News

SiFive receives $50.6M in series C funding

SiFive, a fabless provider of customized semiconductors built on research by alumnus Yunsup Lee (MS '11/Ph.D. '16), alumnus Andrew Waterman (M.S. '11/Ph.D. '16), and Prof. Krste Asanović, received $50.6M in series C funding in April.  Lee is Chief Technology Officer,  Waterman is Chief Engineer, and Asanović is Chief Architect at SiFive. The funding round was co-led by Osage University Partners, Sutter Hill Ventures, Spark Capital, and Intel Capital.  SiFive's semiconductors are built on Risc-V, an instruction set architecture (ISA), which acts as the conduit between a computer's software and hardware.  The series C round is being used to commercialize additional products based on Risc-V.  The company has raised $64.1M in funding to date.

Nick Carlini embeds hidden commands to Alexa and Siri in recordings of music and spoken text

CS graduate student Nicholas Carlini  is featured in a New York Times article titled "Alexa and Siri Can Hear This Hidden Command. You Can’t." He and his advisor, David Wagner, have published a paper showing they can embed audio instructions, undectable by human beings, directly into recordings of music or spoken text. They can secretly activate the artificial intelligence systems on smartphones and smart speakers, making them dial phone numbers or open websites. In the wrong hands, the technology could be used to unlock doors, wire money or buy stuff online — simply with music playing over the radio.  “We want to demonstrate that it’s possible,” he said, “and then hope that other people will say, ‘O.K. this is possible, now let’s try and fix it.’ ”  Carlini was among a group of researchers who showed in 2016 that they could hide commands in white noise played over loudspeakers and through YouTube videos to get smart devices to turn on airplane mode or open a website.

Rikky Muller is building brain implants to change lives

Assistant Prof. Rikky Muller is featured in an Institution of Mechanical Engineers" article titled "This machine can read your mind – engineers unlock secrets of the brain."  The article explores some of the newest breakthroughs in brain-machine interfaces, and some of the obstacles encountered by researchers.  Muller, a co-founder of Cortera Neurotechnologies,  discusses implant therapies like deep-brain stimulation (DBS) and assistive technologies like ‘intra-cortical recording’--where electrodes are inserted directly into patients’ neurons to allow them to control an external device.  She and her colleagues are working on miniaturising these technologies, to make them wireless and less invasive.  “Our vision is to create devices that are so small, safe and minimally invasive that they can be implanted in the patient for their lifetime,” she said.

Will Huang, Vedant Saran, and Alvin Wan are 2018 U.S. Imagine Cup Winners

Three EECS students are in the top two teams which won the U.S. Imagine Cup Finals in San Francisco this week.  In the three-day event, sponsored by Microsoft, competing teams from across the United States presented and demoed their tech projects to a panel of VIP judges.  Will Huang (EECS M.Eng. program) and Vedant Saran (EECS senior) are on the 1st place U.C. Berkeley Pengram team, which received a $10k prize plus a $1k Judges' Mixed Reality Award.  The Pengram team built an AR/VR platform which allows engineers from around the world to be holographically ‘teleported’ into a workspace when needed.   Alvin Wan (EECS senior) is on the UC Berkeley/Johns Hopkins Boomerang team, which placed 2nd and received an $8k prize plus a $1k Judges' Data & IoT Award. The Boomerang team created a hybrid device and smartphone platform that monitors inhaler location for patients with asthma, notifying them of missing devices. The 6 winning teams will advance to the Imagine Cup World Finals this summer, where they will represent the United States for the chance to take home the trophy and win the $100,000 grand prize.  The competition is designed to empower "the next generation of computer science students to team up and use their creativity, passion and knowledge of technology to create applications that shape how we live, work and play."

