Empathy by Design: Creating Hospital Billing that Understands

By Marg Stark

For Eric Krepfle, the software he designs is not merely about creating an efficient system – it’s about developing an empathetic one as well.


That’s because the work Krepfle does developing hospital billing systems touches people at their most vulnerable when the stresses of health and finances intersect. “There are two things a patient is concerned about. Am I going to be okay, and can I afford my care?” he explains.

Working for Nashville-based Emdeon, Krepfle says one of his company’s goals is “to assuage patients’ fears, namely, how they are going to cover their financial responsibility for their treatment.” He puts that goal into action by designing software and services that hospitals use for revenue and payment management to deliver a streamlined experience for the patient and the health care provider.

The North Park resident’s own experiences inform his approach to life and his work. Five years ago, Krepfle experienced uncertainty when, in a single year, he says, “I lost my Dad, I lost my dog, and I lost my job.”

The layoff from a data management company was a stinging and unexpected blow.

“Never in my life did I think this could happen to me,” Krepfle says. “So I decided I had to find an industry with more longevity, more stability.”

The career he chose was one in the booming field of health care information technology. Krepfle completed his certificate in Healthcare Information Technology (HIT) at UC San Diego Extension in 2013, and now Krepfle is a product manager, overseeing the design of patient access products for client hospitals.

“We enhance and complement our clients. Because of the scale of our products and services, we help coordinate relationships between all parties. In this way, we promote the health and viability of hospitals.” He and his team develop software products that capture patient information, determine insurance eligibility, estimate patient liability, collect funds, provide financial counseling, and promote a healthy relationship between the patient, the provider and the payer.

But for Krepfle, it’s not enough to “talk the talk” of using technology to enrich a patient’s relationship with a health care provider. For more than two years, he served as a volunteer at Scripps Mercy Hospital where he experienced firsthand the difficulties of obtaining information from patients and families in the throes of both urgent and routine health care visits.

Without this firsthand experience, Krepfle continues, “It’s impossible to appreciate the speed with which patient access has to work because you’re explaining financial liability to people who are in distress.” Serving in one of the city’s busiest hospitals, Krepfle saw how “natural the encounter must be – how clear, concise and description-free hospitals need the software to be – because the engagement time with the patient is so limited.”

Krepfle is passionate about helping hospitals move past the long-held discomfort of asking patients for money and embracing sensitive and transparent ways of discussing financial assistance and explaining payment options from the outset. Indeed, he talks animatedly about the health care environment of the future, in which patients choose and sustain relationships with providers who make financial transactions as healthy and smooth as medical outcomes.

Most hospitals have a standard practice of using a sticker on the door of some patient rooms, or in medical records, to alert clinicians that the occupants are at risk for falling, Krepfle shares. “We need to be able to identify patients who are at risk, too, of not being able to pay their bills. When that happens, a patient’s credit could possibly be hurt and, with it, the hospital’s relationship with a patient. You can’t build loyalty to your hospital by turning folks over to collections.” Krepfle knows there are better ways to ensure both patient care and hospital payment are fulfilled.

Krepfle started on his journey in 2011 when he joined Avadyne Health, a San Diego-based revenue cycle management company. Shortly thereafter, on the recommendation of a friend, he started the HIT certificate program at UC San Diego Extension.  Serving as project lead for the HIT capstone project, Krepfle directed a team of twenty-two students through a complex project to a four-hour presentation. He likens that experience to the work he did at Avadyne, bringing together disparate systems and teams during a company merger. “The challenge is encountering teams with different terminologies, with a wide variety of legacy systems, different procedures and processes, and sometimes fragmented visions, and bringing them into harmony, creating new paradigms for patient communication.”

Krepfle’s completion of the HIT program was key to his 2013 acceptance for volunteer work at Scripps Mercy, which prefers pre-med students. Listed on his LinkedIn profile, the HIT certification and the volunteer experience recently caught the eye of an executive recruiter for Emdeon, the nation’s largest health care revenue cycle management company. Krepfle was offered an incredible opportunity: a significant promotion and the flexibility to stay in San Diego but commute part-time to the company’s headquarters in Nashville.

Dealing with change is something Krepfle has become quite adept at, personally and professionally. What are the tools he calls upon most in his work?  Tenacity and patience. “Consistent and gentle pressure makes most anything want to change, including me,” Krepfle says.

Corporate Training Certificate Program Propels Career Forward

By Eilene Zimmerman


Diana Saldivar, Social Media Coordinator, San Diego Metro Region Career Centers

For years, Diana Saldivar worked in academic advising at colleges in San Diego, helping students to either navigate university studies or meet their matriculation needs. But in 2010, when the California State University (CSU) system implemented broad budget cuts, Saldivar lost her job. She spent the next two years working part-time, trying to keep her foot in college and career advising, until she was hired in 2012 to be an employment training advisor for the San Diego Metro Region Career Center (SDMRCC). SDMRCC is a workforce development center that offers job and skills training, as well as career transition help, to job seekers.

