Berkeley Engineering’s 2023 in review
We’ve made it through the final stretch of 2023, and it’s time to look back on Berkeley Engineering’s biggest stories! In a year full of incredible achievements and discoveries, we wanted to capture the spirit of each milestone. So we’ve put a fun spin on the year-in-review format with a list that puts the “super” in superlative:
The Berkeley Engineering community came out in full force on April 21 to break ground on one of our most anticipated developments: the Engineering Center. With a jazz band, Oski and hundreds of supporters, the college celebrated a key milestone in the new building, set to open in 2025!
A partnership between neuroscientists at UCSF and researchers at UC Berkeley’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences resulted in an incredible breakthrough for accessibility. The team helped a paralyzed woman regain her ability to communicate with the aid of AI and a brain implant.
Ashok Gadgil, distinguished professor emeritus of civil and environmental engineering, received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, which is the nation’s highest honor for technological achievement. The White House ceremony recognized that “his innovative, inexpensive technologies help meet profound needs, from drinking water to fuel-efficient cookstoves.”
Jeans are going green, thanks to Tammy Hsu (Ph.D.’19 BioE)! While commercial methods of creating indigo dye rely on environmentally toxic chemicals, Hsu’s company Huue is offering a more sustainable alternative.
Berkeley researchers have proposed a carbon removal method that could safely store carbon for thousands of years! It all starts with biomass crops, followed by the burial of harvested vegetation in engineered dry environmental chambers. Add a dash of salt, and there you have a carbon-negative solution.
Space Enterprise at Berkeley (SEB) has lift-off in their bid to become the first college team to pass the Kármán line! Last December, the student collective launched their liquid-fueled rocket, Eureka-1, which hit 11,000 feet in altitude. They’ve already made strides in building the second iteration, Eureka-2, which is set to take off in September 2024.
There may be a safer, more efficient and cost-effective way to generate electricity via nuclear power. While water-cooled nuclear reactors are the industry standard, Berkeley researchers are working to revisit and reinvent molten salt technologies.
The preservation of Joseph Thomas Gier’s legacy is a labor of love in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. He is the first tenured Black professor in the history of the University of California — and his achievements were nearly lost to time. That is, until Maggie Crowley, a retired communications coordinator, made a “holy grail” of a discovery.
A team led by Rayne Zheng, associate professor of materials science and engineering, developed a new design method that uses AI to create metamaterials with 3D printers. That means products like sneaker midsoles, boxing gloves and vehicle bumpers have more precision with certain “mechanical behaviors that didn’t previously exist.”