02/02/09 — Individuals with diabetes live by the numbers. Glucose levels. Insulin dosages. Carbohydrate consumption. Dates. Times. Amounts. By writing each number in a logbook, they help their doctors manage the disease so they can stay healthy. The recordkeeping is onerous; yet, without complete data sets, doctors may miss trends and recommend ineffective treatments. Without tightly controlled day-to-day management, diabetes can lead to serious complications. As a side project to his research in mechanical engineering, recent graduate Chris Hannemann (M.S.'08 ME) began developing a system to help automate the process. His proposal harnesses Web-based applications and popular mobile devices to make it easier to live with the disease.
01/01/09 — The turmoil on Wall Street has raised a host of intractable questions. Many of us wonder, for example, if the financial marketplace has become too complex to be properly understood and managed. As The Economist notes, “America's financial system is undergoing a radical reassessment of what are acceptable levels of capital, leverage and interest rates” and – more fundamentally – acceptable levels of risk.
01/01/09 — Light interacts with glass, water and other transparent materials in long-understood ways that define the capabilities of traditional optical devices. But Professor Xiang Zhang's lab is engineering materials with fundamentally new optical properties that could enable far more powerful microscopes and microchips, denser optical storage, and even -- disclaimers in place -- the very beginnings of an invisibility shield that camouflages objects by bending light around them.
01/01/09 — Tim Jacobi adores hurtling through the air, whipping around hairpin turns and feeling his stomach do loops. The Berkeley Engineering master's candidate in mechanical engineering is a roller coaster junkie. "It's such a rush, basically," explains Jacobi, who traces his passion to his early teens. These days, Jacobi is experiencing a new thrill: He designs amusement park rides. His latest assignment involves devising the launch system for what is expected to be the world's fastest pneumatically launched roller coaster.
01/01/09 — Wielding screwdrivers and shears, a crew of Oakland middle-school girls was doing some serious damage to a pair of hapless computers. The girls pried open a PC tower and a laptop and eagerly began extracting such components as the memory, hard drive and power supply. "This is awesome," said Jessica Nguyen, a sixth grader at Montera Middle School. "It's so much fun to take things apart!" Berkeley Engineering alumnae are volunteering as mentors for Techbridge, an Oakland-based program that introduces girls in grades 5 through 12 to technology, science and engineering with a variety of after-school and summer activities.
11/02/08 — According to the World Health Organization, some 10 million children under the age of five die each year. Almost all of these children could survive with access to simple and inexpensive interventions, better maternal health care and safer sanitation and drinking water. At the same time, our increasing longevity accounts for large rises in cancer, heart disease, stroke and other age-related chronic illnesses.
11/02/08 — According to the UN, lack of access to electricity and fuel in rural areas contributes to 1.6 million deaths per year and perpetuates poverty. For engineers and energy suppliers working in this environment, bringing power to these populations requires a multi-pronged effort, not just to build the grids themselves, but also to plug into the human factors of operating within a particular culture and under what is usually a cash-strapped government. Christian Casillas, a Ph.D. student advised by Professor Daniel Kammen in the Energy and Resources Group, is balancing these two sides of the problem, working out the details of a roadmap to bring reliable electricity to the fishing villages along Nicaragua's eastern coast.
11/02/08 — Paul Jacobs (B.S. '84, M.S. '86, Ph.D. '89 EECS) sees no limits to what next-generation cell phones will do. As a development engineer, an executive and now CEO of Qualcomm, the San Diego-based wireless technology company, Jacobs has played a major role in the transformation of the mobile phone. Along with their original function in voice communications, the devices have evolved into wireless computers, music players, digital cameras, navigational tools, and medical diagnostic and monitoring equipment. And, says Jacobs, still more advances are on the way. "Innovation comes from being open to diverse ideas," says Jacobs, who holds more than 35 patents for his inventions. "The world changes and you change."
11/02/08 — Up to 5 percent of the globe's climate-changing carbon dioxide emissions result from manufacturing the durable and immensely popular construction material known as Portland cement, says Cagla Meral, a 27-year-old doctoral student in the civil and environmental engineering department. Convinced that cement is far too useful and ubiquitous to ever be replaced, Meral is working to develop a greener form of it. Her research explores how carbon dioxide can be "sequestered" or locked back into blended cement while maintaining strength and other important properties of cement-based materials like concrete.
