Berkeley students present Fall capstone projects in arts and design

Berkeley students present Fall capstone projects in arts and design


Berkeley, CA — From sculptures made of found wood stacked like a Rube Goldberg machine to wheeled robots that navigated obstacle courses, craft and creativity were on display across UC Berkeley’s campus at the end of the Fall 2016 as students across disciplines presented their final projects of the semester. The student creators were on hand to discuss their work, and most of the events were free and open to the public, giving the community an in-depth look at their projects.

Jacobs Showcase

The Berkeley Fall Arts and Design showcase was represented by departments and programs across campus, collecting and presenting student works from various disciplines. For instance, hundreds of undergraduates presented work at the 2016 Jacobs Winter Design Showcase on Dec. 7 and 8. The projects represented 17 courses that unified students pursuing endeavors including engineering, computer science, and the arts. One large course focused on introductory design elements, and the teams were tasked with developing a plan to improve transportation.

“The design course was very exciting,” says Crystal Chang, an undeclared second-year undergraduate whose team prototyped a new digital user interface for toll booths at BART, the Bay Area public transit rail system. “What we learned about wasn’t abstract. It was human interaction. I go out to a BART station now and I think, ‘Well, this could have been designed differently,’ or ‘This design wasn’t considering my interaction with it.’”

Members of Chang’s small team come from disciplines across campus, she says, and some of them haven’t yet declared their area of study. This brought a variety of viewpoints to the group’s brainstorming sessions and design iterations.

The class was co-taught by Dr. Sara Beckman, a senior lecturer in the Haas School of Business and Dr. Dennis Lieu, a professor of Mechanical Engineering.

“The literature shows that diversity trumps individual skill on creative teams,” says Beckman. “People with diverse backgrounds bring different methodologies to how they solve problems.”

Art Practices

Students also presented works in the arts, such as seniors majoring in Art Practice who showed their capstone projects in POV – The Fall 2016 Senior Thesis Exhibition.

“The Senior Thesis Exhibition represents the culmination of Art Practice majors’ years of study in the program,” says Farley Gwazda, director of the Worth Ryder Art Gallery in Kroeber Hall. “The students are expected to conceive of, produce, and install fully-realized works of art that demonstrate their mastery of technique, the depth of their artistic research, and their familiarity with contemporary art practices.”

Featured work included traditional and new media, from figure drawing to oil painting, photography to video installation, sculpture to interactive social practice work, Gwazda says. All exhibitions at the Worth Ryder Art Gallery are free, accessible, and open to the public.

“Our goal is to create a community that includes artists, art critics, art historians, and members of the general public,” Gwazda says “The best art asks more questions than it answers, and can address subjects for which our society does not yet have words. As such, events like the Senior Thesis Exhibition are a forum for conversation and an opportunity for collective community action.”

Berkeley Arts + Design features, fortifies, and mobilizes existing excellence in the arts and design at Berkeley, while fostering dynamic collaboration, innovation, and public access across all arts and design fields, on campus and in public life.


Contact: Christopher Merchant, or (510) 644-4125.



Upper Left: Undergraduates display their work at the Jacobs Fall 2016 Showcase that they made in an introductory design class co-taught by Dr. Sara Beckman, a senior lecturer in the Haas School of Business and Dr. Dennis Lieu, a professor of Mechanical Engineering. (Roland Saekow, UC Berkeley Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation.)

Bottom Right: UC Berkeley student Samara King looks at works by Derek Yu. Yu created a series of abstract paintings that contrast angular, architectonic planes with soft, atmospheric washes created with coffee stains. He writes, “From the rendering of human structures in geometric architectural form, I would like to illustrate that we are independent individuals, yet dependently connected to each other in the world.” (Photo via UC Berkeley Art Practice).