Rethinking Risks

03/02/08 — Early in his career, Network Appliance cofounder James Lau ventured out in hopes of developing one of the first hand-held personal computers. His PDA would have used a stylus to enter notes, appointments and other data, but after six months of work in 1991, he scrapped the project. But Lau never regretted his unsuccessful quest. When it comes to innovation, “there's no guarantee,” he says. “That's part of the exploration. You just need to move on.” Move on, he did. Today, Network Appliance has Fortune 1000 status, and last month James Lau received the 2007 Berkeley Engineering Innovation Award for lifetime achievement.

Dial “T” for Traffic

03/02/08 — On February 8, 26-year-old mechanical engineering student Kenneth Armijo hit the road in a unique experiment exploring the use of GPS-equipped cell phones as traffic monitors. Nearly 150 UC Berkeley students were behind-the-wheel participants in the “Mobile Century” test. Navigating a fleet of 100 cars carrying special mobile phones, the student drivers traveled up and down a 10-mile stretch of the Nimitz Freeway for more than seven hours. The result was a computerized map bristling with tiny flags for each car and its velocity, creating a detailed picture of actual traffic conditions.

Students Grab Gold with Bacteria-to-Blood Project

02/02/08 — A team of Cal undergraduates has demonstrated how genetically modified E. coli bacteria might be converted into a cheap-and safe-blood substitute. The engineered product, called “Bactoblood,” addresses a global shortage of human blood for transfusions, particularly in developing countries and emergency situations, the young developers say.

The State of Engineering

02/02/08 — When the governor speaks about our profession, we listen. In the run-up to his January state of the state address, Governor Schwarzenegger invoked some startling statistics about our engineering workforce and proposed a plan to fortify it.

Hard-Hitting Research

02/02/08 — For 10 years, mechanical engineering professor Dennis Lieu moonlighted as an instructor in the martial art of taekwondo. Concerned about safety, he began testing commercial martial arts headgear that had become standard and required for competitions. His results were startling: many of the helmets failed his tests and would not prevent injuries. His continued research has produced the first technical standard for martial arts protective headgear.

A Passion for Clean

02/02/08 — Rula Deeb (M.S'94, Ph.D'99 CEE), a senior associate at the environmental consulting firm Malcolm Pirnie in Emeryville, has helped water utilities, government agencies, industries and others cope with pollution in wastewater treatment plants and groundwater basins stretching from California to Tennessee. She specializes in bioremediation, a process that deploys naturally occurring microorganisms to attack and degrade hazardous contaminants.

Play It Again, IRENE

01/02/08 — EECS undergraduate Henry Wang had never heard of Enrico Caruso until last year. That's a surprising admission given that the 21-year-old senior now spends hours weekly scrutinizing the famed tenor's rendition of La Donna è Mobile. Wang is part of an ambitious project that seeks to preserve historic collections of music, speeches and other audio recordings dating back to the earliest days of recorded sound.

Engineering Grad Brings “Fiat Lux” to Nicaragua

01/02/08 — In remote villages along Nicaragua's Caribbean coast, the seemingly simple act of switching on a light is anything but simple. It's usually impossible. Mathias Craig (B.S'01 CEE) wants to change that. Craig, 29, is cofounder of blueEnergy, a nonprofit organization that is harnessing the power of the wind to illuminate homes, schools and rural clinics in an impoverished region where nearly 80 percent of the population have no electricity. Since 2004, blueEnergy has brought wind turbines to six Nicaraguan communities, providing electricity to some 1,500 people.

Re-engineering Bioproduction

01/02/08 — As the biotech industry has grown, Professors Lee Schruben, Rob Leachman and Phil Kaminsky of Berkeley's Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research (IEOR) have watched the young field bring lifesaving new drugs to market. They have also seen that their potential benefit to society isn't always realized when these drugs are priced out of reach or when stocks run short. Recognizing that some good IEOR principles could address these problems, they organized the first NSF symposium on Biomanufacturing and Logistics Systems in 2006.

Best of Both Worlds

01/02/08 — As someone who came to Berkeley 30 years ago as an international student, I was pleased to see that international enrollments are up significantly for the first time since the post-September 11 backlash cast a chill over immigrant-friendly policies at U.S. colleges and universities.

Technology with Impact

12/02/07 — I am pleased to introduce myself as the new dean of engineering. I am also pleased to introduce our new online digest, Innovations, and new website at I graduated from UC Berkeley in 1981 and in my 30 years here I've seen the College evolve into an institution of impact. Since becoming Dean in July, I have given considerable thought to how we can continue this evolution.

Cellular Connections

12/02/07 — No cancer is good, but brain cancers are among the worst. The most common type, glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), can strike at any age and is usually fatal. Bioengineering professor Sanjay Kumar is studying the deadly brain cancer in a promising new way and developing new forms of therapy that might halt it.

Designing a Micro Solution to the Spread of Global Disease

12/02/07 — Using a device that's roughly the size and price of an upscale cell phone, Berkeley Engineers hope to halt the spread of diseases afflicting millions in the developing world. Dubbed SeroScreen, the handheld instrument will test blood and other bodily fluids for the presence of infection and deliver an on-site diagnosis within minutes for influenza, skin infections, mosquito-borne viruses and other ailments.

Steve Beck (B.S. ’71 EECS): Giving Back and Getting a Lot in Return

12/02/07 — Steve Beck, 57, has harnessed his passion for video with a vengeance. A noted artist specializing in the use of electronic video, Beck is also the developer of more than 500 commercial electronic products ranging from an energy management system to electronic toys and video games. Beck, whose electronic art is in the collections of such prominent institutions as The Museum of Modern Art, New York, was named EECS Alumnus of the Year in 2003.