Within a few months Saldivar began the UC San Diego Extension’s Career Advising Specialized Certificate Program, offered on-site at SDMRCC through Extension’s Custom Training department. The program is designed to bring WIB/Workforce Partnership Career Advisors the latest information on current economic trends, coaching techniques, career-building strategies and interpersonal communications. “As new career agents, many of us came from different professional backgrounds, so each of us needed to have the same understanding of the scope of career advising,” said Saldivar. Some career advisors had come from academia and nonprofits; others had been case managers for veterans and other populations in need of career services. Advisors like Saldivar worked with individuals in all stages of work or life, including those transitioning into new fields, students looking for a first job, veterans re-entering the job market and employees facing retirement.

The Career Advising Certificate Program included three courses: one that taught foundational principles for career advisors, a skills development course and another that honed in on specialty populations within career advising. Saldivar said she was impressed by the rigor of the curriculum and the topics covered, especially in the first course, which gave an overview of the history of workforce development. “The goal was for us to learn how our career center worked within the bigger system and the entire field,” she said. The final course, which focused on areas of specialization, was designed like a seminar and featured a capstone project to apply the newly developed certificate skills to a specific local challenge.

Three months after she finished the Certificate, Saldivar was promoted to social media coordinator. She has been in that position for about a year, applying what she learned in the program. Specifically, Saldivar is equipped with the knowledge to identify communication barriers with groups like veterans, enabling her to reach out to them more effectively. “I’m better able to understand how to reach the populations we target and I can tailor our marketing campaigns and branding to those audiences.”

As the job hunt process has rapidly and dramatically changed with the growth of social networking tools such as LinkedIn, Saldivar also applies what she learned in the program in her social media workshops. “I teach clients how to use social media as a career tool,” she said. “I use much of what I learned in the program related to how professionals should represent themselves online and showcase their skills.”

UC San Diego Extension’s Corporate Training department offers customized professional training and employee development for organizations of all sizes. Each program is tailored to fit an organization’s needs, from curriculum options to delivery format. One of the many benefits of corporate training is the outcome of high-performing teams. Training employees together cements new skills, develops a common language, builds confidence and increases employee engagement.  For Saldivar, this was one of the best parts of the program. “I was fairly new to the profession when I started the program and it was great to be able to talk to other colleagues about their experiences and about their best practices,” she said. “I learned so much from the interaction in class with both other students and teachers.”

Hottest Careers for College Grads in 2015

hotcareers_webbanner-2015Turning a college education into a career is easier said than done.

To help newly minted graduates identify their best bets for rewarding employment, the University of California, San Diego Extension today released its “2015 Hot Careers Report.”  Using a unique algorithm, UC San Diego Extension’s Center for Research on the Regional Economy identified those careers that offer a combination of strong employment growth, competitive salaries and high-quality work environments.   According to its analysis, the top 10 hottest careers for college graduates in 2015, in rank order, are:

  1. Software Developers, Applications
  2. Software Developers, Systems Software
  3. Accountants and Auditors
  4. Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists
  5. Cost Estimators
  6. Computer Network Architects
  7. Management Analysts
  8. Personal Financial Advisors
  9. Elementary School Teachers, except for Special Education
  10. Financial Analysts

Mary Walshok, associate vice chancellor of public programs and dean of UC San Diego Extension, said the hot careers for 2015 reflect the evolution of the U.S. economy and its increased focus on globalization and technology.

“Global markets, the rise of big data and the continued reach and influence of the digital world, all helped propel jobs for software developers, computer network architects and marketing analysts to the top of the list,” Walshok said.

Shifting demographics are also fueling growth in such careers as personal financial advisors and elementary school teachers.

“Aging Baby Boomers and the decline in pensions are increasing the need for professionals who can help people properly prepare for retirement,” Walshok added. “On the other hand, more elementary school teachers are reaching retirement age and creating a real demand for new teachers to fill that void.”

The annual list is part of UCSD Extension’s larger research efforts to not only assist job seekers but also shape educational offerings to ensure companies have the talent they need to thrive. Researchers compiled the “Hot Career” list by analyzing four general categories: current employment in the field, projected growth between 2012 and 2022, the median salary, and workplace environment.

“We see UC San Diego Extension as a vital component of the workforce training and development system, and we want to provide authoritative and actionable data to help spur economic development efforts not only in this region but also across the country,” Walshok said.

