Philanthropy fuels innovation through design
“It is not enough to provide our future engineering leaders with technical skills. They must also learn how to work in interdisciplinary teams, how to iterate designs rapidly, how to manufacture sustainably, how to combine art and engineering, and how to address global markets.”
Berkeley is giving technology buzzwords such as “user experience” and “scalability” the attention they deserve, thanks to the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation, a new campus center funded by a gift from the Paul and Stacy Jacobs Foundation.
The institute, based in the College of Engineering, gives students hands-on experience with designing and prototyping. Foundation president Paul Jacobs B.S. ’84, M.S. ’86, Ph.D. ’89 maintains strong ties to his alma mater: he chairs Berkeley Engineering’s advisory board — and he and his wife, Stacy B.A. ’84, B.S. ’87, O.D. ’89, co-chaired The Campaign for Berkeley.
Using computer-aided design (CAD) software, 3-D printers, electronics assembly tools, and other resources, students explore prototype design, iteration, optimization, and commercialization of new devices and systems. “We want to provide our student innovators with opportunities to scale up their inventions, and produce them efficiently and sustainably,” said Dean Shankar Sastry.
This tight integration of design and manufacturing — unusual in engineering education — mirrors operations in such high-tech industries as semiconductors, medical devices, and energy production and distribution. In those fields, the design fabrication cycles have accelerated, becoming a matter of days rather than weeks or months.
The center’s future home, Jacobs Hall, will open in the fall of 2015.