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SYS Student Welcome (Fall 2020 - Spring 2021)
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CEE Systems Engineering: A Guide

Welcome, Advising, Courses, Orientation Day, Graduation Requirements, GSI/Reader Opportunities

Dear New SYS Students:

Welcome to Cal! The faculty, staff, and current students are excited to welcome YOU to the Systems Engineering (SYS) Program! This LIVE document provides critical information about the SYS program.

You will be joining an intellectually stimulating community of the world's top diverse talents. Our collective mission is to create knowledge, educate leaders, and serve society. Your contributions to our community are sought and anticipated.

This year we will navigate together new modes of remote study, and work together to upload our values for rigorous academics and societal impact. Thus we count on your insight and bravery to create a world that is more resilient, sustainable, and just.

We are planning a "hybrid" approach to the Fall 2020 semester. This provides maximum flexibility to offer full remote options, along with in-person interactions in certain cases. Additionally, in alignment with the June 17 announcement, all classes and events will have remote participation options. We endeavor to offer as much in-person interactions as public health guidelines reasonably allow, but currently anticipate the vast majority of Fall 2020 semester classes and events to occur online. Note that

This document shares important and practical information. Almost all the important information you need to know about academic issues related to SYS students is here, and/or found on the SYS web page, and/or community to you via CEE's Academic Affairs Office (AAO).

UC Berkeley's academic calendars are found here:

In addition to typical curricular information, this document also addresses:

Table of Contents:

Table of Contents:        2

I. Who are you? Who are we?        3

Faculty Advisor Assignments        5

II. CEE Orientation Day, SYS New Student Orientation        7

III. Courses & Degree Requirements        7

Degree Requirements        10

IV. Tuition and Financial Aid        10

Tuition and Fees        10

V. Visa Requirements for International Students        11

VI. Graduation Requirements: Comprehensive Exams & Capstone Project Reports        12

VII. GSI, Reader, and GSR Positions        13

VIII. Enjoy UC Berkeley, the SF Bay Area, and California!        14

VIII. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):        16

I. Who are you? Who are we?

As of July 12, 2020, there are...

… according to our admissions database systems. Names of incoming students are below:

New MS Students

New MEng Students

New PhD Students

Agu, Kamsey

Arauzo, Talia

Chaquiq elbadre, Hamza

Clark, Callie

Jiang, Zhiyong

Li, Weixin

Sura, Hardi

Walter, Karl

Wehrmeyer, Michael

Yang, Haochen

Zhou, Alvin

Deferred Admission

Chen, Yu-Hua

Chiu, Shih-Hung

Huang, Heyaojing

Paudel, Akshaya

Zou, Aoyu

Holgado, Sydney

Liu, Zerun

Shen, Kexin

Suen, Elliott

Wang, Hanzhi

Yan, Xingshuo

Zhang, Xinyu

Deferred admission

Billiemaz, Clémence

Cohen, Tom

Delmon, Donatien

Huang, Yuzhu

Martin, Laure

Tian, Runda

Vaitea, Bahri

Dangwal, Chitra

Gill, Preet

Deferred admission

Hemerly Viegas de Lima, Isabel

There are also several continuing SYS PhD students, listed here by research advisor:

Alexandre BAYEN





Kenichi SOGA


Dimitrios ZEKKOS

Faculty Advisor Assignments

Alexandre BAYEN







Alvin ZHOU


Callie CLARK


Preet GILL

Jackson LE


Hardi SURA

Kenichi SOGA


Dimitrios ZEKKOS

Hanzhi WANG

Elliot SUEN


Weixin LI

Zhiyong JIANG


Xingshou YAN

Kamsey AGU

Kexin SHEN

The officers for the SYS Program include:

What is Systems Engineering in CEE at UC Berkeley?

The traditional areas of civil engineering focus on stove-piped application areas, e.g. structural, environmental, transportation, geotechnical, energy etc. The systems engineering program cuts across these individual areas by providing students with a methods-based training. All our SYS students have interests in applications, however their core training is in methods and tools. This fundamental training allows them to contribute to multiple application areas over the entire career. Below is a word cloud generated from the publications of the SYS faculty members.

II. CEE Orientation Day, SYS New Student Orientation

August 24 2020 is the Virtual CEE Graduate Student Orientation Day. Shortly, you will receive details about this full-day program. Several SYS professors and continuing graduate students will be present to interact with you, and answer your questions.

Other orientation activities include:

You MUST attend these orientation meetings, or else you will miss out on critical information that will be difficult to acquire otherwise.

