Gordon Moore ’50

A few years before co-founding Intel, one of the largest and most revered semiconductor chip makers in the world, Moore wrote that the amount of transistors on integrated circuits — essentially, the complexity of computers — doubles every two years. Now called “Moore’s Law,” that estimate is gospel in the computer industry, and Moore a prophet of Silicon Valley. In the early years, as electronics were being installed into almost every consumer item, “we had the feeling that this was the basic technology of some kind of a revolution,” he said in a 2012 NPR interview with himself and fellow Intel icon Andy Grove Ph.D. ’63. Still wanting to do more, Moore and his wife began the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in 2000 to support their combined passions: environmental conservation, patient care, science, and Bay Area-focused projects. The foundation emphasizes planning, partnership, and — when necessary — learning from mistakes. “Failures are not something to be avoided. You want to have them happen as quickly as you can so you can make progress rapidly,” Moore once said. He received the Berkeley Medal in 1996, the university’s highest honor.

 

Business and Economics, Honors and Awards, Innovators, Technology and Engineering

Allan Alcorn ’71

In 1972, as a newbie at the young game-maker Atari, Alcorn was asked by company cofounder Nolan Bushnell to make a simple ping pong game under a contract with General Electric. Although the contract didn’t really exist, Alcorn worked hard nonetheless to make something good. Three months later, the first coin-operated Pong machine was installed at Andy Capp’s Tavern in Sunnyvale, CA — and became an instant hit. As Bushnell would later say, it was “so simple that any drunk in any bar could play.” Alcorn designed both the arcade and home versions, and Pong’s popularity sparked the globally ubiquitous, multi-billion-dollar game industry we know today. “It wasn’t my intention. I’m just as surprised as the next guy,” he told the Computer History Museum in 2011. After Atari, his crucial involvement with many Silicon Valley startups earned him an Apple Fellowship; his own company, Zowie Intertainment, was acquired by LEGO in 2000. Alcorn continues to remain involved in tech’s fun side through Hack the Future, which offers daylong “hackfests” to school-age kids that teach them programming and connect them to mentors. Follow Alcorn on Twitter at @alalcorn.

Arts and Entertainment, Innovators, Technology and Engineering

Danae Ringelmann M.B.A. ’08

In 2002, as a young analyst at J.P. Morgan in New York, the arts-loving Ringelmann excitedly attended an event expecting to rub elbows with movie stars. Instead, she found herself surrounded by starving artists, “all hoping they’d meet their angel that night, someone who’d give them the money to finally go make their big project,” she explained in a 2011 Tedx Talk in Dubai. Fueled by the desire to democratize finance, she entered Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, where she met her future partners. “I wanted to be in an environment that would allow me to really think big,” she said in a video. In 2008, they launched Indiegogo, an online platform that makes it easy for ideas to go viral and gain multiple donors, who receive fun perks over profit shares. The first and now largest crowdfunding site, Indiegogo distributes millions of dollars every week to people worldwide for everything from solar roadways to graphic novels, high-fashion wetsuits to the world’s first crowdfunded baby. “Friends, family and even complete strangers wanted to help make our dream come true,” said Jessica Haley in a Sydney, Australia, newspaper on her successfully funded infertility treatments. Follow Ringelmann on Twitter @gogoDanae.

Business and Economics, Innovators, Technology and Engineering

Andy Grove Ph.D. ’63

In 1956, as Grove fled Communist-occupied Hungary and a Holocaust-haunted past, little did he foresee becoming a legend of the high-tech industry. A few years after finishing his Ph.D. in chemical engineering at Berkeley, he was the first hire at Intel — co-founded by Gordon Moore ’50 to push the edges of the fledgling microchip — and later led Intel to great acclaim. “Every pestilence that could kill a microchip hit it,” Grove said in an NPR interview, recalling its bumpy start. But they finally struck gold — and continued uncovering gems over the decades with the microprocessor and personal computer. In 1997, Time magazine named Grove its Man of the Year. Driven by personal frustrations with treating his own illnesses, Grove has recently turned his attention toward speeding up the delivery of new medical therapies. In 2010, he made a gift to UCSF and Berkeley’s bioengineering department to jointly launch the first-ever master’s degree in translational medicine, which graduated its first class in 2014.  “What we have learned from decades of rapid development of information technology is that the key is relentless focus on ‘better, faster, cheaper’ – in everything,” Grove said, including curing life-threatening diseases.

