BEST News Archive

Ryan Shelby featured in “The Promise of Berkeley” Magazine
BEST lab member Ryan Shelby is featured in UC Berkeley’s “The Promise of Berkeley” Magazine. Read the article here, pages 8-9.

BEST Labbers featured in the Daily Cal
BEST lab members Maha Haji and Kimberly Lau are featured in UC Berkeley’s Daily Californian newspaper. The Daily Cal released an article in September 2009 about the work they are doing to generate power in the gym. This project involves retrofitting the elliptical machines currently used in the UCB Recreational Sports Facility with new technology to convert “people power” into usable energy for powering the RSF. Read the article here.

UCB and PPN receive funding from Department of Energy
The Pinoleville-Pomo Nation, a Native American tribe located in Northern California, was awarded funding from the Department of Energy to conduct a feasibility study for renewable energy production on Tribal lands in Ukiah and Lakeport. The Tribe has collaborated with UC Berkeley on several projects, and will continue the partnership with new projects. The funds will be used to assess potential for creating a renewable energy utility and to offer training programs for interested Tribe members. The funds will also be used to create conceptual designs for a renewable energy system. Congratulations to the PPN and UCB!

Lora Oehlberg wins award
On June 16, BEST lab member Lora Oehlberg was awarded the Apprentice Faculty Grant Award by the Educational Research Methods (ERM) Division of the American Society of Engineering Educators (ASEE). She received the award at the ERM Brouhaha in Austin, TX, during the ASEE Annual Conference.

CARES featured in Forefront
UC Berkeley’s Forefront magazine released an article about the work CARES is doing with the Pinoleville Pomo Nation (PPN) to co-design culturally inspired, sustainable homes for the PPN. The homes resemble a yurt and will utilize grey water capture systems, rainwater capture systems, natural lighting, solar water heaters, PV systems, and geothermal heat pumps. Read the article here.

BEST Labbers honored at Bears Breaking Boundaries 2009 Awards Ceremony
Out of over 400 submissions at the Bears Breaking Boundaries competition, the Pinoleville Pomo Nation project won honorable mention in the Curricular Innovations category and CARES (Community Assessment of Renewable Energy and Sustainability) was a finalist in the Information Technology category.

Lora Oehlberg receives award
Congratulations to BEST lab member Lora Oehlberg for receiving the 2008-2009 Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award!

Jessica Vechakul receives award
Congratulations to BEST lab member Jessica Vechakul for receiving the Spring 2009 Outstanding Preliminary Exams Award!

Tim Jacobi featured in Innovations
BEST lab alumni Tim Jacobi was featured in the online College of Engineering Innovations publication: A Thrill Ride. He talks about designing roller coasters, and his latest project, the world’s fastest pneumatically launched roller coaster.

Ryan Shelby wins prize
BEST lab member Ryan Shelby won the 2008 American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) National Conference Graduate Research Oral Presentation award at the AISES conference. He received the award for presenting his work with the Pinoleville Pomo Nation.

A Real-life Lesson in Design
In Spring 2008, students from the E10 Engineering Design and Analysis course participated in a six-week project to create energy-efficient housing. The design has since been embraced by members of a small California Indian tribe and may soon be realized in 25 new homes in the Mendocino County community of Ukiah.

This project is currently continuing through a student-run community outreach program called CARES (Community Assessment of Renewable Energy and Sustainability). Find out more about the project here.

Johanna Mathieu featured in Innovations
BEST lab member Johanna Mathieu was featured in the online College of Engineering Innovations publication: A Remedy for Deadly Water. Here’s a snippet:

“Mathieu heads a student team at UC Berkeley responding to what experts consider the largest mass poisoning in history: millions of Bangladeshis are drinking water containing hazardous levels of arsenic. ‘They say between 30 and 70 million people are exposed,’ says Mathieu. She is working with an interdisciplinary group led by Ashok Gadgil, a senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and an adjunct professor in the Energy and Resources Group, to develop a simple, inexpensive process for removing the toxic element from the water supply.”

