Baptistery di San Giovanni
Airborne Imaging
Underwater Imaging
Interactive Visualization

“Engineering a Future for the Past”

The Cultural Heritage Engineering Initiative at UC San Diego brings the power of student-driven engineering to the study and preservation of monuments, historic structures, archaeological sites, art and other artifacts. CHEI has created a comprehensive methodology and toolbox – integrating instru-ments for data collection, processing, analysis, visualization, and dissemination, with expertise in field deployment, training, and outreach.


CHEI is shaping the field of cultural heritage engineering, through multidisciplinary research, development and field-testing of fundamental concepts, techniques, tools and instruments. Our diagnostic imaging and synthesis techniques combine data from 3D surveys, multi-spectral imaging, sensing and computing to create a digital surrogate of the target environment, enabling and innovating data-enabled science and engineering.


CHEI conducts and supports global expeditions, operating in a broad range of environments, while concurrently exploring new direction in robotics and sensor payload systems for life-like data collection, computing for model creation, visualization and virtual reality, literally allowing researchers and the public alike to step into the arena of research and discovery and explore artifacts on their own terms.


CHEI closely works with scientists, explorers and stakeholders, including cultural institutions and museums, to create a scientific-baseline for an artifact or target environment, allowing for detailed inquiry, knowledge extraction, informed decision making and life-cycle management.


CHEI is uniquely equipped to provide expert solutions related to a wide range of challenges in aerial, ground and underwater imaging, data processing, visualization and analyis. From platforms and tools developed in-house for research, education and training, to technologies for use in hard-to-reach or hostile environments, our scientists and engineers can offer a broad range of research, development and deployment expertise and we are always interested in exploring new collaborations.

Recent News Go to News Releases

Using Science and Humanities to Step Back in Time

February 15, 2018 A collaborative group of researchers from

Using a Virtual CAVE to Explore a Real One

San Diego, February 9, 2018 – PBS Nova has featured

UC San Diego Drone Research Takes Flight

San Diego, CA, January 25, 2018 — One drone landed on

UC San Diego-Led Expedition Documents Ancient Land and Sea Sites in Israel

September 18, 2017. A team of archaeologists from the

QI Researchers Participate in International Conference on At-Risk Cultural Heritage

San Diego, Calif., Monday, Sept. 11, 2017 — Cultural

Drone Truthing

A team of researchers from across UC San Diego is developing

QI Bermuda 100 Project Featured in CNN Travel Report on Historic Shipwrecks

San Diego, July 27, 2017 — In a long feature article and

UCSD Research Sheds New Light on Life of Ice Age American

San Diego, Calif., April 13, 2017 — Together with their

DroneLab Participates in Earthquake Test on UC San Diego Shake Table

San Diego, January 19, 2017 — If the prospect of a

Rapid Response Team En-Route to Taiwan

Following the 6.4 magnitude earthquake that struck southern

DroneLab Captures Centerfold in American Archaeology Fall 2015 Issue

The Fall 2015 issue of American Archaeology (Vol. 19, No.

CHEI brings the Reality of Reality Capture to Cinegrid 2015

Professor Kuester presented an invited talk at Cinegrid

Innovation Powered by STEAM

The California Institute for Telecommunications and

Invited Paper on Coral Reef Annotation

The visual documentation of seafloor habitats is playing an

Life Among the Drones

The Triton Magazine covered our robobtics (drones)

Unprecedented Exhibition of Maya Artifacts

Curators at the San Diego Natural History Museum have

CISA3 Makes Strong Showing at Three Major Archaeology Conferences

San Diego, Calif., May 12, 2015 — Given that the motto of

Lei Liang Makes Paintings Sing

UCSD composer offers new work in ArtPower Filmatic Festival

Transforming Students From Consumers into Makers

San Diego, Calif., April 27, 2015 — One might say

Transforming Students from Consumers into Makers

Dominique Rissolo is the newly hired Special Projects

Making the Past Present with Light, Warmth and a High-Tech Gaze

San Diego, Calif., Feb. 19, 2015 — Late last year, two

Strong Showing at Three Major Archaeology Conferences

At this year’s Computer Applications and Quantitative

UCSD Invests Big into Robotics

The day may be coming when a swarm of tiny flying robots

Interdisciplinary Team Deployed Near Tip of Italy’s Boot

November 7, 2013 — An interdisciplinary team of Ph.D.

Calit2 Research Scientist Albert Lin Teams with TopCoder, NASA

September 13, 2013 — A crowdsourcing effort led by

Data Visualization Team Receives $3.4 Million for SCOPE Project

September 10, 2013 — A team of researchers from the

UCSD Launches Summer Research Opportunity for Undergraduate Explorers

April 1, 2013 — From three-dimensional imaging of

Open Lab Night Showcases Life Cycle of Cultural Heritage

February 14, 2013 — If the Center of Interdisciplinary

Cultural Heritage Center at UC San Diego Reports Progress in 2012

November 21, 2012 — The number of Ph.D. students