News

Eric Schmidt urges Californians to support UC

1997 CS Distinguished Alumnus Eric Schmidt (M.S. ’79, Ph.D. ‘82), the former executive chairman of Google, has penned an article for the Sacramento Bee titled "You don’t need to be the head of Google to know what needs to be done about the UC."  In it, he describes how public funding for the University of California has shrunk as student enrollment has surged, and why Californians need to support public education.   "Budgets are moral documents – they reveal our true values," he says. "Putting more resources into higher education, sustaining what the state’s founders started, is not only an economic no-brainer – it’s the right thing to do."

Shankar Sastry Awarded Berkeley Citation

Prof. Shankar Sastry was awarded the Berkeley Citation, one of the university's highest honors, at the College of Engineering's 2018 Commencement ceremony on March 15th.  It celebrated Sastry's tenure of more than a decade as the dean of engineering, which is ending this year.  The award, which was kept as a surprise, honors Sastry’s achievements and leadership. As dean, he helped lead the growth of the college’s educational and support programs for students, fostered opportunities for world-class research faculty, and increased Berkeley Engineering’s footprint, through the creation of new buildings, institutes and alliances and partnerships with other university and research partners.  “The last decade has been remarkable,” said Vice Chancellor Oscar Dubón, “thanks in no small part to Shankar’s vision, energy and enthusiasm for Berkeley and its students. With creative new approaches, he met the challenge of preparing our graduates for a changing world, increasing our focus on design, entrepreneurship, hands-on learning, and integrating business or clinical skills with engineering.”

Kevin Wang tackles technology with TEALS program

Alumnus Kevin Wang (B.S. '02) is mentioned in an Observer Reporter article titled "Trinity tackles technology with TEALS program."  Wang, who went on to earn an M.Ed. in Technology, Innovation, and Education (TIE) from Harvard, created a Microsoft Philanthropies program called Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS) to showcase technology's influence to students .  TEALS is a grassroots program designed to help high schools teach computer science by recruiting, training, and mentoring teams of high tech professionals who partner with classroom teachers.  It is currently being implemented at Trinity High School in Washington County, Pennsylvania.

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.

Introducing the new L&S Data Science Major

A new Data Science major in the College of Letters and Science has been approved, effective Fall 2018. This is part of Berkeley’s active engagement with the burgeoning field of data science, which has the potential to shape numerous fields of study and practice.  The major is designed to equip students to draw sound conclusions from data in context, using knowledge of statistical inference, computational processes, data management strategies, domain knowledge, and theory.  Students will learn to carry out analyses of data through the full cycle of the investigative process in scientific and practical contexts, as well as gain an understanding of the human and ethical implications of data analysis and integrate that knowledge into their work.   The College of Engineering also has plans for a Data Science major, which is currently undergoing design and review.  A minor is also under consideration for students in both colleges. More than 3,000 students enroll in data science courses at Berkeley every year.

Lea Kissner leads Google's internal privacy strike force

EECS alumna Lea Kissner (B.S. '02) is the subject of a Gizmodo article describing her visit to a class at Berkeley this week where she discussed her job as a Principal Engineer at Google leading the security and privacy teams for infrastructure and social products.  One team of 90 employees with different backgrounds and skill sets, called NightWatch, reviews almost all of the products that Google launches for potential privacy flaws.  The article also covers some of the obstacles she has faced and her involvement chairing a discussion topic on Practical Privacy Protection at the OURSA conference in San Francisco today. “I want to tell people things we’ve learned. I want to build the world I want to live in, and the world I want to live in includes things like products being designed respectfully of users and systems being designed respectfully for users. I don’t think everybody has to learn everything the hard way,” Kissner tells me later. Then, the mathematician in her kicks in and she adds, “It’s very inefficient if nothing else.”

Berkeley boosts female computing grads

Assistant Teaching Prof. John DeNero and CS major Tammy Nguyen are featured in a Mercury News article titled "Forget tech’s bad bros: Stanford, Berkeley boost female computing grads."   Between 2010 and 2017, UC Berkeley doubled the percentage of women receiving degrees in CS, from 11% to 22%, which runs counter to a national trend in which the proportion of women receiving degrees in computer and information sciences dropped from a high of 37% in 1984 to about 18% in 2016.  DeNero talks about some of the hurdles women must overcome if they are interested in pursuing careers in computer science.  The problems facing women in the tech industry, brought to light by the "Me Too" movement, is a concern. “It comes up even on the first day of class,” he said. “The students are very keen to talk about it, understand it. They really want to know, ‘Are all companies the same? Is this something I’m going to see everywhere?'”  Berkeley has taken a number of steps to improve the representation of women in the field.  “We have invested a lot of time and energy in figuring out what our introductory curriculum should look like, how we teach our courses, and in particular what kind of support mechanisms can we put in place to make sure that somebody who wants to study computer science has a good chance of being successful,” he said.

5 questions for Randy Katz

EECS professor and UC Berkeley's new Vice Chair for Research, Randy Katz, is interviewed in Cal Alumni's California Magazine about his approach to his new job.  The article covers how one might go about creating a nurturing environment for pursuing innovative research, his predictions about future technologies, the integration of Big Data in new research, examples of some exciting projects,  and the problem of funding.

Data 8X is the fastest-growing course in Berkeley's history

The Foundations of Data Science (Data 8X), which is being offered free online this spring for the first time through the campus’s online education hub, edX, is the fastest-growing course in UC Berkeley’s history.  Taught by Prof. David Wagner,  Assistant Teaching Prof. John DeNero (recipient of the 2018 Distinguished Teaching Award), and a statistics professor, Data 8X is based on CS C8: Foundations of Data Science and now has more than 1,000 students enrolling every semester.  “You’ll learn to program when studying data science — but not for the primary purpose of building apps or games,” says DeNero. “Instead, we use programming to understand the world around us.”

EE and CE grad programs place #1 and #2 in 2019 US News rankings

The Berkeley Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering programs have been ranked #1 and #2 respectively by U.S.News & World Report, continuing our tradition as one of the best EECS graduate programs the world.  In the 2019 rankings, Electrical/Electronic/Communications Engineering moved up from #3 to #1, tying with MIT and Stanford.  Computer Engineering held the #2 spot between MIT and UI Urbana-Champaign.  The College of Engineering graduate programs held the #3 spot under MIT and Stanford, with #1 rankings in Civil and Environmental/Environmental Health, a #2 ranking in Chemical Engineering, #3 rankings in Industrial/Manufacturing/Systems, Materials,and Mechanical, and a #4 ranking in Biomedical/Bioengineering.