As engineers we compete. New ideas, technologies and solutions come about only if we act as their champion. Sometimes the difference between an idea being realized or being left to wither in the planning phases can be a competitive spark that makes us want to improve things. As I take stock of the 2012–13 academic year, I am again impressed by the achievements of our students—and by their competitive nature.
Some students have the opportunity to participate in competitions through their courses. In a mobile applications class offered by our Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, one team created an app that allows water providers to remotely control water supplies in the developing world. Their “Flowbit” project garnered the top prize in the international University Mobile Challenge as well as a slot in our new SkyDeck start-up incubator in downtown Berkeley.
In the March issue of Innovations, we heard from students in ME 102B, an undergraduate mechanical engineering class that draws on a student’s cumulative knowledge to complete a capstone project. This year a few 102B teams went head-to-head with teams from other engineering schools in a DARPA-funded amphibious vehicle competition. Meanwhile, in ME 190A, a course focused on design and product development, student teams faced off against one another while collaborating with engineers from Motorola on new product development.
Elsewhere, students are driven to compete outside of the classroom. The steel bridge and concrete canoe teams are always hard at work in Davis Hall. Last year the steel bridge team won the national championship (see Innovations June 2012), and they are again doing well in regional competitions this year.
In this issue of Innovations, I am pleased to report another win for our student groups. Each spring, student mentors from the organization Pioneers in Engineering (PiE) are matched with Bay Area high schools to help them prepare for a robotics competition. In the run-up to this year’s competition, PiE’s leadership won a contest of their own: $25,000 from Zipcar.
Read more about PiE in this issue, and help me congratulate all of our students at the end of this very productive academic year on a job well done.
S. Shankar Sastry
May 10: Design for Change Lab: Sustainability, Technology and the Dynamics of Rapid Change features Banny Banerjee from the Institute of Design at Stanford.
May 19: Commencement 2013 at the Greek Theatre.
May 29: Symposium on Visions of the Theory of Computing, from the Simons Institute, celebrates fundamental computational research and its impact in other sciences.
In this issue:
Graduating senior Daniel A. Price, a double major in bioengineering and electrical engineering and computer sciences with a minor in physics, was selected as one of this year’s Rhodes Scholars. Next fall at Oxford University, Price will pursue research in medical diagnostic equipment. Here he tells us more about his studies, his research and future plans.
In the basement of Davis Hall, Hamed Hamedifar (Ph.D.’12 CEE) is rattling scale models of levees on a shake table, subjecting them to vibrations replicating the magnitude 6.9 El Centro earthquake of 1940. Hamedifar is designing a plate pile system, rectangular plates affixed to three-yard beams, to bolster the strength of levees in places like the California Delta.
Pioneers in Engineering (PiE) is a Berkeley student group that runs a mentorship program to engage teenagers in science and technology. April was a busy month for PiE. They won $25,000 in a national competition sponsored by Ford and Zipcar. Then, only days after an event held on campus to celebrate that big win, PiE held a competition of their own—they hosted a robotics challenge game for two dozen high school teams.
Innovations is published online by the Marketing and Communications Office of the UC Berkeley College of Engineering. Innovations is an online update featuring timely reports on groundbreaking research and other innovative projects done by Berkeley engineers.
Editors: Karen Rhodes, Kap Stann
Contributors: Daniel McGlynn, Wendy Wolfson
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