News

UC Berkeley undergraduates launch soundproof karaoke pod startup

A team of three undergraduates, including EECS junior Aayush Tyagi, launched Oki Karaoke in September 2018 — a startup that aims to bring Asia’s soundproof karaoke pods to the United States. The startup is currently working to install its first booth, which will operate by charging customers by the minute, in Westfield San Francisco Centre in mid- to late June. “The new format of karaoke that we bring, namely the more intimate and spontaneous experience of a booth, makes karaoke more palatable for the American market, where privacy is a bigger concern,” said co-founder Noha Adriany.

Nolan Pokpongkiat wins third place David L. Kirp Prize

Third-year Computer Science undergraduate Nolan Pokpongkiat is the third place winner of the KIDS FIRST: David L. Kirp Prize, funded by the U.C. Berkeley Institute for the Study of Societal Issues.  The prize recognizes "students who have developed innovative strategies to increase opportunities for children and youth, as well as students who have demonstrated a commitment to improving the future of children and youth."  Pokpongkiat co-founded Helix, a non-profit organization with the goal of diversifying the healthcare field by empowering young people to pursue futures in medicine. As Managing Director, Nolan brought together a team to design a month-long summer program where high school students spend a week living at UC Berkeley training in basic clinical skills, getting CPR-certified, and learning about possible healthcare careers. Then, through partnerships with UCSF Health, John Muir Health, and Kaiser Permanente, along with a network of over 160 medical professionals, students rotate through shadowing placements in the hospital, on the ambulance, and in community clinics for the remainder of the month.

Meet Blue, the low-cost, human-friendly robot designed for AI

Meet Blue, a new low-cost, human-friendly robot conceived and built by a team of researchers led by CS Prof. Pieter Abbeel, postdoc Stephen McKinley, and grad student David Gealy. Blue was designed to use recent advances in AI and deep reinforcement learning to master intricate human tasks, all while remaining affordable and safe enough that every artificial intelligence researcher — and eventually every home — could have one.  “AI has done a lot for existing robots, but we wanted to design a robot that is right for AI,” Abbeel said. “Existing robots are too expensive, not safe around humans and similarly not safe around themselves – if they learn through trial and error, they will easily break themselves. We wanted to create a new robot that is right for the AI age rather than for the high-precision, sub-millimeter, factory automation age.”

Largest, fastest array of microscopic ‘traffic cops’ for optical communications

Prof. Ming Wu, post-doc Kyungmok Kwon, and grad students Johannes Henriksson and Jianheng Luo (along with co-lead author Tae Joon Seok of the Gwangju Institute) have built a new photonic switch that can control the direction of light passing through optical fibers faster and more efficiently than ever.  The photonic switch is built with more than 50,000 microscopic “light switches” etched into a silicon wafer. Each light switch directs one of 240 tiny beams of light to either make a right turn when the switch is on, or to pass straight through when the switch is off. This optical “traffic cop” could one day revolutionize how information travels through data centers and high-performance supercomputers that are used for artificial intelligence and other data-intensive applications.

A Salute to Early Women in STEM at UC Berkeley

In celebration of Women's History Month, Sheila Humphreys, the EECS Emerita Director of Diversity, has published an essay in the EECS Newsletter titled "A Salute to Early Women in STEM at UC Berkeley."  This essay is the first part of a series of writings about the history of diversity in engineering at UC Berkeley, seen primarily through the lens of  Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences.  It covers the first women researchers, faculty, and grad students in STEM at UC Berkeley including Agnes Morgan, Marian Diamond, Susan Graham, Avideh Zakhor, Lillian Gilbreth, and Kawthar Zaki.

Nine papers make four Top 10 lists in TOPBOTS AI research rankings

9 papers co-authored by 6 EECS faculty, 13 students,  3 post docs, and 3 alumni have made it into the Top 10 research papers ranked by TOPBOTS in four categories of AI Research. TOPBOTS is the largest publication, community, and educational resource for business leaders applying AI to their enterprises.  3 papers co-authored by Sergey Levine made the #1, #3, and #9 spots in "What Are Major Reinforcement Learning Achievements & Papers From 2018?"  A paper co-authored by Moritz Hardt ranked #5 in "Top 2018 AI research papers" and #3 in  "Recent Breakthrough Research Papers In AI Ethics." A paper co-authored by Jitendra Malik ranked #7 in the Top 2018 papers and #5 in "10 Cutting Edge Research Papers In Computer Vision & Image Generation."  The #2 Top 2018 paper was co-authored by David Wagner, and a paper co-authored by Alexei Efros ranked #9 in the Computer Vision category.

Celebrate EECS Women's History Month in March!

The EECS department is celebrating Women’s History Month (WHM) this March by recognizing and sharing stories about women, both past and present, in the fields of electrical engineering and computer science. The goal of Berkeley EECS WHM, a student-led department-backed initiative created by 4th year EECS major Olivia Hsu, is to facilitate the conversation about diversity and inclusion in the field through a series of events and newsletters.  A kickoff event will take place on Friday, March 1st at 9:30 am in the Woz.

GridWatch monitors electrical power grids using smart phones

A research team from Lab11, led by Associate Prof. Prabal Dutta and PhD student Noah Klugman, have created a new suite of technologies called GridWatch that uses the sensors on smartphones to monitor an electrical grid and measure outages, grid frequency, and voltage sags and spikes.   They launched an app in Ghana last year called DumsorWatch, that uses a variety of data from phone sensors (power charging, movement, WiFi signals, etc) to determine probabilistically whether a nearby electrical grid is working.  The team also includes PhD student Joshua Adkins, research scientist Matt Podolsky, and Professor Jay Taneja from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Jasmine Jan and Andre Lai present papers at Haas Scholars conference

Haas Scholars Jasmine Jan and Andre Lai, who are both Bioengineering majors minoring in EECS, made presentations at the 2019 Haas Scholars Spring Research Conference last week titled "Disrupting: Daring to Reimagine."  Jan spoke about her research on a "Solution Processable Point-of-care Optoelectronic Device for Procalcitonin Sensing." Lai spoke about his research on a "A High-Throughput Microfluidic Device for Single Cell Isolation and Analysis."

Women in Data Science will take the challenge to make a difference

The 2nd Annual Women in Data Science (WiDS) 2019 Datathon will be held on Saturday, February 2, 2019 in Soda Hall.  The challenge will be to create a model that can detect oil palm plantations in high-resolution satellite imagery to help build awareness about deforestation and oil palm plantations.  The Datathon is a chance for women to meet other participants, form teams, learn the basics of participating in Kaggle competitions, and get a jump start on Datathon submissions with the help of technical mentors and domain experts.  Mentors who have some knowledge about deforestation, data science, image analysis, or have experience with technical project management, Kaggle competitions, or hackathons in general are welcome.  Tickets required.