For a free copy of the report, click here.

New Partnership with Sycuan and Viejas Designed to Create College-going Culture

University of California, San Diego Extension has entered into a unique partnership with both the Sycuan Education Department and the Viejas Tribal Education Center to provide college preparatory programs as part of a larger effort to boost college enrollment among young adults in underrepresented communities. The partnership is designed to enhance the programs that the tribal education centers already offer by providing middle and high school students the opportunity to explore the UC San Diego campus as well as attend UCSD Extension’s innovative college-prep summer courses in Arizona, New Mexico, Hawaii and Washington D.C.

BiosphereKidsinJungleCouncilman Gabriel T. TeSam of the Viejas Tribe said both tribes are working on a strategic plan to help Native American students enter college and graduate school, and this partnership will go a long way to further its goals of increasing college enrollment in his tribe.

“We are trying to create a college-going culture. This new partnership will help our students not only see the opportunities that college affords but also help them seize those opportunities,” said TeSam. “UC San Diego Extension worked closely with us to ensure the programs matched the needs of our students and our community.”

Nubia Ford, director of the Sycuan Education Department, said a college education will help prepare the students she works with for leadership opportunities now and in the future.

“We are developing the next generation of leaders, and a college degree is an important component of creating students not only of our culture but of the world,” Ford said. “This program will help us preserve our traditions while allowing us to better serve our community and the community around us.”

Ed Abeyta, assistant dean for community engagement and director of pre-collegiate and career preparations for UC San Diego Extension, said working with the Sycuan and Viejas tribes is part of UC San Diego’s larger goal to reach out to communities throughout the region to ensure the campus is a true reflection of what makes San Diego unique.

“UCSD Extension has a clear mission: We are here to connect the campus to the community,” Abeyta said. “All of the K-12 programs we offer are part of the broader effort to engage every community in the region to help strengthen our university and San Diego.”

As part of the program, high school students in both the Viejas and Sycuan tribes will attend summer courses within the UC San Diego Extension’s Global  Environmental Leadership and Sustainability Program, which includes week-long courses at Biosphere 2 in Oracle, Ariz. as well as in Los Alamos, N.M., Hilo and Kona, Hawaii, and Washington, D.C. Students will also participate in Academic Connections, a three-week residential program on the UC San Diego campus, which is designed to prepare students for college success.

On June 21, Viejas and Sycuan will send eight students to Arizona to take part in the Biosphere 2 program, which teaches about the effects of climate change through hands-on learning and experiments. Going forward, all the high school students will have the opportunity to attend one of the summer programs depending on their grade level. UC San Diego Extension will also offer prep classes for college entrance exams such as the SAT and ACT.

“We are partnering with UC San Diego to build a pathway to college,” said TeSam. “These summer courses will offer a wealth of experiences and opportunities, and it will also provide our students with a fantastic resume as they apply to college.”

“This partnership is a perfect fit. We have a real need and UC San Diego Extension had the programs to fill that need,” Ford said.

Currently, the Viejas Tribal Education Center serves 130 students from Kindergarten to 12th grade and the Sycuan Tribal Education Center serves 75 students in those same grades.

Online SEO Resource Guide

By John E. Lincoln, President of Ignite Visibility & UC San Diego Instructor

3d illustration of shiny seo (search engine optimization) button isolated white background

SEO is a complex subject with multiple components. While it is a rather extensive subject, the basics can be easy to learn if you know where to go. With the world of online marketing evolving so quickly, book and course information can be outdated in just a few months. Therefore, reading online SEO resources to supplement this information gives you multiple perspectives and the latest insights.

Here are some of the best resources online for SEO education:

Moz Whiteboard Friday and Beginner’s Guide
indexThe Moz Beginner’s Guide to SEO is one of the most popular resources for SEO information. Read over a million times, it’s a handy go-to tool to find the answers to your SEO questions or to refresh your SEO skills. The 10 chapter guide covers everything from search engine interaction and increasing the user experience to SEO keyword research and monitoring data.

Plus, Moz has Whiteboard Friday for specific tips and tricks to boost website traffic and online engagement. Whiteboard Friday covers the latest trends, as well as social media marketing, website development and design, and everything in between to get you up to speed with the latest online marketing skills. That being said, it has a heavy SEO focus.

Search Engine Roundtable
b94c3b10c4c3a94e5985a9e4eebb18d4_400x400Search Engine Roundtable gives a full view of SEO and PPC to implement the most important segments to boost website visibility across all major search engines and social media sites. From general SEO and Google news to Google SEO and Updates, it’s a complete resource to helping you navigate the latest SEO practices to abide by search engine algorithms.

