News

EECS M.Eng. project wins 2018 Fung Institute Award for the Most Innovative Project

Assistant Prof. Rikky Muller and her Masters of Engineering students Jingbo Wu, Sherwin Lau, Paul Meyer-Rachner, Chen Fu and Mary Lee Lawrence, have received the 2018 Fung Institute Award for the Most Innovative Project.  This award is given to the team that most effectively demonstrates the relevance of the problem they are trying to solve, the originality of their proposed solution, and the potential of their project's impact. Their research project, "Neurodetect: On-Chip Biosignal Computation for Health Monitoring," was selected from over 100 capstone projects in the College of Engineering.  

Aviad Rubinstein wins 2017 ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award

CS alumnus Aviad Rubinstein (Ph.D. ' 17, advisor: Christos Papadimitriou) is the recipient of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) 2017 Doctoral Dissertation Award for his dissertation “Hardness of Approximation Between P and NP.”  In his thesis, Rubinstein established the intractability of the approximate Nash equilibrium problem and several other important problems between P and NP-completeness—an enduring problem in theoretical computer science.  His work was featured in a Quanta Magazine article titled "In Game Theory, No Clear Path to Equilibrium" in July. After graduating, Rubinstein became a Rabin Postdoc at Harvard and will join Stanford as an Assistant Professor in the fall.

Christopher Hegarty named CEO of ANCA Group

EE alumnus Chistopher Hegarty (Ph.D. '91, advisor: Lawrence Rowe) has been appointed CEO of ANCA Group, a market leading manufacturer of CNC grinding machines.  Hegarty spent five years working for McKinsey and Company in Zurich before racking up extensive experience working for machine tool manufacturers in Europe and Australasia, including over fifteen years’ experience as CEO or general manager in other organisations.  He joined the ANCA group from Switzerland in July 2017 as the engineering manager of CNC machines and was more recently appointed to general manager of that division.  ANCA CNC grinders are used for manufacturing precision cutting tools and components across a diverse range of competitive industries including cutting tool manufacture, automotive, aerospace, electronics and medical.

Luke Strgar thinks that Blockchain can be used to track gun sales in America

Graduating CS senior Luke Strgar thinks he might have a solution for the fraught issue of guns in America: Use blockchain to track gun sales.  Strgar thinks that Blockchain offers the perfect balance between security, anonymity and scale that could please people on all sides of the gun-control debate.  He spent two days in Washington, D.C. this month pitching the idea of a centralized, ultra-secure, online gun-sale database to legislative aides and think-tank analysts.  A database like this could be monitored by everyone and could not be abused by the government.  “The goal here is to find a solution that both parties can agree on,” Strgar said. “I am not interested in developing something for one side of the discussion, that people try to force down the throat of parties coming from the other side. One of the nice things about technology is that you can develop systems that work for people.”

SiFive receives $50.6M in series C funding

SiFive, a fabless provider of customized semiconductors built on research by alumnus Yunsup Lee (MS '11/Ph.D. '16), alumnus Andrew Waterman (M.S. '11/Ph.D. '16), and Prof. Krste Asanović, received $50.6M in series C funding in April.  Lee is Chief Technology Officer,  Waterman is Chief Engineer, and Asanović is Chief Architect at SiFive. The funding round was co-led by Osage University Partners, Sutter Hill Ventures, Spark Capital, and Intel Capital.  SiFive's semiconductors are built on Risc-V, an instruction set architecture (ISA), which acts as the conduit between a computer's software and hardware.  The series C round is being used to commercialize additional products based on Risc-V.  The company has raised $64.1M in funding to date.

Tony DeRose to speak at Blk Shp STEAM event

CS alumnus Tony DeRose (Ph.D. '85), currently a senior scientist and lead researcher at Pixar, will speak at Indiana University on Saturday for a STEAM event sponsored by Blk Shp, a "loose guild" of socially conscious innovators.  DeRose works with a Young Makers Program that supports youth in "building ambitious, hand-on projects" and is also involved with “Pixar in a Box,” a collaboration with Khan Academy designed to show students how creative challenges at Pixar are addressed using concepts they are learning in classrooms.  DeRose received the ACM SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Achievement Award in 1999 and won a Scientific and Technical Academy Award for his work on surface representations in 2006.

