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Internships give UC Berkeley students rare chance to learn ins and outs of high tech start-ups from Silicon Valley CEOs
18 May 2001

By Teresa Moore, College of Engineering

Berkeley - An innovative program that blends academic training with hands-on industry experience at Silicon Valley start-ups is being launched by the University of California, Berkeley's College of Engineering with the financial backing of a leading Silicon Valley venture capital firm.

The Mayfield Fund, headquartered in Menlo Park, Calif., has committed $1.5 million to fund the UC Berkeley Mayfield Fellows Program.

Under the program, UC Berkeley graduate students from the College of Engineering, the Haas School of Business and the School of Information Management & Systems will work as summer interns at venture-backed high technology firms in Silicon Valley. It is anticipated that most of the internships will be with information technology firms.

"I don't believe any other university offers its graduate students such rigorous training in starting new high tech ventures, from both a business and a technology perspective," said A. Richard Newton, dean of the College of Engineering and a partner in the Mayfield Fund.

"Add to that the opportunity to work directly for the CEO of a high tech start-up as part of the academic experience, and we have created something truly extraordinary for our students," he said.

The first group of UC Berkeley Mayfield Fellows was announced this week, four each from the College of Engineering and the Haas School, all with extensive technical training and previous work experience in high technology.

The new fellows are Tom Barber, Doug Giffin, Joan Godfrey, Diego Groiso, Chunlong Guo, William Jiang, Michelle Khine and Steve Schuman.

Noting the blend of engineers and MBAs, Newton added, "This program builds on one of the greatest strengths of UC Berkeley, namely the rich collaboration that can be found everywhere between our technical and our business programs."

In addition to the summer internships, UC Berkeley Mayfield Fellows participate in intensive classroom work, intended to blend the practical experience gained through their internships a series of graduate seminars on technology and entrepreneurship.

The Mayfield Fund has made the $1.5 million commitment to UC Berkeley as part of its support of the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS). CITRIS is being created as a focal point to apply advances in information technology to the solution of society's most critical needs.

"Mayfield is excited by the opportunity to participate with UC Berkeley in a program that will enrich the entrepreneurial experience for graduate students," said Michael Levinthal, Mayfield Fund general partner.

"The continual success of start-ups that have flowed from UC Berkeley to the Bay Area and beyond is exceptional, and Mayfield is proud of our association with this process. The CITRIS aspect of the program is especially exciting, given the crucial role new technologies must play in addressing the critical public-sector needs of the California economy," he said.

CITRIS research will focus on applying the campus's best minds in information technology, engineering, sociology, business, law, education and related fields to solving some of the state's toughest quality-of-life problems.

Thus far, corporate and private donors, including the Mayfield Fund, have pledged more than $170 million with most of it contingent on $100 million in matching state funds proposed over the next three years by Gov. Gray Davis.