Search Engine Roundtable is really known as the area to find breaking news on SEO and SEM. Run by Barry Schwartz, there is never an SEO update that is missed.

Search Engine Land
selSearch Engine Land’s guide to search engine optimization is a complete crash course to using SEO to get more traffic. There is a Periodic Table of SEO Success factors and a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of the entire SEO process. Featuring 9 chapters, there are explanations for the best SEO practices to avoid search engine penalties and violations.

For more advanced SEO, Search Engine Land has a vast SEO library, covering everything from content writing to link building. If you subscribe to the newsletters, you’ll have the latest industry news and tips for expert advice to grow your SEO skills.

Search Engine Journal
tumblr_static_76724_10151213444288721_1531692048_aSearch Engine Journal is your all-in-one toolkit for SEO, search engines, content marketing, and social media. Plus, they cover paid search and entrepreneur marketing from all angles. There’s also Search Engine Journal’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO, a huge 13 chapter resource. Combine the guide with their SEO 101 series, and you’ll learn how to audit websites, build backlinks, and more with a toned-down analysis of the basics to SEO.

The Google Starter Guide
google_416x416Google in general is a wealth of information to help you learn SEO with a ton of information found on the Webmaster’s Blog and forums, but the Google Search Engine Starter Guide is the best place to start if you’re new to SEO. The 32 page PDF covers everything you need to know about ranking on the search engine. It covers the proper implantation of keywords, website promotion, mobile SEO, and just about everything else. The guide has screenshots and insider notes to help you develop a firmer understanding of exactly what’s needed to appear well on Google.

Google Webmaster Central Blog
Google Webmaster Central Blog is the official Google blog to crawling and indexing websites, while providing insider help to Webmaster Tools. Here, you’ll find the latest news, trends, and algorithm updates that are surfacing the web. With Google’s frequent updating to make a more user-friendly internet experience, you’ll have access to Google’s recommendations for all things SEO and the best practices to make sure you aren’t violating their algorithms. This is a great place to check frequently.

Google Webmaster Hangouts
Google Webmaster Hangouts let you directly connect directly with Google employees to ask your most pressing questions. Hangouts take place 1 to 3 times weekly and are offered in multiple languages. While Google won’t tell you everything, they will help you if they can, without getting in trouble by corporate.

Ignite Visibility Blog and Starter Guide
oThe Ignite Visibility blog has great information and it offers much more than just your basics. The blog features real actionable tactics that are proven to generate results. Heavily read by tens of thousands of visitors a month, Ignite’s blog features comprehensive guides, checklists and case studies to help you generate a higher ranking and increase profits. The most popular guide is the SEO Starter Guide.

HubSpot Blog
HubSpot_logo-14With over 400,000 subscribers and 2 million monthly visitors, HubSpot’s Blog is a top resource for all things marketing and sales related. Covering a wide scale of topics for specific industries, you’ll unlock the top SEO and marketing tactics with numerous guides and blog posts to help you succeed.

Their blog is actually composed of multiple blogs that make it easy to discover exactly what you’re looking for. The basic blogs include marketing, sales, web design, and agency information, but there’s also the academy blog. The academy provides real success stories, insider tips, and the latest news to drive search engine traffic.

mash-iphone-iconMashable is a leading resource for news and information to drive business development through social media and online marketing. Although the website as a whole covers extensive information, in the tech, social media, and business sections, you’ll find the latest news related to online marketing. You’ll discover the next big thing to take your SEO skills over the top.

Quick Sprout Advanced Guide to SEO
guias-seo-oficiales-quicksproutQuick Sprout’s Advanced Guide to SEO is perfect for those who already have an understanding of SEO basics but want to take their skills to the next level. The 9 chapter guide offers in-depth information to increasing search traffic. Although the guide covers more advanced tactics, it’s written in a clear and concise language for easy understanding to various search verticals to improve ranking, performance, and traffic. It extends beyond the basics of SEO with real solutions to apply to every section of your website to improve organic search.

There are a number of online resources to help you on your journey to learning SEO. The more your read, the wider the diversity of resources you‘ll have to develop a deeper array of SEO skills.


