Think Globally, Act Locally

October 8, 2009 by Dean Shankar Sastry

Today’s college campuses are seeing a level of student activism not seen since the 1960s. What form does this activism take among engineering students? Here at Berkeley Engineering, you will find hosts of students committed to delivering new solutions to real-world problems.

For example, a student team in civil and environmental engineering recently won a national competition to design an urban transportation system that promotes sustainable neighborhoods. Another student team, this time in bioengineering, took a top prize in UC Berkeley’s most recent “Bears Breaking Boundaries” competition for a microfluidic device that tests resistance to malaria drugs, for use in the developing world.

These examples help to illustrate why Washington Monthly has once again ranked UC Berkeley as the nation’s top university. The magazine uses three criteria that correspond closely with our own mission, here in the college, to educate leaders, create knowledge and serve society.

The magazine’s “alternative ranking” grades colleges and universities on how well they promote social mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students), research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and Ph.D.s) and service (encouraging students to serve their communities and country). “UC Berkeley is about the best thing for America we can find,” say the editors. “It’s good by all of our measurements.” Washington Monthly also identified Berkeley as the nation’s no. 1 producer of science and engineering Ph.D.s.

Of course, even in the more traditional U.S. News & World Report rankings, we continue to shine. Consistent with previous years, our undergraduate engineering program ranks no. 2 and our graduate program ranks no. 3. Our graduate programs in civil & environmental engineering and electrical engineering & computer sciences remain no. 1 nationwide.

I am very proud of our students for the difference they are making in the real world. The college is playing a leading role in reigniting social idealism on campus, especially through our collaborations with the Blum Center for Developing Economies and CITRIS. We are glad we can take idealism one step further by connecting it with socially beneficial technologies, tested business models and the practice of leadership.

I welcome your thoughts and ideas.

S. Shankar Sastry

Dean, College of Engineering
Roy W. Carlson Professor of EECS, BioE & ME
Director, Blum Center for Developing Economies
Email Dean Sastry