Jacobs Hall floor plan

Jacobs gift launches design institute

November 1, 2013
This article appeared in Berkeley Engineer magazine, Fall 2013

Answering a national call for a more technologically literate workforce, the college announced this summer the launch of a new institute for design innovation that promises to transform engineering education with an emphasis on experiential design.

  Why Berkeley?  

“We chose Berkeley because it graduates more than 1,200 engineers each year, and roughly a quarter of them are women. They graduate the most female Ph.D.’s in the world. Diversity is critical for successful innovation, and Stacy and I see Berkeley as a place that embraces diversity.”

—PAUL JACOBS, Chicago, June 2013

By the numbers

Chart comparing women PH.D.'s at Berkeley engineering and the top ten engineering schools

The percentage of female Berkeley Engineering Ph.D. graduates per year, compared to the percentage of female Ph.D. graduates from the top ten engineering schools in the nation. (Source: American Society for Engineering Education)

A $20 million gift from the Paul and Stacy Jacobs Foundation enables the college to begin planning the institute’s educational activities, which aim to infuse hands-on designing and making into coursework across the curriculum.

“In this immersive approach, students pick up tools and techniques to design and make working models to synthesize theoretical concepts into prototypes,” says Dean S. Shankar Sastry, who is spearheading the institute’s launch. “Such hands-on design projects serve as integrative experiences, incorporating streams of thought from various disciplines as well as an appetite for creative problem-solving.”

The college is also mounting plans to build a facility with studios and workshops where students can design and fabricate advanced technologies and test their potential for manufacturability and marketplace adoption. 

 “In our interconnected innovation economy, it is not enough to provide our future engineering leaders with technical skills,” said Jacobs in announcing his gift. “They must also learn how to work in interdisciplinary teams, how to iterate designs rapidly, how to manufacture sustainably, how to combine art and engineering, and how to address global markets. Berkeley’s deep strength in technology combined with its leadership across a broad range of disciplines makes it the ideal home for a program that will hone the integrated set of skills students will need to create our future.”