  • “What is SEO/Search Engine Optimization?” Search Engine Land
  • “The Beginners Guide” MOZ
  • “Whiteboard Friday” MOZ
  • “The Advanced Guide to SEO” Quick Sprout
  • “About Us” Search Engine Roundtable
  • “2014 Beginner’s Guide to SEO” Search Engine Journal
  • “Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide” Google User Content
  • “Webmaster Central Blog” Google
  • “Academy Blog” Hub Spot

About John E. Lincoln

John E. Lincoln, President of Ignite Visibility & UC San Diego Instructor

John E. Lincoln, President of Ignite Visibility & UC San Diego Instructor

John E. Lincoln has been a guest speaking and teaching at UC San Diego Extension for four years. Currently teaching “Web Analytics”, Lincoln has also taught courses on SEO, social media and pay-per-click. Outside of UC San Diego Extension, Lincoln is President of Ignite Visibility, a full service digital agency. Lincoln is also a frequent writer for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and Search Engine Journal. During his career, Lincoln has worked with over 200 online businesses and has enjoyed working on national clients such as FOX, Coupons.com, Jacuzzi, Tacori, 1800Dentist and more.

Explore Cutting-edge Practices at Upcoming Microbial Fermentation Workshop

To think big, you need to start small – really small. That’s the theory behind the booming business of microbial fermentation.


While the term “microbial fermentation” is hardly a household term, it is a process that continues to revolutionize a wide range of industries from food to fuel to fabric and beyond.

To bolster this growing and important field, University of California, San Diego Center for Continuing Education in Biosciences (CCE/Bio) and UC San Diego Extension  have jointly developed a three-day  workshop to help professionals in the field keep up with the latest developments and expand their current knowledge of experimental design processes. The workshop – now in its third year – runs from Aug. 12 to 14 at UC San Diego.

“Microbial fermentation is really big, and it’s growing really fast,” said Jeff Lievense, executive vice president of process technology at Genomatica, a local biotech firm, and one of the workshop’s instructors. “It will change our world over the next 50 years.”

In its essence, microbial fermentation is the transformation of organic substances such as bacteria, yeast, fungi and algae into other products. Think antibiotics, beer and biofuels.  Now because of ongoing advances in the field, which are reducing development times and costs, there is an array of new and mind-bending innovations on the horizon.

Participants in the workshop will have a front-row seat to those advances and the underlying fundamental tools through interactive training, case studies and one-on-one consulting.

This year’s program features some of the brightest minds in the field including, James Golden, Ph.D., professor of molecular biology at UC San Diego along with distinguished faculty from MiraCosta College and industry leaders from such firms as Genomatica and DuPont. The instructional team, which brings more than 100 years of collective industrial experience, will offer a deep dive into microbial growth and metabolism, bioreactor operations and the scale up of those operations, design and analysis of experiments, and bioprocesse design and economics.

Lievense said the three-day workshop is able to attract attendees from around the world because microbial fermentation is considered a huge growth industry. While microbial fermentation is used in a variety of industries including pharmaceuticals and agriculture, the global quest for sustainability is driving the rapid growth of industrial biotech, which focuses on fuels, plastics, and chemicals. Millions of products – from clothes to toys to paint solvents – that are now made from petroleum-based synthetics can instead be created from natural and environmentally friendly materials using microbial fermentation.

Industry analysts estimate that these more sustainable products currently represent about 10 percent of all global plastic and chemical revenue, or about $150 billion. By 2030, that number could increase to as much as 30 percent. Recently toymaker LEGO, which known for its iconic plastic building blocks, just announced it will invest $150 million in research over the next 15 years to develop sustainable replacements for its fossil-based plastics by 2030.

Lievense called LEGO, a “great example” of both the economic and environmental promise of microbial fermentation and commended the company for its foresight.

“All of the chemicals that make up LEGO pieces could be made instead by microbial fermentation of renewable feedstocks,” he said.

While workshop participants should have some basic knowledge and experience in fermentation, Lievense said everyone from scientists and engineers to biotech business executives to graduate students and even local craft brewers could benefit from this unique program. As one of just a handful of programs that provide in-depth, practically oriented coursework in microbial fermentation, it draws participants from around the world.

Those interested in finding out more about the three-day workshop can visit extension.ucsd.edu/lifesciences, call (858) 534-9353 or email unexbio@ucsd.edu.

Synergy, Cycling, and Six Sigma

IMG_2654[7]By Scott McDonald

Ric Van der Linden is quickly approaching his sixth year of teaching the Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Program at UC San Diego Extension. Another upcoming anniversary, however, is getting all the attention.

Van der Linden and his wife, Anne, are celebrating 25 years of marriage with a 3,300-mile, cross-country tandem bicycle trip.

This weekend in Oceanside the couple will start with a ceremonial tire-dip into the Pacific and a 30-mile ride back to their home in Temecula. From there, it’ll only be one day off a week, and 80 miles a day, until they reach Virginia.

Although the Van Der Lindens have been cycling together since they were both student athletes in college, this trip will be their longest ever.

“It’s our longest by far,” said Ric. “I ride between seven and ten thousand miles a year. But I never do it on the same bike. So to do 3,300 miles on a tandem bike with my wife is a totally different thing. The most we’ve ever done at one time riding the tandem is 120 miles.”