III. Courses & Degree Requirements

Soon or perhaps now, you will have access to the enrollment system, via CalCentral. Details on the SYS MS/MEng degree graduate requirements are all documented on the CEE-SYS website. You can examine course offerings via Note that instruction modes include:

To facilitate as much planning flexibility as possible, most CEE-SYS courses will be categorized as "Hybrid" and some will be offered as remote. This creates flexibility and helps satisfy student visa requirements.

Based on recent news, including a new outbreak in the Berkeley campus community and increasing case counts in the broader San Francisco Bay Area, as well as emerging scientific evidence regarding the importance of airborne virus transmission, our current expectation is that most instruction in CEE courses will be conducted online. UC Berkeley has also announced that after Thanksgiving Break, the final two weeks of instruction and final exams will be administered remotely. That said, students and faculty strongly value in-person interactions. Consequently, opportunities for increasing in-person instruction will be pursued when/if opportunities arise.

Before asking a question about graduation requirements, please make sure you have reviewed this website. We find that 90% of questions are already answered here (thus the website).

As part of your graduate requirements, you must select 4 SYS core courses (12 units) from the following menu:


Available Fall 2020

Planned for Spring 2021

  • CE 264: Behavioral Modeling for Engineering, Planning, and Policy Analysis
  • CE 295: Energy Systems and Control
  • CE 222: Finite Element Methods

  • CE 191: CEE Systems Analysis

Note: 100-level courses do not count towards the degree requirements #2 listed below.

Note, this list often changes slightly throughout the year. So please pay attention to updates.

In addition to the menu of SYS core courses, the following courses are very popular amongst our students:


Note: Check to determine if they are offered this Academic Year

Civil & Environmental Engineering

  • CE 110 Water Systems & Society
  • CE 186 - Design of Cyber-Physical Systems
  • CE 191: CEE Systems Analysis
  • CE 193: Engineering Risk Analysis
  • CE 200A Environmental Fluid Mechanics
  • CE 200B Numerical Methods for Environmental Flow Modeling
  • CE 206 Water Resources Management
  • CE 220 Structural Analysis Theory & Applications
  • CE 221 Nonlinear Structural Analysis
  • CE 225 Dynamics of Structures
  • CE 259 Public Transportation Systems
  • CE 260 Air Transportation
  • CE 261 Transportation Infrastructure Management

Computer Science

  • CS 61A – Introduction to Programming
  • CS/Data 100 – Principles & Techniques of Data Science
  • CS 289A – Introduction to Machine Learning
  • CS 194-5 - Internet of Everyday Things
  • CS 294-112 – Reinforcement Learning

Electrical Engineering

  • EE 127A/227A – Optimization Models in Engineering
  • EE 227BT – Convex Optimization
  • EE C220A Advanced Control Systems I
  • EE 221A – Linear Systems Theory
  • EE 222 – Nonlinear Systems

Data Science

  • Data 8 – Foundation of Data Science
  • CS/Data 100 – Principles & Techniques of Data Science
  • Stat 140 – Probability for Data Science
  • CE 88 – Data Science for Smart Cities
  • CE 88B – Time Series Analysis: Sea Level Rise & Coastal Flooding
  • ESPM 88A – Exploring Geospatial Data
  • CYPLAN 257 - Data Science for Human Mobility and Socio-technical Systems 
  • IEOR 135 – Applied Data Science w/ Venture Applications
  • IEOR 142 – Intro to Machine Learning & Data Analytics
  • IEOR 165 - Engineering Statistics, Quality Control, and Forecasting
  • IEOR 242 – Applications in Data Analysis

Note 1: 100-level courses do not count towards the degree requirements #2 and #3 listed below.

Note 2: MEng students are also required to take the Business Leadership courses facilitated by the Fung Institute. Consequently, MEng students may not be able to fit elective courses into their schedules

You can search UC Berkeley courses, the number of enrolled students, etc at The list of Spring 2021 courses is not yet available, and will be posted in mid-October. However, searching within Spring 2020 is often a good way to predict and plan for Spring 2021.

By the end of the second week of classes in the fall semester (September 4), you will need to submit a course plan for the entire year (including, tentatively, for the spring semester) by filling out the Graduate Student Class Schedule form and having your academic advisor approve and sign it:

Hint: You only have to fill out the "major field of study" as an MS/MEng student. Minor fields are only for future PhD students in their second and later years of study.

In late January, you will need to request your Master of Science degree by filling out this form:

Putting together your schedule will take skill! Please carefully study these web pages before you come to the meeting on August 24 2020:

Degree Requirements

Details for the MS and MEng degree requirements differ, however, the common and most important requirements are:

  1. Complete 24 course units in total (note courses designated 298, 3XX, or 6XX do not count towards the 24 units needed to graduate
  2. Complete 12 course units in CEE at graduate level, i.e. CEE 2XX courses
  3. Complete 12 course units from the menu of SYS core courses above

If you have met these requirements, then you are off to a good start. Police yourself.

