K-12 outreach

Deanna Gelosi wins Best Full Paper Award at ACM IDC 2021

"PlushPal: Storytelling with Interactive Plush Toys and Machine Learning," co-authored by CS Masters student Deanna Gelosi (advisor: Dan Garcia), has won the Best Full Paper Award at the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Interaction Design for Children (IDC) conference 2021.  IDC is "the premier international conference for researchers, educators and practitioners to share the latest research findings, innovative methodologies and new technologies in the areas of inclusive child-centered design, learning and interaction."  The paper, which was presented in the "Physical Computing for Learning" conference session, describes PlushPal, "a web-based design tool for children to make plush toys interactive with machine learning (ML). With PlushPal, children attach micro:bit hardware to stuffed animals, design custom gestures for their toy, and build gesture-recognition ML models to trigger their own sounds."  It creates "a novel design space for children to express their ideas using gesture, as well as a description of observed debugging practices, building on efforts to support children using ML to enhance creative play."  Gelosi's degree will be in the field of Human-Computer Interaction and New Media, and her research interests include creativity support tools, traditional craft and computing technologies, digital fabrication, and equity in STEAM.  She is a member of the Berkeley Center for New Media (BCNM), the Berkeley Institute of Design (BID), and the Tinkering Studio--an R&D lab in the San Francisco Exploratorium.

Rediet Abebe and Jelani Nelson to participate in U-M Africa Week

CS Prof. Jelani Nelson and Assistant Prof. Rediet Abebe will be participating on a panel about the "Role of Computing in Africa's Economic Future" at the University of Michigan Africa Week conference on Tuesday, February 16th, from 9:30 am to 10:45 (EST).  U-M Africa Week brings together "thought leaders in higher education, industry, and government for a series of discussions on the key issues and opportunities that will shape Africa in the coming decades."  Nelson is a member of the UC Berkeley Theory Group and is the founder and co-organizer of AddisCoder, a free intensive 4-week summer program which introduces Ethiopian high schoolers to programming and algorithms.  Abebe studies artificial intelligence and algorithms, with a focus on equity and justice concerns.  She is co-founder and co-organizer of the multi-institutional, interdisciplinary research initiative Mechanism Design for Social Good (MD4SG).  The conference will run from February 15 to 19, 2021.

Ken and Blooma Goldberg show you "How to Train Your Robot"

A 15-minute video version of the children's book "How to Train Your Robot," written by CS Prof. Ken Goldberg and his daughter, Blooma, has been released by the CITRIS Banatao Institute.  Aimed  at children ages six to eleven, it tells the story of a group of 4th graders who decide to build a robot to clean their workshop.  Designed to inspire girls and members of other under-represented groups to explore engineering, robotics, and coding for themselves, it's the perfect introduction for kids who are curious about robots and want to know more about how they work.    The video utilizes animatics with story narration, and is subtitled in English, Spanish, Japanese, Hindi, and simplified Chinese.   Co-written by Ashley Chase and illustrated by Dave Clegg, the book was published with support from the NSF and the the Lawrence Hall of Science in 2019.

Hopper-Dean awards EECS department $2M for diversity initiatives

The Hopper-Dean Foundation has awarded the EECS department $2 million over two years to support diversity initiatives in computer science.  The gift follows the success of a $1M grant awarded by Hopper-Dean in 2016 to include and support more CS students from underrepresented groups at Berkeley.   The grant will fund initiatives targeting high school students (Beauty & Joy of Computing), community college students (Transfer-To-Excellence), 1st and 2nd year undergraduates (CS Kickstart, CS Scholars, CS Mentors), 2nd and 3rd year undergraduates (Teaching at Scale), and 1st year graduates (EECS Graduate Fellows).  These initiatives have shown real results.  In just the past two years, the number of women who graduated in CS and EECS majors increased by 47%, and the number of underrepresented minority students increased by 43%.  Over the past eight years, the number of women enrolled in the EECS graduate program has more than doubled and minority graduate students increased by more than 50%.