In addition to teaching Extension classes, the tall, side-burned instructor is president of ProgressivEdge, a Lean Six Sigma consulting firm. So it’s no surprise that the many parallels between Van Der Linden’s professional life and his impending journey aren’t lost on him.

“There are certainly correlations between the two,” he said. “Six Sigma is all about efficiency and effectiveness. I’m using things like project management, organizational skills, packing efficiency, all the way down to how I place the tools and spare parts on the bike. It’s about not being wasteful, improving quality, and reducing variation. These are all things I teach and do, so they’re things I’m doing while preparing for this trip. It’s really a great comparison.”

While it would be impossible for Van der Linden to escape from viewing this trip through the lens of Six Sigma, he and his wife are making sure that the reason they’re undertaking it never gets lost in the shuffle.

Ric and Anne have started a Facebook page entitled “Lasting Marriage Bike Tour” to chronicle the expedition. The page features personalized details of their route, equipment they’re using, and pictures of the couple training together. There will also be ongoing posts of marriage advice and resources. Ric and Anne are even planning to talk to one married couple each day and posting that couple’s marriage “advice” on the site.

The “Lasting Marriage Bike Tour” is truly a family affair. Ric’s parents – who coincidentally are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this year – will follow their son and daughter-in-law along the route in a motorhome. The cyclists’ 18-year-old daughter will also be on hand to assist with daily chores and moral support.

It’s going to take a team effort. The first leg of the trip promises brutal weather, with average daily temperatures reaching 110°.

IMG_2661[10]“It’ll be rough crossing the desert,” said Ric. “Assuming the heat matches what they say it’s going to be, it will be impossible to ride during the heart of the day. So for the first two weeks we’ll be starting at three in the morning, and be done by 10 or 11 o’clock each day.”

Despite the extreme conditions, the couple will be joined by a few other family members and friends along the way, each of whom plans on riding with them part of the route.

For the times when it’s just the two of them alone and the motorhome is nowhere in sight, Ric says the couple will have no problem with communication.

“It actually works itself out,” he said. “When you hit a hill or a climb, neither one of us wants to talk much. And downhill is just too windy. There’s definitely a ‘right’ time to have a conversation. But there’s also just so much to see. It’s not like you’re confined in a car, motorcycle, or plane. On a bicycle, you see it, you smell it, and you hear it. And that creates all the opportunities to talk that you’ll ever need.”

I’m Looking For a Job. What Can UC San Diego Extension Do For Me?


“I just”—take your pick here—“a) graduated, b) got laid off, or c) decided to change careers and I’m done with taking classes.” I’ve heard this countless times as I’ve attended career fairs and community outreach events on behalf of UC San Diego Extension. “I’m here to find a job” is the refrain of the day.

Battle-weary after months of fruitless job searching, the San Diego job seekers who attend these fairs are more than ready to land those elusive jobs. Resumes in hand, professionally attired, confident smiles and firm handshakes ready to be deployed, they make the rounds at Recruiter Tables Row.

When they arrive at our table, they’re understandably stumped. “What is a major university’s continuing education division doing at a career fair? How can you help me get a job?” they wonder. I tell them that we’re the continuing education and public programs division of UC San Diego. That we’re here to help them with their professional goals. Or personal enrichment, for that matter. That we may not have actual job openings, but we can help them get a job.

Here’s how.

Become More Hireable with Real World Know-how

Many recent college graduates find themselves in uncharted territory. The bioengineering degree that Brad Jensen is completing may not equip him with the nuts and bolts needed to hit the biotech ground running. Theoretical courses in college somehow don’t easily translate to practical applications, he finds out.

At UC San Diego, undergraduate students like Brad are able to register for an Extension professional program at no cost while they complete their college course work. The LAUNCH program allows them to supplement their bachelor’s degree with real-world knowledge taught by working professionals who practice what they teach and share their firsthand expertise.

When Brad graduates, he’ll also have a professional certificate in Biotechnology Project Management along with his diploma, which will boost his chances of getting hired.

Get a Taste of What it’s Really Like with a “Next Step Experience”

Internships are, of course, a great way for both students and job seekers to gain hands-on, immersive experience. UC San Diego Extension offers an internship-like program through “Next Step Experience” courses. Practice over theory is emphasized—precisely why they are an essential component of many certificate programs, including Brewing, Fitness Instruction and Exercise Science, Business Management, and Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling. It’s a practical capstone that nicely tops off a practical education.

