Apprenticeships in Sustainability Science and Engineering Design (ASCEND) is a service learning program designed to engage young people with innovative green technology and sustainable engineering projects, which can improve their prospects for jobs in the emerging green technology workforce.

By leveraging the resources of a university, museums, and alternative schools, ASCEND creates opportunities for the youth of Santa Cruz County to participate in structured projects based on real-world sustainability issues with an emphasis on creativity, science, and artistic expression. Digital narratives in the form of short documentary films produced as a result of this program bring awareness to people and organizations about current and future sustainable design projects in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties. These films are displayed annually in October at the ASCEND Seeding Innovation showcase event.

Partnering Organizations: 

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nationa-marine-sanctuariesSC-Museum-Nat-History-logo2ASCEND logo



The Network


Get Involved with IDEASS!

There are many ways for businesses, non-profits, and community members to get involved with IDEASS. The following is a list of ways that the community has been involved in IDEASS. To get involved, email your idea to ideass@ucsc.edu.

Propose Future Projects:

You are invited to suggest a project for a team of IDEASS students. This is a great way to educate and involve students in your organization or entrepreneurial idea. In return, you will benefit from nine months of the careful planning, hard work, creative thinking, and fresh perspectives that these undergraduate teams bring to each endeavor. Visit the UCSC Sustainability Project Clearinghouse and use the search term “IDEASS” for more information on completed and ongoing projects.

Become a Project Mentor:

In developing and implementing projects, students work with a community or campus mentor to define the scope and direction of selected projects. This involves ongoing communication and mentoring that builds meaningful relationships with students while furthering project goals.

Industry Sponsors:

IDEASS invites you to sponsor a team of students to work on YOUR sustainability challenge. When a business sponsors a project, they gain a team of enthusiastic, motivated students with the dedicated technical support of IDEASS instructors and mentors. Sponsors also participate in training the green economy workforce while supporting innovation in higher education.  By sponsoring a project, businesses engage the university and the community in their sustainability goals and opportunities.

Share Resources or Expertise:

During weekly seminars, students discuss sustainability concepts and implementation plans. IDEASS welcomes the presence of professionals or technical experts working with community organizations or business who can share knowledge and inspire students about sustainability endeavors in the Monterey Bay community.  Local organizations can benefit through new partnerships and networks that develop through IDEASS projects. Some organizations may be interested in making resources or workspaces available to project teams if they find they share mutual interests or objectives.

Make a Donation:

IDEASS is funded completely by grants and gifts. We appreciate all the support. If you would like to support by either donating money or equipment, please email ideass@ucsc.edu.

Project Advisors

Tamara Ball

Baskin School of Engineering and Department of Education

University of California Santa Cruz


Dr. Tamara Ball is a project scientist with the Baskin School of Engineering and the Sustainable Engineering and Ecological Design (SEED) collaborative at UCSC. She is interested in understanding how extracurricular and co-curricular innovations can support meaningful campus-community connections in higher education and improve learning outcomes.  Her research  has focused on educational designs that emphasize student initiative and agency through inquiry or problem-based learning. She has published several papers on the characteristics of learning environments that support or constrain opportunities for any students (including those from non-dominant backgrounds) to participate in valued science and engineering process skills such as scientific argumentation.

Affiliated UCSC Faculty

Mike Isaacson (Baskin School of Engineering)
Ronnie Lipschutz
Adam Millard-Ball
Jennifer Parker (Art Dept. Chair)

Join our team and explore innovation! Apply Today!