Upcoming Events (Official)

Use of PEER Tall Buildings Initiative Guidelines for Peer Review of Tall and Unique Structures, Sep 25

1 day 4 hours ago
Engineers designing tall and otherwise unique structures are challenged in strictly meeting all
seismic design provisions of the building code. Prior to 2010, there were no guidelines in
place to allow engineers to perform a performance-based seismic design to validate that their
designs were consistent with the performance goals of the code. In 2010, the PEER Tall Building
Initiative published the first edition of the “Guidelines for Performance-Based Seismic Design
of Tall Buildings.” Since their publication, the PEER Guidelines have been used to facilitate
the peer review and approval of dozens of tall and unique structures in many major West
Coast cities. This presentation will summarize some of the key elements of the Guidelines and
discuss their application on a number of interesting peer review projects.

Transportation Futures: Integrating transportation, land use, and environmental planning for sustainable urban development, Dec 1

1 week 1 day ago
Concerns about global warming, economic disparity, social exclusion, and threatened shortages of water and energy have emerged on policy agendas throughout the world, and the need for aggressive intervention along all fronts has become increasingly apparent. In this presentation, Elizabeth Deakin will discuss policies and practices linking transportation, land use, and environmental planning with the objective of achieving sustainable development - a healthy environment, a thriving economy, and a more equitable and inclusive society. She will examine how regional and local planning practices are changing to reflect new demographic and economic trends and environmental and social challenges, and review and assess best practices and emerging scenarios on how to improve the performance of cities’ and regions’ transport systems, ranging from investments in transit and nonmotorized travel modes, to mixed use and higher density urban development, to radically transformed vehicles and transportation systems enabled by emerging technological innovations.

Elizabeth Deakin is Professor Emerita of City and Regional Planning and Urban Design at the University of California, Berkeley, where she taught and carried out research on transportation, land use and environmental planning for three decades. She served as the Director of the UC Transportation Center from 1999-2009 and as Co-Director of the Global Metropolitan Studies Center from 2004-2009. She has written nearly 300 journal articles, book chapters, papers and research reports during her academic career. She is co-author of the handbook, Residential Street Design and Traffic Control (with Wolf Homburger, Peter Bosselman, Daniel Smith and Bert Beukers), published in English and Italian, and co-editor of the 2017 edited volume, High Speed Rail and Sustainability (with Blas Perez Henriquez). She has advised numerous city, state, and national governments on transportation, urban development, and environmental issues and has served as an appointed official for state and local government. Deakin holds SB and SM degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a JD from Boston College Law School. In 2010 she was awarded an Honorary PhD from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm (KTH) for her contributions to research in the fields of transportation and the environment. She also was awarded an honorary professorship at Shandong University in the PRC in recognition of her contributions to sustainable development planning for Chinese cities. Currently, she is conducting research, advising students, and editing Access magazine at UC.

How Ride-Sharing Technology is Impacting Transportation in Africa: The case of Uber in Nairobi, Nov 17

1 week 1 day ago
As ride-sharing technology companies enter the African Continent to tap into its market of one billion people, African cities are adopting and responding to the technology in different ways. Looking at Kenya, a country that prides itself as the tech hub of Africa, there has been wide-spread adoption of Uber — but not without significant opposition from certain transportation stakeholders. What are the factors that have influenced this adoption of ride-sharing technology as a mode of transportation in Nairobi, and how has government responded to opposition to the disrupter in the transport industry? In addition, are there factors that are influencing Uber’s impact on the workforce in Kenya as compared to the US?

Kagure Wamunyu is a Sustainable Urban Development PhD student at Oxford University doing her research on the impact of ride-sharing technology on transportation in Africa. Kagure has worked in the ride-sharing industry where she joined Uber in 2015 as the operations and logistics manager for Nairobi and rose to Country Manager for Uber in Kenya, a position she held before leaving the company in July 2017.

Kagure also currently works as the Senior Director for Strategy for East Africa for Bridge International Schools, a social impact organization that seeks to provide access to education to the low income in Africa and Asia. She also previously worked as a research assistant at the Institute of transportation Research and Education and North Carolina State University.

