News

Campus Reopening Notice

Starting June 16th, vaccinated EECS faculty, staff, and students can voluntarily return to their offices, labs and other research spaces in Cory and Soda Halls if they follow the procedures outlined in the EECS Safety Manual.  Building restrictions for non-affiliated collaborators, event attendees, and visitors will continue but be loosened over time. Cory and Soda Halls will open during the first week in August.  We are not hosting events or activities until we receive more clarity about regulatory requirements and are able to resume full operations. Most employees will return to campus on July 12th, and in-person instruction will resume for the Fall semester on August 25th, unless otherwise specified by campus. Please continue to check the University Coronavirus Updates and Resources for latest information.

Randy Katz to step down as Vice Chancellor for Research

EECS Prof. and alumnus Randy Katz (M.S. '78 / Ph.D. '80) has announced that he will be retiring in June 2021, and will step down as UC Berkeley's Vice Chancellor for Research.  During his tenure as vice chancellor, Katz demonstrated a deep commitment to research excellence at Berkeley, helping to expand the annual research funding budget from $710M to over $800M by vigorously supporting major, multi-year, federally and industrially funded research centers. Philanthropic support for research on campus has also greatly expanded under his guidance with the creation of the Weill Neurohub and Bakar BioEnginuity Hub.   He established the position of a central chief innovation and entrepreneurship officer and encouraged new approaches to managing the University’s intellectual property assets, thereby generating substantial campus revenue.  He oversaw the repatriation of sacred belongings to the Native American community, and revitalized the leadership of campus Organized Research Units (ORUs); leading the campus through complex but orderly ramp-down and ramp-up of research activities in the face of major disruptions, including Public Safety Power Shutdowns, air quality emergencies, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  He also helped lead the International Engagement Policy Task Force to foster international collaboration while safeguarding the campus against undue foreign influence.  During his time in the EECS department, Katz oversaw 52  Ph.D. dissertations and has been honored with the campus Distinguished Teach Award.

Jelani Nelson shrinks Big Data and expands CS learning opportunities

Since computers cannot store unlimited amounts of data, it is important to be able to quickly extract patterns in that data without having to remember it in real time. CS Prof. Jelani Nelson, who is profiled in a Q&A session for Quanta magazine, has been expanding the theoretical possibilities for low-memory streaming algorithms using a technique called sketching, which compresses big data sets into smaller components that can be stored using less memory and analyzed quickly.  He has used this technique to help devise the best possible algorithm for monitoring things like repeat IP addresses accessing a server.  “The design space is just so broad that it’s fun to see what you can come up with,” he said.  Nelson also founded AddisCoder, a free summer program which has taught coding and computer science to over 500 high school students in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  "A lot of the students have never been outside of their town, or their region," he said.  "So AddisCoder is the first time they’re seeing kids from all over the country, and then they’re meeting instructors from all over the world.  It’s very eye-opening for them."

Progress update: E3S 2019 Transfer-to Excellence program

The Center for Energy Efficient Electronics Science (E3S) Transfer-to-Excellence (TTE) research program is a competitive merit-based program that offers California community college students research opportunities at Berkeley in an effort to encourage them to transfer to a university to purse a Bachelor's degree in science and engineering.  A review of the current activities of the 2019 TTE cohort, whose members received ongoing mentorship over the past year through the TTE online mentoring program, shows that all of the interns are enrolled in science or engineering academic programs and working towards a Bachelor’s degree.  Among them:

Jared Brown (TTE project advisor: EECS Prof. Sayeef Salahuddin), who transferred from Los Angeles Pierce College to UCLA to study mechanical engineering, and is active in the UCLA Samueli Center for Excellence in Engineering and Diversity; Jose Camacho (advisor: EECS Prof. Ming Wu), who transferred from Los Angeles Trade Technical College to  UC San Diego to study Electrical Engineering; Saifuddin Mohammed (advisor: EECS Chair Jeff Bokor), who transferred from Foothill College to UC Berkeley to study EECS after having received the award for best engineering poster presentation at the 2019 SACNAS Diversity in STEM conference, and completing a research internship at LBNL;  current EECS undergrad Harutyun Rehanyan (advisor: ME Prof. Shawn Shadden), who transferred to Berkeley from Los Angeles Valley College after completing a research internship at Cal State Northridge, a software engineering internship with NASA JPL, and summer research at CMU’s Institute for Software Research; and current EECS undergrad Dao Dai (David) Tran (advisor: ME Prof. Shawn Shadden), who transferred from Orange Coast College to Berkeley after completing a software engineering internship at NASA JPL and a research internship at the University of Maryland in machine learning and artificial intelligence.

