The worldwide reach of Berkeley Engineering

March 5, 2013 by Dean Shankar Sastry

Global problems demand global cooperation. To tackle a wide range of challenges, from clean energy and intelligent infrastructure to cost-effective healthcare delivery, we are launching ambitious research and teaching partnerships with a number of international colleagues.

With Philippine researchers and business innovators, we are developing PCARI, the Philippines–California Advanced Research Initiative. This multimillion-dollar collaboration unites scientific inquiry with practical application in two new institutes: one in information and communication technology and another in translational medicine and healthcare. Both institutes will be open-walled, benefiting from global advances in electronics, telecommunications and biotechnology. The UCSF medical campus is our partner in this endeavor.

EECS professor and former department chair Costas Spanos is heading up BEARS, the Berkeley Education Alliance for Research in Singapore, now in its second year. BEARS is owned and operated by UC and governed by a board that includes several blue-chip Singapore institutions. We have two initiatives underway, each aimed at addressing problems that are of concern to Asia and the West alike.

Buildings, for example, account for nearly 40 percent of energy consumption worldwide. Energy use in warm climates is especially heavy. Professor Spanos himself is leading a suite of projects (SinBerBEST) that convene Berkeley and Singapore researchers to design energy systems and strategies that will develop and operate tomorrow’s “smart” buildings. Meanwhile, MSE professor Ramamoorthy Ramesh is leading our BEARS initiative in renewable energy (SinBeRISE), focused on photovoltaic and photochemical harnessing of solar energy. Scalable manufacturing processes will be a key aim of this large-scale collaboration.

We are also seeding partnerships in Shanghai, at the Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park in the Pudong district. A Berkeley Engineering presence at Zhangjiang will allow us to deliver educational programs and initiate new research collaborations. This summer, about 10 of our students will pursue internships in Shanghai-area companies, with support generously provided by Shanghai’s club of Berkeley alumni.

Also in Pudong, EECS professor Tsu-Jae King Liu is leading an effort to help ShanghaiTech, a new university started by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, recruit top faculty and prepare a world-class curriculum in time for its inaugural class in spring 2014. These learning materials will also be a resource for teaching Berkeley students.

To my mind, the best way we can build on our own excellence is to strengthen our global impact through partnerships such as these. What is your view? I’d be interested in your thoughts and ideas.

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