Alice Agogino, Professor

Closed (1) Squishy Robotics: Rapidly Deployable Mobile Sensing Robots for Disaster Rescue, Remote Monitoring and Space Exploration

Applications for fall 2021 are now closed for this project.

Squishy robots are rapidly deployable mobile sensing robots for disaster rescue, remote monitoring and space exploration. Our emergent technologies are at the fusion of robotics, mobile sensing, machine learning, big data fusion and smart IoT (Internet of Things).

Our first target market is the HazMat and CBRNE (Chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive) response market, enabling life-saving maneuvers and securing the safety of first responders by providing situational awareness and sensor data in uncharted terrain. This product can be deployed with multiple – even swarms – of collaborative squishy robots, equipped with visual, audio, chemical, biological, radiological and GPS sensors, that can traverse rough environments and be quickly deployed by ground or aerial vehicle to inform first responders, and assist in the rescue of victims until human first responders can arrive.

Our customizable platform is being designed for dynamically changing situations and we expect future applications to include scientific monitoring, delivery services, smart home appliances, as well as educational applications for K-12 students, teachers, parents, roboticists and hobbyists.

Potential Roles:
Software Engineering - working and refining the current existing software stack for wireless communication, computer vision, MBED microcontroller
Electrical Engineering - electronics and sensors (custom designed PCB and assembly)
Mechanical Engineering - design of actuated tensegrity robot, with emphasis on reliability, weight, impact-resilience, and usability
Mechatronics and Controls design
Visualization and user interface design

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Andrew Barkan, Graduate Student

Qualifications: Desirable but not essential skills: CAD software experience, mechatronic/robotics previous work, software and coding skills (e.g., C/C++, Python, MATLAB, Java)

Weekly Hours: to be negotiated

Off-Campus Research Site: Although much of the work will be to work with a graduate student team in the BEST (Berkeley Emergent Space Tensegrities) Lab on campus, Squishy Robotics, Inc. also has space as a start-up at the SkyDeck, a partnership between the Haas School of Business, the College of Engineering, and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research at UC Berkeley. The SkyDeck office is on the penthouse floor of the tallest building in Downtown Berkeley. We have spectacular views of the UC Berkeley campus as well as the San Francisco Bay.

Related website:

Closed (2) Beyond Hands: Human-Centered Design Prosthetics for Music

Closed. This professor is continuing with Spring 2021 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Fall 2021.

The Prosthetics for Music is a focussed version of our design and prototyping project called Million Hands: Prosthetic Hands for Everyone in Need through a Community Open Source Platform and 3D Printers. Prosthetic limbs and assistive devices require customization to effectively meet the needs of users. Despite the expense and hassle involved in procuring a prosthetic, 56% of people with limb loss end up abandoning their devices. Rather than focus on general purpose upper-limb prostheses, we are interested in what they can do to inspire, and fundamentally improve the lives of the users through enabling musical expression, and how can we most effectively promote and produce such prostheses. Specifically, we will develop a prosthetic device intended to allow a drummer, with unilateral wrist articulation or transradial amputation, to play using their remaining functioning arm and the prosthesis. The goal is to create an effective replication of finger and wrist function for drumming. The system will be validated empirically by discussions with a user(s) about feel and perception of the device, and objectively through a user study involving a musical synchronization test of common drum rudiments. Developing prostheses that enable people to play musical instruments is very challenging task, due to the high level of dexterity, control, and feel provided by the natural hand and wrist. This research was first inspired from the maker movement’s ‘Enable community’ challenge to make prosthetic hands for children under $50 using 3D printing technology.

The goal of the larger Million Hands project is to create functional prosthetic hands that can be fabricated at low-cost for the millions in need. We are focusing on children with low-level amputation or birth defects who are often disadvantaged due to the high cost of prosthetic hands that must be periodically replaced during periods of childhood growth.

Funds for prototyping or supplies available through a grant and social venture funding.

Experience in human-centered design, prosthetics and 3D printing.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Elena Duran, Graduate Student

Qualifications: All URAPs will be expected to be highly motivated, organized, and self-directed. Those that have a general interest in the design field will get the most out of the apprenticeship.