Lora Oehlberg wins first place in Logic Puzzles
BEST lab member Lora Oehlberg and her team placed first at the 2007 Google Games in the Logic Puzzles event. The Google Games pitted teams from Berkeley and Stanford against each other in heated competition in Logic Puzzles, Nintendo Wii Olympics, and Lego Bridge-Building. Lora’s team took fourth place overall.

Jaspal Sandhu featured on CNET
BEST lab member Jaspal Sandhu was featured in a CNET special report on Engineering Change: Of PDAs and maternal medicine in Mongolia. Here’s a snippet:

“In a three-part series, CNET will profile Sandhu and two other foreign-born engineers who chose hands-on international development work over the cubicle lifestyle. Their perspective among tech do-gooders is unique: they came to the United States either as children or for education, and carried with them an ingrained understanding that in many parts of the world, Web surfing, social networking and gadget craving take a back seat to the basics of fighting childhood disease and drinking potable water.”

Catch up on his activities on the Design Research Mongolia blog

Mobile Learning in TechBridge News
What better way to introduce engineering than with a fun lesson introduced by engineering students from the University of California, Berkeley? Professor Alice Agogino and her graduate students in the Mechanical Engineering Department at UC Berkeley piloted a curriculum on simple machines with PDAs with female students from the Korematsu and Esperanza Academies. After a hands-on activity and a mini-lesson on simple machines, the girls were given PDAs and invited on a scavenger hunt. The girls captured photos of inclined planes, levers, and pulleys in their classrooms and in the schoolyard. The following week, the girls viewed their photos and tested their knowledge, identifying the simple machines and describing how they work. With a field trip planned for later in the year to U.C. Berkeley, we hope to continue to support the girls’ interest in engineering.

Read more about Mobile Learning here.

Design Research Mongolia
Jaspal Sandhu, a doctoral student in the BEST lab won a Fulbright Fellowship to conduct research in Mongolia in 2007. He is exploring the design of information systems for rural health workers in the context of data reporting, continuing education, and diagnostic support. The emphasis is on the use of short-term ethnographic methods for design. This research should have practical implications for rural health in Mongolia while providing insights into the human-centered design process more broadly.

Wireless Smart Lighting System featured in Energy Notes
Jessica Granderson, Yao-Jung Wen and Alice Agogino are featured in the December issue of Energy Notes, from the California Energy Institute. UC Berkeley researchers are exploring new combinations of commercial lighting systems controlled by “smart” wireless sensor technology that can customize a room’s lighting to meet a range of pre-established conditions, including the occupant’s personal preference. Read the full article: Wireless Smart Lighting System: Saves energy, responds to human preferences (pdf)

The Allure of Danger
Ever wondered why people voluntarily throw themselves out of planes with just a sheet to protect them? Lab member Jonathan Hey and Berkeley alum Alan Van Pelt help explain in their short piece about The Allure of Danger in Stanford’s quarterly design magazine, Ambidextrous, Issue Four, Summer 2006.

And what’s more, Ambidextrous Magazine continues to be co-edited by new BEST lab member Lora Oehlberg.

Intrigued? Read The Allure of Danger. Learn more about Ambidextrous.

Sherry’s third son Lucas was born on August 1st
BEST alumnus Sherry Hsi’s third son Lucas Frederick Peterson was born on Tuesday August 1st at 6:19am at Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley. Lucas is the largest Peterson baby coming in at 7lbs 8oz and 20 3/4″ long.