Alex Stamos to deliver Kahn lecture at CCNY

EECS alumnus Alex Stamos (B.S. '01), currently the Chief Security Officer at Facebook, will be the featured speaker on May 10 at the 2018 Robert Kahn & Patrice Lyons Lecture, hosted by the Grove School of Engineering at the City College of New York (CCNY).   The title of his talk is "Building Security for All." Stamos is an expert in global scale infrastructure, designing trustworthy systems, and mobile security, and is a frequent speaker at conferences and industry events, including Black Hat, RSA, DEF CON, Milken Global, Amazon ZonCon, Microsoft Blue Hat, FS-ISAC, and Infragard.   Before Facebook, Stamos served as the CISO of Yahoo, where he led the security team to develop innovative security technology and products. He was also the co-founder of security consultancy iSEC Partners, a company that helped hundreds of companies build secure and safe systems.  CCNY ranks #2 in the Chronicle of Higher Education among public colleges with the greatest success in ensuring the social mobility of their student body.

Leonard Shtargot named Analog Devices Fellow

EE alumnus Leonard Shtargot (B.S. '01) has been awarded the title of Analog Devices Fellow, a distinguished technical position given to engineers who "contribute significantly to the company’s success through exceptional innovation, leadership and an unparalleled ability to unite and mentor others."  Shtargot joined Linear Technology after graduation and is currently leading an R&D team focused on high performance power management ICs for automotive, industrial, and telecom markets. His citation says he has "contributed innovations in power conversion technology and designed several families of high-performance DC/DC switching regulators focusing on new circuits, high-voltage silicon process improvements, advanced flip-chip package designs, and test techniques. These products have been widely adopted by the automotive and industrial technology sectors. Leonard is also a hands-on teacher who mentors other engineers and often can be found in the lab or test floor helping his colleagues solve technical problems."

Donald J. Hoffman on the need to diversify fuel sources

EE alumnus and retired Air Force general Donald J. Hoffman (M.S. '75) was interviewed by the Midwest Energy News for an article titled "Q&A: Retired Air Force general on the need to diversify fuel sources."  Hoffman spent 42 years in the military as a pilot and manager of Air Force weapon systems from bases around the world.  He retired in 2012 as a four-star general and now focuses on energy security and climate change as a member of the CNA Military Advisory Board (MAB), a group of retired three and four star generals from across every branch of the U.S. military.  He was interviewed in April, when he participated in meetings with the Wisconsin Conservative Energy Forum, which is focused on clean energy and energy efficiency.  Hoffman stressed the importance of moving to non-traditional fuels to lessen our dependence on foreign suppliers, and discussed renewable energies and govenment policy.

Silvio Micali to speak at AiDecentralized summit

CS alumnus Silvio Micali (Ph.D. '82) will speak at the AiDecentralized summit in Toronto, Canada on May 22.  The first in a series of global summits initiated by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), it aims to bring AI practitioners together with cryptographers.  Micali, who is currently a professor at MIT, is a pioneer in cryptography, zero knowledge, pseudorandom generation, and secure protocols.  He  won  the Turing Award in 2012, the Gödel Prize in 1993, and the RSA Prize in 2004.

Kristin Stephens-Martinez is new assistant professor of practice at Duke

CS alumna Kristin Stephens-Martinez (M.S. '13/Ph.D. '17 advisors: Vern Paxson/Armando Fox) is a new Assistant Professor of the Practice in the Department of Computer Science at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.  Her research interests lie at the intersection of education and computer science, focusing on using data available in large classrooms--both local and MOOCs.  She received the Outstanding GSI (OGSI) Award from the UC Berkeley Graduate Division in 2013 and began her career at Duke in the spring  where she co-taught CompSci 101: Introduction to Computer Science.  She was profiled for a Duke Computer Science article titled "New Faculty: Kristin Stephens-Martinez Takes a 'Meaning-full' Approach to Data Science" in March.

Laura Waller on the appeal of working at the intersection of two fields

EE and CS Associate Prof. Laura Waller was interviewed by Computer Vision News in advance of her keynote address to the IEEE International Symposium on Biomedical Imaging (ISBI) in April.  She describes the appeal of working at the intersection of two fields:  design of optical systems and computational algorithms.  She also talks about breakthroughs in computational imaging and industry/academia, and offers advice to conference attendees.