Weekly Hours: to be negotiated

Related website:

Closed (3) Design for the Future: 3 Projects Available: (1) theDesignExchange, (2) Security and Privacy in VR Systems, (3) Human-Centered Design and Cybersecurity

Applications for fall 2021 are now closed for this project.

Project #1.
(1) theDesignExchange: We are in the process of designing and developing the DesignExchange, an interactive web portal for the design and design strategy community. The DesignExchange aims to meet three needs: consolidate and organize the many design and design research methods used, develop a community of practitioners within the design research/strategy field and educate the next generation of design innovators in appropriate methods. is under development by a multidisciplinary team of both graduate and undergraduate students. Our team aims to create a robust structure within which to collect and document the many design methods in use today, their origins, how they are used, and exemplars of their use. We hope that the site will also help designers make informed decisions about when to apply those methods in the design process. The portal supports the entire life-cycle of the early-stage design and innovation process—from observation through analysis and synthesis to realization and evaluation – providing educators and practitioners alike with a versatile library of proven tools. (Note, this project is also listed under Dr. Sara Beckman in the Haas School of Business under the title: Supporting the Design Research Community of Practice ). The deliverables are:

• Web-accessible database and interactive portal for practitioner and design research communities
• Integrated recommendation system to guide the choice of appropriate design research methods
• Interface for community members to input new methods, share approaches and co-create new ones, track project progress, report findings and identify use patterns of synergistic methods
• Infrastructure for research on design
• A system for rating and discussing design research methods
• Online course for teaching use of theDesignExchange and key skills to future designers
• UX and database design and testing

Project #2. Privacy, Security, and Safety in Immersive Experiences
This project explores the intersection of security and safety and VR. As VR systems proliferate, the risk of (1) inadvertently sharing Personally Identifiable Information and (2) creating unsafe online social spaces defined by VR increase. In this project, with two separate thrusts examining each, we study human behavior and VR systems. For #1, we examine data streams generated by Oculus Quest headsets to determine when data collected creates potential risk for users. For #2, we use a vignette-in-VR approach to simulate various moderation strategies of a VR social space to encourage non-exclusionary behavior.

Project #3. Human-centered Design Study on Cybersecurity:
In this project, we explore opportunities to design interactions and interventions to support positive human behavior and interactions related to cybersecurity in emerging technologies. Our current research focuses on connected medical devices and autonomous vehicles.

The student would join one of teams with researchers from both graduate and undergraduate level. You will work on tasks that match interests and background. The students will conduct human-centered design driven user research and also help build low to full-fledged prototypes in both software and hardware. You may explore unveiled technologies that could be incorporated with our product concept.

Project #1.
Content Development: We are looking for an undergraduate student to work on writing comprehensive descriptions of design methods. Our team has already compiled short (~3 sentence) descriptions of the design methods on theDesignExchange, but we are looking to create more useful and more extensive descriptions of the methods. An example of a design method that needs a more extensive description is a Design Swarm: An example of a fully articulated design method is a Persona: The applicant will be working to assemble method descriptions with the same level of detail as is found in the Personas description.

Applicants should have strong communication and writing skills, as they will be responsible for writing clear explanations for a set of design methods. Applicants will be responsible for assimilating information from a variety of sources, including design textbooks, research papers, and blog posts. This project is a great chance to gain exposure to design thinking methodology. The method descriptions will be deployed on theDesignExchange website, and therefore, this project can serve as a portfolio piece to highlight the applicant’s writing skills and understanding of design thinking.

Case study development: theDesignExchange provides a structured set of design thinking methods for developing an in-depth understanding of people who are directly impacted by an issue, allowing designers to generate creative ideas, and rapidly learn from small-scale pilots. Design thinking is emerging as an approach for innovating solutions to address issues of poverty in the US and around the world, and theDesignExchange has the potential to support designers around the world as they engage in projects of global development.

We are interested in highly motivated undergraduate students to write case studies of design thinking for development projects. We have compiled a set of academic papers that each provides an example of how researchers and designers conducted their particular design project work. We are now looking to transform these full papers into concise and informative case study summaries. Applicants should have strong communication, comprehension, and writing skills, as they will be responsible for reading and understanding academic publications and then summarizing and writing clear summaries of these publications.

