News

EECS alumnus Gary May, Chancellor of U.C. Davis

Gary May and Sheila Humphreys interviewed for Inside Higher Ed

EECS alumnus Gary S. May (M.S. '88/Ph.D. '91, advisor: Costas Spanos), the first Black chancellor of UC Davis, is the focus of an Inside Higher Ed story highlighting the unique bond between three Black Berkeley Engineering alumni in the 1980s, all of whom have gone on to lead top research institutions. Reggie DesRoches has become the president of Rice University, and Darryll Pines is the president of the University of Maryland, College Park. The three met at Berkeley where they studied different fields of engineering. The article describes the unique landscape of diversity in the era before Proposition 209, and interviewed EECS staff emerita, Sheila Humphreys for the story, who was then the EECS director of diversity, as well as Dean Liu who said this past academic year (2021-22) “is the first year that we ended up with a higher percentage [of undergraduate underrepresented minorities] then even before Prop 209.” In fostering the minority engineering programs (MEP) of the 1980s, Sheila attributes the "unwavering administrative support" of the late Dean Pister, and a "comprehensive, whole-student approach."

CS Prof-Led proposal wins California Education Learning Lab award of up to $650,000

A CS Prof.-led proposal has been selected to receive a California Education Learning Lab award of up to $650,000. The proposal, “A’s-for-All (A4A): Scaling Mastery Learning Through Technology, Advocacy, Policy, and Partnerships” was led by CS Profs. Armando Fox and Dan Garcia in partnership with California State University, Long Beach, and El Camino College. The grant is designed to scale successful Learning Lab projects, expanding the positive impacts of STEM in public higher education. A4A proposes to build upon an open-source technology platform from UIUC to reorient formative and summative assessment toward mastery learning, ultimately providing students every opportunity to learn and demonstrate proficiency in various areas of introductory computer science courses. The scaling proposal will develop concept mapping tools so that faculty and students can track progress in student learning, and implement automated approaches to provide more flexibility for the ways in which students are able to demonstrate proficiency/mastery of the course.

EECS faculty applaud graduates’ resilience

EECS Assistant Prof. Nika Haghtalab and CS Assistant Prof. and Associate Prof. in the School of Information, David Bamman, are quoted in a Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS) article about the resiliency and determination of the 2022 graduating class, particularly during the pandemic. “This generation of students has persevered, despite these global challenges, to forge a real community with their peers,” said Bamman. They also anticipated the ways the graduates will use their new skills to shape our collective future. “We need graduates who understand the technical methods of data science, their limitations and sources of bias, and the broader context in which information is used to drive policy, inform decision-making, and shape opinion,” Bamman said.  Haghtalab noted that “this is a great time to enter the workforce and contribute to the shaping of data science and computing for the advancement and betterment of the world.”

Berkeley EECS ranks 1 & 2 in 2023 US News graduate rankings

Berkeley EECS is once again ranked as the #1 Electrical/Electronic/Communications Engineering graduate program in the country for 2023, tied with MIT and  Stanford.  The Berkeley Computer Engineering graduate program ranked #2 (tied with Stanford), as did the Computer Science graduate program (tied with Carnegie Mellon and Stanford).  Berkeley Engineering, as a whole, again ranked #3.

Robots, AI and podcasting: a Q&A with Pieter Abbeel

EECS Prof. Pieter Abbeel launched “The Robot Brains Podcast” in the spring of 2021.   In each episode, he is joined by leading experts in AI Robotics from around the world to explore how far humanity has come in its mission to create conscious computers, mindful machines and rational robots.  Abbeel sits down for a Q&A with Berkeley Engineering, in which he discusses his experience with podcasting and how it has shaped his own thinking about communicating AI to a broader audience.

