Chris Jeng

Class of 2017
Electrical engineering & computer sciences

Why did you choose Berkeley Engineering?
Three main reasons: First, it’s an extremely prestigious engineering program. If I were to tweak my major, odds are, it’s still a fantastic program. Second, it’s got a strong sense of diversity in its students. I wanted to be surrounded by engineering champs, but also hilarious improv jokesters, articulate prose writers and speedy badminton players. Whatever hobbies you have, Berkeley’s probably got a niche for you, and that’s a pretty big deal to me. Finally, the weather in Berkeley is at least a bit better than in Oklahoma (where Im from). 

What do you like most about Berkeley Engineering?
Chris JengChris Jeng (Photo by Preston Davis)The people. It feels great to walk through campus knowing that if you ever sat down with a random peer and asked them about their life, you’d learn of a magnificent story about how they came to be where they are today. Odds are, they’re ridiculously talented and passionate about what they do, and have contagious aspirations to fix something in the world and make it better. I’m a strong believer in the claim that the most wonderful resources in the world are your peers.  

What are you working on?
This semester, I did some research in lower-div EECS course management. The goal is to figure out what works well for running certain courses and steal those ideas, incorporating them into other classes in an effort to improve quality. Each class handles grading, extra support resources and TA-load balancing differently, and it’d be nice if each semester’s learnings could somehow be transferred to the next semester’s teaching staff. Next semester, I’ll be focusing most of my efforts into TA-ing for CS61B, where I hope a lot of ambitious ideas (both the stolen ones and the original ones) can come to reality. I want people to walk away acknowledging that this rendition of 61B was undeniably the best in history. 

What else do you do outside of class?
I’m involved in TheatreRice, an Asian American theater group on campus. I play fingerstyle guitar and acoustic guitar for my band. We’re hoping to “make it big” one day (perform at Sliver for free pizza). I also bboy (breakdance) in the RSF racquetball courts, but that becomes infrequent when deadlines approach. Lastly, I love to dress up as a gorilla and play pranks on people (check out my YouTube), but I’m in the process of engineering something bigger and better for next semester.  

Have you had a memorable “aha” moment at Berkeley Engineering?
If you’ve already got some progress towards something, it’s hard to just let go of that and start anew on something else. My “aha” moment was when I switched my major from chemical engineering to EECS. I want to graduate and be able to say that I did exactly what I wanted to do, and didn’t shy away in the face of discomfort. I really do believe that people should dive into what they find most meaningful, even if you’re “in too deep” into something else. It’s never too late, have faith that you and your motivation can figure it out. I would be honored if I could support that ideology for someone else.

What are your future plans?
I still want to try out some more things before I settle on a post-graduation game-plan. Next semester I want to try doing a lot with teaching, and in the summer, I hope to get a flavor of west-coast software engineering while interning at Facebook. The plan for next year depends on how my upcoming experiences go, but will be engineered to maximize what I find meaningful in my time at Cal.

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