SanDisk donates remodeled EECS computing lab to Cory Hall

Kevin Chen/Staff

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Through SanDisk Corporation’s $1 million donation to the campus College of Engineering, electrical engineering and computer sciences students now have a revamped space in which to work on their collaborative projects.

The $1 million will fund recent renovations to Cory Hall and provide updated equipment and furniture for facilities within the building, including the undergraduate computing lab, which was renamed the SanDisk Computing Laboratory on Friday. Located at 199 Cory Hall, the lab features eight new Windows PCs and a large LCD display, among other updates, and provides open seating space for EECS students to work in groups on their laptops.

The company’s ample donation to the campus is a part of SanDisk’s mission to support STEM education, said Sanjay Mehrotra, SanDisk’s CEO and an alumnus of UC Berkeley’s College of Engineering. Mehrotra added that STEM education’s potential to create future innovators can help maintain U.S. leadership in technology globally.

SanDisk, a company founded by Mehrotra, Eli Harari and Jack Yuan — or by “immigrants,” as Mehrotra put it — is a global manufacturer of flash memory storage devices. Based in Milpitas, Calif., SanDisk and its community outreach program, SanDisk Foundation, promote STEM programs, K-12 education and children’s health programs.

“We really believe that a nice environment, a good lab which promotes good collaboration, is really a wonderful way to learn. We are very proud to have enabled the facilitation of this lab, and I hope that it will become a great place for students to hang out, work together, do their homework and engage in some breakthrough discussions.” Mehrotra said, adding that collaborations between academia and industry can lead to future breakthroughs in technology.

The computing lab’s spacious working environment is especially important for EECS students, as collaboration in projects is essential for success in the industry, said Tsu-Jae King Liu, an EECS professor and associate chair of the department.

“This lab was designed to foster collaborative interaction with students,” she said. “In engineering, more and more teamwork is becoming a critical aspect of working effectively in (the) industry.”

SanDisk unveiled its new computing lab on campus with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday morning, continuing with an information session hosted in the HP Auditorium in Soda Hall later that afternoon.

Mehrotra spoke to a crowd of hopeful hires about the mission of SanDisk, stressing the importance of internship and mentorship in the transition from university into the workforce. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in EECS from UC Berkeley almost 40 years ago, and he credits his adviser at the time, EECS professor emeritus William Oldham, for his current success.

“Definitely look for mentors — mentors who are movers and shakers can really help accelerate the growth of your career,” Mehrotra said. “They can make a huge difference in shaping your life.”

Lydia Tuan covers research and ideas. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @tuanlydia.