3 UC Presidents and Gary S. May

UC Davis Chancellor and EECS alumnus Gary S. May (M.S. '88/Ph.D. '91, advisor: Costas Spanos) took the stage with UC President Michael V. Drake and Presidents Emeriti Janet S. Napolitano and Mark G. Yudof  for the UCD Chancellor's Colloquium on March 8th.  The four discussed the challenges they faced and lessons learned during their tenures in office.  Topics included the impact of the pandemic on campus communities, the importance of public health, and the efficacy of remote learning; the university's federal lawsuit over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program; approaches to managing UC funding cuts, including maintaining access to retirement plans and student aid;  and America's cultural and democratic future, including ways that universities might help shape it.

Marti Hearst is named iSchool's new head of school

CS Prof. and alumna Marti Hearst (B.A. '85/M.S. '89/Ph.D. '94, advisor: Robert Wilensky) has been named the new head of school for UC Berkeley's School of Information (iSchool).   Hearst, who was the iSchool's first assistant professor in 1997, is taking over the position from CS Prof. Hany Farid.  She will manage the day-to-day operations of the unit, which is an affiliate of the Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS),  and communicate its vision on and off campus.  Hearst is known for her work automating sentiment analysis and word sense disambiguation. She invented an algorithm known as “Hearst Patterns," which is used in commercial text mining operations, and developed a now commonly-used automatic text segmentation approach called TextTiling.   She will serve as head of school through June 30, 2023.

2022 Diversity in Tech Symposium: Advancing Climate Resilience - March 10-11th

A number of EECS faculty and students are slated to participate in the 2022 Diversity in Tech Symposium, which will be held virtually on March 10 & 11.  This year's theme is "Advancing Climate Resilience."  EECS Prof. Tsu-Jae King Liu, dean of Berkeley Engineering, will warm up the audience with a fireside chat on the symposium's topic;  EECS Prof. Costas Spanos, director of the CITRIS and Banatao Institute, will welcome participants to the second day of the event;  Adjunct Prof. Sascha von Meier will participate in the UC Berkeley-hosted panel Getting to zero: Trends in the built environment; and senior EECS major Katherine Shu will represent WiCSE in a presentation on the Career Fair.  The symposium is open to the public and anyone interested in climate innovation and action, and the advancement of women and underrepresented communities working in technology fields, is encouraged to attend.

Jelani Nelson wins 2022 CRA-E Undergraduate Research Faculty Mentoring Award

CS Prof. Jelani Nelson has won the 2022 Computing Research Association Education (CRA-E) Undergraduate Research Faculty Mentoring Award.  This award recognizes "individual faculty members who have provided exceptional mentorship, undergraduate research experiences and, in parallel, guidance on admission and matriculation of these students to research-focused graduate programs in computing."  Nelson was cited for exceptional mentoring of undergraduate students at a time when "interest in graduate school and research careers is relatively low" and graduate students are crucially needed for "the health of the computing research pipeline."  The award will be presented at a conference later this year.

Tuff Pupil: A Hip Hop Series about Global STEM Issues

CS Profs. John Kubiatowicz and Ken Goldberg, along with Berkeley's Director of Research IT, Ken Lutz, have collaborated with the Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) and the Lawrence Berkeley Lab (LBL) to create an animated series called "Tuff Pupil" which teaches children, ages 7 to 10,  about important cyber security concepts and other global STEM issues. Familiarizing children with these topics has become even more critical since the full-scale adoption of computers for remote learning in response to the pandemic.  Tuff Pupil has so far launched three 5-minute animated video episodes featuring "high school hip hop duo" Taye and Flori (Tommy Soulati Shepherd and Kaitlin McGaw of Grammy-nominated Alphabet Rock) who rap about data privacy in catchy ways that evoke the Schoolhouse Rock shorts of the 1970s and 80s. Parents, educators, librarians and community leaders are encouraged to share these videos with children in their "homes, schools and youth organizations to support conversations about how to safely and smartly use the internet."  New episodes are planned for 2022 which will demystify everyday phenomena related to "data science, climate disruption, contagion, clean energy, and artificial intelligence."