Jui-Shan Grace Hsu appears in Engineering News
Jui-Shan Grace Hsu, undergraduate research on the mobile learning project in the BEST Lab, has shown her leadership this past year as President of the student-section of the Engineers’ Joint Council. ( Engineering News 2005 Issue 05F) In addition to carrying a heavy academic load and contributions to the research project, Grace has volunteered her time in a range of activities, such as the Pi Tau Sigma barbeque ( Engineering News 2006 Issue 14S) or participating in a panel on “How to be a Successful Berkeley Engineer” ( Engineering News 2006 Issue 06S). Her panel on “Be happy and be healthy” was written up in Forefront, Spring 2006. Grace is Chair of the 2006 Senior Gift Committee . Also: Engineering News 2006 Issue 04S. Showing her diverse skills in design, she also finds time to express her creativity into artwork: Engineering News 2004 Issue 01S.

Shuang’s son Andrew was born on April 29th
BEST alumnus Shaung Song’s second son Andrew (Yutong) was born on April 29th. Andrew weights 7lb 6oz and is 18.5 inches in height.

Raffi Kamalian accepts best paper award and participates in press conference in in Nagoya, Japan.
Raffi Kamalian, Ying Zhang and Alice Agogino win IEEE Robotics & Automation Society Best Paper Award in Nagoya, Japan. The paper citation is: Kamalian, R., Y. Zhang and A.M. Agogino, “Microfabrication and Characterization of Evolutionary MEMS Resonators”, Proceedings of the Symposium of “Micro- and Nano-Mechatronics for Information-based Society, IEEE Robotics & Automation Society (ISBN # 0-7803-9482-8, Nov. 2005, pp. 109-114. A copy of the paper can be found here.

Fabian Beltran appears in Engineering News
Fabian Beltran, leading a young visitor in a hands-on exercise about brittle versus ductile, appears in the January 30, 2006 edition of College of Engineering News . This article can be found online in this edition of Engineering News.

Jon Cagan, BEST alum, in the Berkeley Engineering News
The November 14, 2005 edition of College of Engineering News highlighted Jon Cagan’s new book, The Design of Things to Come: How Ordinary People Create Extraordinary Products. Cagan and co-authors Craig Vogel and Peter Boatwright give tools, strategies, and a methodology for early product design. The three authors offer plenty of real-world examples showing how engineers and designers used these processes to come up with innovative products. This article can be found online in this edition of Engineering News.

Prof. Agogino’s NAE Report Makes it to Press
“Educating the Engineer of 2020: Adapting Engineering Education to the New Century (2005)”, a report Prof. Alice Agogino co-authored with the National Academy of Engineering has made it to press. This is the report on Phase II of the Engineer 2020 project. The Chronicle of Higher Education has an article about the report (subscription required to view this link).

Jon Cagan Authors New Book
BEST alum Jon Cagan is author of a new book entitled The Design of Things to Come: How Ordinary People Create Extraordinary Products (amazon link). This book is co-authored by Craig M. Vogel and Peter Boatwright.

Jon Cagan Co-founder of DesignAdvance
BEST alum Jon Cagan has co-founded a company named DesignAdvance. From the company website: “DesignAdvance Systems, Inc. develops automated computer aided design (CAD) and electronic design automation (EDA) design-synthesis software tools that drastically reduce the amount of time it takes engineers and designers to design products.” The first product (semi-automated circuit board layout) has just been released.

Prof. Alice Agogino is co-chair of Berkeley Diversity Research Initiative
“Last week a working group led by Professors Alice Agogino and George Breslauer … began to craft procedural recommendations for the research initiative, setting the stage for what is hoped will be a prompt call for proposed topics of study, followed by the first new hires, possibly as early as this fall.” Read the entire article here.

Design Research Featured in ME Magazine
The Success Story: Two researchers say that the best design teams, like storytellers, share different takes on the common theme “By hunkering down together on a deadline-sensitive design project, engineering design team members inevitably come to create their own little world within a world. That unique island takes shape over time, starting from the moment the team decides upon an initial design concept. Each member in turn adds his or her unique vision to the project, building as they go. By sharing ideas, disagreeing, and resolving differences, a shared world takes shape over the course of weeks and months, according to Alice Agogino and Shuang Song, professor and student, respectively, at the University of California, Berkeley. But how to tell from the outset if a team-created world will lead to an innovative product-or a flop? That’s the question Agogino and Song would like to answer. The two have spent the last five years looking at how design teams communicate, in the hope that their research will pinpoint the elements that separate the successful from the others. Agogino is a professor of mechanical engineering at the school, while Song is a Ph.D. student in the department. Mechanical Engineering Design, March, 2005.

