(Photo by Keegan Houser)

Joshua Hug wins 2023 UC Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award

Professor Joshua Hug has won the University of California, Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award. Presented by the Academic Senate, the Distinguished Teaching Award (DTA) is considered UC Berkeley’s most prestigious award for teaching. The DTA recognizes individual faculty “for sustained excellence in teaching.” Recipients are among the brightest teaching stars on campus, widely recognized for their inspiring and transformational teaching. The highly selective, multi-phase nomination process seeks teachers who incite intellectual curiosity and whose teaching has a life-long impact. Only 223 faculty have received the award since its inception in 1959, including several from Berkeley EECS. Hug is known for teaching CS 61B, an introductory computer science course on data structures that regularly enrolls over 1500 students each spring. DTA  winners are frequently called upon by the campus community to provide a voice on issues related to teaching. They serve on forums, panels, and committees involving teaching issues, and they are advocates for excellence in teaching at Berkeley.


Jessy Lin and Abhishek Shetty win 2023 Apple Scholars in AI/ML PhD fellowships

Two EECS graduate students, Jessy Lin (advisors: Anca Dragan and Dan Klein) and Abhishek Shetty (advisor: Nika Haghtalab) have been named 2023 recipients of the Apple Scholars in AI/ML PhD fellowship. This fellowship recognizes graduate and postgraduate students in the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Apple Scholars are selected based on “innovative research, record as thought leaders and collaborators, and commitment to advancing their respective fields.” Jessy Lin’s research is focused on using language as a medium to build agents that can collaborate and interact with humans. Abhishek Shetty’s research is broadly interested in theoretical computer science and machine learning, understanding how learning theory, complexity theory, and probability interact with each other. Apple Scholars receive funding to support their research, and mentorship with an Apple researcher in their field.

BESSA board members Bridget Agyare, Farhiya Ali, Jesus Wilkins, Mialy Rasetarinera, Megane Tchatchouang, and Laila Walker at the anniversary event.
BESSA board members Bridget Agyare, Farhiya Ali, Jesus Wilkins, Mialy Rasetarinera, Megane Tchatchouang, and Laila Walker. (Photo: Rhett Jones Jr. Photography)

BESSA, BGESS celebrate milestone anniversaries

The Black Engineering and Science Student Association (BESSA), and Black Graduate Engineering and Science Students (BGESS), celebrated their 55th and 35th anniversaries, respectively. The anniversary celebration and community building event, which took place on February 11, 2023, was hosted by the Black Engineering and Science Alumni Club (BESAC), and began with a daytime speaker series, followed by a reception at Alumni House. Several EECS alumni were in attendance, such as UC Davis Chancellor and EECS distinguished alumni Gary May (M.S.’88, Ph.D. ’91 EECS) and Valerie Taylor (Ph.D. ’91 EECS), director of the mathematics and computer science division at Argonne National Lab. Other notable alumni who were present include Marie-Ange Eyoum Tagne (M.S. ’03, Ph.D. ’06 EECS), head of product at Yahoo! and Omoju Miller (Ph.D. ‘16 CS Education), CEO and founder of Fimio; Hakim Weatherspoon (Ph.D. ‘06 CS), now a professor of computer science at Cornell, participated in a Black faculty panel. The celebration also marked the 5th anniversary of BESAC. “Being with my fellow BESSA peers and hearing the inspirational stories of BESSA alumni was a very emotional experience for me,” said Bridget Agyare, who is an undergraduate EECS major and BESSA board member. “These successful and distinguished alumni were just like us– they invested time and effort into BESSA’s legacy, they were passionate about STEM, and they were leaders in their community– and seeing what they have achieved reassures me that one day our hard work will pay off and we will succeed as well."


Hannah Joo receives Brooke Owens Fellowship

Hannah Joo, an undergraduate student studying computer science and cognitive science at Berkeley, has won a Brooke Owens Fellowship. Along with 47 undergraduate women and gender minorities from all over the world, Hannah will receive “space and aviation internships, senior mentorships, and a lifelong professional network.” In her freshman year, Hannah joined Space Enterprise at Berkeley, a student-run rocket team. With limited engineering and coding experience, she found her passion at the intersection of avionics and computer science, culminating in a summer internship with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory last year. Now in her 3rd-year, Hannah will intern with SpaceX. The Brooke Owens Fellowship was founded in 2016 to honor the memory of D. Brooke Owens, a beloved industry pioneer, and accomplished pilot, who passed away at age 35 after battling cancer.


