News

Feng Zhou helping NetEase find new life beyond games

CS alumnus Feng Zhou (Ph.D. '07, advisor: Eric Brewer) is the subject of a Bloomberg article titled "The U.S.-trained coder is helping NetEase find new life beyond games."  To help the company remain competitive, NetEase Youdao CEO Zhou is creating an all-in-one learning platform to tap the lucrative overlap between education and technology.  Addressing the pressure many Chinese families feel to prepare children for college entrance exams starting as early as Kindergarten, Zhou says courses can be taught through high-speed live-streaming, enabling smooth communication between teacher and student. Artificial intelligence-powered tutors can grade homework and use data to evaluate student test results.  “That’s what we have always been good at,” said Zhou. “Almost every industry in China has been transformed by the internet, but that’s not yet the case for education.”

Yamilée Toussaint Beach wins Educational Innovation Abie Award in Honor of A. Richard Newton

Yamilée Toussaint Beach, founder and CEO of STEM From Dance (SFD), is the third recipient of the Educational Innovation Abie Award in Honor of A. Richard Newton, an award which honors the life and career of a beloved EECS professor and alumnus.  A. Richard Newton (Ph.D. '78, advisor: Donald O. Pederson) led the founding of CITRIS in 1999, and served as EECS chair and Engineering dean before his early death from pancreatic cancer in 2007.  Beach won for her efforts to harness the power of dance to inspire and support young women of color from low-income backgrounds to develop the confidence, skills, and awareness necessary to obtain STEM degrees. She launched SFD in 2012, using seed funding won from Teach For America’s Social Innovation Award. Since then, SFD has partnered with over 25 schools and community centers, serving over 400 girls.

Leslie Field addresses UN on climate Ice911 Research

EE alumna Leslie Field (M.S. '88/Ph.D. '91, advisor: Richard White) gave an insightful and inspirational presentation on Ice911 Research at the inaugural Global Climate Restoration Forum held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York yesterday.  Field is the Founder and CEO of Ice911 Research, a non-profit focused on developing a technique to preserve and rebuild polar and glacial ice and polar habitat using a localized and ecologically respectful material, like floating sand, to reflect sunlight and stave off one of the effects of global warming.

Richard Din innovates unique course to help students connect more deeply with entrepreneurs

EECS alumnus Richard Din (B.S. EECS/B.A. Econ '08),  the co-founder of revolutionary food-delivery app Caviar, has imagined and helped to create a small, select, new course being offerred fall semester through the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (SCET).  The course, which cannot be documented or attended by visitors, will host diverse and unique speakers from the tech industry who will share personal stories about their startups, including sensitive details about “co-founder fights, investor drama, and running out of money.”  “When it’s off the record," said Din, "then you can be more candid about finer details and tell more interesting stories.” Students interested in taking the course must be nominated by a professor. Professors can send nominations to Jennifer Nice at jennifernice@berkeley.edu.

Berkeley distinguished by number of graduating startup founders

According to Crunchbase News,  UC Berkeley graduated 108 startup founders--not including business school graduates --who raised $1M or more after May 1, 2018.   This makes Berkeley the top-ranked public university, and the third-ranked university of any kind after Stanford and MIT, in founding graduates.  In the Crunchbase tally of all funded founders graduating from public universities (including those with business school degrees), Berkeley (with 240) had more than three times the number of funded founders than second-ranked UCLA (with 85).  Berkeley News notes that you would have to combine the second- through fifth-ranked schools (UCLA, Michigan, Illinois and Washington)  to get to Berkeley’s level. “Berkeley is the original question-the-status-quo, do-disruptive-thinking place,” says Caroline Winnet of Berkeley SkyDeck. “I like to say that we don’t just think outside the box. There is no box.”

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.

Diane Greene wins 2019 Campanile Excellence in Achievement Award

CS alumna Diane Greene (M.S. '88) has won a 2019 U. C. Berkeley Campanile Excellence in Achievement Award.  This award "recognizes an alumnus/a whose remarkable professional achievements reflect the excellence of a UC Berkeley education" and is co-presented every year by the UC Berkeley Foundation and the Cal Alumni Association.  Greene recently served as the CEO of Google's cloud business and was a founder and CEO of VMware.  She will be formally presented with her award at the Berkeley Charter Gala on May 16, 2019.

Berkeley named on list of 10 Best Cities for Techies

The city of Berkeley took the #6 spot on Livability's ranking of "2019 10 Best Cities for Techies."  Cities were judged on factors that included: the proximity to top engineering, technology, and computer science degree programs; state internet coverage; top startup accelerators, incubators, and growth; and top environments for entrepreneurs.  "Prestigious University of California, Berkeley, ranks third among the best computer science programs worldwide, focusing on research to build the future of the tech industry. Almost 70 percent of the city’s population has a college degree, and its robust startup scene provides a myriad of opportunities for industry up-and-comers."

How Michael Brenndoerfer started a company while going to school full-time

Michael Brenndoerfer, now a Senior Software Engineer at Fitbit, founded a cryptocurrency brokerage platform called Cryptonite last year while pursuing his EECS Master of Engineering (MEng) degree full-time.  The Cryptonite platform allows people to trade every cryptocurrency directly with USD and manage all their coins in one place.  “For the last two or three months of the program, I was basically awake for 35–40 hours straight and then got one regular night of sleep, maybe. It was intense,” Brenndoerfer said.