Left to right: Phoebe Cheng, Manager Civil/Structural Engineering, BART; EECS Chair Claire Tomlin; Nikhila Pai, Sr. Manager of On Call Professional Service Agreements, BART; (photo: EECS)

Berkeley EECS and BART celebrate Women's History Month

In honor of Women’s History Month, Berkeley EECS and BART worked together to Embrace Equity in STEM. Over the course of 50 years, both organizations have strived to be engines of societal change and social mobility, and they continue to do so today: BART, by providing fast, reliable transportation to the public; Berkeley EECS through its mission to educate leaders, create knowledge, and serve society. The World Economic Forum has estimated that only 20% of engineering graduates are women, and women of color represent only 2% of all engineering professionals. Women are particularly underrepresented in leadership roles, comprising 24% in technology and 16% in infrastructure. To bridge the gap, Berkeley EECS is committed to promoting access to education and careers in STEM for women and girls. BART is a vital part of the transportation infrastructure in the Bay Area, and it plays a key role in ensuring that everyone has access to education and impactful careers in STEM. EECS Chair Claire Tomlin served as a special guest and ambassador for women in engineering, and participated in a panel discussion with BART engineers and Berkeley Engineering alumnae to promote early access to education for young women aspiring to make a greater impact on society. “It’s important that there are women role-models and people you can relate to,” said Professor Tomlin. “The number of women in engineering is still too low and I think we should be striving for a percentage of women that’s representative of the population.”

(Photo by Michael Ball)

Berkeley EECS leads strong showing at SIGCSE

Berkeley EECS led a strong showing at the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE) Technical Symposium. SIGCSE, held last week in Toronto, Canada, is the premier venue for innovations in CS education and pedagogy. The event boasts attendance of over 1000 computer scientists from around the world, representing CS education research in all levels of CS teaching, including K-12, higher education and professional education. This year, EECS faculty and students contributed four papers, two posters, two workshops, and two panels, led by faculty members such as Michael Ball, Armando Fox, Dan Garcia, Peyrin Kao, Narges Norouzi, Gireeja Ranade, and Lisa Yan. Professor Ranade and her group presented their work on inclusive group formation. Dan Garcia’s presentation, “A’s for All” detailed how Berkeley EECS is pivoting toward mastery learning. Professor Fox and graduate student Victor Huang presented their use of a “climate-first lens” to train first-time TAs in CS teaching techniques. “I'm proud to be among such a high-powered group that is advancing the state of the art in the theory and practice of CS pedagogy,” said Fox.

(Photo by Keegan Houser)

Joshua Hug wins 2023 UC Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award

Professor Joshua Hug has won the University of California, Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award. Presented by the Academic Senate, the Distinguished Teaching Award (DTA) is considered UC Berkeley’s most prestigious award for teaching. The DTA recognizes individual faculty “for sustained excellence in teaching.” Recipients are among the brightest teaching stars on campus, widely recognized for their inspiring and transformational teaching. The highly selective, multi-phase nomination process seeks teachers who incite intellectual curiosity and whose teaching has a life-long impact. Only 223 faculty have received the award since its inception in 1959, including several from Berkeley EECS. Hug is known for teaching CS 61B, an introductory computer science course on data structures that regularly enrolls over 1500 students each spring. DTA  winners are frequently called upon by the campus community to provide a voice on issues related to teaching. They serve on forums, panels, and committees involving teaching issues, and they are advocates for excellence in teaching at Berkeley.


University College Dublin names EECS alumna as president

EECS alumna Orla Feely is the first woman to be named President of University College Dublin (UCD). Feely (M.S. ’90, Ph.D. ‘92 EECS, advisor: Leon O. Chua ) will lead UCD for a ten-year term beginning in May. Feely, a Professor of Electronic Engineering, is currently the Vice President for Research, Innovation and Impact at UCD. At Berkeley, her Ph.D. thesis won the David J. Sakrison Memorial Prize for outstanding and innovative research, and she also received the Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award. Feely’s research interests are in nonlinear circuits and systems. She is a Member of the Royal Irish Academy, Engineers Ireland, the Irish Academy of Engineering, and an IEEE Fellow.


Hannah Joo receives Brooke Owens Fellowship

Hannah Joo, an undergraduate student studying computer science and cognitive science at Berkeley, has won a Brooke Owens Fellowship. Along with 47 undergraduate women and gender minorities from all over the world, Hannah will receive “space and aviation internships, senior mentorships, and a lifelong professional network.” In her freshman year, Hannah joined Space Enterprise at Berkeley, a student-run rocket team. With limited engineering and coding experience, she found her passion at the intersection of avionics and computer science, culminating in a summer internship with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory last year. Now in her 3rd-year, Hannah will intern with SpaceX. The Brooke Owens Fellowship was founded in 2016 to honor the memory of D. Brooke Owens, a beloved industry pioneer, and accomplished pilot, who passed away at age 35 after battling cancer.