Yicheng Zhu wins NVIDIA Graduate Fellowship

EECS Ph.D. student Yicheng Zhu (advisor: Robert Pilawa-Podgurski) has won an NVIDIA Graduate Fellowship. Zhu, whose research interests include enabling technologies for high-performance electric power conversion, is one of five recipients of the fellowship, which awards up to $50,000 to each recipient in support of research in areas such as accelerated computing, with fellows tackling projects in deep learning, robotics, computer vision, computer graphics, circuits, autonomous vehicles, and programming systems. Awardees are selected from a highly competitive, global applicant pool and will participate in a summer internship with NVIDIA. Spanning 22 years, NVIDIA has awarded $6 million to nearly 200 students to support graduate research. “Our fellowship recipients are among the most talented graduate students in the world,” said NVIDIA Chief Scientist Bill Dally. “They’re working on some of the most important problems in computer science, and we’re delighted to support their research.” Zhu’s research will explore extreme-performance hybrid switched-capacitor voltage regulation modules for ultra-high-power GPUs, which enables highly efficient and ultra-compact vertical power delivery with fast transient response.

EECS grads students pose by the finished artwork.

EECS graduate students turn e-waste into art

EECS graduate students use leftover printed circuit boards (PCBs) to create art. The result is a beautiful Cal EECS bear in Berkeley blue, centered over the letters E-E-C-S in green, all made up of PCBs, on a towering six by seven plywood base held together by very-high-bond (VHB) double-sided tape. Rahul Iyer, an EECS Ph.D. student advised by EE Prof. Pilawa-Podgurski, had the idea over Thanksgiving break to make use of what would otherwise be e-waste. With the help of Rod Bayliss III, Maggie Blackwell, Sahana Krishnan and Nathan Brooks, all Ph.D. students advised by Pilawa, they set out to repurpose the leftover PCBs, first by printing the silhouette of the Cal bear on a mounting board, tracing the outline of the bear, and then using VHB to tape the PCBs onto the mounting board, filling in the outline. “It was a great bonding activity over Thanksgiving break, especially recollecting projects and past memories when we came across some of the boards,” said Rahul. “I’m so glad I had an opportunity to share in this creative endeavor with my peers. Looking forward to another project in a few years when we collect more PCBs!”

An illustration of Alishba Imran by Mar Bertran
Illustration by Mar Bertran

Alishba Imran named in Teen Vogue’s 21 under 21

Alishba Imran, a 1st-year undergraduate student studying computer science, was named in Teen Vogue’s 21 under 21. The list recognizes those “who have made a substantial impact in both their communities and the world.” Imran, an undergraduate researcher in CS Prof. Ken Goldberg’s AUTOLab, focuses her work on using machine learning to solve real-world problems, like tracking counterfeit medication in the supply chain or using machine learning and physics to develop renewable energy storage devices. “I think the best things to work on are at the intersection of what you're good at, what you enjoy, and are a way for you to create value for the world,” said Imran.


Fred Zhang wins Best Student Paper at SODA 2023

Theory Ph.D. student Fred Zhang (advisor: Jelani Nelson) has won the Best Student Paper Award at ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms (SODA) 2023. The paper titled, “Online Prediction in Sub-linear Space'' was co-authored by Binghui Peng of Columbia University. The ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms, or “SODA,” conference showcases “research topics related to design and analysis of efficient algorithms and data structures for discrete problems.” 

Berkeley EECS continues to compete in US News & World Report rankings

Once again Berkeley Electrical Engineering ranked #1, and Computer Engineering ranked #2, in the 2022 US News and World Report graduate school rankings. EE tied with MIT and Stanford as the top graduate Electrical/Electronic/Communications Engineering program in the nation, while Computer Engineering tied in second place with Stanford after MIT. The tuition for both Master’s programs at MIT and Stanford cost over $55.5K annually, while Berkeley's costs $11.4K in-state and $26.5 out-of-state per year. Berkeley was ranked as the third best Engineering school overall.

95 Female-identifying first year students hold an ice cream social with CS advisors in the Cory Hall courtyard

CS Kickstart thrives amid return to in-person outreach

Now in its 11th consecutive year, CS Kickstart held its one-week computer science immersion program earlier this month, ushering in over 95 attendees to the program, a record turnout. The program is designed to introduce female-identifying first-year students to computer science at Berkeley and aims to add more diversity to the field. Completely student-run, they host workshops in Python, web development, electrical engineering, and data science; panel discussions featuring current Ph.D. students and faculty speakers like CS Prof. John DeNero;  field trips, like a community-building experience with the Oakland Athletics, and tours, panels, and Q&A sessions with industry partners, such as SAP Academy and Stitch Fix. “It was amazing to see CS Kickstart held in person again this year and with more students than in previous years!” said EECS Director of Student Diversity, Audrey Sillers.