Business and Economics, Innovators, Technology and Engineering

Anu Sridharan ’09, M.S. ’10

In almost every city in South Asia, knowing when or whether water will flow is a daily stressor. Residents must skip work, keep kids home from school — even miss a wedding or funeral — just waiting for the precious necessity to arrive. Building upon a novel team project that won Berkeley’s Big Ideas competition, Sridharan cofounded NextDrop, which uses simple technology and cell phones to alert residents when water is running in their neighborhoods. It also delivers real-time data on reservoir levels to the utility to improve their distribution decisions. Today NextDrop is serving 50 percent of Hubli, India, and envisions expanding to other developing continents. Sridharan, chosen by Forbes in 2012 as a 30 under 30 social entrepreneur, said in a TedXTalk, “If we are supposed to solve the pressing problems of tomorrow, the only way we can do it is by questioning everything.” Follow NextDrop on Facebook or Twitter @nextdrop.

 

Honors and Awards, Innovators, Technology and Engineering

Giovanni Dubois ’02, M.S. ’05

As an engineering student at Berkeley, Dubois felt the sting of being the only Hispanic in his fluid dynamics class, driving a need that still continues to build community and share his love for Latin American culture. What started off as informal gatherings with friends has evolved into the Bay Area’s No. 1 social network for Latino professionals, the LAM Network. With nearly 5,000 members, the organization offers educational, social, and philanthropic activities and plans to expand nationwide, starting with Los Angeles and New York in 2013. The South by Southwest Interactive Festival has nominated Dubois for its El Innovator Revolucion Award, which recognizes Latinos using social media as a platform for change. Dubois, who was born in Guatemala and moved here at age 14, met his wife, Sara Bakhtary ’04, at Berkeley’s International House. They have traveled to more than 40 countries and maintain a blog with photos, accounts, and tips.

Business and Economics, Innovators, Technology and Engineering

Tiffany Shlain ’92

Honored by Newsweek as one of the “Women Shaping the 21st Century,” Shlain founded and led the Webby Awards — the global bellwether for honoring excellence on the web — for almost a decade before shifting her passions toward filmmaking. Her last four films premiered at Sundance, including Connected, an acclaimed feature documentary that explores the links among complex issues such as consumption, technology, and human rights as Shlain searches for her place in a fast-changing world. She is currently working on a new series of 15 short films aimed at inspiring global change. Brain Power: From Neurons to Networks, the newest film and a TED Book, examines the parallels between the development of a child’s brain and the development of the Internet. Shlain gave the keynote speech at UC Berkeley’s commencement in 2010. Visit her website, or follow her on Twitter @tiffanyshlain.

Arts and Entertainment, Honors and Awards, Innovators, Technology and Engineering

Steve Wozniak ’86

You’d think the co-founder of Apple Computer would get first dibs on the company’s latest gadgets, but just like everyone else, Wozniak queued up early for his iPhone 5. Part geek, part icon, “The Woz” helped birth the PC revolution when he and the late Steve Jobs started Apple in 1976 and quickly turned out the first Apple I and II products. He received the National Medal of Technology in 1985, the highest honor for America’s leading tech innovators. A prolific philanthropist, Wozniak has poured sizable resources into education — even teaching children himself. In an interview with the College of Engineering’s Forefront magazine, Wozniak said, “Some people are so endeared to the Macintosh that it’s almost as gripping as a religion. I honestly believe that it’s about ‘thinking differently.'” Follow him on Twitter @stevewoz, or visit his website.

Education, Honors and Awards, Innovators, Technology and Engineering

Eric Schmidt M.S. ’79, Ph.D. ’82

Eric SchmidtIt’s hard to remember the time before “Google” became both a verb and one of the world’s most powerful forces for change. As the executive chairman of Google (and its former CEO), Schmidt has led the company through more than a decade of unprecedented expansion into politics, business, culture, privacy, copyright, and other broad interests. He also tackles issues of ever-increasing personal and global importance, including the responsible use of natural resources. Schmidt was named the Cal Alumni Association’s 2012 Alumnus of the Year. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter @ericschmidt.

 

Business and Economics, Honors and Awards, Innovators, Technology and Engineering

Jane McGonigal Ph.D. ’06

Jane_McGonigal3McGonigal has a vision that games will change the world. How? They take us on epic missions, present us with urgent challenges, and offer exhilarating rewards. A pioneer in alternate reality games that aim to improve real lives and solve problems such as poverty, hunger, and climate change, McGonigal includes EVOKE, Superstruct, and World Without Oil among her best-known projects. MIT Technology Review named her one of the top 35 innovators changing the world through technology. Follow McGonigal on Facebook or Twitter @avantgame.

Arts and Entertainment, Design, Innovators, Technology and Engineering