10/08/09 — Transfer student Romy Fain came to Berkeley Engineering via a route that could have been plotted by Rube Goldberg. Originally a creative arts major at San Francisco State University, Fain ventured out as a touring musician, a bike mechanic, the owner of her own metal fabrication company and even a circus strongwoman before arriving in Berkeley two years ago to pursue her bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. Now entering her senior year, Fain believes she's landed right where she belongs.
09/04/09 — In the world of quirky contests, the U.S. National Concrete Canoe Competition isn't as far-out as, say, the Extreme Ironing World Championships or as appalling as the World Bog Snorkeling Championships, but it has its own ability to astound the public and lure fanatical participants. As devoted undertakings go, it is a little silly and a lot serious, especially here at Berkeley Engineering, where a team of 25 civil engineers won the national championship this summer, their first since 1992.
08/03/09 — What do you see when you think engineer? Our non-engineering colleagues might envision a middle-aged man at a construction site, sporting a hardhat and poring over a set of plans. But we know that engineering has exploded in recent years due to globalization, the IT and biotech booms, clean energy and a host of other factors. As Lawrence Fisher reports in our spring Forefront ("Engineering evolved"), the field today is so broadly multidisciplinary that new applications require the talents of everyone from "software savants and materials mavens" to "aerospace adepts."
06/04/09 — A music video that playfully celebrates all things nano has become a megahit for three Berkeley Engineering graduate students and their Cal team.
06/04/09 — Last year, Connie Chang-Hasnain and graduate student researcher Linus Chuang were searching for a better lab recipe for growing nanowires, conductive threads so thin that every atom they contain has a significant effect on their overall electrical properties. Following the vapor-liquid-solid (VLS) technique for creating semiconductor crystal nanowires, they deposited successive layers of gallium arsenide onto a silicon wafer substrate. But in one low-temperature batch, an area of the silicon lacked the usual gold nanoparticles from which each crystal grows. Under careful examination of the region, they didn't find what they were expecting. Instead of uniform-diameter threads sticking up, they saw tall, needle-like pyramids with hexagonal bases and sharp points. They had discovered a new nanostructure.
01/01/09 — Tim Jacobi adores hurtling through the air, whipping around hairpin turns and feeling his stomach do loops. The Berkeley Engineering master's candidate in mechanical engineering is a roller coaster junkie. "It's such a rush, basically," explains Jacobi, who traces his passion to his early teens. These days, Jacobi is experiencing a new thrill: He designs amusement park rides. His latest assignment involves devising the launch system for what is expected to be the world's fastest pneumatically launched roller coaster.
11/02/08 — According to the UN, lack of access to electricity and fuel in rural areas contributes to 1.6 million deaths per year and perpetuates poverty. For engineers and energy suppliers working in this environment, bringing power to these populations requires a multi-pronged effort, not just to build the grids themselves, but also to plug into the human factors of operating within a particular culture and under what is usually a cash-strapped government. Christian Casillas, a Ph.D. student advised by Professor Daniel Kammen in the Energy and Resources Group, is balancing these two sides of the problem, working out the details of a roadmap to bring reliable electricity to the fishing villages along Nicaragua's eastern coast.
08/02/08 — It's the size of a theater catwalk and weighs just 142 pounds. But the gently arched bridge -- designed, built and ambitiously named "Calatrava" by Cal engineering students -- is the new heavyweight champ of collegiate bridge building. The 21-foot-long span swept a field of 42 finalists on May 23-24 to capture top honors at the 2008 National Student Steel Bridge
06/02/08 — On May 24, I participated in my first commencement as dean of Berkeley Engineering. It filled me with pride to watch 1,045 excited and rain-soaked graduates walk, dance or otherwise cross the Greek Theatre stage to celebrate their success in completing some of the most difficult majors UC Berkeley has to offer.
05/02/08 — Computer mice are a weighty matter for BingYune Chen. Chen, a senior who graduates this month in bioengineering, is studying how weight affects the speed, accuracy and ease of use of a computer mouse. “It's a new issue,” says the 22-year-old Chen, who helped conduct a pilot project as an undergraduate researcher at the UCSF–UCB Ergonomics Laboratory, where he is now an employee. While extensive research has been done on the design of computer mice, Chen says, little is known about mouse weight and its impact on performance.
04/02/08 — George Ban-Weiss will soon have a new title to accompany his growing fame in Bay Area jazz circles. The professional bass player is about to become a Ph.D. Having performed at such venues as Yoshi's in Oakland, the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles, and Smalls in New York City, Ban-Weiss expects to receive his doctorate in mechanical engineering from UC Berkeley in May. The 27-year-old is wrapping up research exploring emissions from gas and diesel vehicles and their respective impact on air quality.
01/02/08 — EECS undergraduate Henry Wang had never heard of Enrico Caruso until last year. That's a surprising admission given that the 21-year-old senior now spends hours weekly scrutinizing the famed tenor's rendition of La Donna è Mobile. Wang is part of an ambitious project that seeks to preserve historic collections of music, speeches and other audio recordings dating back to the earliest days of recorded sound.
12/02/07 — Using a device that's roughly the size and price of an upscale cell phone, Berkeley Engineers hope to halt the spread of diseases afflicting millions in the developing world. Dubbed SeroScreen, the handheld instrument will test blood and other bodily fluids for the presence of infection and deliver an on-site diagnosis within minutes for influenza, skin infections, mosquito-borne viruses and other ailments.