Fertile Ground for Networking

Most of Extension’s 31,627 students have a college degree and are working professionals. For students, this means amplified networking advantages that can be cultivated into valuable professional connections. It’s a well-known fact that most jobs are not advertised (up to 80% according to Howard Poplinger, owner of human-resource company Epic Development and Evaluation), with employers increasingly bypassing online job boards and opting instead to hire directly through their employee networks. It’s all about “who you know.”

Realign Your Strengths, Acquire Needed Knowledge

When asked about the nature of the jobs they seek, our job hunters respond confidently: positions in Human Resources, Digital Content Marketing, Information Technologies, or Teaching English to non-native speakers. Well and good. The only wrinkle is that, more often than not, their work experience and skills don’t reflect the right knowledge to land their dream jobs. Their expectations and actual experience are not aligned. And most of the time, they weren’t even aware of it.

Andy Harris may have had a successful retail sales career for 15 years but that won’t make the case for the HR job he wants now. Similarly, Marla Ramos may have worked as a web designer for five years until she got laid off. But that won’t seal the deal for the digital content editor position she’s pursuing. There may be some qualifications Andy and Marla can readily bring to the table, but those won’t be enough. Andy will need to learn about strategies for hiring and retaining talent, while Marla will need to hone effective writing skills to complement her design background to be in the running for the job she wants.


Continuing education certificates and courses can bolster your strengths and help you acquire knowledge relevant to your new career. They’re tangible proof of what employers seek:

  • Commitment
  • Dexterity
  • Adaptability

And, yes—additional proof of your knowledge, the evidence employers want.

Access Free Career Resources

At some point in your career—be it early, mid, transitional, or later stage—you may benefit from objective assessments of your strengths and weaknesses, along with professional guidance. UC San Diego Extension offers quarterly free clinics that can point you in the right direction so you can arrive at an optimal life/work balance. You may discover valuable, career-propelling insights that you may have missed on your own.

Move Forward with Lifelong Learning

Innovation is a wonderful thing. But expect to continuously update your skills and knowledge to keep up with advancements and new technologies that will impact our global workplace. Expect to be nimble, to embrace new things. UC San Diego Extension’s goal is to be your lifelong learning resource and partner so you can continue on your path to career and personal growth.

Hopefully, you now have a better idea of how UC San Diego Extension can help. Next time you visit a career fair, you just may find that we have a table there. Please stop by and say hello. And let’s talk about the next steps that will lead you to that job. Or wherever you want to go.

Energy Concepts: Can Renewable Energy Catch Up With Traditional Methods of Power Generation?

By Kristen Gross

In California, policy makers have set an aggressive goal to produce 33 percent of the state’s energy using renewable resources by 2020, and 50 percent by 2050. These include bio-fuels, and natural sources like wind, solar, tides, and geothermal. In a recent UC San Diego Extension workshop, experts from the energy sector, including James D. Broesch, Project Engineer, ROSYS; Joe Frani, P.E., Project Manager Resource Planning, SDG&E; and Hassan Ghoudjebaklou, Ph.D., P.E., Principal Engineer, Transmission Planning, SDG&E, presented both the technical challenges and proposed solutions in achieving this goal.


Policies and Market
Currently, the energy market is designed in the traditional paradigm: power is generated at a facility (hydro, coal, natural gas or nuclear), delivered via transmission lines, and enjoyed in our homes and businesses. To this model, we’ve added a new twist. Net Energy Metering (NEM) allows customers to generate power at their homes, and gives them a credit for the power they add to the grid at the same rate as the power they take out. If they use more than they produce, they pay the difference. While it has been successful in popularizing renewable energy sources, it has also driven up rates because the majority of people who do not have solar panel systems at their homes take on an inordinate share of the costs of managing the power grid’s infrastructure. Electricity can be stored to a point at home using batteries and capacitors, but not practical in terms size. Also, energy produced by solar panel systems can’t be controlled, so we wind up with a system where the utility company purchases enough electricity for all, regardless of whether it is needed. In addition, switching to renewables would require a shift in financial resources; there is a cost to building and assembling wind turbines and solar panels that would be reflected in the rate. Wind turbines are especially more complex and labor intensive.

iStock_000012530072MediumIt is difficult to predict the capacity of wind and solar. Solar power prediction and regional networks to distribute commercial production is a major present and future task. Additionally, SDG&E purchases energy; it does not produce it. So the challenge is to always buy the right amount. If too much it would be wasted, driving up rates. Too little, and the grid could suffer outages. The more power generation you don’t own and control, the more at-risk you are for outages.. For a renewable system to work, the system would require transmission line upgrades. For example, the areas most optimal for wind farms are the farthest from load centers (cities), so a significant amount of transmission would need to be built and upgraded to service these areas. This also demands little loss in the path of transmission to the loads (users).

