UC Berkeley wins 2018 Fiesta Bowl Overwatch Collegiate National Championship

For the second year running, UC Berkeley has won the Fiesta Bowl Overwatch Collegiate National Championship, sweeping UC Irvine 3-0.  CS majors Kevin "SlurpeeThief" Royston and Gandira “Syeikh” Prahandika were on the Berkeley team, which battled in front of a sold-out crowd at the game in Tempe, Arizona, the first partnership between a collegiate bowl game and eSports tournament.  Royston, who was profiled in on Overwatch Wire article before the tournament, is in the top 1% of all players worldwide, has had a peak skill rating of 4626, and was on the winning team last year.  He notes that the balance between esports and school has been a tough road.  “It’s definitely rough, this week is the first time I had a homework assignment slip because of Overwatch. (Laughs) Hear me out! It’s for Machine Learning which is the hardest class at Berkeley. We had to travel (for the Fiesta Bowl) and I worked sixteen hours on an assignment and didn’t even get halfway through it.”  Overwatch is a team-based shooter game that was created by Blizzard Entertainment and released in 2016.  Teams are made up of six players, who select different characters, known in the game as “heroes,” to complete different objectives. The Berkeley team won $42,000 of the $100,000 total in scholarships and other prizes.

Anca Dragan and Raluca Popa

Anca Dragan and Raluca Popa win Sloan Research Fellowships

Assistant Profs. Anca Dragan and Raluca Ada Popa have been awarded 2018 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowships.  They are among 126 early-career scholars who represent the most promising scientific researchers working today. Their achievements and potential place them among the next generation of scientific leaders in the U.S. and Canada. Winners receive $65,000, which may be spent over a two-year term on any expense supportive of their research.  Popa and Dragan were both selected in the Compter Science category.   Popa is a co-founder of the RISELab where she is trying to develop a learning and analytics framework that can run on encrypted data.  Dragan runs the InterACT lab and is a PI for the Center for Human-Compatible AI.  Her goal is to enable robots to work with, around and in support of people, autonomously generating behavior in a way that formally accounts for their interactions with humans. “The Sloan Research Fellows represent the very best science has to offer,” said foundation president Adam Falk. “The brightest minds, tackling the hardest problems, and succeeding brilliantly – fellows are quite literally the future of 21st century science.”

Berkeley's HKN Mu Chapter wins IEEE-HKN Outstanding Chapter Award

UC Berkeley's Eta Kappa Nu (HKN) Mu Chapter has won the 2016-17 IEEE-HKN Outstanding Chapter Award.  The Berkeley Mu Chapter of HKN, the the national Electrical and Computer Engineering honor society, is among the most active engineering societies on campus and provides many services to the undergraduate student community including course surveys and a course guide, tutoring and review sessions,  industrial infosessions and a career fair, and department tours for prospective students.   The Outstanding Chapter Award is conferred by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)-HKN Board of Governors and is presented to HKN chapters in recognition of excellence in their chapter administration and programs.  Berkeley HKN, which has won the Outstanding Chapter Award every year since 1998-99, is advised by Prof. Anant Sahai.  The award will be presented at a conference in Monterey in March.

Edward Lee awarded Berkeley Citation

Prof. Edward Lee is a 2018 recipient of the Berkeley Citation, which was awarded at the 2018 Berkeley Annual Research Symposium (BEARS).  The Berkeley Citation is awarded to distinguished individuals whose contributions to UC Berkeley go beyond the call of duty and whose achievements exceed the standards of excellence in their fields.  Lee, who is the Robert S. Pepper Distinguished Professor in EECS, has been on the faculty since 1986.  He was the EE division and EECS department Chair from 2005-2008, the director of the nine-university TerraSwarm Research Center, a director of the Berkeley Industrial Cyber-Physical Systems Research Center, and the director of the Berkeley Ptolemy project.  He recently published Plato and the Nerd - The Creative Partnership of Humans and Technology (MIT Press, 2017).

Constance Chang-Hasnain and David Tse elected members of the National Academy of Engineering

Prof. Constance Chang-Hasnain and Adjunct Prof. David Tse have been elected members of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).   Election to the NAE is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer.  Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to "engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature" and to "the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education."  Chang-Hasnain was elected "for contributions to wavelength tunable diode lasers and multiwavelength laser arrays."  Tse was elected "for contributions to wireless network information theory."    37 of the 2,293 current U.S. members are EECS faculty.

