Focus on Innovation

With Wall Street in a tailspin these last few weeks, it is a pleasure to have positive financial news to report for Berkeley Engineering. Alumnus Coleman Fung (B.S.’87 IEOR) has pledged a $15 million gift that will enable the college’s Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research (IEOR) to broaden its scope and enhance its programs. Among comparable departments in the country, UC Berkeley’s is the smallest. Coleman Fung’s gift will provide the resources to pursue new strategic directions.

The phrase industrial engineering still conjures up images of clipboards and stopwatches in an era before computers became mission critical to engineering and every facet of our lives. Berkeley’s department spun off from mechanical engineering in the early 1960s as an umbrella for studies in manufacturing and military logistics and tactics. Today, the discipline has reshaped itself. The powerful underlying methodologies of operations research are making critical contributions to many emerging areas—including service sciences, health care, energy regulation and, yes, financial engineering. A key goal is to improve the quality of both products and services without increasing costs, using principles from economics to improve efficiency.

Coleman’s gift will enable us to develop IEOR into the college’s home for teaching and research on management of the innovation chain, from emerging technologies to marketplace models. The department will also serve as the anchor for our Technology and Leadership Studies program, launched earlier this year to focus engineering studies on innovation, leadership and entrepreneurship in a global economy.

You may know that this is not Coleman’s first major gift to his alma mater; he has already endowed an IEOR chair in financial modeling, a risk management research center in the Department of Economics and a media center in the C.V. Starr East Asian Library. He has appropriately timed his latest pledge to coincide with the public launch of the Campaign for Berkeley, the campus’s major development initiative, which includes a $300 million fund-raising goal for the college over the next five years.

In the coming weeks, we will be seeking approval to rename IEOR to acknowledge Coleman’s generosity, creating the first named department in the college and the second on the Berkeley campus. At the same time, the new name will reflect the evolving field. As you can see from our newsletter title, innovation is my top priority for the college and for all of engineering.

I welcome your thoughts and ideas.

S. Shankar Sastry
Dean, College of Engineering
NEC Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences
Roy W. Carlson Professor of Engineering
Email Dean Sastry

View from the Top Lecture Series
View from the Top brings distinguished leaders in technology and industry to the College of Engineering. Free admission, refreshments provided.

October 9: Craig Mundie, Chief Research and Strategy Officer, Microsoft

October 30: Judith Estrin, Chief Executive Officer, JLabs

November 6: James Truchard, President & Co-Founder, National Instruments

November 19: Arun Sarin, Chief Executive (retired), Vodafone

Topics: Industrial engineering