Nick Carlini embeds hidden commands to Alexa and Siri in recordings of music and spoken text

CS graduate student Nicholas Carlini  is featured in a New York Times article titled "Alexa and Siri Can Hear This Hidden Command. You Can’t." He and his advisor, David Wagner, have published a paper showing they can embed audio instructions, undectable by human beings, directly into recordings of music or spoken text. They can secretly activate the artificial intelligence systems on smartphones and smart speakers, making them dial phone numbers or open websites. In the wrong hands, the technology could be used to unlock doors, wire money or buy stuff online — simply with music playing over the radio.  “We want to demonstrate that it’s possible,” he said, “and then hope that other people will say, ‘O.K. this is possible, now let’s try and fix it.’ ”  Carlini was among a group of researchers who showed in 2016 that they could hide commands in white noise played over loudspeakers and through YouTube videos to get smart devices to turn on airplane mode or open a website.

Rikky Muller is building brain implants to change lives

Assistant Prof. Rikky Muller is featured in an Institution of Mechanical Engineers" article titled "This machine can read your mind – engineers unlock secrets of the brain."  The article explores some of the newest breakthroughs in brain-machine interfaces, and some of the obstacles encountered by researchers.  Muller, a co-founder of Cortera Neurotechnologies,  discusses implant therapies like deep-brain stimulation (DBS) and assistive technologies like ‘intra-cortical recording’--where electrodes are inserted directly into patients’ neurons to allow them to control an external device.  She and her colleagues are working on miniaturising these technologies, to make them wireless and less invasive.  “Our vision is to create devices that are so small, safe and minimally invasive that they can be implanted in the patient for their lifetime,” she said.

Jacque Garcia graduates a champion

Graduating CS senior Jacque Garcia, the president of Cal Boxing, is the focus of a Berkeley News article titled "Longtime fighter graduates as a champion."  Garcia, who grew up in Compton and is known for her “mental toughness, determination, dedication and positive attitude,” won the 2018 132-pound National Collegiate Boxing Association (NCBA) championship belt, an Outstanding Boxer Award, and a Cal Boxing women's third-place team award.  She was also both a Code2040 Fellow and CircleCI software engineering intern in 2017, and worked at the Hybrid Ecologies Lab in 2016 to help Ph.D. grad student Cesar Torres develop some features of a 2.5D Computer Aided Design (CAD) tool to reduce complexity of digital modeling by using grey-scale height maps.  Garcia credits the student organization Code the Change for her decision to eventually major in Computer Science. “Graduation is going to be very emotional,” says Garcia. “I didn’t start thinking about college until I was in the eighth grade. I didn’t know if I was going to go to college, I didn’t know how I was going to pay for it. It’s going to be a surreal moment. I can’t believe it’s happening.”

Will Huang, Vedant Saran, and Alvin Wan are 2018 U.S. Imagine Cup Winners

Three EECS students are in the top two teams which won the U.S. Imagine Cup Finals in San Francisco this week.  In the three-day event, sponsored by Microsoft, competing teams from across the United States presented and demoed their tech projects to a panel of VIP judges.  Will Huang (EECS M.Eng. program) and Vedant Saran (EECS senior) are on the 1st place U.C. Berkeley Pengram team, which received a $10k prize plus a $1k Judges' Mixed Reality Award.  The Pengram team built an AR/VR platform which allows engineers from around the world to be holographically ‘teleported’ into a workspace when needed.   Alvin Wan (EECS senior) is on the UC Berkeley/Johns Hopkins Boomerang team, which placed 2nd and received an $8k prize plus a $1k Judges' Data & IoT Award. The Boomerang team created a hybrid device and smartphone platform that monitors inhaler location for patients with asthma, notifying them of missing devices. The 6 winning teams will advance to the Imagine Cup World Finals this summer, where they will represent the United States for the chance to take home the trophy and win the $100,000 grand prize.  The competition is designed to empower "the next generation of computer science students to team up and use their creativity, passion and knowledge of technology to create applications that shape how we live, work and play."