This project is a great chance to gain exposure to design thinking methodology, particularly as it applies to global development. The case studies will be deployed on theDesignExchange website, and therefore, this project can serve as a portfolio piece to highlight the applicant’s writing skills and understanding of design thinking and development.

Project #2. Privacy and Securiy in Immersive Experiences
We're looking for students who have interest and experience in two of the follow areas: (1) VR development in Unity; (2) Human-Centered Design methods; (3) C# scripting (preferably in plug-in development); (4) Qualitative User Research, e.g. survey development, interviewing, and data analysis.
Students will gain experience with the above areas in the context of this research project, with an emphasis on producing conclusive research results and artifacts for student portfolios.

Project #3. Human-centered Design Study on Cybersecurity:
We're seeking students who have interests and experience related to two of the following areas: (1) human centered design and design thinking; (2) emerging technologies; (3) science and technology studies; (4) quantitative and qualitative user research methods; (5) digital fabrication and prototyping; (6) digital media (specifically video) production; (7) academic literature research and reviews.
Students will gain experience with the above areas in the context of this research project, with an emphasis on producing conclusive research results and artifacts for student portfolios.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Vivek Rao, Post-Doc

Qualifications: We are working together as interdisciplinary team. Students are required to have strong background in at least one of skills listed below. A combination of those skills is desirable but not essential. 1. Low-Medium Prototyping skill (e.g. 3D printing, Machine tools) 2. Electric Circuit Building, UI design (e.g. Tablet, Mobile): Creative Design or Art Practice. 3. Human-centered design or Qualitative research skill (Interview, observation, concept test, user test, etc.)

Weekly Hours: to be negotiated

Off-Campus Research Site: Please note, research will be remote until further notice.

Related website:
Related website:

Closed (4) [insert name]-Space: Co-designing a culturally sensitive makerspace

Applications for fall 2021 are now closed for this project.

This research project originated from a longstanding relationship between the Pinoleville Pomo Nation from Northern California and an interdisciplinary research group from UC Berkeley. After conversations with the Tribal Council and researchers’ participation in tribal gatherings, issues around well-being, and education were identified as areas of common interest. One of the tribe’s long standing interests in STEM/STEAM/making Education opened up specific opportunities to engage in the co-design of a makerspace. However, given the history of colonialism and intended erasure of Indigeneity throughout the world, it has been central to this project to have opportunity to define the pillars of making and its sociopolitical values in a way that opens up a space for the enactment of the sovereignty of this particular Native American community.

As a first step to the co-design process this project seeks to investigate the beliefs and values implicit in the cultural practices of the members of the community and also study how making practices have embedded in them Indigenous worldviews. We see this set of notions feeding right into macro-scale questions connected to the kind of world/life/society the community envisions for their peoples. Meso and micro-scale questions (i.e., what are the contributions of Education and STEM/STEAM fields in the making and sustaining of that world/life/society?) will be addressed through the analysis of interviews and artifacts created during co-design workshops with the community. The findings will be translated into a set of design principles that will result in a plan for the implementation of the “[ ]-Space.” (The temporary label “[ ]-Space” has been used to refer to the program given that community members will choose the final name for the project as a small but symbolic way of enacting their self-determination)

We are looking for students who are passionate about education and are interested in learning how to analyze data. As part of the research team, you will engage in the reduction and analysis of the corpus of data. To be able to do so you will receive mentorship from the lead graduate student.

Undergraduate students are sought to work on:

Tasks may include:

· Creating activity logs of interviews

· Fine tuning transcripts

· Coding data

· Creating data visualizations, Graduate Student

Qualifications: We are excited about diverse candidates who bring a unique perspective and background, who are passionate about education, and/or engineering education, and who are open to learning new things! Preferred qualifications: - You have experience working with indigenous communities - You are interested in social and environmental justice - You are part of an indigenous community - You are interested in Maker Education

Weekly Hours: to be negotiated

Off-Campus Research Site: Zoom

Related website: