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EECS FLIP alliance faculty & alumni

Berkeley FLIPs for Diversity

When Dan Garcia first attended UC Berkeley as a graduate student, he was amazed at the many different faces and key spaces that make up the world's top public research university.  “I can’t imagine being anywhere else," says Garcia, adding that part of what makes Berkeley special is the confluence of its diverse urban setting, large size, and a campus culture that fosters and celebrates diversity.  Today, as a professor, Garcia is passionate about broadening participation in computer science: “If you want to move the needle on diversity, come join us at UC Berkeley!” The university just announced its membership in the NSF-funded FLIP Alliance (Diversifying Future Leadership In the Professoriate), which consists  of eleven top Computer Science departments that produce over half of new URM CS faculty. FLIP aims to quickly and radically change the demographic diversity of the CS professoriate by sharing best practices for recruiting, retaining, and developing URM graduate students at member institutions. Current Berkeley faculty and students talk about the Department’s welcoming and collaborative atmosphere, and why Berkeley is eager to attract talented URM applicants and stop “leaving so much talent on the table,” in the words of Cuban-American professor Armando Fox.

Diane Greene shares insight at Dreamforce conference

CS alumna Diane Greene (M.S. '88) sat down with Ginni Rometty and Marc Benioff at the Dreamforce conference last week to talk about women leaders in tech.  Greene, who is currently the CEO of Google Cloud, started out designing offshore oil structures and systems before becoming a software engineer.  She founded several successful companies, most notably VMware, which created the market for virtualization.  She and Rometty, who is the CEO of IBM, stand among the ranks of the tech giants of industry--almost all of whom are men.   They discussed their careers, leadership philosophies, and how they approach their responsibilites as women in power.

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).

CS major Saloni Shah

Saloni Shah and Dan Garcia talk about challenges for women in CS

Senior CS major Saloni Shah and Teaching Prof. Dan Garcia are featured in a TechRepublic cover story titled "The state of women in computer science: An investigative report."   They discuss some of the challenges of attracting and retaining women students in computer science, and some of the efforts that Berkeley has made to bridge the gap.  Shah has interned at Google the past two summers and has participated in—and won—several collegiate hackathons.  She describes instances where her fellow students have suggested that her achievements were the result of affirmative action.  "I have all of these projects," she says. "I have definitely shown I can do it."  "I don't think they actually believe that women don't belong in computer science," she adds. But when they say that her accomplishments were possible only because she received special treatment as a woman, she explains that it's usually "a means of justifying why they didn't get something."

CS Prof. Emeritus David Patterson

David Patterson responds to former Google employee's memo about diversity

CS Prof. Emeritus David Patterson published an opinion piece in Wired in response to former Google employee James Damore’s memo, in which Damore stressed that women are biologically different and not suited to working in technology companies like Google.  Patterson, along with Maria Klawe of Harvey Mudd College and John Hennessy of Stanford, highlighted four main points in rebuttal to Damore’s memo: 1) implicit bias exists, 2) members of underrepresented groups are discouraged by daily biases not experienced by others, 3) a shortage of software engineers will limit the growth of the industry, and 4) it's more effective to discuss these issues face-to-face than via electronic communication.

Berkeley is one of the best computer science colleges for women

U.C. Berkeley made StudySoup's list of the top 20 female-friendly computer science programs in the country.  The graduate student group WICSE (Women in Computer Science and Engineering) is credited for the ranking because they are working to "build a more inclusive environment in the industry. In addition to outreach programs for younger students, the organization partners with research institutions and corporate partners to host workshops and network events."

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.

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.