Go Bears!

May 13, 2013 by Dean Shankar Sastry

As engineers we compete. New ideas, technologies and solutions come about only if we act as their champion. Sometimes the difference between an idea being realized or being left to wither in the planning phases can be a competitive spark that makes us want to improve things. As I take stock of the 2012–13 academic year, I am again impressed by the achievements of our students—and by their competitive nature.

Some students have the opportunity to participate in competitions through their courses. In a mobile applications class offered by our Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, one team created an app that allows water providers to remotely control water supplies in the developing world. Their “Flowbit” project garnered the top prize in the international University Mobile Challenge as well as a slot in our new SkyDeck start-up incubator in downtown Berkeley.

In the March issue of Innovations, we heard from students in ME 102B, an undergraduate mechanical engineering class that draws on a student’s cumulative knowledge to complete a capstone project. This year a few 102B teams went head-to-head with teams from other engineering schools in a DARPA-funded amphibious vehicle competition. Meanwhile, in ME 190A, a course focused on design and product development, student teams faced off against one another while collaborating with engineers from Motorola on new product development.

Elsewhere, students are driven to compete outside of the classroom. The steel bridge and concrete canoe teams are always hard at work in Davis Hall. Last year the steel bridge team won the national championship (see Innovations June 2012), and they are again doing well in regional competitions this year.

In this issue of Innovations, I am pleased to report another win for our student groups. Each spring, student mentors from the organization Pioneers in Engineering (PiE) are matched with Bay Area high schools to help them prepare for a robotics competition. In the run-up to this year’s competition, PiE’s leadership won a contest of their own: $25,000 from Zipcar.

Read more about PiE in this issue, and help me congratulate all of our students at the end of this very productive academic year on a job well done.

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