GRE-blind graduate admissions, expanded fee waivers highlight EECS focus on equity and diversity

As the largest department at UC Berkeley, Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS) [over 130 faculty, 730 graduate students, and 3,450 undergraduates] has long recognized the challenge of attracting, admitting, and graduating doctoral students who will enrich the diversity of the field.

In the context of the recently heightened awareness of the damage caused by structural racism nationwide, Black student leaders, among others, have suggested a number of improvements to address racial climate challenges and other sources of inequity in the department. In response, EECS has stepped up its equity and inclusion efforts in all aspects of Department operations—teaching, research, graduate student recruitment and retention, and faculty recruitment and retention.   A task force, consisting of student leaders, faculty, staff, and Department leadership, has been assembled to provide continuity and accountability across all our diversity efforts on an ongoing basis, particularly efforts to address racism and social justice in EECS.

In response to growing concerns that hurdles created by the COVID-19 pandemic would further disadvantage applicants who do not have equal access, the Department has decided to completely remove the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) from consideration for graduate applicants for 2021 admission. This decision is consistent with a number of our peer institutions in the Diversifying Future Leadership in the Professoriate (FLIP) Alliance.  According to data collected by the Black In AI mentoring program, co-founded by new Berkeley EECS faculty member Rediet Abebe, many qualified candidates do not actually apply to many graduate programs due to the financial and logistical burdens of taking the exam and submitting scores. Next Spring, EECS will review the impact of this decision on graduate applications and admissions for 2021, and then make a decision regarding GRE use for Fall 2022 and subsequent years.

In addition, fee waivers for application to graduate school have been expanded across campus to allow more students to afford an application to Berkeley. The Department hopes these efforts will attract more talented minority students to apply, and will determine how effective these measures  have been during the 2020-2021 admissions cycle.

Cecilia Aragon: Flying Free

CS alumna Cecilia Aragon (Ph.D. '04, advisors: Shankar Sastry and Marti Hearst) has written a memoir titled "Flying Free," which describes how she shook off the tethers of discrimination and her debilitating fear of heights to become the first Latina pilot to win a spot on the United States Unlimited Aerobatic Team, which represented the U.S. at the World Aerobatic Championships in 1991.  The daughter of a Chilean father and Filipina mother, Aragon earned her B.S. in Mathematics at Caltech before coming to Berkeley.  She was president of the student organization Women in Computer Science and Engineering (WICSE) in 1985 before dropping out.  After conquering her fears, she returned to Berkeley to complete her dissertation, "Improving Aviation Safety with Information Visualization:  Airflow Hazard Display for Helicopter Pilots," in 2004.  Aragon then spent nine years at the NASA Ames Research Center designing software for projects that included missions to Mars, before leaving to be a staff scientist/visiting faculty at LBNL for another 15 years. She then became the first Latina full professor at the University of Washington (UW), where has worked for the past ten years in the Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering, founding and co-directing the UW Data Science Masters Degree program.  Aragon was named Berkeley Computer Science Distinguished Alumna in 2013.  She co-authored a previous book, "Writers in the Secret Garden:  Fanfiction, Youth, and New Forms of Mentoring," released by MIT Press in 2019.

Dan Garcia in his home studio

Dan Garcia's creative video lessons keep students engaged

CS Teaching Prof. Dan Garcia is featured in NBC Bay Area for his innovative teaching style which keep his students engaged in online learning.  He has "transformed his mancave into a studio," where he films and edits his creative virtual lessons, and then uploads them for students to watch.  Known for rapping his own lyrics to songs from the musical Hamilton in giant lecture halls, Garcia has adapted to using a green screen to film and edit his one hour video lessons, incorporating a variety of voices.  His extra efforts have been lauded by students stuck in their rooms during the fall semester.

