Looking at the Top in Tech: Virginia Smith

Grad student Virginia Smith has experienced periods where she felt somewhat isolated during her study of CS, a field that still has relatively few women. She recently joined forces with Ph.D. alumna Gitanjali Swamy and former Chair Tsu-Jae King Liu to form a round table of influential women in tech to think about how to increase diversity at the top levels. She has also written an article about this work.  Read about Virginia's experiences and endeavors.

Prof. Bjorn Hartmann

Björn Hartmann appointed Director of the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation (JIDI)

Prof. Björn Hartmann, whose research in Human-Computer Interaction focuses on the creation and evaluation of user interface design tools, end-user programming environments, and crowdsourcing systems, has been appointed Director of the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation (JIDI). JIDI is UC Berkeley’s interdisciplinary hub for learning and making at the intersection of design and technology, extending broadly across campus, serving as a hub where engineers, artists, and makers of all kinds can gather and collaborate.

Sergey Levine, Wei Gao, Alex Hegyi and Oriol Vinayls named Top Innovators Under 35

Assistant Prof. Sergey Levine (former postdoc of Associate Prof. Pieter Abbeel), Wei Gao (postdoc with Prof. Ali Javey), and alumni Alex Hegyi (EECS M.S. ' 12/Ph.D.  '13) and Oriol Vinayls (Ph.D. EECS '13) made the MIT Technology Review's 2016 list of 35 Top Innovators Under 35. One of Prof. Levine’s projects is to improve motor control of robotic hands, allowing the robot to observe its own tasks and engineer its behavior to perform the tasks correctly. He is also interested in using deep learning to train autonomous drones and vehicles. Wei Gao published a major paper with Javey on the wearable sweat sensor in January that received global attention. Alex Hegyi, now at Xerox PARC in Palo Alto has developed a camera that records parts of the spectrum of light that you can’t see. Oriol Vinyals, now at Google DeepMind in London is working to create computers that can teach themselves how to play and win complex games—not by hard-coding the rules but by enabling them to learn from experience.

Gene Luen Yang wins MacArthur Genius' Grant

EECS alumnus Gene Luen Yang (CS B.A. '95) has been selected for a MacArthur fellowship, one of the most prestigious prizes in the United States.   Awarded for exceptional “originality, insight and potential,” a MacArthur prize comes with a no-strings-attached grant of $625,000 distributed over five years.  In January, Gene became the first graphic novelist named national ambassador for children’s literature by the Library of Congress.

Berkeley EECS at 2016 ACM Richard Tapia Diversity in Computing Conference

Last week 18 undergraduates, three graduate students, two faculty, and four staff from UC Berkeley’s EECS Department attended the 2016 ACM Richard Tapia Diversity in Computing Conference in Austin, Texas.  In addition to making new connections with diversity leaders in academia and industry, Berkeley EECS participants reconnected with several EECS alumni: Jeffrey Forbes (Associate Dean at Duke University), Beth Trushkowsky (Assistant Professor at Harvey Mudd College), Valerie Taylor (Associate Dean at Texas A & M), and Hakim Weatherspoon (Associate Professor at Cornell). Teaching Professor Dan Garcia co-led a birds-of-a-feather session for Hispanics in Computing, and was a panelist on a session titled “Engaging Students of Color in Computer Science", which reflected on the department's recent efforts to broaden participation in computing.  *Dr. Raquel Romano of Google, and former LBL Postdoc, delivered a Keynote on "Redefining Inclusion: Technology as an Act of Service." *  EECS Director of Diversity Tiffany Reardon presented a poster highlighting the department’s support of women in undergraduate computing.  A highlight of the conference for many of us was seeing David Patterson receive the Richard Tapia Achievement Award for Scientific Scholarship, Civic Science and Diversifying Computing.  For years Professor Patterson has been an ardent supporter of the Tapia Conference as past Conference Chair, serving on the steering committee and funding large UC Berkeley contingents to attend the event. Well deserved, Dave! Berkeley students and faculty have attended every Tapia conference since the first one, in 2001. 

Jitendra Malik and Fei-Fei Li of Stanford

Jitendra Malik featured in NY Times article

Prof. Jitendra Malik is featured in a NY Times article titled “A Lesson of Tesla Crashes? Computer Vision Can’t Do It All Yet”. Prof. Malik, a researcher in computer vision for three decades, responded to a fatal crash in May of a man in Ohio driving a Tesla electric car equipped with an Autopilot driver-assistance system. While using this system, the man crashed into a tractor-trailer. Prof. Malik advised, “Knowing what I know about computer vision, I wouldn’t take my hands off the steering wheel.” Tesla and Ford are listening. (Picture: Prof. Jitendra Malik and Fei-Fei Li of Stanford)

Haile Shavers is the Literal Face of Diversity in Tech

CS Scholar Haile Shavers is the subject of an interview by Youth Radio/The Huffington Post in which she discusses her experiences as a black woman undergraduate studying computer science.  Haile graces a billboard on Broadway and 22nd Street in Oakland, sponsored by the Kapor Center for Social Impact, which reads "As Oakland becomes more tech, let’s ensure tech becomes more Oakland."

HKN holds town hall to address department concerns

EECS honor society Eta Kappa Nu (HKN)  hosted a town hall on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016, to discuss concerns created by long waitlists for some EECS classes.  The town hall was attended by EECS Chair Jitendra Malik, CS Chair James Demmel, and EE Chair Jan Rabaey, as well as a variety of faculty, staff, and students in the department.  The meeting was prompted by a dramatic increase in the number of undergraduates taking computer science classes over the past three years which resulted in waitlists of around 2,600 students at the beginning of this semester.   Although generous private donations, which were applied to short term funding for additional GSIs, helped alleviate the worst of the problem by the third week of classes, a longer-term strategy needs to be devised.

Paul Bramsen and Wesley Hsieh

Paul Bramsen and Wesley Hsieh named 2017 Siebel Scholars

EECS graduate students Paul Bramsen and Wesley Hsieh have been selected as Siebel Scholars for 2017. The Siebel Scholars program promotes leadership, academic achievement and “the collaborative search for solutions to the world’s most critical issues." Paul builds data structures and Wesley leverages human intuition and demonstrations to improve robot learning.  Siebel Scholars are recognized as exceptional graduate students in business, computer science, bioengineering and energy science and comes with an award of $35,000.

Christos Papadimitriou wins ABZ Gold Platinum ETH Medal for CS and CS Education

ETH Zürich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich) has awarded CS  Prof. Christos Papadimitriou the ABZ Gold Platinum Medal at a ceremony in Switzerland. This Medal is awarded to individuals who have fundamentally contributed to the development of computer science and the practice of computer science education.  Previous recipients include Niklaus Wirth, Donald Knuth, David Harel, and Ronald Rivest.