Prof. Alice Agogino Featured in Daily Cal Cover Article
The Daily Californian covered featuered Prof. Alice Agogino in a cover story entitled “The Science of a Gender Gap”. This article presents viewpoints from Prof. Agogino and Dean Mary Ann Mason on the comments made by Harvard University President Lawrence Summers about women in math and the sciences at a January conference. Eric Fixler is pictured in the article along with Prof. Agogino.

BEST Lab Wins Research Grant on More Effective Lighting Controls to Save Electricity
The California Energy commission has awarded a research grant to the BEST Lab as a part of the Energy Innovations Small Grant Program. The goal of this program is to sponsor “cutting-edge research that will reduce the cost of producing electricity, save energy and improve the environment.” More information is available here.

E10 Students Featured in College of Engineering News
The March 28, 2005 edition of College of Engineering News highlighted the work of E10 students in an article entitled Designing for the Greater Good. From the article: “Laborers in California’s agricultural valleys are routinely exposed to pesticides. They inhale pesticides from the air, drink pesticides in the water, and wear them in their clothes. The result isn’t good, said ME professor Alice Agogino. Studies have found that human exposure to pesticides is linked to cancer, birth defects, stillbirth, infertility and nervous system damage. Agogino asked her E 10 Engineering Design and Analysis students to help. Their assignment? Design a cost-effective and user-friendly product that would protect farm workers as they go about their jobs.” More here.

Leopold Kai-Lucas, son of BEST alum Kai Goebel born 12/19/04
Leopold Kai-Lucas, son of BEST Lab alum Kai Goebel, was born on Sunday, December 19, 2004 at 3:08am. See picture here.

Shuang Song wins the Xerox Best Paper Award
Shuang Song was the winner of the 2004 Xerox Best Paper Award. It was presented at the Design Theory and Methods Awards Lunch on Thurs., Sept. 30th. The citation for the paper is: Song, S. and A.M. Agogino, An Analysis of Designers’ Sketching Activities in New Product Design Teams,” Proceedings of DETC’04, ASME 2004 Design Engineering Technical Conference, Paper # DETC2004-57474, CD ROM, ISBN # I710CD. See the award presentation here. Congratulations, Shuang!!

Agogino receives top teaching and research excellence award
Alice Agogino was awarded the National Science Foundation’s top teaching and research excellence award. Read more about the award here

Congratulations to all BEST graduates!
Congratulations to all BEST students who participated in graduation ceremonies on Saturday, May 22, 2004. Raffi Kamalian, Shankaran Sitarama, Shuang Song, and Jia-Long Wu were hooded for their doctoral degrees. Hengsi (Wilson) Lin and Rasheq Zarif received their Master’s degrees. Raffi has posted pictures from the graduation cermeony and departmental reception.

Elise Mercedes Evans, daughter of BEST alum Jay Evans born 4/06/04
Elise Mercedes Evans, daughter of BEST Lab alum Jay Evans, was born on Tuesday, April 6, 2004 at 1:21pm. See picture here. Jay developed the highly popular IBM Proprinter Case Study (he is the one in the white shirt in the first image).

Read about our participation in the G1:1 alliance
The G1:1 Alliance is a Global Network of Researchers Collaborating to Advance 1:1 Educational Computing. Find out more about our involvement here

Rebecca Siyao Chang, daughter of BEST alum Jiangxin Wang born 3/09/04
Rebecca Siyao Chang, daughter of BEST Lab alum Jiangxin Wang, was born on Tuesday, March 9, 2004 at 11:34am. At that time, she weighed 6 lbs 9 oz and was 19 3/4″ tall. Both Shuangyu and baby are doing fine.

