Educating transformational leaders

Homecoming has a special significance for us this year, as we kick off the weekend on Friday, October 8, with the grand opening of Blum Hall.

This dedication represents not only the expansion and renovation of the historic Naval Architecture Building. It is also the culmination of a five-year construction effort that has transformed the north side of campus and provided a new home for the Richard C. Blum Center for Developing Economies.

I am delighted to serve as faculty director of the Blum Center and grateful for the opportunity it gives us to help transform the lives of the world’s poor as well as the lives of our own students. The alleviation of poverty requires new technologies in such areas as safe water, energy efficient cook stoves, and wireless solutions for telemedicine and financial services. The Blum Center brings Berkeley Engineering faculty together with others from business, public health, law, environmental design and other disciplines to manage the rich innovation ecosystem and enable the service to society the college prides itself in.

Another hallmark of the Blum Center is its undergraduate minor in Global Poverty and Practice. The largest minor on campus, it provides students with tools and methods for alleviating poverty as well as a practice experience that gives them a sense of America’s place in the world.

The new building will also house the Coleman Fung Institute for Engineering Leadership, whose new professional master of engineering degree and other programs will prepare engineers to be global citizens and leaders in technology, business and public service. (I will tell you more about the Fung Institute in the fall issue of Forefront.)

The Fung Institute and Blum Center share some wonderful synergies; both programs provide our students with the opportunity to learn leadership skills in technology innovation and become citizen engineers.

Our grand opening celebration takes place at 2 pm this Friday, October 8, and features a keynote address by former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, followed by a dedication, tours, refreshments and poster presentations about a wide range of inspiring Blum Center projects.

We hope you will join us on campus this weekend, and Go Bears!

S. Shankar Sastry
Dean and Roy W. Carlson Professor of Engineering
Director, Blum Center for Developing Economies
Email Dean Sastry