News

Wenting Zheng wins the 2017-18 IBM PhD Fellowship

EECS graduate student Wenting Zheng (advised by Ion Stoica and Raluca Ada Popa)  has won the prestigious 2017-18 IBM PhD Fellowship.   Wenting works in the RISELab and her research involves system security and distributed systems. The IBM Ph.D. fellowship is an "intensely competitive worldwide program that honors exceptional Ph.D. students who have an interest in solving problems that are important to IBM and fundamental to innovation in many academic disciplines and areas of study." Only 50 fellowships are awarded worldwide annually.

Sculpted Light in the Brain

In an effort to gather scientists at the interface between neurosciences, optical engineering, and computer science, an all-day conference is being held on Friday, June 9, in Stanley Hall titled Sculpted Light in the Brain.   Participants are united in their mission to develop technologies to enable real time optical communication with the living brain.  The endeavor was initiated with a $2k seed grant to the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3) and grew into a $20K showcase for the collaboration between neuroscientists, electrical engineers, and computer scientists, highlighting U.C. Berkeley's position as a preeminent leader in brain research. The conference, which already has a 50 person waitlist, will host 11 fully funded speakers including EE Associate Prof. Laura Waller,  present 25 posters, and is supported by a dozen corporate sponsors .

Armando Solar-Lezama: Academic success despite an inauspicious start

Alumnus and Mexican immigrant Armando Solar-Lezama (CS Ph.D. '08) is the subject of an MIT News article describing some of the academic obstacles he had to overcome on his path to becoming a tenured professor at MIT.  Armando's creative  approaches to his class assignments were discouraged in Mexico and despite self-educating to narrow the gap, he experienced systematic repression in high school when he moved to Texas with his family in 1997.  After he graduated from Texas A&M, he was welcomed into the Berkeley EECS graduate program.  Under the mentorship of Prof. Ras Bodik, Armando discovered the nascent area of "program synethesis," which has since blossomed into a popular field of research.  Read about Armando's challenging and inspiring journey.

Meet the most nimble-fingered robot yet

Many researchers are working on ways for robots to learn to grasp and manipulate things by practicing over and over, but the process is very time-consuming. The research work on robotic deep learning by Prof. Ken Goldberg is featured on the cover of MIT Review in an article titled "Meet the Most Nimble-Fingered Robot Yet".  Instead of practicing in the real world, Prof. Ken Goldberg and colleagues have developed a robot that learns by feeding on a data set of more than a thousand objects that includes their 3-D shape, visual appearance, and the physics of grasping them. This data set was used to train the robot’s deep-learning system. Advances in control algorithms and machine-learning approaches, together with new hardware, are steadily building a foundation on which a new generation of robots will operate.

David Culler named Interim Dean for the Division of Data Sciences

Prof. David Culler has been appointed the Interim Dean for the newly created Division of Data Sciences.  The purpose of the new division is to bring techniques to bear in statistics, mathematics, and computer science on new sources of data.  One of their goals is the creation of an undergraduate data science major and data science minor.   Prof. Culler's duties will include fostering a cooperative atmosphere among the relevant faculties; working with the administration to form an advisory board with representation of key external constituencies; advancing fundraising efforts in concert with broader campus fundraising objectives; and enlisting a team of Berkeley faculty members who will work with him to develop the initiative. He will begin his new role on July 1, 2017 for a two-year term.

UC Berkeley alumni are 2017's most wanted tech employees

According to an analysis by online recruiting company HiringSolved, UC Berkeley has the most undergraduate and graduate alumni hired by the 25 biggest Silicon Valley employers in 2017.  Using data from more than 10,000 public profiles for tech workers hired or promoted into new positions in 2016 and the first two months of 2017, the company determined that Berkeley alumni were hired more frequently than any other, followed by Stanford, CMU, and USC.  A Quartz Media article attributes some of that success to the close relationships our faculty and administrators have with Bay Area tech firms.  HiringSolved also determined which skills were the best indicators for getting entry-level jobs and the most likely job titles for new graduate applicants.

Two sophomores are using AI to fight fake news on Facebook

EECS sophomore Rohan Phadte and Interdisciplinary Studies major Ash Bhat have built a Messenger bot called NewsBot to help users discern whether articles are "fake news" on Facebook. Besides determining the validity of an article, it also offers a barometer that shows where an article might fit on the left-right bias spectrum, and is one of the only tools of its kind.  The idea for the algorithm first came to them during machine-learning classes.  Although it still has some bugs, they are making updates every day and the tool will improve as more users provide feedback.   "We want people to read more than just the headline. We want them to understand what the news they see says and who it's coming from." Bhat says.  Read the article on Mic.

Stuart Russell TED talk: 3 principles for creating safer AI

CS Prof. Stuart Russell gave an engaging TED talk in April describing some of the problems in, and possible solutions for, creating a species that is smarter than humans.  He argues that building provably altruistic,  humble, and humanitarian machines might help us avoid some of the pitfalls inevitable in a future with superintelligent AI.

Two EECS alums on panel discussing challenges of female innovators

2017 EE Distinguished Alumnus Anantha Chandrakasan (B.S. '89/M.S. 90/Ph.D. 94) and EECS alumna Gitanjali Swamy (Ph.D. '97) are both participating in a TiE-Boston and  IIT AGNE panel discussion on the "unique strengths of and challenges for female innovators and the ecosystem that supports them."  Anantha is the Vannevar Bush Professor of EECS at MIT and the recipient of the IEEE Donald O. Pederson Award in Solid-State Circuits.  Gitanjali is a managing partner at IoTask, an “Innovation of Things” (IoT) company, and founder/advisory board member of the U.C. Berkeley Women in Technology Center.  The panel will be hosted at MIT on May 24, 2017.

Avideh Zakhor: the brains behind Google Earth and Street View

Computer vision pioneer Prof. Avideh Zakhor is the subject of a Mercury News profile titled "Avideh Zakhor: the brains behind Google Earth and Street View,"  which touches on her emigration from Iran,  the creation of the 3-D city modeling technology for a Defense Department-funded start-up which she ultimately sold to Google, and her current research on indoor mapping.  She also discusses the value of encouraging skilled immigrant workers to come to the U.S and the importance of getting more women into STEM fields.  "Maybe then we wouldn’t in Silicon Valley have a shortage of STEM workers — it makes it very hard for tech companies to operate; the labor market is very tight." she says.