Berkeley is #1 university open source contributor

UC Berkeley is the top ranked university in the third annual Octoverse Report list of "Open source contributions made by employees of different organizations," with 2700 contributions.  Berkeley is the fourth ranked organization overall--after Microsoft, Google, and Red Hat.  The Octoverse Report is a roundup of GitHub data across global repositories from the last 12 months.  Four other universities made the top ten:  the University of Washington  (6th place with 1800 contributions), MIT (8th place with 1700), UMich and Stanford (tied 9th with 1600 contributions each) .  

New controller means fancier footwork for Salto-IP

Salto-IP, UC Berkeley's one-legged jumping robot, has been outfitted with an upgraded controller which improves precision on landing.  The robot is featured in a TechXplore article titled "UC Berkeley team gives jumping robot higher goals than bouncy-bouncy."   It describes a paper presented earlier this month at IROS 2018 in Madrid by Prof. Ronald Fearing and graduate researcher Justin Yim titled "Precision Jumping Limits from Flight-phase Control in Salto-1P."  The researchers have come up with a new control algorithm "that can land Salto-1P's foot at particular spots on the ground like jumping on stepping stones or playing one-leg hopscotch."  

Undergraduates working to create smallest maneuverable satellite to fly into space

EECS undergraduates Aviral Pandey (EE lead), Olivia Hsu (board design/firmware), Kevin Zheng (board design/software/radio) and Malhar Patel (external/software), as well as Travis Brashears (Eng. Physics/EECS minor, tech lead) and Daniel Shen (MechE, software/mechanical) comprise  a team of Berkeley seniors who are creating what they hope will be the smallest maneuverable satellite to fly into space. They plan to launch seven of their "SpinorSats," which weigh less than 10 grams each and are about the size of an Apple Watch, with KickSat aboard a CubeSat Deployer.   With an advanced power management system, radio, and maneuverability system, they hope to push what is possible from cellular technology to eventually build connectivity between large networks of satellites.

Urmila Mahadev Solves Quantum Verification Problem

CS postdoctoral researcher Urmila Mahadev (advisor: Umesh Vazirani) has come up with an interactive protocol by which users with no quantum powers of their own can employ cryptography to put a harness on a quantum computer and drive it wherever they want, with the certainty that the quantum computer is following their orders.  Her work, which addressed the question "How do you know whether a quantum computer has done anything quantum at all?" was awarded the “best paper” and “best student paper” prizes when it was presented at the Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science this month.  CIT computer scientistThomas Vidick calls her result “one of the most outstanding ideas to have emerged at the interface of quantum computing and theoretical computer science in recent years.”

Elizaveta Tremsina places first in Tapia 2018 poster session

Undergraduate Elizaveta Tremsina, a member of the EECS Honors Program who is triple-majoring in CS, Physics and Applied Math, took first place in the Microsoft-sponsored student research poster competition at the 2018 ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing.  Her project, titled "Your Story Recorded in a Magnet: Micromagnetic Simulations of Spin-Orbit Torque in Multi-layer Structures," was overseen by Prof. Sayeef Salahuddin.  She was part of one of the largest delegations of EECS students, staff, and faculty ever to participate in the Tapia conference,  known as the premier venue to acknowledge, promote and celebrate diversity in computing.   This year's conference, which was held last week in Orlando, Florida, promoted the theme "Diversity: Roots of Innovation."

Nico Deshler will present at Council on Undergraduate Research REU Symposium

Research undertaken by undergraduate student Nico Deshler will be presented at the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Symposium in Alexandria, VA, on October 28-29.   Deshler's project, "Multi-Sensor Arrays: Augmenting 3D Reconstruction Volumes for Mask-Based Computational Cameras," was done as part of the CS Summer Undergraduate Program in Engineering Research at Berkeley (SUPERB) under the mentorship of Prof. Laura Waller and EECS PhD student, Kristina Monakhova.  The goal of the EECS SUPERB Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) program is to prepare and motivate diverse, competitive candidates for graduate study.

David Wang and Samantha Wathugala named 2019 Siebel Scholars

CS graduate students David Wang and Samantha Wathugala have been named to the Siebel Scholars Foundation’s 2019 class.  The Siebel Scholars program recognizes top students at the world’s leading graduate schools of bioengineering, business, computer science and energy science, and comes with a $35,000 award.  Wathugala applies state-of-the-art deep learning techniques to object detection, grasping and manipulation in an unstructured domain, using a toy-collecting robot.  Wang uses deep learning to build accurate, reliable systems for precision irrigation and autonomous driving.

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.

Alisha Menon will study ways to help the brain talk to computers

Incoming graduate student Alisha Menon is featured in a community post on the Beaverton Patch titled "Brilliant Teen Seeks PhD At UC Berkeley With STEM Award."  Menon graduated from Oregon Connections Academy (ORCA), a statewide online public high school, at age 16 and took only 3 years to complete her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Arizona State University.  She will attend Berkeley in the fall on an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, studying Control, Intelligent Systems, and Robotics (CIR).  "I see the potential for infinite applications - from prosthetics controlled directly by neural signals to brain-computer interfaces that will eliminate the need for secondary interaction tools like keyboards," Menon said. "There are so many directions (that) technology that interacts with the brain can go. Some of these ideas are currently being developed such as virtual reality/artificial reality interfaces, rehabilitation systems, and deep brain stimulation for Parkinson's. Other ideas are more futuristic such as 'typing' using neural signals. I can't wait to be a part of this field as it grows and develops!"

K. Shankari warns that Google is tracking you

CS graduate student K.Shankari (advisors: Randy Katz and David Culler) is featured in an AP News article titled "AP Exclusive: Google tracks your movements, like it or not."  Shankari, who studies the commuting patterns of volunteers in order to help urban planners,  noticed that her Android phone prompted her to rate a shopping trip to Kohl’s, even though she had turned Location History off.  When Location History is turned off,  iPhones and Androids display pop-ups which say "None of your Google apps will be able to store location data in Location History" and “places you go with your devices will stop being added to your Location History map," respectively.  However, the Google account web page admits that “some location data may be saved as part of your activity on other Google services, like Search and Maps.”  “I am not opposed to background location tracking in principle,” said Shankari. “It just really bothers me that it is not explicitly stated.”