By Ashley VillanuevaView the recorded commencement ceremony at https://engineering.berkeley.edu/BEgrad19.Rain or shine, Berkeley Master of Engineering (MEng) graduates rise to the challenge! On Tuesday, May 21, 2019, 330 MEng candidates joined the UC B…
By Giselle Diaz Professor Grace O’Connell in her lab Professor Grace O’Connell is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at UC Berkeley, a position that keeps her deeply involved with various research projects. She is currently acting as the faculty advisor for six different capstone projects within the Berkeley Master of Engineering Program. Part of her research… Read More »
by Arielle Maxner
Driving up Electric Ave. to the Tesla Gigafactory, a massive windowless wall of white topped with red looms before you, seeming even larger against the Nevada desert landscape. This is Gigafactory 1, currently under construction in Sparks, NV. The huge structure isn’t yet completed: all of the current parking spots are slated to be future factory floor. This stretch of Nevada is where battery packs will be produced for both homes and cars, focusing on the Tesla Model 3, the affordable electric car for everyone that Elon Musk envisions will eliminate the need for fossil fuels.
Tesla’s mission, to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy,” is front and center at the Gigafactory.
Knowing Tesla’s mission is one thing, but seeing the reality of their commitment to sustainability is another. Only partially complete so far, the Gigafactory is already producing batteries for the next generation of clean energy — in a completely revolutionary way. Our tour guide detailed the vertical integration and economies of scale that allow Tesla to overhaul traditional manufacturing practices. For instance, while under construction, the Gigafactory is run by grid power, but will be powered by its own solar panels and become net zero energy by completion. It runs on an advanced water recycling system, which will only use a fraction of the initial projection.
By 2020, the Gigafactory aims to create more lithium ion batteries per year than the current worldwide production.
Getting things done in a better, more innovative way is a palpable culture in the factory. With nearly unimaginable speed and mobility, it’s a unique mix of construction and production at the Gigafactory. Employees are at their desks while construction workers build up the factory interior. Our two tour groups were able to walk around the floor and speak to engineers at Tesla. These representatives from different branches — manufacturing engineering, facilities engineering, packaging engineering, design, and new product introduction — were able to shed light on the needs of the Gigafactory, the Tesla application process, and what it’s like to work for Tesla.
Among them was Brian Mick, an M.Eng. alum now working in Tesla’s Palo Alto office as a mechanical design engineer. He offered advice, opened himself to questions, and when we were out of time, encouraged us to continue the conversation about Tesla with him over email. One thing in common among the representatives was their dedication to Tesla’s mission of producing beautiful cars and, more importantly, clean energy. The core of Tesla, its battery technology, is on display here at the Gigafactory to bring us into Elon Musk’s vision of sustainability.
Tech Treks is a Career Services initiative offered by the Berkeley Masters of Engineering Program. It connects students and industry by hosting trips that allow future Engineers to learn about a company’s projects and initiatives directly from their employees and engineers.
Written by Shail Shah, Edited by Iris Wu
UC Berkeley’s Audio & Education Design Challenge, sponsored by Bose and Autodesk, took place on Oct. 22, 2016. Shail Shah was on one of the two winning teams.
I was excited to take part in the Berkeley Audio Design Challenge for a few reasons. First, it was my first “hackathon” or design sprint challenge. I’ve never had the experience of taking a design from concept to prototype to pitch within such a short time. Not unsurprisingly — it was really tough!
Second, I was deeply interested in the prompt; I’m kind of a hi-fi audio fanatic. I have a handful of speakers around my house which I designed and built. I like audio because to me it’s a beautiful intersection of engineering/physics and art/creativity.
Third, I was drawn to the target of the challenge — designing an educational tool. I like to be involved in educational extracurriculars, especially focusing on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) education. As an undergraduate, I volunteered at Richmond High School building electronic bicycles with students after school, and while I worked in Michigan I participated in a program organized by SAE and Toyota, which focused on bringing automotive engineering into the fifth-grade classroom. I benefitted a lot from strong mentors and access to opportunities when I was younger, and I want to be sure I can do the same for others.
A big factor in my team’s success during in the Challenge was how well we worked with one another. We were diverse in that we came from different academic backgrounds, and we had a good spread of seniority (there were two upper-classmen and two lower-classmen). Throughout the challenge, I organized the team’s efforts, leading the brainstorming activity and delegating the workload.
It was pretty nice being able to apply the skills we are learning in the M.Eng. program — not just technical, but also leadership — directly in a fast-paced team-project environment.
One of the biggest coaching moments in my team followed our initial pitch to the judges. My team had essentially made an entire curriculum for our product, and because of that we had trouble conveying a clear message to our judges. Before the judges announced the finalists, I worked with the team to decide what our key story was, and we revised our pitch.
Honestly, at the time we weren’t expecting to make it past the first round.
I just wanted to work through the pitch as a teaching moment, so that we could all learn a little more from the experience. Fortunately for us, we did have a chance to present the revised pitch. I think the succinct user experience we made in the final presentation, along with the allusions to the depth of the curriculum we had thought of, made our product the most compelling, and led to our success.
I’m so happy I got to take part in the Design Challenge. I really appreciated the mix of students that turned out, and how we got to work with people who we don’t usually interface with on campus. Pairing M.Eng. students with undergraduate teams worked really well; I definitely benefitted from the creativity and the energy of my teammates, and I also enjoyed the leadership side of the challenge. Based on the experience, I started looking for more interdisciplinary team projects, and have joined other design challenges across campus. I hope there’s another M.Eng. Design Challenge in the Spring!
M.Eng. Student Perspective: Berkeley Audio Design Challenge (pt. 1) was originally published in Berkeley Master of Engineering on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.