Dawn Tilbury and Feng Zhou to present keynotes at BCS 2020

EECS alumni Dawn Tilbury (EE PhD '94, advisor: Shankar Sastry) and Feng Zhou (CS PhD '07, advisor: Eric Brewer) have been selected to present keynote addresses at the Berkeley China Summit (BCS) 2020 conference, which will be held virtually on September 18-19th.  BCS is  a full-day conference that aims to connect China’s businesses and investors with the technology, engineering, and business innovation expertise on the UC Berkeley campus and across the Bay Area.  This year's theme is "Redefine & Reconnect: Technology Empowering the World," which will a focus on the impact business, technology and culture have on "innovation in the Enterprise Service, Entrepreneurship, Healthcare and Senior Care sectors."  Tilbury is currently the head of the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) Directorate of Engineering.  Zhou founded Youdao, Inc. (NYSE: DAO.US), a Chinese company that provides "learning services and products" for online courses, NetEase Cloud Classroom, and Chinese University MOOC, in addition to online marketing services.

Brian Harvey wins NTLS Education Technology Leadership Award

CS Teaching Prof. Emeritus Brian Harvey has been awarded the National Technology Leadership Summit (NTLS) Education Technology Leadership Award, which recognizes individuals who made a significant impact on the field of educational technology over the course of a lifetime.  The award is NTLS's highest honor.  Harvey wrote the "Computer Science Logo Style" textbook trilogy in the 1980s, which uses the Logo programming language (a subdialect of Lisp which had been created for elementary school children) to teach computer science concepts to more advanced students.   He designed UCBLogo in 1992, a free, open-source programming language that is now the de facto standard for Logo, and won the Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award in 1995.  He then collaborated with award co-recipient Jens Möenig to develop the block programming language Snap!, which makes advanced computational concepts accessible to nonprogrammers.  It is used in the highly successful class "Beauty and Joy of Computing," which was developed at Berkeley to introduce more diverse audiences to CS. The class is approved for AP credit and, with support from the NSF, has been provided to more than one thousand high school CS teachers nationwide.  Harvey says “Languages in the Logo family, including Scratch and Snap!, take the position that we’re not in the business of training professional computer programmers. Our mission is to bring programming to the masses.”

Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing receives new $35.5M grant

The Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing, under the direction of CS Prof. Shafi Goldwasser, has been awarded a $35.5 million grant by the Simons Foundation to fund a second decade of groundbreaking research and innovation. The grant, which will begin in 2022, will support the institute's mission and activities for another ten years, and bring the Foundation's support of the institute upf to $100 million.  Launched in 2012, the Simons Institute quickly established itself as the global center for collaborative research in theoretical computer science and its impact on science, mathematics, engineering, and society.  "We owe so much to the original leadership team," said Goldwasser, "Richard Karp, Alistair Sinclair, Christos Papadimitriou, and Luca Trevisan — as well as the current associate director, Peter Bartlett, and senior scientist Prasad Raghavendra, and the numerous brilliant scientists who have led and participated in programs over the years. The Institute was originally created to strengthen the computing theory community, and the community continually pays  this back in the form of excellent work."

EECS 150W: Sheila Humphreys and WiCSE

In celebration of 150 Years of Women at Berkeley, the EECS Director Emerita of Diversity (and Berkeley 150W History Project co-chair) Sheila Humphreys tells the story of  Women in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering (WiCSE), the first student group at an American university created to support and increase the number of women in those fields.   WiCSE was born when the political foment of 1970s Berkeley met the burgeoning field of computer science in Evans Hall.  Humphreys charts WiCSE's path from the formation of the first women's clubs at Berkeley one hundred years before, to its 40th reunion in 2018.  WICSE has established itself as a permanent force in EECS: a powerful voice for women students, a model of peer engagement and support, and a pipeline for women into the fields of EE and CS.  Humphreys' life-long mission to diversify the global population of computer scientists and engineers is the subject of July's Notable Women of EECS profile.