James Truchard wins IEEE James H. Mulligan, Jr. Education Medal

James J. Truchard, co-founder and former president and CEO of National Instruments and Berkeley EECS external advisory board member, has won the IEEE James H. Mulligan Jr. Education Medal. Established in 1956 by the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, the medal recognizes the importance of education's contribution to “the vitality, imagination, and leadership of the members of the engineering profession.” The award consists of a gold medal, a bronze replica, a certificate, and an honorarium. The criteria for selection include excellence in teaching and the ability to inspire; leadership in electrical engineering education; leadership in the development of programs in curricula or teaching methodology; contributions to the profession through research, engineering achievements, and technical papers; and participating in the education initiatives of professional societies. Truchard was cited “for the development of LabVIEW and establishing worldwide programs to enhance hands-on learning in laboratories and classrooms.”

EECS grads students pose by the finished artwork.

EECS graduate students turn e-waste into art

EECS graduate students use leftover printed circuit boards (PCBs) to create art. The result is a beautiful Cal EECS bear in Berkeley blue, centered over the letters E-E-C-S in green, all made up of PCBs, on a towering six by seven plywood base held together by very-high-bond (VHB) double-sided tape. Rahul Iyer, an EECS Ph.D. student advised by EE Prof. Pilawa-Podgurski, had the idea over Thanksgiving break to make use of what would otherwise be e-waste. With the help of Rod Bayliss III, Maggie Blackwell, Sahana Krishnan and Nathan Brooks, all Ph.D. students advised by Pilawa, they set out to repurpose the leftover PCBs, first by printing the silhouette of the Cal bear on a mounting board, tracing the outline of the bear, and then using VHB to tape the PCBs onto the mounting board, filling in the outline. “It was a great bonding activity over Thanksgiving break, especially recollecting projects and past memories when we came across some of the boards,” said Rahul. “I’m so glad I had an opportunity to share in this creative endeavor with my peers. Looking forward to another project in a few years when we collect more PCBs!”

Berkeley EECS continues to compete in US News & World Report rankings

Once again Berkeley Electrical Engineering ranked #1, and Computer Engineering ranked #2, in the 2022 US News and World Report graduate school rankings. EE tied with MIT and Stanford as the top graduate Electrical/Electronic/Communications Engineering program in the nation, while Computer Engineering tied in second place with Stanford after MIT. The tuition for both Master’s programs at MIT and Stanford cost over $55.5K annually, while Berkeley's costs $11.4K in-state and $26.5 out-of-state per year. Berkeley was ranked as the third best Engineering school overall.

95 Female-identifying first year students hold an ice cream social with CS advisors in the Cory Hall courtyard

CS Kickstart thrives amid return to in-person outreach

Now in its 11th consecutive year, CS Kickstart held its one-week computer science immersion program earlier this month, ushering in over 95 attendees to the program, a record turnout. The program is designed to introduce female-identifying first-year students to computer science at Berkeley and aims to add more diversity to the field. Completely student-run, they host workshops in Python, web development, electrical engineering, and data science; panel discussions featuring current Ph.D. students and faculty speakers like CS Prof. John DeNero;  field trips, like a community-building experience with the Oakland Athletics, and tours, panels, and Q&A sessions with industry partners, such as SAP Academy and Stitch Fix. “It was amazing to see CS Kickstart held in person again this year and with more students than in previous years!” said EECS Director of Student Diversity, Audrey Sillers.


Pieter Abbeel interviewed as Featured ACM Member

CS Prof. Pieter Abbeel has been interviewed as a Featured ACM Member. As part of the “People of ACM” bulletin, Abbeel details the groundbreaking work that led to his 2021 ACM Prize in Computing, and the direction of the field of AI and robotics in the warehousing industry and beyond. Given the different specializations required to pursue AI, he gives the following advice to the next generation of AI researchers: “In terms of foundations, basic mathematics such as calculus, probability, linear algebra are very important, and also optimization,” said Abbeel. “Taking physics classes can be very helpful, as it teaches you the skill of abstracting real world problem settings into equations." Prof. Abbeel is the director of the Berkeley Robot Learning Lab and co-director of the Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Research (BAIR) lab, in addition to Co-Founder, President, and Chief Scientist of Covariant, a Berkeley-based AI robotics company.