News

Berkeley is #1 university open source contributor

UC Berkeley is the top ranked university in the third annual Octoverse Report list of "Open source contributions made by employees of different organizations," with 2700 contributions.  Berkeley is the fourth ranked organization overall--after Microsoft, Google, and Red Hat.  The Octoverse Report is a roundup of GitHub data across global repositories from the last 12 months.  Four other universities made the top ten:  the University of Washington  (6th place with 1800 contributions), MIT (8th place with 1700), UMich and Stanford (tied 9th with 1600 contributions each) .  

Adnan Shihab-Eldin wins Haas International Award

EECS alumnus Adnan Shihab-Eldin (B.S. '65) has won the 2017 Elise and Walter A. Haas International Award, which honors a Berkeley alumnus/a who is a native, citizen, and resident of another country and who has a distinguished record of service to that country in any field.  Shihab-Eldin is "a visionary leader in the field of energy globally, well respected by energy ministries and heads of state throughout the energy-producing world. He is also widely recognized as a pre-eminent world expert on energy technology, economics, and the environment."  His "contributions have not only helped to facilitate and advance Kuwait’s scientific and innovation ecosystem, but has also strengthened solid foundations for research and development in the wider Middle East region. He has used his expertise to further socioeconomic growth in Kuwait and the Arab Region through scientific and economic research, inspiring a culture of development and innovation."

New controller means fancier footwork for Salto-IP

Salto-IP, UC Berkeley's one-legged jumping robot, has been outfitted with an upgraded controller which improves precision on landing.  The robot is featured in a TechXplore article titled "UC Berkeley team gives jumping robot higher goals than bouncy-bouncy."   It describes a paper presented earlier this month at IROS 2018 in Madrid by Prof. Ronald Fearing and graduate researcher Justin Yim titled "Precision Jumping Limits from Flight-phase Control in Salto-1P."  The researchers have come up with a new control algorithm "that can land Salto-1P's foot at particular spots on the ground like jumping on stepping stones or playing one-leg hopscotch."  

Undergraduates working to create smallest maneuverable satellite to fly into space

EECS undergraduates Aviral Pandey (EE lead), Olivia Hsu (board design/firmware), Kevin Zheng (board design/software/radio) and Malhar Patel (external/software), as well as Travis Brashears (Eng. Physics/EECS minor, tech lead) and Daniel Shen (MechE, software/mechanical) comprise  a team of Berkeley seniors who are creating what they hope will be the smallest maneuverable satellite to fly into space. They plan to launch seven of their "SpinorSats," which weigh less than 10 grams each and are about the size of an Apple Watch, with KickSat aboard a CubeSat Deployer.   With an advanced power management system, radio, and maneuverability system, they hope to push what is possible from cellular technology to eventually build connectivity between large networks of satellites.

Randy Katz reflects on Berkeley's Nobelists

EE Prof. Randy Katz, the current U.C. Berkeley Vice Chancellor for Research, reflects on how the use-inspired research of Berkeley Nobel Prize winners exemplifies the importance of that approach to scientific inquiry.   He illustrates the strength of use-inspired research by comparing it to basic (curiosity-driven) and applied (goal-driven) research, defining it as the "search for fundamental knowledge" with selected "questions and methods based on their relevance to real-world issues."  "One of our great aims is to bring together a broad set of the world’s brightest minds to work on the pressing problems of the day," he says.

Urmila Mahadev Solves Quantum Verification Problem

CS postdoctoral researcher Urmila Mahadev (advisor: Umesh Vazirani) has come up with an interactive protocol by which users with no quantum powers of their own can employ cryptography to put a harness on a quantum computer and drive it wherever they want, with the certainty that the quantum computer is following their orders.  Her work, which addressed the question "How do you know whether a quantum computer has done anything quantum at all?" was awarded the “best paper” and “best student paper” prizes when it was presented at the Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science this month.  CIT computer scientistThomas Vidick calls her result “one of the most outstanding ideas to have emerged at the interface of quantum computing and theoretical computer science in recent years.”

Celebrating Women in STEM: Video Game Designer Carol Shaw

EECS alumna Carol Shaw (EE B.S. '77/CS M.S. '78), one of the first female industrial video grame designers, is the subject of a University of Missouri, Kansas City News article celebrating women in STEM.   Shaw, who was always drawn to engineering and math, used punch cards and Fortran for her first programming class at Cal.  She became one of the first professional female video game developers when she joined Atari after graduating 1978.  in 1980, Shaw’s “Tic-Tac-Toe” became the first commercially released video game designed by a woman. She developed a scrolling format for her second game, "River Raid," while working at Activision.   It won several awards, including Inforworld’s Best Action Game and Best Atari 8-bit Game of the Year, when it was released in 1982.  Vintage Computing and Gaming magazine said that River Raid is "almost universally regarded as a masterpiece of game design."

Today's Entrepreneur: Allen Tsai

EECS alumnus Allen Tsai (B.S. '00), the founder of startup Pani,  is profiled in the "Today's Entrepreneur" column for startup and investor network, Vator.   Pani is a smart-home company that builds products to help consumers and utilities measure, monitor, and recycle water.  It recently raised $1 million in seed  funding which it will use to "acquire talent and drive product development."   Prior to Pani, Tsai co-founded Azul Mobile and Ekata Systems.  One of the top lessons he learned as an entreprenur is "It is all about the people. Hire people who are smarter than you and empower them to do their best work. If you are the smartest person in the room, there's a problem."

Deborah Estrin receives MacArthur ‘genius’ award

2008 Distinguished CS Alumna Deborah Estrin (B.S. EECS  '80) has been awarded a 2018 'genius' grant from the the MacArthur Foundation.  Winners are chosen for "solving long-standing scientific and mathematical problems, pushing art forms into new and emerging territories, and addressing the urgent needs of under-resourced communities."  Estrin completed her graduate work at MIT before becoming a professor at USC, UCLA, and eventually Cornell Tech in New York, where she is currently Associate Dean.  She designs "open-source platforms that leverage mobile devices and data to address socio-technological challenges such as personal health management."  She was among the first to ascertain the potential of using the digital traces of people's daily lives for participatory mobile health.

Turnitin Acquires Gradescope

Turnitin, a leading provider of academic integrity and writing solutions, has acquired Gradescope, a class grading platform co-founded by CS Prof. Pieter Abbeel and alumni Arjun Singh (B.S. EECS '10/Ph.D. CS '16), Sergey Karayev (CS Ph.D. '15), and Ibrahim Awwal (EECS B.S. '12/M.S. '15).   The platform reduces the time associated with grading in college courses via an optimized online workflow and clever application of artificial intelligence. Developed at Cal when the alumni were teaching assistants, Gradescope is now used in most CS, Math, and Chemistry classes at Berkeley, and has quickly been adopted at many top higher-ed institutions, including half of all Ivy League schools, as well as at over twenty-five leading R1 universities. “Bringing Gradescope into the Turnitin family allows us to realize our mission across more subjects, with more instructors and students than ever before. Gradescope represents Turnitin’s first formal foray into STEM education, an area of increasing importance, that must also be held to high standards of academic integrity," said Turnitin CEO Chris Caren.