Team Selected for 2005 UCB-UNIDO Fellows Program
A student team proposing to study best practices at Aurolab, the manufacturing division of Aravind Eye Care System, in Tamil Nadu, India was selected for the 2005 UCB-UNIDO Fellows Program. This team is comprised of the following members: Aman Bhandari (Public Health), Mahad Ibrahim (SIMS), Sam Keninger (Haas), and Jaspal Sandhu (BEST lab). Visit the project website for more information.

Jonathan Hey’s Research Featured in Engineering News
Jonathan Hey was featured in the January 26, 2004 edition of Engineering News. This article – entitled ME PhD plumbs connection between creativity and engineering – details Jono’s current and future research plans. The article can be viewed here.

BEST ME221 Team Featured in Engineering News
Student groups from the graduate product development course ME221 (High Tech Design and Rapid Prototyping) presented their projects at the end of the Fall 2003 semester. One of these teams consisted of BEST students Marisela Avalos, Catherine Newman, and Jaspal Sandhu (along with Rany Ng and Arezki Rahmani). This team was featured in the January 19, 2004 edition of Engineering News for their work on personalized digital billboards. The article can be viewed here.

Jonathan Hey Featured in Engineering News
Jonathan Hey was featured in the November 24, 2003 edition of Engineering News in the Pop Quiz column. The article can be viewed here.

Prof. Masao Arakawa visits BEST Lab
Prof. Masao Arakawa – from Kagawa University, Reliability-based Information Systems Engineering (RISE) – visited UC Berkeley in November 2003. His visit to the United States included stops at Columbia and Stanford, and was sponsored by the Japanese government. During his visit, Prof. Arakawa – a visiting scholar at the BEST lab from 1994-1995 – presented a talk titled “Development of Genetic Range Genetic Algorithms”. A picture of Prof. Arakawa and BEST lab members can be viewed here.

Prof. Alice Agogino Featured in Engineering News
Prof. Alice Agogino was featured in the November 3, 2003 edition of Engineering News in the Professor Minute column. The article can be viewed here.

Call for Papers – Second International Conference on Soft Methods in Probability and Statistics
Former BEST Visiting Scholar, Prof. Maria A. Gil is organizing a conference in her hometown of Oviedo, Spain — The 2004 Second International Conference on Soft Methods in Probability and Statistics, Sept. 2-4, 2004. Prof. Lotfi Zadeh will be the Honorary Chair and Opening Lecturer. The Call for Paper is at

Catherine Newman featured in Engineering News
Catherine Newman was featured in the August 18, 2003 edition of Engineering News for a modern dance performance last semester: “The piece, entitled Consequences/Home, was a collaboration between the Theater, Dance and Performance Studies department, the College of Engineering, and the College of Environmental Design.” Catherine was also featured in the September, 15 2003 edition of Engineering News, in an article entitled “ME grad student shares her secret on coping in engineering”. She is also one of the highlighted Faces to Berkeley Engineering on the College website.

Shuang Song and Shankaran Sitarama win 2003 ASME/NSF Design Essay Competition Award
Shuang Song and Shankaran Sitarma won an award for their submission to the 2003 ASME/NSF Design Essay Competition. Their paper, A Scientific Formalism for Product Realization in a Global Manufacturing Enterprise, was presented at the ASME International 2003 DETC (Design Engineering Technical Conferences) in Chicago in early September 2003. They received a travel grant to attend the conference and were additionally honored at an awards banquet during their stay in Chicago. You can view their poster, Extreme Mass Customization and Personalization here. They are also featured on the Department website for this award (includes photo).

Shray Alag, son of BEST alum Satnam Alag born 8/28/03
Shray Alag, son of BEST Lab alum Satnam Alag, was born on Thursday, August 28, 2003 at 9:57am. At that time, he weighed 6 lbs 4 oz and was 19″ tall. Both Shray and Alpana are doing well.