs in the country. Once we have a virtual reality computer lab, we’ll be one of the leading teaching institutions that are going to really teach virtual reality on a larger scale. We already have one of the largest computer science departments, maybe the largest in the country, so that’s going to be a huge impact.

Hop into your time machine. What does the future look like for this field in 50 years? How can individuals/companies prepare for what’s next?

What I’m hoping will happen is that augmented reality hardware will become so small and lightweight that it’s going to be built into regular glasses and sunglasses, and everyone is going to have it available at all times. Just like you can now buy these smart watches, have smart glasses, and in 20 years or so that should easily be possible.

Woman Playing Video Game With Virtual Reality Headset

Learn more about the Technology courses that UC San Diego Extension offers including a range of certificate programs in computer science and engineering such as C#, C/C++, Java, and Mobile Device Programming, Embedded Computer Engineering, Embedded Computer Software, Healthcare Information Technology, Systems Engineering and more.

50 Voices of the Future: The new era of citizen journalism with Sylvia Mendoza

Sylvia MendozaWPFeat

In honor of UC San Diego Extension’s first 50 years, 50 Voices of the Future asks thought leaders about the trends, breakthroughs and social advances they foresee over the next 50 years.

Journalism, as a profession, looks far different now than it did a decade ago. Newspaper circulation has plummeted as readers turn to the web and social media for their news — and newspapers employ only a fraction of the reporters they once did. At the same time, a new breed of reporter has emerged, one who needs little more than a cell phone and a Facebook, Twitter or YouTube account to tell a story using words, pictures and video.

Author Sylvia Mendoza, who teaches writing and digital journalism at UC San Diego Extension, believes the fundamentals of journalism will never change, no matter what technology emerges in the future. The best journalists, she says, will always remain committed to telling interesting stories. They will also, she says, continue to serve as watchdogs with an unbending dedication to “seek the truth and write about it.”

(1) Why is the work you do important?

I believe in the power of the written word. I believe in the purpose of journalism. I believe in being the watchdog of society. I believe that knowledge is power. That education opens doors. I find inspiration in ordinary people who do extraordinary things. I believe in the code of ethics and a value system that drives good journalists to seek the truth and write about it. We challenge stereotypes, challenge authority, challenge perceptions. I challenge the stereotypes of what Latino is. Everything’s bubbling up now, it’s all news.

(2) What are the influential/exciting developments happening in your field now and why?

Everything is about the Internet, with everything at our fingertips. It’s just going to get easier for people to access material quicker. Journalism students now have to become “backpack journalists” or mobile journalists, and they have to be really versatile and flexible and write well and take photographs and videos and produce their own audio and be able to upload everything and make it magical and multifaceted. [They must] have enhancements to their stories, not just the written content, so that it’s really accessible to all. I know you can’t have a story for every age group and generational age group and everything, but that seems like where it’s going.

(3) What’s the next big thing?

The Internet brings a lot of power to our fingertips, but we have to be ready for it. So I think the next big thing is that we can have a lot of power as individuals wanting to go into any kind of media and promote ourselves, or our creative spirit, break any stereotypes and break all these barriers and do our own creative vision. However we want to put ourselves out there. But by the same token we’d better have that sense of social responsibility to go along with our vision, and have that sense of professionalism to go along with that vision. [We must] be educated enough to rise above the competition, because otherwise there’s no way you’re going to make it.

(4) How big of an impact will your field play in shaping the future of the San Diego region and beyond?

Citizen journalism will grow. You also see that there’s still something that’s drawing students to journalism and that they still feel there’s a need to tell stories, and nose around for news. If it’s in you, I think it’s in you.

(5) Hop into your time machine…what does the future look like for this field in 50 years?  How can individuals/companies get prepared for what’s next?

The technology will come easier, that’s the easy part. What you will have to keep close to your heart and your mind all the way through is the core values of journalism, and train yourself first and foremost in the ethics of journalism and the purpose of journalism. If you’re going into that field, you have to know what the purpose of journalism is, and stay true to that, that code of ethics that started with the Society of Professional Journalists, and that withstands the whole test of time. I studied it in school 35 years ago, it’s relevant to me today as a working journalist and professor and writer, and I think it will be relevant 50 years from now.


Learn more about Sylvia Mendoza and the courses she teaches and explore other Writing programs and courses in Copyediting, Digital Media Content Creation and Technical Communication.