10/02/08 — With Wall Street in a tailspin these last few weeks, it is a pleasure to have positive financial news to report for Berkeley Engineering. Alumnus Coleman Fung (B.S'87 IEOR) has pledged a $15 million gift that will enable the college's Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research (IEOR) to broaden its scope and enhance its programs. Among comparable departments in the country, UC Berkeley's is the smallest. Coleman Fung's gift will provide the resources to pursue new strategic directions.
10/02/08 — Most people hope to live healthy, independent lives through their elderly years. But that's not always the case because, as people age, they and their loved ones have to worry about not only illnesses, but also injuries, especially from falls. For seniors, falling is the leading cause of injury deaths, nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions. But one team of researchers is working to enable the elderly to live independently through a network of body sensors. The project could allow computers to remotely monitor and analyze the activity of seniors so that, if they fall or stop moving, help can arrive quickly.
10/02/08 — In the fall of 1975, a young General Motors engineer named Larry Burns loaded up his customized Chevy and headed to Berkeley. The Michigan native came west for doctoral studies in transportation engineering. “It's an area that has served me quite well,” he says. Today, Burns is in charge of next-generation cars and other leading-edge technology for the world's largest automaker. “I wake up every day focused on reinventing the automobile,” he says. A 2007 New York Times article called him “the most visible executive at the American auto companies on green issues.”
10/02/08 — What started as a six-week project for freshmen engineering students may create culturally sensitive and energy-efficient housing for a small California Indian tribe. A roundhouse-style design conceived in last spring's E10 Engineering Design and Analysis course has been embraced by members of the Pinoleville Pomo Nation. The tribe plans to submit the UC Berkeley concept when it applies for federal funding to build up to 25 new homes in the Mendocino County community of Ukiah.
09/02/08 — Information technology is pervasive in making our lives so much easier, that is, until we're paralyzed by a virus invading our home computer or crippled by an enterprise-wide system crash. The larger implications are something we don't even want to think about: What would happen to your life as you know it if your personal identity were stolen or, worse, some malicious entity hacked into just one component of our critical infrastructure, like the power grid or the air traffic–control infrastructure?
09/02/08 — Pilotless aircraft let the military quickly gather intelligence about hot spots without having to put pilots at risk or wait for the next imaging satellite flyover. But many tasks, both military and civilian, can be accomplished better by teams of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) programmed to collaborate. Multiple autonomous UAVs can cover more ground than a single plane, and with their own smarts, they demand less human attention. To develop this technology, mechanical engineering professor Karl Hedrick co-directs the Center for Collaborative Control of Unmanned Vehicles.
09/02/08 — Rex Walheim (B.S'84 ME) has a view that's literally out of this world. He's gazed at Earth from 220 miles in space. A NASA astronaut who grew up in San Carlos, California, the 45-year-old Walheim is a veteran of two shuttle missions to the International Space Station and five spacewalks. His most recent voyage, aboard the shuttle Atlantis, carried him to the space station for 12 days in February. The mission's lead space walker, Walheim helped deliver and install a $2 billion European science laboratory known as Columbus.
09/02/08 — For the average teen, “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” doesn't normally involve building a faster supercomputer, perfecting a lab on a chip or designing a device called an optical antenna that sniffs out bomb residue. Thanks to an innovative UC Berkeley summer program, 15 high school students conducted hands-on research on these and other high-flying topics--all linked to groundbreaking nanoscale science and technology work taking place on campus. The Summer High-School Apprenticeship Research Program turns teens into bona fide scientific investigators.
08/02/08 — The topic has become a persistent one in engineering and entrepreneurial circles: Is the United States losing its technological edge? Reports like last month's “America's engineering crisis” on CNBC's Street Signs, on which I had the opportunity to appear with my esteemed colleague Jim Plummer of Stanford, fuel the perception that U.S. engineers are becoming extinct.
08/02/08 — High axial myopia, or extreme nearsightedness, is one of the world's leading causes of blindness. The condition stems from weakness in the sclera, the eyeball's white outer wall, which causes it to deform even under normal pressure within the eyeball. James Su, a graduate student researcher co-advised by MSE and Bioengineering Professor Kevin Healy and School of Optometry Professor Christine Wildsoet, is developing a promising new treatment for the condition, based on a synthetic biomaterial known as hydrogel.
08/02/08 — As a student, Chandrakant Patel (B.S.'83 ME) rode the bus every day from the low-income Graystone Hotel in San Francisco's Tenderloin, where he lived, to the verdant UC Berkeley campus, where he studied. Today, a lot has changed for Patel, now a fellow at HP Laboratories in Palo Alto, leading the charge to develop a new generation of energy-efficient data centers.