IV. Tuition and Financial Aid

Tuition and Fees

Tuition and Fees differ if you are in the MS or MEng degree programs. Moreover, non-residents (see residency requirements here) pay additional tuition.

Consider your situation below.

The MS and MEng programs apply a Professional Degree Supplemental Tuition (PDST), which goes directly toward staff and services that directly MS & MEng students. Non-residents additionally pay a Non-Resident Supplemental Tuition (NRST) that supports the same staff and services.  The CEE department facilitates PDST/NRST for the MS degree, and the Fung Institute facilitates PDST/NRST for the MEng degree.

The Health Insurance fee supports medical and health benefits, which are accessible to you via University Health Services.

Finally, the "Other Fees" include Student Services Fee, Berkeley Campus Fee, Class Pass Fee - Transit, and a Document Management Fee.

For MS students, if you opt to stay for a 3rd semester, then PDST fees are not applied.

More details on the tuition and fees can be found here:

V. Visa Requirements for International Students

The July 6 2020 announcement by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding student visas is both infuriating and counter to the values of UC Berkeley. [UPDATE: This policy has since been pulled back]

International students are central to the fabric of UC Berkeley, and the Systems Engineering program in particular. Our international students represent the highest-quality talent in the world, diverse viewpoints, and unique experiences that enable UC Berkeley to educate world leaders. International students are the lifeblood of UC Berkeley's past, present, and future. Check out this list of notable alumni.

We stand in support of international students, and have taken the following actions in response:

  1. The majority of CEE classes will be categorized as "Hybrid", thereby offering maximum flexibility to have in-person activities that satisfy visa requirements. We anticipate that no international students will have class schedules with 100% of classes categorized as "remote," thus helping to satisfy their visa requirements.
  2. The UC is poised to sue the federal government over this new visa policy. Interestingly, UC President Janet Napolitano is the former Secretary for the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) in the Obama administration. So we have the best leaders, lawyers, and scientists to fight this policy. In fact, in 2017 the UC sued DHS for ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, known as the "dreamers", which the UC eventually won in Supreme Court.

UC Berkeley is committed to fighting for our international students. Stay tuned for more information.

VI. Graduation Requirements: Comprehensive Exams & Capstone Project Reports

We will NOT administer a SYS comprehensive exam, like some other CEE programs. Instead, each MS student is required to submit a "Capstone Project Report". MEng students are required to submit the Capstone Project Report from their MEng Capstone Projects.

Since each of you will be enrolled in a project-based course (e.g. CE 264, CE 290I, CE 295) or MEng program, we request that you submit your team project report from one of these classes. In addition, you are required to add one additional page or section to the report that describes your individual contributions to the project. Please label this section/page as "My Individual Contributions", so it's easy to find.

Finally, please use the linked title page template when submitting your Capstone Project Report. You are required to obtain TWO (2) signatures from faculty members on this cover page, which verifies that you have completed the work. The instructors and advisors for your project-based course is a natural option. Professor Glaser and Prof. Moura will sign projects from our own classes, and have agreed to sign the reports from each other's class. You can also obtain signatures from other relevant faculty. Then submit the signed title page to Shelley Okimoto by Tuesday 4th of May. This completes your graduate requirements.

To summarize, for easy reference:

VII. GSI, Reader, and GSR Positions

If you wish to become a teaching assistant (called "Graduate Student Instructor, GSI") or a course grader (called "Reader"), then there are numerous options. If you have been monitoring emails to the CEE Grad Student list, then you have already seen many position openings, some in CEE and many more outside CEE. If you have taken a specific course (or highly related) at your undergraduate university, then you would make a strong GSI candidate for that course. You could be a good Reader candidate for an undergrad course, even if you haven't taken that exact course.

Depending on how many hours you work (up to 20 per week is allowed, and is considered a 50% appointment), these positions pay a monthly stipend and may cover a part or all of your in-state tuition. For example, a 10-hour-per-week GSI position will cover in-state tuition and pay for 4-5 months of about $1,000 per month. See this website for GSI salary rates (note salaries listed are 100% effort / 40-hours-per-week).

Quite honestly, do not expect that it will be super-easy for everyone to find a GSI or Reader position. Consider the professor's point-of-view. They desire the highest quality GSI/Reader they can find. Typically, that is a PhD student they know well, or a former student who took their course that they trust understands the job well. You are competing with those students for positions. Nevertheless, do not stress! This just means you must be patient and persistent to find a GSI/Reader position. Every semester, UC Berkeley offers thousands of courses, those courses need GSIs and readers, and someone needs to be hired.

That said, think VERY carefully about pursuing a GSI/Reader position. It's a job. That means it will take time away from studies in other courses. For almost all of you, the courses at UC Berkeley will be the most intense courses you have experienced, and therefore require a steady investment of study time. If you are a GSI for a 3 unit course, then consider the time demand equivalent to being enrolled in a full-time 3 unit course.

From my past experience, the Departments of Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, Biology, Bioengineering, Economics and others have hired SYS students to help with mostly the intro freshman and sophomore courses (such as Physics 7A).

For more information, and to apply for CEE GSI and Reader positions, consult: 

Finding a paid research position (Graduate Student Researcher, GSR) will also be challenging for similar reasons. Again, consider the professors' point-of-view. They desire the highest quality researcher they can find. Typically, that is a PhD student who is also a multi-year investment, rather than a Masters student who is effectively a temporary intern. Moreover, there are many more students seeking GSR positions than there is funding to support them.

All that said, even new SYS students get offered GSR positions occasionally or can find one. In 2019-20, many SYS MS students had GSR positions, several in both semesters!  Once again, you may need to be patient and persistent.

VIII. Enjoy UC Berkeley, the SF Bay Area, and California!

Don't forget to have fun!

We are all super-fortunate to live, work, and study in a beautiful environment with a diversity of activities and people to enjoy. Make sure to plan some fun activities while you are here! Some of our favorites are:

Feel free to ask us for recommendations!

Looking forward to seeing you on August 24! Until then, enjoy the summer!


VIII. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

  1. How will faculty and staff curate an interactive remote learning experience that equals the quality of UC Berkeley's in-person experience?

This is a fantastic question that all universities are grappling with. Together, students and faculty will navigate this new era of remote study. Your feedback, resilience, and inputs will be critical. Moreover, this is an enormous opportunity for new students to shape the future of higher education.

In March 2020, UC Berkeley switched into an "emergency-mode" of remote instruction. Thanks to the resilience of students and innovation of faculty, instruction continued. However, it was far from perfect for students and faculty alike. Over the summer many faculty have already offered fully-remote classes and piloted techniques and tools to maximize instruction quality. Fall 2020 classes will look significantly different than Spring 2020, as instructors adopt completely new methods of asynchronous instruction, flipped classrooms, interactive chat platforms, group project work, and more!

UC Berkeley administration launched a "Fall 2020 Task Force on Instructional Planning and Policy" to lay out remote learning methods. Their report is here, and provides a roadmap of how UC Berkeley classes will operate during Fall 2020.

  1. Should I even move to Berkeley this fall?

The choice is yours. All classes and events will have remote options. Instructors are carefully considering instruction across multiple time zones, internet accessibility, and community building. Consequently, it is possible to attend UC Berkeley in Fall 2020 remotely - from home - and avoid travel, housing, and other logistical challenges. This will be the best choice for some (but not all) students.

However, many students prefer to move to Berkeley for Fall 2020. Some reasons include:

We will support whatever choice you make, and anticipate a mix. Please make the best choice for yourself.

  1. The Spring 2021 course list is not yet available. How am I supposed to plan my courses?

The list of Spring 2021 courses will be posted in mid-October. However, searching within Spring 2020 is often a good way to predict and plan for Spring 2021. This is how the majority of UC Berkeley students approach courses planning beyond the very next semester.

  1. There is a time conflict between two courses that I want to enroll in. What do I do?

Unfortunately, some courses have time conflicts with one another. Fortunately, shifting to partially online asynchronous instruction makes this problem manageable, if you can engage in both courses on your own schedule.

Now, your first priority is to sign up for required courses. Second, I personally do not recommend skipping class meetings and expecting to keep pace with your classmates. It's not the ideal way to learn, and you should seek alternative solutions if possible.

Finally, make sure the final exams do not have conflicting dates/times.

  1. The course I want to enroll in is full. I'm on the waitlist. What should I do?

This is fairly common, so don't stress about experiencing a rare problem. In fact, there is a culture at UC Berkeley of enrolling in many more courses than you actually anticipate taking. Why? Students like to attend many courses during Week #1, and then keep the courses that are most interesting to them, and drop the rest. This means seats often open up after Week #1. If you are personally committed to taking a particular course, then enroll on the waitlist, attend all class sessions during Week #1, optionally message the instructor, and wait for more seats to open up. In some rare cases, students are indeed unable to enroll into a course they want because the waitlist never clears. Anecdotally, I would say this happens less than 10% of the time.

  1. I still have some specific questions. Who do I ask?