News

Brett and Chelsea Finn

The education of Brett the robot

CS Prof. Pieter Abbeel, graduate student Chelsea Finn, and Brett the robot are featured in a Wired article titled "The Education of Brett the Robot" which delves into some of the nuts and bolts of machine learning.  Brett (short for Berkeley Robot for the Elimination of Tedious Tasks) is using a reinforcement learning algorithm to allow it to learn from its mistakes.  Abbeel will speak on "Deep Learning-to-Learn Robotic Control" at the EECS Colloquium on October 11th.

CS major Saloni Shah

Saloni Shah and Dan Garcia talk about challenges for women in CS

Senior CS major Saloni Shah and Teaching Prof. Dan Garcia are featured in a TechRepublic cover story titled "The state of women in computer science: An investigative report."   They discuss some of the challenges of attracting and retaining women students in computer science, and some of the efforts that Berkeley has made to bridge the gap.  Shah has interned at Google the past two summers and has participated in—and won—several collegiate hackathons.  She describes instances where her fellow students have suggested that her achievements were the result of affirmative action.  "I have all of these projects," she says. "I have definitely shown I can do it."  "I don't think they actually believe that women don't belong in computer science," she adds. But when they say that her accomplishments were possible only because she received special treatment as a woman, she explains that it's usually "a means of justifying why they didn't get something."

Arvind Sridhar

Arvind Sridhar awarded Davidson Fellows scholarship

Management, Entrepreneurship, & Technology Program (M.E.T.) student Arvind Sridhar (CS/Business) has been awarded a $25,000 Davidson Fellows scholarship.  The award is presented annually by the Davidson Institute for Talent Development to 20 students based on “significant work” in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, literature, music and philosophy. Sridhar’s scholarship was granted based on a study he undertook at the Stanford University School of Medicine over the summer.  He sought to create algorithms and computational models that would allow doctors to diagnose the health of cardiac tissue using only images and videos of a tissue sample, and then use an injectable hydrogel, which mimics the heart’s micro-environment, to anchor and nourish stem cells to parts of the heart, allowing them to enable cardiac regeneration.

Pulkit Agrawal (photo: Nitesh Mor)

Pulkit Agrawal is teaching machines how to be curious

CS Ph.D. student Pulkit Agrawal (advisers: Jitendra Malik and Jack Gallant) is the subject of a Quant Magazine article titled "Clever Machines Learn How to Be Curious."  Agrawal is working at the Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Research Lab with CS grad student Deepak Pathak, Pathak's adviser Prof. Trevor Darrell, and CS Prof. Alexei A. Efros,  to design experimental machine-learning algorithms which aim to "make a machine curious."  They equipped their learning agent with what they call an intrinsic curiosity module (ICM) designed to pull it forward through a video game without going haywire, despite having no prior understanding of the game. “You can think of curiosity as a kind of reward which the agent generates internally on its own, so that it can go explore more about its world,” Agrawal said.

Ava Jiang Tan

Ava Tan wins Best in Session at TECHCON 2017

EE graduate student Ava Tan (advisor: Sayeef Salahuddin) has won Best in Session (Processing) for her paper "Characterization of the Interface States of Ferroelectric Hafnium Zirconium Oxide" at TECHCON 2017. Judging criteria is based on the novelty/quality of research work, relevance of the work to the semiconductor industry, and the quality of the oral (PowerPoint-based) presentation. Tan submitted an associated paper and also presented at the poster session during the conference.  Her current research interests include the development of ferroelectric, CMOS-compatible dielectrics and their subsequent integration into high-performance transistors and memory devices.   Other authors of the paper include:  Justin C. Wong, Ajay K. Yadav, Korok Chatterjee, Daewoong Kwon, Sangwan Kim, Golnaz Karbasian, and Sayeef Salahuddin.
Dante Gao, Noah Stevenson, Raghav Anand, Alec English, Rohan Sinha, and Saunon Malekshahi

Raghav Anand and Rohan Sinha take honors at NASA Aeronautics University Design Challenge

EECS undergraduates Raghav Anand (EECS 2020) and Rohan Sinha (ME & EECS 2019) were part of a team that placed among the finalists awarded the top three prizes in the NASA Aeronautics Design Challenge 2016-1017.  They received an Honorable Mention in the supersonic division for their design, named Goldeneye AB1, which features a novel variable geometry wing design that allows it to fly efficiently at both supersonic and subsonic speeds, all while maintaining high lift. They and fellow team members Alec English (ME & Physics 2019), Dante Gao (ME 2019), Saunon Malekshahi (ME 2019), and  Noah Stevenson (Physics 2019) were invited to present their paper during the winner's symposium at NASA's Langley Research Center from September 25th-26th.

Jeff Mahler and Ken Goldberg (photo: Jason LeCras for The New York Times)

Ken Goldberg and Jeff Mahler explain how warehouse robots will learn on their own

CS/IEOR Prof. Ken Goldberg, director of the AUTOLAB, and his EE graduate student Jeff Mahler, are profiled in a  New York Times article titled "In the Future, Warehouse Robots Will Learn on Their Own," about researchers who are using neural networks and machine learning to teach robots to grab things they have never encountered before.   The AUTOLAB robot was trained by being shown hundreds of purely digital objects, after which it could pick up items that weren’t represented in its digital data set.  “We’re learning from simulated models and then applying that to real work,” said Goldberg,

Hallac Scholar Alex Montanez

Alex Montanez wins inaugural Hallac Scholarship

EECS sophomore Alex Montanez is part of the inaugural class of Hallac Scholars.  The program, sponsored by the global asset management firm BlackRock, combines scholarship, mentorship and internship to help students learn how engineers can use their skills to develop innovative tech for delivering financial services.  Although Montanez was fascinated by computers, his junior high and high school didn’t offer any computer science or engineering classes, and had no computer club.  He had to learn almost everything on his own. As a BlackRock intern next summer, he’ll serve on the science team that works on Aladdin as well as on developing apps used by the firm’s clients. “I wanted to know how computers and electronics worked because they were everywhere. I’m interested in the impact computers have in helping people,” he says.

Armen Chouldjian demonstrating his BART web app

Armen Chouldjian helps increase BART's safety and reliability

EECS senior Armen Chouldjian was one of 11 engineering interns, selected from more than 200 college applicants around the nation, to work in the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Maintenance and Engineering Department.  His summer project was to take information-dense reports generated from various BART computer systems and make them more readable and accessible.  He and his partner, Anuj Shah, went far beyond that, creating an internal web application that is already being used for greater efficiency and quicker diagnosis and resolution of problems.  “It’s a win-win,” said Chouldjian. “I get to play with cool technology and it ends up helping people.”

Startup institute, The House (Joshua Jordan/Daily Cal)

Berkeley ranks second in most venture capital-backed entrepreneurs in 2017

For the second year in a row, U.C. Berkeley has ranked No. 2 among the 50 undergraduate programs that produce the most venture capital-backed entrepreneurs, according to PitchBook’s 2017-18 report.  The report distinguishes undergraduate and MBA programs, compares Ivy League colleges to other universities and analyzes numbers such as companies per sector, female founders and total capital raised by founders’ companies. This year, UC Berkeley produced 1,089 entrepreneurs and 961 companies.