Load Flow
Electricity will always seek to close the circuit, which makes it easy to predict. However with the new bi-directional flow caused by multiple generators, you have to consider the capacity of the wires. This complicates protection schemes and puts the system at risk for overload. Since we have no large scale, reliable way to store electricity, like we could water in a dam, generation must always match demand. Storage is the key to getting past the sporadic nature of natural energy sources. The challenge is that utilities can’t know exactly what independent generators (i.e. a homeowner with a solar panel) are doing, or have control over them.


puzzle pieces w. worldTo overcome these challenges, we need to improve communications and coordination. Bringing all the energy players to the table to face these challenges together is step one. Helping the public understand is also important, and transparency for the consumer is critical. Next we need to implement technical modifications that address the challenges with good reliability solutions. Circuits need to be changed to support the bi-directional flow. And we need to devise ways to better respond to demand.

For example, the pumped-storage hydroelectricity model, in which energy is stored in the form of gravitational potential energy of water, pumped from a lower reservoir to a higher one. During periods of high demand, the water is released through turbines to produce electric power. Another example is batteries, and with the growing popularity of electric vehicles, we continue to innovate with this technology. In 2013, Duke Energy completed the Notrees Battery Storage Project, creating a battery that can store 36 Megawatts of the 153 Megawatt potential generation capacity at the Notrees Wind Farm in Texas.

Finally, to keep up with the changing landscape and increased energy producers, we need to examine regulatory and standards changes to help pave the way for this paradigm shift.

By the end of the presentation, all had agreed that it is possible to bridge the gap between renewable energy production and traditional generation. However it comes at a price—can we afford to achieve the goal of “30 percent by 2020”? Can we afford not to?

To be a part of the solution and help California reach its goal, consider UC San Diego Extension’s new Power Systems Engineering Specialized Certificate. Learn more by visiting http://extension.ucsd.edu/powersystems.

Solimar Hillier: Helping Students Enjoy the Colors and Flavors of Brazilian Portuguese

By Rafaela Lombardino

Over the past decade Brazil has seen a surge in its economy and is currently the destination for sports lovers. Brazil was recently the host country for the 2014 FIFA World Cup of Soccer and will host the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympic Games. It is only natural that more people are eager to learn this Romance Language for both business and pleasure.

According to a news story by Canada’s The Globe and Mail, Brazilian Portuguese classes being taught in North America and Europe are packed with oil and mining executives, jewelers and retailers who have a need to buy and sell in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, the two largest cities in Brazil. With close to 240 million speakers worldwide, Portuguese is now the world’s sixth most-spoken language―and it is Brazil’s version that is spreading.

Solimar Hillier, UC San Diego Extension Portuguese for Communication instructor

Solimar Hillier, Portuguese for Communication instructor

This trend can be confirmed by native Brazilian Solimar Hillier, who has taught Portuguese classes at UC San Diego Extension for nearly 12 years. As the primary instructor for the Brazilian Portuguese program, she teaches Portuguese for Communication levels one through five.

Solimar has worked as an English and Portuguese teacher since she finished college in Brazil. When she first arrived in the United States, she worked as a substitute teacher in middle schools while pursuing her Master’s degree in Education. Once she completed her Master’s degree, she transitioned to teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) as well as Portuguese, and has been doing both ever since.

“I used to teach Portuguese to a completely different audience in Brazil, because I was teaching Portuguese to native speakers in a high school setting,” she recalls. “At Extension, I started teaching Portuguese to non-natives, which is quite different in terms of student goals as well as the content and techniques I need to use.”

In discussing her diverse UCSD Extension student population, she highlights that many students who come to her classes are married to Brazilians and want to learn the language in order to communicate with their spouses’ friends and family. “Something that is really interesting to me is that these students who are dating or married to Brazilians often complain that their significant others don’t teach them Portuguese, and that is why they take a class―which is something I can relate to from my own experience,” she jokes.

She says other students also come to UC San Diego Extension because they work with Brazilians or their companies trade with Brazil, which may require some business trips to the South American country. A third group is taking classes because it is a requirement for their Master’s degree, and Solimar says their motivation is very different from the other two groups.

The fourth type of students she interacts with are those who are looking for cultural enrichment. “I have students who take classes just because they like the culture and the music, or simply because they love Brazil.”

Solimar moved to the United States after falling in love with California during a visit, and soon decided to stay. When she’s not teaching, she enjoys learning more about Modern Art, going for walks on the beach and exercising her creativity in the kitchen. “Cooking is a passion for me. It is when I relax and can become creative with ingredients and spices. I cook almost every day and enjoy it each time.”

To learn more about the UC San Diego Extension programs, please visit the Foreign Languages page for details, course descriptions and more.


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