Nolan Pokpongkiat wins third place David L. Kirp Prize

Third-year Computer Science undergraduate Nolan Pokpongkiat is the third place winner of the KIDS FIRST: David L. Kirp Prize, funded by the U.C. Berkeley Institute for the Study of Societal Issues.  The prize recognizes "students who have developed innovative strategies to increase opportunities for children and youth, as well as students who have demonstrated a commitment to improving the future of children and youth."  Pokpongkiat co-founded Helix, a non-profit organization with the goal of diversifying the healthcare field by empowering young people to pursue futures in medicine. As Managing Director, Nolan brought together a team to design a month-long summer program where high school students spend a week living at UC Berkeley training in basic clinical skills, getting CPR-certified, and learning about possible healthcare careers. Then, through partnerships with UCSF Health, John Muir Health, and Kaiser Permanente, along with a network of over 160 medical professionals, students rotate through shadowing placements in the hospital, on the ambulance, and in community clinics for the remainder of the month.

College of Engineering reports 7% increase in female students admitted for 2018-19

UC Berkeley’s College of Engineering has seen a 7 percent increase in the number of female students admitted for the 2018–19 academic year, according to the college’s admissions statistics.  Multiple strategies have been implemented in recent years to increase the number of female engineering students: reaching out to middle school students, making work more relevant to societal needs, offering hands-on experience, and building community.  Female engineering students have faced difficulty entering the male-dominated college.  In 2017, women constituted 25 percent of freshmen and 19 percent of transfers, this year, women made up 32 percent of incoming freshmen and 26 percent of transfers.

Kevin Wang tackles technology with TEALS program

Alumnus Kevin Wang (B.S. '02) is mentioned in an Observer Reporter article titled "Trinity tackles technology with TEALS program."  Wang, who went on to earn an M.Ed. in Technology, Innovation, and Education (TIE) from Harvard, created a Microsoft Philanthropies program called Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS) to showcase technology's influence to students .  TEALS is a grassroots program designed to help high schools teach computer science by recruiting, training, and mentoring teams of high tech professionals who partner with classroom teachers.  It is currently being implemented at Trinity High School in Washington County, Pennsylvania.

Dan Garcia

Dan Garcia praises educators working to expand CS learning in Alabama's schools

Teaching Prof. Dan Garcia is quoted in a WBRC Fox 6 News article  which discusses how a group of Alabama teachers are working to expand computer science education opportunities for students in rural Alabama and inner-city Birmingham.  Garcia, who was part of the 2017 Alabama Teachers Computer Science Summit at The University of Alabama, praised efforts of teachers and advocates in Alabama and across the country, for their work to expand CS education. "Graduation day is the happiest day of my life, when I see all of the people who took my course four years ago, and got hooked on it," Garcia said. "They can do anything. Every single industry is being affected by data."

Marie desJardins (photo: Anita B.org)

Marie desJardins wins A. Richard Newton Educator ABIE Award

CS alumna Marie desJardins (Ph.D. '92 adviser: Stuart Russell) has won the 2017 A. Richard Newton Educator ABIE Award. The award, named in honor of the late EE Prof. Richard Newton and presented annually at the Grace Hopper Celebration,  recognizes educators who develop innovative teaching practices and approaches that attract girls and women to computing, engineering, and math.  desJardins has become known nationally for her support of and commitment to improving student diversity, access, and quality of computer science courses at the high school level, and has received multiple NSF awards to support her efforts in this area.  She is currently Associate Dean and Professor of Computer Science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).

Barbara Grosz receives ACL Lifetime Achievement Award

Alumna Barbara Grosz (CS M.S. '71/Ph.D. '77), Higgins Professor of Natural Sciences at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), has received the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL).  The award recognizes the work of a researcher who has made sustained and impactful contributions to the field of Computational Linguistics/Natural Language Processing. Grosz has spent her career working to make human-computer interactions as fluent as human-to-human interaction. Her recent research has focused on fundamental problems in modeling collaborative activity, developing systems ("agents") able to collaborate with each other and their users, and constructing collaborative, multi-modal systems for human-computer communication.  Her current research projects focus on using results of prior work to improve health care coordination and enhance K-12 science education.