Jiawang Nie wins the 2018 SIAM Activity Group on Linear Algebra Best Paper Prize

Alumnus Jiawang Nie (Ph.D. '06, co-advisors: James Demmel and Bernd Sturmfels) has won the 2018 Best Paper Prize from the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) Activity Group on Linear Algebra (SIAG/LA).  His paper, Generating Polynomials and Symmetric Tensor Decompositions, Foundations of Computational Mathematics, was deemd the most outstanding paper, as determined by the prize committee, on a topic in applicable linear algebra published in English in a peer-reviewed journal.  8 out of 11 of the previous awards, which are  chosen every 3 years, have gone to EECS faculty, postdocs, and graduate students.  Nie is now a Professor of Mathematics at the University of California, San Diego.  He will present his work in Hong Kong on May 4-8 at the SIAM Conference on Applied Linear Algebra (SIAM-ALA18).

Laura Waller wins 2018 SPIE Early Career Achievement Award

Associate Prof. Laura Waller has won the 2018 Early Career Achievement Award--Academic focus--from the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE). The award, which is paired with an industry-focused award, is presented annually in recognition of significant and innovative technical contributions in the engineering or scientific fields of relevance to SPIE.  Waller, who heads the Computational Imagaing Lab, was recognized for "her contributions to biomedical and industrial science through development of computational imaging hardware and software for phase retrieval, 3D imaging and partially coherent systems."  The award was presented at the Opto Symposium, co-chaired by colleague Prof. Connie Chang-Hasnain, on January 29th,

Avideh Zakhor named Electronic Imaging Scientist of the Year

Prof. Avideh Zakhor has been named 2018 Electronic Imaging Scientist of the Year by the Society for Imaging Science and Technology.  She was cited “for her significant contributions to signal processing, including 3D image processing & computer vision, 3D reality capture systems,  3D modeling, mapping and positioning,  image and video compression and communication.”  Zakhor and her team drove a truck loaded with sensors around Berkeley, and flew in a helicopter overhead, to gather imagery, and map part of the city in three dimensions. She eventually sold her research to Google, which built her innovations into Google Earth and Street View, used it to advance Google Maps, and is pushing it forward into a future of self-driving cars.  This award is given annually at the EI Symposium to a member of the electronic imaging community who who has demonstrated excellence and commanded the respect of his/her peers by making significant and substantial contributions to the field of electronic imaging via research, publications, or service.

Mostafa Kaveh named University of Minnesota CSE interim dean

EE alumnus Mostafa “Mos” Kaveh (M.S. '70) has been named interim dean of the College of Science and Engineering (CSE) at the University of Minnesota.  CSE, the University's second largest college, spans 12 departments and is ranked among the top engineering and science academic programs in the country.  Kaveh joined CSE in 1975 as an electrical and computer engineering faculty member and most recently served as associate dean for research and planning.  His research is primarily in the areas of statistical signal processing, communications, and image processing.

Introducing the 2018 EE and CS distinguished alumni

The 2018 EECS Distinguished Alumni are Prof. Marie desJardins , Prof. Andrea Goldsmith, Richard Ruby, and our own EECS Prof. Emeritus Eric Brewer.  CS alumna desJardins (Ph.D. '92), currently a Professor of Computer Science & Electrical Engineering, and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Engineering & Information Technology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, is being honored “For distinguished research and teaching, innovations in pre-college computer science curricula, and effective mentoring of students and junior faculty.”  EE alumna Goldsmith (B.A. '86/M.S. '91/Ph.D. '94), who is currently the Stephen Harris Professor in the School of Engineering at Stanford, is being honored “For excellence in research and teaching, and for tireless commitment to the advancement of women in the profession.”   EE alumnus Ruby (Ph.D. '84), Director of Technology (FBAR & Orthogonal Markets) at Broadcom, is being honored “For inventions and groundbreaking technology advancements in FBARs making possible the remarkable success of smart phones and miniature communication links.”  And CS alumnus Brewer (B.S. '89), who contributed to the foundations of cloud computing and formulated the CAP Theorem, is being honored “For research and industrial leadership in scalable distributed systems, used by millions of people daily.”  The 2018 Distinguished Alumni Awards will be presented at the Berkeley EECS Annual Research Symposium (BEARS) on February 8, 2018.