How the Fire Research Group at UC Berkeley is tackling the problem of intensifying fires through interdisciplinary cooperation

On the problem of wildfires on the West Coast, how COVID-19 is complicating fire response, the interdisciplinary nature of fire research, and what you can do at home to prepare and respond to wildfires.

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A picture of fires burning in California between Joshua Tree and Los Angeles from above. Photo by Patrick Campanale on Unsplash.

In Fall 2020, the western United States again faced unprecedented wildfires, affecting communities all along the coast. These fires have forced the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people from their homes, the destruction of buildings and infrastructure, and poor air quality that can spread to impact entire states.

In California alone, over four million acres are estimated to have been burned by wildfires last year, with over 10,000 structures damaged and 31 fatalities. This follows a trend in recent years of increasingly warmer years and worse fires. In 2018, the Camp Fire broke out in Butte county, leading to 85 fatalities and becoming the deadliest wildfire in state history. …

Alumna Gina Myers on her MEng experience, startup, and passion for food and sustainability.

Gina graduated from the Berkeley MEng program with a Master’s in Bioengineering in 2020. Here, she shares about her startup, a passion for food and sustainability, and how she got into ultra-endurance athletics.

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“I did Bioengineering as an undergraduate at University of the Pacific in California. And before that, I actually went to culinary school. I worked for a couple years at a biotech firm before I came to Berkeley as well; I was in the product development program working on the gene therapy cure for hemophilia.

So I came to Berkeley with a background in engineering and also as a trained chef, and studied Bioengineering in the MEng program. I chose to pursue Bioengineering for the challenging and engaging nature of this field and its multitude of applications. …

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This year’s fellows, Sydney Holgado and Liaowang “Zoey” Zou.

The College of Engineering and the Fung Institute for Engineering Leadership are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2020–21 Eaton-Hachigian Fellowships, awarded this year to two students pursuing Master of Engineering degrees at UC Berkeley. Selected by the Dean of the College of Engineering, the Eaton-Hachigian Fellows are engineering graduate students, pursuing studies in energy-efficient electrical and power hardware or software solutions, wireless communications and sensing devices, or specialty materials.

The Eaton-Hachigian Fellowship was established in 2008 by gifts from the Cooper Industries Foundation and from Berkeley alumnus and the former Chairman, President, and CEO of Cooper Industries, Kirk Hachigian, ’82. …

On that proving girls can do well in STEM, the importance of data in business, and slowing down with landscape photography.

Liaowang (Zoey) is a current MEng candidate studying Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences (EECS) with a concentration in Data Science and Systems. Here, Zoey shares about becoming interested in STEM as a child, previous work experience in consulting and why she decided to come back to school, and her capstone project on detecting incipient disease using artificial intelligence (AI) models.

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I was a bit all over the place before coming to the Bay Area. I grew up in a small city called Jiujiang by the Yangtze River in China. After middle school, I was awarded a Singapore government scholarship. I spent four years in Singapore and it opened up a world of opportunities for me. While I was in junior college (high school), I was having a hard time deciding where to go for college. As someone who wants to try a bit of everything, I wasn’t sure which major to choose before even starting college, which was required for Singapore and UK university applications. My school counselor asked me if I was interested in US colleges. …

Anna Wolfe, MEng ’21 (ME/Biomechanics), and Matthew Mesman, MEng ’21 (ME/Product Design) on their paths to the MEng program, what interested them in the sports tech field, and what the group has been working on this semester.

This year, our MEng career development team launched the creation of 14 student-led affinity groups where students could come together and form communities based on their technical and social interests, giving them the space and initiative to learn and connect with their peers and the wider community. The groups’ focuses range from Product Management to Social/Environmental Justice to Computer Vision.

One of the groups, the Sports Tech Affinity Group, focuses on the sports tech field, which encompasses different kinds of wearables, media platforms catering to sports, e-sports and gambling technologies, and rehabilitation and injury-prevention technologies. …

Here’s what we’re doing to foster greater inclusion and belonging within our community.

In January 2020, the Fung Institute formed a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Leadership Team. The team’s goal is to a) respond with urgency to meet and develop specific and intentional plans for DEIB across our staff and student communities and b) specifically build on the momentum of the national Black Lives Matter movement to make meaningful changes in addressing systemic forms of racism within our own organization.

Actions that we are taking in the 2020–21 academic year to foster greater inclusion and belonging within our community include the following:

Student Experience

It is our responsibility to foster an educational environment and culture that is inclusive of our diverse student body. We seek to ensure a diverse recruiting strategy, maintain a healthy and supportive climate, and provide health and wellness opportunities and support for our students. In early 2020, the Fung Institute formed the Student Recruitment Leadership Team to develop an institute-wide student recruitment approach. We aim to define diversity for the Fung Institute and communicate to our external community. …

The Coleman Fung Institute for Engineering Leadership welcomes its class of 245 Master of Engineering students.

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On August 26, 2020, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced it will be funding a new food systems research center in partnership with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The award of $20M over five years will aim to improve US food systems to address issues such as pandemic-driven food system security and safety; improving crop yield, quality and nutrition; decreasing energy and water resource consumption; and increasing production and eliminating food waste.

The USDA-NIFA Institute for Artificial Intelligence for Next-Generation Food Systems (AIFS) brings together researchers from six institutions: UC Davis, UC Berkeley, Cornell University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of California division of Agricultural and Natural Resources (ANR), and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Each of these institutions has a proven track record of excellence across such areas as artificial intelligence (AI), high-performance computing, food system sciences, and engineering. …

By Aliya Kassam, MEng ’20 (ME)

Advice from an MEng alum on how to maximize your job search and build your network — starting from within the program.

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Photo by Smartworks Coworking on Unsplash.

Looking for a job can be a daunting task. But it can be made easier if you know your end goal and the steps in between. Here, I’ve compiled some takeaways and tips from my experience searching, networking, and interviewing. In particular, I have three separate areas of the job-searching process that I would like to cover.

[1] Getting started — Networking and making use of LinkedIn

[2] Informational interviews

[3] Interviews: Behavioral + Technical

Getting started — Networking and making use of LinkedIn

It’s okay if you don’t know what you want to do right away, but it’s important to narrow down the industries you would like to work in. Here are two ways I approached…

On Tuesday, May 19, 2020, the UC Berkeley College of Engineering hosted a virtual Celebration of Graduates in lieu of the traditional in-person ceremony due to the shelter-in-place restrictions.

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Berkeley Master of Engineering

Master of Engineering at UC Berkeley with a focus on leadership. Learn more about the program through our publication.

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