The Berkeley Master of Engineering Program

This semester, my team and I have been working
on an 8-legged robot called the Octo-Roach, which is developed here at the biomedic lab
at Berkeley. The robot is meant for search and rescue operations, and we are helping
the robot learn to walk. So we’re forming an integrated hardware and software solution
for mobile, diabetic maintenance care. What that means is that we’re forming a mobile
app that goes onto a smartphone, which has all the features out there right now, plus
a predictive layer that goes on top of that that can forecast the glucose level of diabetics.
So the project we are working on this semester is crowdsourced rotoscoping, which is a technique
in which you try to separate a foreground element from the background and composite
on a different mat. We’re trying to see if we can crowd source this particular technique
and take advantage of the workers online, all over the Internet, all over the globe
to do this task for us. The Masters of Engineering is intended for someone who is going to stay
technical, at least for their conceivable future. They want to be more effective as
a technical leader, though, and so they can hack the engineering, but they can also communicate
why it needs to be done and manage people to get there. It’s not only about furthering
the knowledge in the discipline, but it’s about applying the disciplines to problems.
Our capstone projects are parallels of this idea. We also run projects with our industry
partners, and in one of our professional programs we had an executive level team work on an
industry strategy project with us. It was people at Cisco, at network appliances, at
applied materials. They basically started to focus in on blood glucose monitors as a
type of device which we could see becoming more intelligent. So as you can see, there
are differences in the resistance. That’s cool. It really works, that’s nice. The reason
I was attracted to this program originally is because I was really interested in kind
of deepening my technical knowledge in my field while also still being ready to get
a job after I graduate. The thing that this program offered was further advancement in
a technical field that I didn’t know too much about, and then I complemented that with specific
things like leadership programs and learning how to analyze markets in order to extract
the important insights. I think being a computer science graduate, you want to be in Silicon
Valley, and if you’re in Silicon Valley, it never gets better than UC Berkeley. Well how
do you become what I call “better connected engineers”? Connected not in a technology
sense, but really in more of a societal sense. Whether it’s connected to the idea, to the
business, to the people, to society. If you’re true skills and interests lie in the purely
technical, that’s the direction you can go in. If you want to have an impact on society,
though, and have a technical impact, then you want the Master’s of Engineering. If it’s
not connected to the society at large or problems at large, then we’re not solving anything.
I think Cal as a world-class engineering school is in a fantastic place to take that leadership
role, and it’s a huge opportunity. These extra skills will make you more effective in any
of those jobs that you would have had the opportunity to go into, and that’s what’s
going to make the career difference five to ten years from now. And I think that is going
to be exciting, and I hope the engineering leadership element will become even more critical,
almost like the catalyst or the gel that’s going to pull all of this together.

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