News

Pulkit Agrawal, Jacob Andreas, and Cathy Wu join MIT faculty

CS alumni Pulkit Agrawal (M.S. '14/Ph.D. '18, adviser: Jitendra Malik) and Jacob Andreas (Ph.D. '18, adviser: Daniel Klein ) will join the MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science,  and EE alumna Cathy Wu (Ph.D. '18, adviser: Alexandre Bayen)  will join the MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, as assistant professors.  Agrawal, who co-founded SafelyYou, Inc., studies topics spanning robotics, deep learning, computer vision, and computational neuroscience.  Andreas, who was a member of the Berkeley Natural Language Processing Group and the Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Research Lab, focuses on using language as a scaffold for more efficient learning and as a probe for understanding model behavior.  Wu, who was recently awarded the Milton Pikarsky Memorial Award, focuses on research involving machine learning, robotics, intelligent systems, and mixed-autonomy mobility.

SinBerBEST 2 sweeps Building and Environment Best Paper Awards

Research collaboration between Singapore–Berkeley Building Efficiency and Sustainability in the Tropics (SinBerBEST 2 -- part of the Berkeley Education Alliance for Research in Singapore center) led by EE Prof. Costas Spanos, and UC Berkeley’s Center for the Built Environment (CBE) resulted in three 2018 Building and Environment Best Paper Awards.  The awards, which are presented annually by the Building and Environment journal, recognize originality, contributions to the field, quality of presentation, and soundness of science.   The honored papers were titled "Automated Mobile Sensing: Towards High-Granularity Agile Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) Monitoring," "Development of the ASHRAE Global Thermal Comfort Database II," and "Personal Comfort Models: Predicting Individuals’ Thermal Preference Using Occupant Heating and Cooling Behavior and Machine Learning."

Cathy Wu wins CUTC’s Milton Pikarsky Memorial Award

Recent EE alumna Cathy Wu (Ph.D. '18, adviser: Alexandre Bayen) has won the Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC)’s Milton Pikarsky Memorial Award.  This honor, which recognizes the best Doctoral dissertation in the field of science and technology in transportation studies each year, was awarded for Wu's dissertation titled “Learning and Optimization for Mixed Anatomy Systems – A Mobility Context.”  “This is a great honor,” says Wu. “I feel very fortunate to have been able to study optimization challenges at very different layers of our complex transportation systems in the context of self-driving vehicles, from congestion to routing to questions touching on planning and policy.”

Ken Thompson to be inducted into 2019 National Inventors Hall of Fame

CS alumnus Ken Thompson (B.S.‘65/M.S.‘66) is a member of the 2019 class of inductees into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for creating the UNIX Operating System. Thompson and Dennis Ritchie's creation of the UNIX operating system and the C programming language were pivotal developments in the progress of computer science. Today, 50 years after its beginnings, UNIX and UNIX-like systems continue to run machinery from supercomputers to smartphones. The UNIX operating system remains the basis of much of the world's computing infrastructure, and C language -- written to simplify the development of UNIX -- is one of the most widely used languages today.

Wireless ‘pacemaker for the brain’ could be new standard treatment for neurological disorders

A new neurostimulator, described in a paper co-authored by EE Prof. Jan Rabaey, Prof. Jose Carmena, Assistant Prof. Rikky Muller, grad students Andy Zhou, George Alexandrov and Ali Moin, and alumnus Fred Burghardt (B.S. '92/M.S. '94), in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering, works like a “pacemaker for the brain" to both monitor electrical activity and therapeutically stimulate electric current to the brain at the same time.  The device, named the WAND, could potentially deliver fine-tuned treatments to patients with diseases like epilepsy and Parkinson’s.  Muller's research is part of the CZ Biohub, a division of the $5 billion Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.   Rikky Muller and Jose Carmena are both scheduled to present their work at the 2019 BEARS symposium in February titled "The Future of Medicine: An EECS Perspective."

All four 2019 EECS student nominees recognized by CRA

All four students who were nominated for Computing Research Association (CRA) Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Awards in 2019 were recognized:  Dibya Ghosh (nominated by Sergey Levine), Hong Jun Jeon (nominated by Anca Dragan), and  Jonathan Lee (nominated by Ken Goldberg) were named as finalists, and Annie Xie (nominated by Sergey Levine) was named a runner up.  The CRA award program recognizes undergraduate students in North American colleges and universities who show outstanding research potential in an area of computing research.

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.

Rohan Lageweg and Bozhi Yin win EE140/240A Keysight student design competition

Students Rohan Lageweg (a senior joint majoring in EECS/MSE) and Bozhi Yin (first year EECS grad) have won an Analog Integrated Circuits class design competition sponsored by Keysight technologies,  for EE140 and EE240A respectively. The students designed low-power and high-speed LCD display drivers for a smartwatch display for the classes taught by Assistant Prof. Rikky Muller. Competition finalists gave presentations to a guest judges from Keysight. Lageweg and Yan won hand-held digital multimeters generously donated by Keysight.

Connie Chang-Hasnain elected Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors

EE Prof. and alumna Constance Chang-Hasnain (M.S. '84/Ph.D. '87, adviser: John Whinnery) has been elected to the 2018 class of Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).  Election to NAI Fellow status is the highest professional distinction accorded to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society.  Chang-Hasnain's research interests range from semiconductor optoelectronic devices to materials and physics, with current foci on nano-photonic materials and devices for chip-scale integrated optics.  She is presently serving as Associate Dean for Strategic Alliances in the College of Engineering as well as the Chair of the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Graduate Group.

Bin Yu looks at AlphaZero

CS Prof. Bin Yu was interviewed by PBS Nova about AlphaZero, Google’s self-teaching artificial intelligence software.   The article probes whether there's more to human intelligence than can be mastered by learning how to win games--which AlphaZero can teach itself to do in a matter of hours.   The process requires a great deal of computing power and uses a lot more energy than the human brain.  Yu observes that absolute energy consumption must be considered when evaluating the software, although AlphZero is clearly very fast and flexible.   “It’s impressive that AlphaZero was able to use the same architecture for three different games,” she says.