Armando Solar-Lezama: Academic success despite an inauspicious start

Alumnus and Mexican immigrant Armando Solar-Lezama (CS Ph.D. '08) is the subject of an MIT News article describing some of the academic obstacles he had to overcome on his path to becoming a tenured professor at MIT.  Armando's creative  approaches to his class assignments were discouraged in Mexico and despite self-educating to narrow the gap, he experienced systematic repression in high school when he moved to Texas with his family in 1997.  After he graduated from Texas A&M, he was welcomed into the Berkeley EECS graduate program.  Under the mentorship of Prof. Ras Bodik, Armando discovered the nascent area of "program synethesis," which has since blossomed into a popular field of research.  Read about Armando's challenging and inspiring journey.

Two EECS alums on panel discussing challenges of female innovators

2017 EE Distinguished Alumnus Anantha Chandrakasan (B.S. '89/M.S. 90/Ph.D. 94) and EECS alumna Gitanjali Swamy (Ph.D. '97) are both participating in a TiE-Boston and  IIT AGNE panel discussion on the "unique strengths of and challenges for female innovators and the ecosystem that supports them."  Anantha is the Vannevar Bush Professor of EECS at MIT and the recipient of the IEEE Donald O. Pederson Award in Solid-State Circuits.  Gitanjali is a managing partner at IoTask, an “Innovation of Things” (IoT) company, and founder/advisory board member of the U.C. Berkeley Women in Technology Center.  The panel will be hosted at MIT on May 24, 2017.

Avideh Zakhor: the brains behind Google Earth and Street View

Computer vision pioneer Prof. Avideh Zakhor is the subject of a Mercury News profile titled "Avideh Zakhor: the brains behind Google Earth and Street View,"  which touches on her emigration from Iran,  the creation of the 3-D city modeling technology for a Defense Department-funded start-up which she ultimately sold to Google, and her current research on indoor mapping.  She also discusses the value of encouraging skilled immigrant workers to come to the U.S and the importance of getting more women into STEM fields.  "Maybe then we wouldn’t in Silicon Valley have a shortage of STEM workers — it makes it very hard for tech companies to operate; the labor market is very tight." she says.

BiasBusters at the Community Grants Showcase

BiasBusters @ Cal EECS will make a presentation at this year's Community Grants Showcase:  Changing Social Norms on April 19, 2017.  BiasBusters @ Cal EECS focuses on engaging EECS faculty, staff, and students to shift culture and increase the inclusion of women and underrepresented minorities in our community.   The program, modeled on Google’s Bias Busting @ Work program, was initiated by Director of Diversity and Achievement Tiffany Reardon and is organized by graduate students Vasuki Swamy and Regina Eckert.  Regular workshops are led by volunteers in the EECS community who have been trained as program facilitators in an effort to promote self-awareness about unconscious bias and teach how to address it in our department and daily lives.  The grant was sponsored by the PATH to Care Center with support from the Violence Prevention Collaborative.

Tomás Vega rises to a disability challenge

Tomás Vega, a senior computer science and cognitive science major, was part of a team that participated in the first collegiate Tikkun Olam Makers (TOM) event and which was profiled in a Jewish News article titled "Cal students pull a marathon to engineer disability solutions."  His team, led by Berkeley alumnus Pierluigi Mantovani, designed a special pair of gloves to help a Berkeley filmmaker with very limited use of his hands navigate a computer screen.  The filmmaker, who had to use a joystick with his lower lip to navigate, can now perform the same task by just slightly moving his wrists.  The gloves use electromyography, which detects signals from his muscles.   “When someone tells you, ‘Thank you for changing my life, for improving the quality of my life,’ there’s nothing like that,” Vega said.

Anca Dragan wants more human-centered AI4ALL

At the Berkeley AI Research (BAIR) Camp this year, Assistant Prof. Anca Dragan will lead AI4ALL, a Berkeley education program designed to introduce high potential, low income high schoolers to humanistic AI.  In an article titled "The future of AI needs to have more people in it" she discusses the importance of creating AI with humans in mind and the value of diverse approaches to the field.

Valerie Taylor named ACM fellow

Alumna Valerie Taylor (EE M.S. '86/Ph.D. '91), now a computer science professor at Texas A&M University, has been named a 2016 Fellow by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).  Taylor is one of 53 ACM members honored for their contributions to computer science. She is being lauded for her “leadership in broadening participation in computing" and is the subject of an article in Black Enterprise.

Center for Advancing Women in Technology logo

Center for Advancing Women in Technology launches Technology Pathways Initiative

Center for Advancing Women in Technology (CAWIT) in collaboration with  U.C. Berkeley, San Francisco State University and San José State University, through $3M in investment from Intel Corporation, KLA-Tencor Foundation, and Salesforce, will launch the Technology Pathways Initiative (TPI), to increase participation of women in CS fields through the development of new interdisciplinary CS degree programs at three pilot campuses in 2017. Prof. Tsu-Jae King Liu has been developing the Women In Technology workshop at UC Berkeley.

Colleen Lewis looks at social justice and equity within CS

Alumna Prof. Colleen Lewis (EECS B.S. '05/CS M.S. '09), now teaching at Harvey Mudd College, is profiled in an article about the award-winning women attending the 2016 Grace Hopper Conference.  Colleen won the 2016 Denise Denton Emerging Leader ABIE Award for young tenure-track faculty doing research involving engineering or physical sciences, who positively influence and promote diversity.  Colleen created, a National Science Foundation funded website that offers tips for teaching computer science.

Alexandria Finley's graceful pas de deux of ballet and EECS

EECS sophomore Alexandria Finley has been selected to compete in the 2016 Genée International Ballet Competition as one of the 10 participants sponsored by the Royal Academy of Dance.  One hundred dancers will compete over 10 days this December in Sydney, Australia, at the Genée,  one of the most prestigious ballet competitions in the world.  Alexandria describes how she balances her passions for dance, computer science, and physics in an interview with Heather Levien.