College of Engineering reports 7% increase in female students admitted for 2018-19

UC Berkeley’s College of Engineering has seen a 7 percent increase in the number of female students admitted for the 2018–19 academic year, according to the college’s admissions statistics.  Multiple strategies have been implemented in recent years to increase the number of female engineering students: reaching out to middle school students, making work more relevant to societal needs, offering hands-on experience, and building community.  Female engineering students have faced difficulty entering the male-dominated college.  In 2017, women constituted 25 percent of freshmen and 19 percent of transfers, this year, women made up 32 percent of incoming freshmen and 26 percent of transfers.

Alisha Menon will study ways to help the brain talk to computers

Incoming graduate student Alisha Menon is featured in a community post on the Beaverton Patch titled "Brilliant Teen Seeks PhD At UC Berkeley With STEM Award."  Menon graduated from Oregon Connections Academy (ORCA), a statewide online public high school, at age 16 and took only 3 years to complete her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Arizona State University.  She will attend Berkeley in the fall on an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, studying Control, Intelligent Systems, and Robotics (CIR).  "I see the potential for infinite applications - from prosthetics controlled directly by neural signals to brain-computer interfaces that will eliminate the need for secondary interaction tools like keyboards," Menon said. "There are so many directions (that) technology that interacts with the brain can go. Some of these ideas are currently being developed such as virtual reality/artificial reality interfaces, rehabilitation systems, and deep brain stimulation for Parkinson's. Other ideas are more futuristic such as 'typing' using neural signals. I can't wait to be a part of this field as it grows and develops!"

Some EECS contributions to the history of Berkeley's scientific endeavors

Some of the achievements of members of the EECS department are highlighted in a Daily Cal article titled "From cyclotrons to wetsuits: A brief history of UC Berkeley’s scientific endeavors. The article covers  Unix, which was developed by EE alumnus Kenneth Thompson (B.S.‘65/M.S.‘66) in 1969, and RISC, a project directed by CS Prof. Emeritus David Patterson in 1981.  Prof. Randy Katz, who is currently Berkeley's Vice Chancellor for Research, says “The magic of Berkeley is that we are (a) public institution. Our research agenda is about how the work we do impacts society.”

Ken Okuhara named new CTO of Stockton

EECS alumnus Ken Okuhara (B.S. '84) is the new chief technology officer for the city of Stockton, California.  Okuhara started his IT career with the state in 2000, specializing in project management, and served various roles with the state Department of Education, the Office of Technology Services, and the California Department of Technology. His responsibilities with the city will include oversight of app development, the project management office, the city data center and IT networks.

Valerie Taylor Named CEO and President of CMD-IT

EE alumna Valerie Taylor (M.S. '86/Ph.D. '91) has been promoted to the position of CEO and President of the Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in Information Technology (CMD-IT).  CMD-IT is a national center comprised of corporations, academic institutions, government agencies, and non-profits, that is focused on engaging under-represented groups in computing and information technologies. Taylor is currently the Director of the Mathematics and Computer Science Division at Argonne National Laboratory and a Senior Scientist in the Center for Research Collaborations at the University of Chicago.  "Valerie has provided exceptional leadership of CMD-IT since its founding.  Her dedication has enabled CMD-IT to expand its impact on diversity in academia, industry and government as well as assist with the success of many individuals," said Stuart Feldman, Board Chair, CMD-IT. 

How Robot Hands Are Evolving to Do What Ours Can

The New York Times has published a front page article featuring research being done in the EECS department.  "How Robot Hands Are
Evolving to Do What Ours Can" details how robotic hands could once only do what vast teams of engineers programmed them to do but--thanks to research being done at places like Berkeley--can now learn more complex tasks on their own.  The article breaks tasks down into 5 categories, 4 of which are illustrated by work being done in Prof. Ken Goldberg's AUTOLAB:  gripping, picking, bed-making, and pushing.    Although these tasks are limited, the machine learning methods that drive these systems point to continued progress in the years to come.

Dawn Tilbury: Shaping engineering research

EECS alumna Dawn Tilbury (M.S. '92/Ph.D. '94) is the subject of a Berkeley Engineering profile in honor of  the campus's year-long 150th anniversary celebration.  As head of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Directorate for Engineering, which provides academic institutions with more than 40% of the federal grants for fundamental engineering research, Tilbury exemplifies the type of leadership nurtured through a Berkeley Engineering education.  “As the primary funder of basic research, NSF is uniquely positioned to bring people together to discover new approaches to renewable energy, reliable transportation, enhanced health and safety, and other national challenges," she said.

Lensless Cameras May Offer Detailed Imaging of Neural Circuitry

EECS graduate students Nick Antipa and Grace Kuo, along their advisor Associate Prof. Laura Waller, have penned an article for Photonics Media titled "Lensless Cameras May Offer Detailed Imaging of Neural Circuitry" about a new architecture which could enable simultaneous monitoring of millions of neurons in 3D space at frame rates limited only by image sensor read times.  Instead of using a large, lens-based light-field microscope to image individual brain neurons, the DiffuserCam lensless imaging architecture consists of a diffuser placed in front of a 2D image sensor. When an object is placed in front of the diffuser, its volumetric information is encoded into a single 2D measurement.   Borrowing tools from the field of compressed sensing, a 3D image is reconstructed by solving a sparsity-constrained optimization problem.

RAFAR wins Best Student Paper Award at MARSS 2018

"Bidirectional thin-film repulsive-/attractive-force electrostatic actuators for a crawling milli-robot," written by recent EE alumnus Ethan Schaler (Ph.D. '18), his advisor Prof. Ron Fearing, and two undergraduates from other departments (Loren Jiang in BioE and Caitlyn  Lee in E3S), received the Best Student Paper Award  from the International Conference on Manipulation, Automation, and  Robotics at Small Scales (MARSS) 2018 in Nagoya, Japan in July. The authors demonstrated a new thin-film electrostatic actuator (RAFA)  capable of generating bidirectional repulsive- and attractive-forces:  156 Pa in repulsion and 352 Pa in attraction, when operating at up to  1.2 kV. They used this actuator to power RAFAR, a 132 mg milli-robot  that crawls at 0.32 mm/s with anisotropic friction feet.   Schaler will be joining NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) this summer.

Katherine Yelick to testify before House Committee on Science, Space and Technology

Prof. Katherine Yelick is one of four witnesses set to testify before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Science, Space and Technology.  The committee is conducting a hearing on “Big Data Challenges and Advanced Computing Solutions.”  Yelick, who is the Associate Laboratory Director for Computing Sciences at Berkeley Lab, will discuss the emerging role of machine-learning methods that have revolutionized the field of artificial intelligence and may similarly impact scientific discovery.  The hearing will be livestreamed on Thursday, July 12, 2018.