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On Thursday 12th February, after having eaten a typical American student’s meal – a delicious but fat bacon cheeseburger – at the University of California Berkley (UC Berkley), we went at the EECS Open House tour at the engineering department.


Engineer's presentation

First we visited the electronic place, where we met five PhD students. They presented to us their work which were related to various fields of use, from making web wireless, through printing electronic chips to building open source biomedical sensors.

They seemed to us very passionate about their study and proud of what they achieved: we met pioneers! Moreover, we felt an open-minded and motivating working atmosphere, where everything could be possible.

CITRIS laboratory

Then we visited an engineering laboratory: CITRIS. Walking around, we discovered a heteroclite place where electronic components sit between 3D printers and laser cutters. We talked with students who were working on surprising gimmicks: a small box that detects silence in conversation and asks random questions to avoid awkward moments; a sponge handler which can communicate recorded messages and a device that recognizes human’s emotion when someone looks at paintings. We found really exciting that students have the opportunity to freely work on crazy and innovative personal project.

CITRIS Offices

After this long and interesting visit, we did not have time to continue our exploration in the computer science laboratory. Indeed, this laboratory was already empty but we had a quick look at it. What we saw there was unexpected: in Switzerland we have dedicate places for everything, there it is a completely different mentality: for instance bikes follow them to their desk! In  addition, there is no need of « Ordnung », everything is mess up. As our professor explained us, mess is an essential need for creativity and the place illustrated very well this statement.

We finished the visit of UC Berkley by discovering the huge and amazing library. We were stunned by its proportions and studying atmosphere: we had the desire of being part of this!

Berkley library

This exploration of the engineering world was interesting for both business students and engineers. The first ones had a better overview of the « technical side » of the product development. The second ones had a deeper understanding of how Americans create – be crazy and let your imagination driving you!