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.

Joint UC Berkeley-UP Diliman mobile network project wins ISIF Asia Community Networks Award

A  low-cost community cellular networks project, run jointly by UC Berkeley (PI: CS Prof. Eric Brewer) and the University of Philippines-Diliman (UP-D), won the 2018 Information Society Innovation Fund (ISIF Asia) Community Networks Award.  “Village Base Station-Connecting Communities through Mobile Networks” (VBTS-CoCoMoNets) establishes community cellular networks (CCNs) in rural sites in the Philippines. CCNs are low-power, low-cost 2G base stations that enable users to make basic calls and text in areas that traditional commercial cellular networks cannot reach. The ISIF awards support creative internet solutions to development needs in the Asia Pacific in an effort to promote positive social and economic development.

Lecture series with Turing laureates celebrates Berkeley’s ‘golden age’ of CS research

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of computer science at UC Berkeley and the university’s sesquicentennial, the EECS Department is launching a special series of lectures by winners of the ACM A.M. Turing Award, considered the field’s equivalent of a Nobel Prize.  The Turing laureates all have ties to UC Berkeley either as current or past faculty members or as alumni. They include David Patterson, UC Berkeley professor emeritus of computer science, who, along with former Stanford president John Hennessy, earned a Turing this past March for influential work on computer architecture design. “The 1970s and 1980s represented a golden age of computer science research at Berkeley,” said Patterson. “A remarkable seven research projects that began here went on to earn Turing awards.”

John Ousterhout, professor of computer science at Stanford University, adds: “If you use Turing Awards as the metric, you could make the case that the greatest team of computer researchers ever assembled at one place and time was at UC Berkeley in the 1970s and 1980s.” The lecture series, which is open to the public, will kick off at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 26, with a talk by Shafi Goldwasser, director of the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing at UC Berkeley. Every Wednesday through Nov. 14 will feature a Turing award laureate speaking in Banatao Auditorium in Sutardja Dai Hall.  In addition to their technical talk, the lecturers will reflect on their time at UC Berkeley and look toward the future of research and technological development in their fields. In anticipation of full attendance, these lectures will also stream live on YouTube via CITRIS.

Diamond dust enables low-cost, high-efficiency magnetic field detection

Researchers including EE Prof. Sayeef Salahuddin and postdoc Dominic Labanowski (Ph.D. '17) have created a device that dramatically reduces the energy needed to power magnetic field detectors, which could revolutionize how we measure the magnetic fields that flow through our electronics, our bodies, and our planet.   The researchers found a new way to excite the tiny nitrogen-infused diamond nonocrystals in their magnetic sensor with microwaves, using 1,000 times less power than is required by traditional sensors.  “Our sensors could replace those more-difficult-to-use sensors in a lot of applications from navigation to medical imaging to natural resource exploration,” said Labanowski.

Leslie Field joins panel for Global Climate Action Summit

EE alumna Leslie Field (M.S./Ph.D. '1991), the first woman to earn a Ph.D. from the Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center (BSAC), will be participating in a panel on "Restoring the Climate: Achievable Solutions" at the 2018 Global Climate Action Summit.  Field is the founder and CEO of Ice911, an organization devoted to mitigating climate change by using reflective sand as a natural heat shield to restore ice in the Arctic.  The panel will "explore the mission of climate restoration and some of the solutions that can get us there, creating jobs and economic benefit in the process."  The Global Climate Action Summit will run from September 12-14 in San Francisco.

Gary May claims another rare engineering distinction

EECS alumnus Gary May (M.S. '88/Ph.D. '91, advisor: Costas Spanos), currently serving as the Chancellor of UC Davis, is one of the subjects of a Philadelphia Tribune article titled "ACROSS AMERICA: Three African-Americans Claim Rare Engineering Accomplishment."   May, along with two other African-Americans, was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) class of 2018.  NAE membership counts among the highest professional distinctions in engineering.  May was inducted "for contributions to semiconductor manufacturing research and for innovations in educational programs for underrepresented groups in engineering." “We need more diversity in engineering so that we solve problems that take into account all experiences and perspectives," he said. "I encourage young people who are interested in engineering to seek mentors who can help them get on a path that works for them."

The Art of Innovation: George Crow’s Path from Cal to Apple

EECS alumnus George Crow (B.S. '66) is the subject of a California Magazine article titled "The Art of Innovation: George Crow’s Path from Cal to Apple."  Crow was lured away from a job at Hewlett-Packard in 1981 to take charge of the team responsible for developing the power supply and display for what would become the pathbreaking Mac personal computer.  Crow discusses his time at Berkeley and Apple, founding NeXT with Steve Jobs, and going back to Apple before retiring in 2006 to devote his time to the arts.

Explore UC Berkeley’s culture of entrepreneurship with Hriday Kemburu

CS alumnus Hriday Kemburu (B.A. '16) is featured in a Daily Cal article about UC Berkeley’s start up ecosystem titled "‘Dream, build and start up’: Exploring UC Berkeley’s culture of entrepreneurship.'   Kemburu is the CEO of Wildfire,  which began as a UC Berkeley-specific safety app during Kemburu's senior year and branched out into a communications platform spanning more than 30 campuses.  Wildfire is used for spreading the word about anything from crimes to celebrity sightings.  Berkeley's network of startup incubators, accelerators, investors and classes have helped launch hundreds of companies.