The Berkcycle system will consist of bicycles and bicycle racks that will be designed and manufactured by the Berkcycle team to fit the need of the students of University of California, Berkeley campus. The bicycle will have one-size-fits-all design that will allow all students to comfortably ride the bicycle anywhere on campus. It will also be fitted with an electric generator and lithium polymer battery so that bicycle can produce electricity, which will be used by the bicycle and the rack as their only energy source, making the system completely self-sustainable in terms of energy. It will be a “smart” rack that will be operated by microprocessors to make renting out and returning bicycle as simple as scanning Cal ID. Combining all these components together, the Berkcycle will be the ideal bike rental system for Cal students, addressing most of the problems that currently exist in using bicycle as transportation today.

Push Me, Pull You: O-Chem, the Fun Way!


This proposal’s plan is to develop a computer program that can be used to practice electron-pushing mechanisms in organic chemistry. Students struggle significantly in electron-arrow pushing mechanisms, a critical part of an organic chemistry course’s grade. By implementing this project, Push Me, Pull You hopes to increase students’ understanding of this phenomenon in organic chemistry, and therefore further students’ overall understanding of the subject. The application for this computer program will include a tutoring and a solving level. With this new program, Push Me, Pull You, will help students to better understand organic chemistry, and take away the unnecessary fear that strikes new organic chemistry students.

UC Berkeley Science Shop: Connecting Communities to University Research


Many science students at UC Berkeley view science as a tool that allows them to advance the frontiers of human knowledge and have a positive impact on society. For many students, the gap between their work and its real impact on society makes it difficult to believe that their work is relevant, leading to a loss of motivation and ultimately to high attrition of these talented individuals from science-related degrees and careers. This attrition and disconnection is at odds with an increasing need for access to scientific knowledge and research in many communities. Science and technology are fundamental to problem solving, and access to science and research often dictates who has a voice in policy and societal decision-making processes. This big idea is to translate community research questions into projects that undergraduate and graduates can carry out. By facilitating and fostering the relationship between community non-profits or small businesses and students’ research in the Bay Area, which has a distinctive landscape of non-profit organizations in diverse fields, business startups and progressive local governments, Science Shop will spark distinct solutions for social and environmental problems.

Free Ventures

Sam Kirschner (left), Jeremy Fiance (right)
Sam Kirschner (left), Jeremy Fiance (right)

Free Ventures is UC Berkeley’s first student-initiated non-profit startup accelerator, meant to catalyze the development of young entrepreneurs to innovate and create high-impact, sustainable ventures. Free Ventures is a key part of an innovation movement that involves changing the culture amongst the student body from focusing all of their energy on classes to a world where the things learned in the classroom can translate into real world products and services. They intend to do this by giving young entrepreneurs access to student consulting, mentorship, funding, and a more intensive accelerator program for students that show a higher potential of success. Initially they plan to implement a pilot program of roughly five passionate student teams that will be given mentors, project deadlines, and seed funding all wrapped up in 10 weeks. The pilot will help them to build an initial infrastructure, which they will use as a platform to build on. This organization will work along current leaders on campus to help accelerate Berkeley’s already talented student body into a more creative, free thinking group of students with a higher potential to pursue their passions and create meaningful ventures.

Campus Insight

Big Ideas Award Celebration, May 2012Photo Credit: Blum Center

Campus InSight is an online forum for discussing ideas meant to engage students in solving campus problems and encourage communication between students and administration. Each week, discussion will focus on one question or problem that affects the campus community. Students can log in with their school IDs and start discussions, in which other students can reply to. Up-voted comments earn points and are moved to the top of the discussion. At the end of each week, the discussion is closed and the student who submitted the best idea or solution, as determined by number of up-votes, is declared the ambassador of that week. Each month, the ambassadors of each week sit down to a meal with
administrators to discuss the solutions they came up with and how they can be implemented. In as little as two weeks, students can identify, discuss, and solve key issues, in a truly democratic fashion.

Footstep Energy

Footstep Energy

In a survey of 132 students about 84% of them agree that a better campus-wide lighting system will increase their sense of safety at nighttime. Footstep Energy provides an interactive renewable-resource solution utilizing the human footstep to generate electricity. When a person walks, there are vibrations between the footsteps and the road surface. This project is aimed to capture and convert that kinetic energy into electricity. This would involve paving piezoelectric tiles into the ground of the busiest areas of campus, which also need an improved lighting system, such as VLSB and Faculty Glade. When a person steps on the surface of the tile, the compression on the piezoelectric material creates voltage to generate electricity. Higher foot traffic will generate more electricity through the Direct Piezoelectric Effect, which can be stored and used at night. UC Berkeley’s 35,838 students give the campus the ability to utilize footstep energy.