Kagure is a Berkeley MCP alumna (class of 2015) and holds a BSC in Civil Engineering from NC State and a BA in Mathematics from Meredith College.

Optimal Coordination of Connected and Autonomous Cars in Smart Cities, Nov 3

1 week 1 day ago
Connectivity and autonomy of cars and roadside infrastructure is expected to transform urban transportation. For instance, cooperation between intelligent cars and intersection control units can harmonize traffic flow, increase energy efficiency, and enhance safety and passenger comfort.

This talk takes a closer look at some of these potentials. In one experimental case study, we demonstrate that coordination of movement of human-driven connected cars with traffic signals reduces idling and fuel consumption. In this case study we successfully “crowd-source” traffic signal timings from statistical patterns in motion of connected vehicles in the city of San Francisco. We also discuss the communication protocols and backend computing architecture that we have in place for collecting and processing vehicular data in near real-time and relaying the processed information to subscribing vehicles.

Benefits are expected to be higher with autonomous cars where absence of a human driver promises more predictability and precise control. In the second part of this talk, we formulate a novel intersection control concept for autonomous cars in smart cities that does not rely on conventional traffic signals. Arrivals of autonomous cars at the intersection are optimally scheduled to reduce delay. The benefits are shown in simulated scenarios and also in a vehicle-in-the-loop experiment.

Biographical Sketch:
Ardalan Vahidi is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Clemson University, South Carolina. He received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 2005, M.Sc. in transportation safety from George Washington University, Washington, DC, in 2002, and B.S. and M.Sc. in civil engineering from Sharif University, Tehran in 1996 and 1998, respectively. In 2012–2013 he was a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. He has also held scientific visiting positions at BMW Technology Office in California, and at IFP Energies Nouvelles, in France. His research is at the intersection of energy, vehicular systems, and automatic control. His recent publications span topics in alternative vehicle powertrains, intelligent transportation systems, and connected and autonomous vehicle technologies.

The Search for a Sustainable Source of Federal and State Transportation Revenue: Gas taxes or mileage fees?, Oct 27

1 week 1 day ago
For almost a century, gas taxes have generated substantial revenues for building and operating the transportation system, but these user fees are unlikely to keep serving that function as well in the future. This talk will examine the relative benefits of raising the gas tax versus adopting a new "mileage fee." After presenting a policy evaluation framework specific to transportation revenue sources, Professor Agrawal will present a quick sketch analysis of gas taxes and mileage fees. Then, the talk will delve deeper into the questions of political feasibility and public opinion, presenting findings from her original public opinion research on gas taxes and mileage fees, including the results of eight annual national surveys and an NCHRP synthesis study.

Bio: Asha Weinstein Agrawal is Director of MTI’s National Transportation Finance Center at San José State University, and Professor of Urban and Regional Planning (also at SJSU). Her research agenda is guided by a commitment to the principles of sustainability and equity: what planning and policy tools can communities adopt to encourage environmentally-friendly travel and improve accessibility for people struggling with poverty or other disadvantages? She has explored this question most deeply through two substantive areas, transportation finance policy and the travel behavior of pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders. She also works in the area of urban history and is currently Chair of the Transportation Research Board’s Committee on Transportation History. Dr. Agrawal earned a B.A. from Harvard University in Folklore and Mythology, an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics and Political Science in Urban and Regional Planning, and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, in City and Regional Planning. More information about her work, including publications, is at

FlexPass: Incentives for reducing employee parking, Oct 20

1 week 1 day ago
Most employers offer free or underpriced parking to employees even as they feel the pressure to reduce the number of employees driving alone to work. The FlexPass study is a parking incentive program that avoids employee discontent. We conducted a two-phase study during the year of 2015 and 2016, the FlexPass and FlexPass-Plus study.

The FlexPass study explores a new kind of employee parking permit, the FlexPass, that incentivizes employees to reduce parking. Most employees of the University of California, Berkeley buy a monthly parking permit with pre-tax dollars. The FlexPass is the same, but then refunds this money to the employee in proportion to the number of working days not parked each month. The causal power of this new parking commodity is revealed by a randomized controlled trial. The trial has built a smartphone app that collects longitudinal daily parking usage and location data from each employee. We find that the FlexPass treatment reduced employee parking demand by a barely significant effect of 4.2%. The reductions have required refunds of $27 per employee over a 3 month period. We find that unbundling a monthly employee parking permit reduces parking by making employees mindful of daily parking usage.

The question then arises: what will be the treatment effect if incentives are provided at higher level, and what is the optimal rebate value to achieve certain operation goals? To understand the value of parking and explore various incentive levels, we designed the FlexPass-Plus study. In the FlexPass-Plus study, subjects enter their willingness to accept (WTA) to forgo parking through daily second price auctions. The FlexPass-Plus study proved a direct measurement of the population-level demand curve. From the longitudinal auction data, Individual-level WTA curves are built up. Performance-based incentive schemes are then designed.

Born and raised in Nanjing, China, Dounan Tang earned his bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Southeast University in his hometown. He came to UC Berkeley to pursue his Ph.D. degree in Transportation Engineering. He is also enrolled in the M.A. program in the Department of Economics at Berkeley. Dounan’s research interests include conducting field experiments to measure and change travel behavior, particularly to reduce employee parking by monetary incentives.

Designing Automated Vehicles to Avoid Collisions (and Make Good Decisions When They Can’t), Oct 13

1 week 1 day ago
Automated vehicles provide an unparalleled opportunity to reduce the approximately 35,000 fatalities that occur each year on US roads. With the ability to sense 360 degrees around the vehicle, avoid distraction, and react within milliseconds, automated vehicles possess some inherent advantages over human drivers when it comes to avoiding collisions. To realize this potential, however, the cars must be explicitly designed to make full use of these advantages when designing and executing maneuvers.

For inspiration, we have been studying race car drivers, who are able to routinely handle cars safely at the very limits of their handling capabilities. By working with expert drivers and measuring their performance on the track, we have developed automated vehicles capable of lapping a track in less time than a champion amateur driver and drifting through courses with a precision exceeding human capability. More importantly, these interactions with the best human drivers have helped us to reframe the control challenges associated with racing in a way that opens up new possibilities for safety on the road.

Even with driving capability at the level of the best human drivers, not all collisions are avoidable, due to laws of physics and the somewhat unpredictable actions of human road-users. Automated vehicles must be explicitly designed for these cases as well, requiring engineers to consider not only technical feasibility but also ethical frameworks for decision-making. The talk will conclude with a look at possible approaches to handling dilemma situations and why the popular “Trolley Car Problem” creates unnecessary fear and complication by asking the wrong question.

Chris Gerdes is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and, by courtesy, of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University. His laboratory studies how cars move, how humans drive cars, and how to design future cars that work cooperatively with the driver or drive themselves. When not teaching on campus, he can often be found at the racetrack with students, instrumenting historic race cars or trying out their latest prototypes for the future. Vehicles in the lab include X1, an entirely student-built test vehicle; Shelley, an automated Audi TT-S that can lap a racetrack as quickly as an expert driver; and MARTY, an electrified DeLorean capable of controlled drifts. Chris and his team have been recognized with a number of awards including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the Ralph Teetor award from SAE International and the Rudolf Kalman Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
From February 2016 to January 2017, Chris served as the first Chief Innovation Officer at the United States Department of Transportation. In this role, he worked with Secretary Anthony Foxx to foster the culture of innovation across the department and find ways to support transportation innovation taking place both inside and outside of government. He was part of the team that developed the Federal Automated Vehicles Policy and represented the Department on the National Science and Technology Committee Subcommittee on Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. He continues to serve U.S. DOT as Vice Chair of the Federal Advisory Committee on Automation in Transportation.
Chris is a co-founder of truck platooning company Peloton Technology and served as Peloton’s Principal Scientist before joining U.S. DOT.

CEE Graduate School Information Night, Oct 9

1 week 1 day ago
Professor Arpad Horvath, Graduate Admissions Chair, will discuss the Department's admissions procedures. Faculty from each of CEE's 7 graduate programs will describe their program and possible research topics.

Programs include:

Civil Systems
Energy, Civil Infrastructure and Climate
Engineering & Project Management
Environmental Engineering
Structural Engineering, Mechanics & Materials
Transportation Engineering
See map and Visitor's Information.

Bay Area Transportation 2050: Systems change in action, Oct 6

1 week 1 day ago
Regional transportation planning is an art and not a science. SPUR, the Bay Area’s leading urban planning organization, has embarked on a Regional Strategy to answer the big planning questions facing the Bay Area through 2050. While transportation models and heuristics are commonly used to estimate future mobility needs, urban systems in the United States are actually shaped by a complex interaction of urban planning, public policy, and politics -- which are overlaid on history and our own narratives. SPUR’s future transportation research process will test the limits of what can be known through typical planning tools and what must be determined through strategic visioning and social movements. This talk will discuss SPUR’s ambitious Regional Strategy project, theory of change, and transportation research and visioning process.

CEE Academy of Distinguished Alumni, Oct 5

1 week 1 day ago
The Academy of Distinguished Alumni will hold its banquet to honor the 2017 class. The banquet will be held at the University Club of the California Memorial Stadium on the Berkeley campus. The event begins with a reception at 5:30pm followed by a dinner.

Anil Chopra Symposium, Oct 2

1 week 1 day ago
We are pleased to announce a Retirement Symposium and Celebration honoring the Career of Professor Anil K. Chopra on Oct. 2-3, 2017 In 2015, Professor Chopra retired after 46 years of service on the faculty of UC Berkeley. Professor Chopra has an impressive list of contributions in earthquake engineering including fundamental technical knowledge, teaching and instruction, and consulting. He is well known around the world for his popular and accessible textbook, Dynamics of Structures: Theory and Applications to Earthquake Engineering, first published in 1995, and updated in 2001, 2007, 2012 and 2017. His impressive list of awards include: election to the National Academy of Engineering (1984); recipient of American Society of Civil Engineers Nathan M. Newmark Medal (1993), the Norman Medal (2014, 2001, 1991 and 1979), the Raymond C. Reese Research Prize (1989), and the Walter L. Huber Research Prize (1975); recipient of Earthquake Engineering Research Institute’s Housner Medal (2002). He has been recognized by the magazine International Water, Power & Dam Construction as among the "60 most influential people in the hydropower and dams industry who helped shape the course of the global hydro and dams business over the last 60 years", and among “the 20 people who have made the biggest difference in the dam engineering sector over the past ten years.” He is also the long-time general editor of Earthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics, the premier international journal of the field.

View from the Top: Lisa Davis, Sep 28

1 week 1 day ago
Never before have energy systems faced a greater transformation than today, and never before was energy – primarily electricity – so important. With a growing global population, rising economic output and, above all, ever more uses of electricity, the demand for electricity is expected to nearly double by mid-century. At the same time, the demand for greater system sustainability and affordable energy is for many countries also a prerequisite for security. The energy transitions taking place throughout the world show that many countries are seeking new solutions. And never before have there been so many possibilities. Technical possibilities that make the system more secure and sustainable as well as new business models for greater economic efficiency. Digitalization will further accelerate the merging of power generation, transmission, distribution and consumption and spawn changes extending far beyond the energy sector itself, increasing the importance of energy even more. In the end, electricity will become the global source of energy.

Lisa Davis is a Member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG. Appointed to the Siemens board in August 2014, she is responsible for the company’s Oil & Gas, Power Generation and Power Services businesses as well as for the Region North America and South America. In addition, she has been named Chair and CEO of Siemens Corporation, USA in January 2017.

After graduating with a degree in chemical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, she joined Exxon in 1986 and subsequently worked for Exxon Corporation before moving to Texaco from 1988 to 1998. That year, Davis joined Royal Dutch Shell in the USA, holding executive positions prior to transferring to Shell in the UK. Upon returning to the USA in 2008, she served as Vice President, Sales and Marketing Lubricants & Bulk Fuels Americas before being appointed Executive Vice President, Strategy, Portfolio & Alternative Energy at Royal Dutch Shell, UK, in 2012.
35 minutes 19 seconds ago
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