education

David Culler named Interim Dean for the Division of Data Sciences

Prof. David Culler has been appointed the Interim Dean for the newly created Division of Data Sciences.  The purpose of the new division is to bring techniques to bear in statistics, mathematics, and computer science on new sources of data.  One of their goals is the creation of an undergraduate data science major and data science minor.   Prof. Culler's duties will include fostering a cooperative atmosphere among the relevant faculties; working with the administration to form an advisory board with representation of key external constituencies; advancing fundraising efforts in concert with broader campus fundraising objectives; and enlisting a team of Berkeley faculty members who will work with him to develop the initiative. He will begin his new role on July 1, 2017 for a two-year term.

Certificate in Design Innovation is launched

A new certificate program, the Berkeley Certificate in Design Innovation (BCDI),  is the result of a cross-disciplinary, cross-departmental partnership between the College of Environmental Design, the College of Engineering, the Haas School of Business and the College of Letters and Science’s Arts and Humanities Division.  It offers all undergraduates at Cal an opportunity to foster a critical mindset, collaboratively define problems, and develop the technical proficiency to innovate broadly outside of their major.  CS Associate Professor and BCDI advisor Eric Paulos says “I can’t wait to see what this cross pollination of design methods, materials, tools and most of all people will bring to not just UC Berkeley but to our communities – from the local to the global.”  BCDI will be hosting an open house event on Friday, April 21 at noon at Jacobs Hall for prospective students to learn more about the Certificate, meet faculty members involved, and hear from guest speakers and UC Berkeley alumni.

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.

The Beauty & Joy of Computing featured in the New York Times

Dr. Daniel Garcia and his course "CS10: The Beauty and Joy of Computing" (BJC) are featured in a New York Times article about curricula designed to develop computational thinking in students.  The article, titled "Learning to Think Like a Computer," covers strategies at a number of top institutions and highlights BJC, a CS course for nonmajors which focuses on the abstract principles underpinning computing instead of just teaching students to code.  “The idea of abstraction,” Dan says, “is to hide the details.”  Concealing layers of information makes it possible to get at the intersections of things, improving aspects of a complicated system without understanding and grappling with each part.  The abstraction of computational thinking allows advances without having to redesign from scratch and offers a new language and orientation to tackle problems in many other areas of life.

Student startup culture is in The House

A number of EECS alumni and faculty have been invited to guest lecture for a DeCal course called "Build the Future" (CS 198), designed in collaboration with startup institute The House, to get undergraduate students engaged with the Berkeley entrepreneurial ecosystem and to use their time on campus creatively.  CS majors Jimmy Liu and Zuhayeer Musa (who run a company called Bash) helped develop the course, CS Prof. Scott Shenker is the faculty advisor, and Cameron Baradar (B.S.’15 EECS) is executive director of The House.  Speakers will include CS Prof. Joe Hellerstein, EE Prof. Kurt Keutzer, co-founder of Oculus Jack McCauley (B.S.’86, EECS), and founder of inDinero Jessica Mah (B.S.’10 EECS).

Björn Hartmann is countering extremism with technology

Designing Technology to Counter Violent Extremism,” a course co-taught by CS Associate Prof. Björn Hartmann at the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation, is designed to develop technology-based solutions to ideologically motivated violence in the United States.  In the class, students seek to understand the roots of violent extremism and conceive of technological antidotes. “The Internet — from viral videos to hijacked hashtags to bot networks — has emerged as a key arena in which violent extremists engage with the public,” the course description reads. “But technology is also a key tool in the fight against extremism.”

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.

A new understanding of the world through grassroots Data Science education

Vani Mandava, the Director of Data Science at Microsoft Research, has written an article about the innovative course Foundations of Data Science taught by CS Assistant Teaching Prof. John DeNero and Ani Adhikari, a Teaching Professor in the Department of Statistics.  Mandava examines the motives and experiences of the students, and describes the aim of Berkeley’s Data Science Education Program (supported in part by Microsoft) to make data science an integral feature of a liberal education and a core interdisciplinary capacity available to all Berkeley undergraduates.

The search is on for interim dean of new Division of Data Science

Although it is too early to know the candidates, interim Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Carol Christ has announced that a member of faculty will be appointed interim dean of the new Division of Data Science at UC Berkeley.   Cathryn Carson, co-chair of the faculty advisory board, said the appointment of an interim dean is an important initial step in advancing the research and education of data science on campus.  CS Prof. David Culler said UC Berkeley has already been developing the foundations of the new field, which lies at the intersection of computer science and statistics.  Culler said the purpose of the new division is not only to distinguish the field with importance but also to integrate data science with all other divisions in the school. He added that the faculty advisory board hopes to include the division in the College of Letters and Sciences as well as the College of Engineering and that the position will give data science “a seat at the table” when deans are discussing on-campus issues.

UC Berkeley is ranked #1 school for coding in the US

According to Business Insider, most college computer science rankings only include factors like the number of research papers published, global reputation, etc., while ignoring practical coding skills. HackerRank, a free coding practice website that allows developers to hone their coding skills by solving challenges, launched a University Rankings Competition to figure out which schools produce the best coders.  Berkeley was ranked #1 in America and #4 internationally out of over 5,000 participants from 126 schools.